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Riding India’s railways

Across India

By Navesh Chitrakar

My journey on the great railways of India began on October 23, 2012. The trip not only marked my first visit to India, it was also the first time that I had ever travelled on real trains because my home country, Nepal, does not have a proper rail network.

Everything about the trains was new to me, which made it really exciting. I started out from Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi and headed towards Agra with the help of a railway atlas, a train map and a fixer. I had been provided with the fixer’s assistance for a couple of days thanks to my chief photographer Ahmad Masood, one of the generous people who gave me a lot of help to complete this story. It didn’t take me long to get used to train travel; I understand and speak Hindi, and most of the people on the trains were very friendly and helpful. Most of the time I was doing what I was there to do: observing and trying to capture the most significant and fascinating aspects of India’s railways.

In a country that is the seventh largest in the world by area and the second largest in the world by population, the Indian railway network reaches almost everywhere and carries commuters from one end of the country to the other. The network is a lifeline for India and for the Indians who use it. And why not take advantage of it? People prefer trains because they are a cheaper and faster way to travel. When you travel India by rail, everything is going on around you; it seems like the railway has created its own world and the running of that world depends on the running train.

GALLERY: INDIA'S TRAINS

Every time a train arrives at a platform with its horns blasting, everything suddenly gets going. It feels like the train brings life to the station and when it leaves it carries that life elsewhere; the station falls back to sleep and waits for another train to come along and wake it up again.

from Full Focus:

Riding India’s railways

Photographer Navesh Chitrakar spent three months travelling on India's railways, documenting the world's fourth largest rail system, ahead of the Indian Railway Budget announcement. Almost all rail operations in India are handled by state-owned organisation Indian Railways which operates 9,000 passenger trains and transports up to 20 million passengers every day. Read Navesh's personal account here.

from India Insight:

Human waste corroding Indian railway network

Human faeces is scattered across India’s 64,400 kilometres of rail lines.

One of the world’s largest surface transport networks, carrying 30 million people and 2.8 tonnes of goods daily, is being downed by those using it.

A government panel report this month said that human waste from open-discharge toilets used by passengers is damaging tracks and associated infrastructure.

from The Great Debate (India):

Are you happy with the Railway Budget?

Are you happy with the Railway budget?Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee unveiled a populist budget on Friday that froze both passenger and freight fares, disappointing hopes for major reform in a lagging sector key to the country's infrastructure growth.

For Railway budget highlights, click here

Did the Railway budget meet your expectations? Share your views.

from UK News:

Time to renationalise the railways?

Britain's railway franchises have been branded "a mess" by a group of MPs, who call for major reforms including the nationalisation of the troubled East Coast mainline.

The Transport Select Committee has called for the East Coast, set to be taken off the hands of current operator National Express later this year after the company complained of heavy losses, to be kept under state ownership and used to compare against the performances of private companies.

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