Chapter VIII

Ian Manning on the Indian Railways: 1965-1969

The North West

3. Nangal Dam; Jaijon Doaba

Though the Simla line was the only one to climb directly from Punjab into the Himalayas, other branches set out from the main line towards the foothills. Of these, the line to Nangal Dam was important enough to have an Express, admittedly a somewhat secondary Express, for it was hauled by a mere 4-6-0. (But again, so were many of the trains on the main line.) Out near Nangal Dam the fine chiselling of the badlands contrasted with the smooth sweep of the irrigation canals cut through them, distributing water from a great new dam, but otherwise the line was pretty ordinary.

By way of contrast, the Jaijon Doaba branch was something of a byway. I boarded its train as it made ready to start out from Jullundur City. Up front was a high-boilered 0-4-2T by Krupps, 1935. Though there were plenty of these machines about, even repeated sightings failed to convince me that the design was originally intended for the 5’ 6” gauge, for this XT class was plain bandy-legged. The load – a water gin and four carriages, mostly with longitudinal seats.

Travelling west along the main line towards the junction, we first encountered Jullundur Cantonment, which had the all-over roof of a station originally intended to be important. A crowd of through passengers from the south joined at the junction proper, including one Sikh family which was moving house, to judge from the number of tin trunks and other junk extending to a small bed and a puppy dog which was all somehow stowed between and under the seats. Compared to this a few sacks of wheat were no trouble at all.

After a two hour jog across the prosperous Punjab plains we reached our major intermediate station, a place worth a long wait, during which the platform tea vendor was most unwilling to vend tea (but there was good tea just outside the barrier). Since the extension to Jaijon Doaba left the same way as we had entered, the train had to be reversed, for it was not for us to make the four mile excursion straight ahead to Rahon, a little tree-shaded platform with loop served by double running detours of most Jaijon Doaba trains. (A train from the outer terminus was making the trip to save us the bother.) Accordingly, the 0-4-2T reduced our train by one carriage and was turned on the triangle before taking us away, soon to find itself climbing at 1/100 over gently raising, sandy ground. As the fields gave way to dry scrub the line curved to meet the outermost scarp of the Himalayas head-on, and stopped exhausted. Jaijon Doaba, this terminus just beneath the ranges, consisted of a railway yard, an acre of people breaking stones and a dark, mud-walled eatery.