RK Gupta, general manager, Eastern Railway flagged off Delhi Kalka mail on 1 January on its sesquicentennial run.
The East India Railway Company ran its first train between the Capital of the British Empire in India, Calcutta and Delhi way back in 1866 with number 1 Up and 2 Down. With the rationalization of train numbers in 1990, the Kalka mail lost its 1 Up 2 Dn numbering and now it is 12311 from Howrah and 12312 from Kalka.
Later on, the train was extended to Kalka. The British bureaucrats used to board this train to reach the summer capital in Shimla from Calcutta. The importance of the train did not reduce even after the capital was shifted to Delhi in 1911.
In both Calcutta and Kalka there were carriageways so that VIPs could get into their vehicles after alighting from the train. In Howrah station, the carriageway still exists between platforms 8 and 9 but in Kalka, the carriage way has been converted into a platform.
R Badrinarayan, Divisional Railway Manager, Howrah and all Principal Head of the Department were present on the historic occasion.
This train has a great legacy and is directly connected with the Nation’s freedom struggle. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s historic train journey in 1941 from Gomoh railway station was in this train. Netaji drove to Bararee near Dhanbad to his nephew Dr. Sisir Kr Bose’s house from where he reached Gomoh station and boarded the Kalka Mail in disguise in January 18, 1941. This has been described by Dr. Sisir Kr Bose in his book “The Great Escape.”
The Delhi-Kalka Mail lost some of its glory after the Rajdhani Express was introduced but it still remains an important train for its long history and tradition.