'Grand Trunk Express': India's longest-running train originated from M'luru

11:56 AM May 21, 2020 | Team Udayavani |
Mangaluru: Mangaluru is one of south India’s most popular destinations. It is a major commercial center and Karnataka’s main port city and is one of the best cities in India in terms of quality of living. The city is as an educational and commercial hub and undoubtedly has the best railway connectivity. The historic Mangalore Railway Station (Now Mangalore Central) is over a century old and the rail connectivity was established in the year 1907 and in the year 1929 the longest running train in undivided India, Grand Trunk Express, also originated from the then Mangalore Railway Station. The Grand Trunk Express also known as GT express is one of the oldest trains of India which ran from Peshawar to Mangalore and took about 104 hours, one of the longest train routes. The 'Grand Trunk' express commenced operating on April 1 1929 between Peshawar in the North Western Railway (British India) and Mangalore in the South Indian Railway. The two coaches of this train made their way to Madras attached to the South Indian Railway's Mangalore-Madras mail train. At Itarsi, the two through coaches from Mangalore were attached to the Great Indian Peninsular Railway's Bombay-Delhi service. In the final leg of the journey between Delhi and Peshawar, the two through carriages were attached to the Frontier mail and reached Peshawar traveling through Bathinda, Ferozepur and Lahore. Thus the train covered a distance of 2497 miles in a little over 96 hours.
The name 'Grand Trunk Express' only referred to the two through carriages operating between Mangalore and Peshawar. As one of the prestigious train, it was one of the few to have the early methods of air cooling by ice blocks. It also carried a parcel van for urgent consignments. After 1930 the route of GT Express was curtailed and the train originated from Mettupalayam. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the train used to run with a completely air-conditioned rake (First AC and AC Chair Car) on two days of the week, and with its usual rake on other days, and hence was sometimes known as the AC/GT Express. The train had a 21-coach rake in the 1980s, later extended to 22, and finally 24 coaches. Its first-class coaches were of the corridor type with extra-large windows. The trains coaches (along with those of other premier trains in the 1970s) also had noticeably better suspension as well. During that time people from Kerala had to first reach Madras and then board the GT to go North. It was said that all of South India traveled to Delhi in the GT which was the only consistent link between the capital of the nation and the deep South for exactly a century, right from when an unbroken direct railway line was built from the north to the south by the British. Now this train runs between Chennai Central and New Delhi Railway Station.

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