Madurai

Celebrating 50 years of Pandiyan Superfast Express

(From left) Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan cutting a cake along with Divisional Railway Manager V.R. Lenin at Madurai railway junction on Tuesday; a mother-daughter duo posing for a photograph at a ‘selfie’ booth put up by The Hindu .

(From left) Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan cutting a cake along with Divisional Railway Manager V.R. Lenin at Madurai railway junction on Tuesday; a mother-daughter duo posing for a photograph at a ‘selfie’ booth put up by The Hindu .  

From metre gauge to broad gauge, the train now runs on electrified track with latest LBH coaches

Platform no 1 of Madurai railway station was teeming with people on Tuesday evening. Celebratory mood had set in as the empty rakes of Pandiyan Superfast Express was brought into the platform. Colourful festoons pasted on the coaches added to the celebrations.

All this happened to rejoice the golden jubilee year of the prestigious train of Southern Railway. Members of Rail Fans Association gathered in large numbers. Closer to the engine on the northern end of the platform, cakes were cut by Madurai MP Su. Venkatesan in the presence of Madurai Railway Divisional Manager V.R. Lenin and Paul Victor, fireman who had worked in the steam engine of the train.

Revelry caught up with railway staff too, as even travelling ticket examiners joined the passengers to take selfies and photographs standing in front of the rakes and engine to freeze their happiness for posterity.

As part of the low-key celebration, winners of essay competition organised by Southern Railway were honoured with prizes.

One of the most sought-after man at the events was D. Devaraj (76), who was the second fireman of the steam engines that hauled the good old rakes of Pandiyan Express during the black and white cinema era. He reminisced his youthful days working in the first train to run between Madurai and Chennai.

“In the pre-Independence era, we had trains than ran through Madurai from Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Quilon (Kollam). But, it was only in 1969 that the long-felt demand for a train for Madurai was realised with the introduction of Pandiyan Express,” he recalled.

From single steam engine pulling nine coaches to double engine hauling 18 coaches, Mr. Devaraj recalled the transformation Pandiyan Express went through to become one of the most prestigious trains of the zone. It was in 1974, the train got diesel engines. The metre gauge train then ran on broad gauge and the number of coaches of increased to 22.

Now, with electrified track, Pandiyan Superfast Express has the latest LBH coaches.

The train that used to run at a maximum speed of 75 km with steam engines and took nearly 13 hours to cross nearly 500 km now has maximum speed of 120 kmph and takes just in seven hours to reach the same destination.

“While steam engines warranted physical fitness for the engine crew, diesel engines demanded alertness with increased speed,” Mr. Devaraj recalls.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 11:04:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/celebrating-50-years-of-pandiyan-superfast-express/article29573700.ece

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