Golden Temple Mail completes 92 yrs of historic run

Then British Indian govt had projected it as its achievement for being longest train link in Indian subcontinent

Golden Temple Mail completes 92 yrs of historic run

Earlier known as the Frontier Mail, the Golden Temple Mail runs between Amritsar and Mumbai Central. Tribune photo

Neeraj Bagga

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 1

The Golden Temple Mail, earlier known as the Frontier Mail, completed 92 years of its run as it chugged out of the Amritsar railway station on Tuesday.

The then British Indian government had projected it as its glorious achievement for being the longest train link in the Indian subcontinent as it had its inaugural run on this day in 1928.

Train was well known for Its punctuality

The Frontier Mail’s punctuality too was something to reckon with. It was generally believed that your Rolex watch might let you down, but not the Frontier Mail. The punctuality of the Frontier Mail was of such crucial importance to the fastidious British bosses that when on one occasion, in August 1929, exactly 11 months after its inauguration, the train arrived 15 minutes late, there was a big uproar among railway circles, with the driver being asked to explain the reasons for this ‘inexcusable’ delay.

Earlier, the Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway Company in conjunction with the North Western Railway Company had introduced the Frontier Mail from Bombay to Peshawar via Delhi and Lahore on October 7, 1927.

Earlier known as the Frontier Mail, the Golden Temple Mail runs between Amritsar and Mumbai Central. Tribune photo

The Frontier Mail was formally renamed as the Golden Temple Mail in September 1996. The Frontier Mail is a mere shadow of its former glory today. Nonetheless, the train has an appeal and charisma that will live on in the hearts of its faithful passengers for a long time to come.

SP Singh Bhatia, Heritage Officer of the Ferozepur Division, said initially the train was routed via Bathinda, Ferozepur and Lahore to Peshawar, now in Pakistan. But from March 1, 1930, it was routed through Saharanpur, Ambala and Amritsar. Since then this train has been running on the same route. After the Partition, the destination of this train was cut short and now the train terminates at Amritsar.

“That was the time when the Frontier Mail could lay claim to being India’s fastest long-distance train, a fact that was highlighted in The Times in London in 1930, when it described the Frontier Mail as ‘one of the most famous express trains under the British Empire’.”

The Frontier Mail’s punctuality too was something to reckon with. It was generally believed that your Rolex watch might let you down, but not the Frontier Mail. The punctuality of the Frontier Mail was of such crucial importance to the fastidious British bosses that when on one occasion, in August 1929, exactly 11 months after its inauguration, the train arrived 15 minutes late, there was a big uproar among railway circles, with the driver being asked to explain the reasons for this ‘inexcusable’ delay. A blemish indeed on the jewel in the BB & CIR crown. In fact, people used to set their watches with the arrival of this train at the station, said Bhatia.

The train’s dining car was cooled by ceiling fans, white damask on the tables coupled with white napkins brought fineness in dining. Silver cutlery and exquisite crockery with crystal fruit platters were placed on each table, along with salt and pepper shakers. The table settings had to be perfect, with different forks and knives for each course.

The Frontier Mail was one of the first trains in India to get an air-conditioned car running from 1934. However, he added, the air-conditioning system was basic, nothing like the thermostat-controlled power plants we see today.

Elaborating on the air-conditioning system in those days, Bhatia said it used ice blocks, carried in sealed receptacles built beneath the car floor. These were replenished at several halts along the line. A battery-operated blower constantly blew air into these receptacles, and the cold air entered the insulated cars through vents.

Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepur Division, Rajesh Aggarwal said efforts were being made to maintain the high standards of boarding and lodging in the train with the pantry cars serving an array of delicious dishes from the hygienic environment.

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