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    A CST PUBLICATION

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    HOW IT WORKS

    Children's Book Trust, New Delhi

    BY NAVKALA ROYILLUSTRATED BY T. KARTHIKEYAN

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    Horse-drawn carriageLocomotion

    Open railway carr iage

    Electric locomotive

    High speed train

    JOURNEYTHROUGHTHEAGES

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    "Fish and chips.. .fish and chips...fish andchips..." Say that fast; then try saying it fasterand faster and faster still! And what do youhear? A lovely, long beautiful train chuggingmerrily, over the mountains and over theplains. "Fish and chips...fish and chips...fishand chips.. .Sooooooooooooup!"Wheel after wheel after wheel rollingthousands of kilometres of track-eutting

    through the hills or speeding along theforests, crossing wide rivers or braving dustydeserts has stirred a spirit of adventure in allof us. How often you all must have lined up,one behind the other, and fancied yourselvesas an express train pulling out of the station!Now, if you knew how many trains actually

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    pull out of different stations in India eachday, or, how far they travel, how much loadthey can take on, you would probablysuffer a mild heart attack!The Indian Railways (hold your breath!)carryover eleven million passengers everyday. That is almost the entire populationof Australia! And one million tonnes offreight every day. It has a network of62,725 kilometres of track, linking 6,896stations and across 1,21,699 bridges.And yes, it covers each day three and halftimes the distance to the moon.The Indian Railways run about 12,000trains every day. The Ninth Five Year Plan,1997-2002, has an outlay of Rs. 45,413crores for the Indian Railways.By almost any stretch of imagination, itis a staggering operation. Our trains movemore people than any other transportsystem anywhere. No wonder then, theIndian Railways are known as the IronGanga of India.

    And like the historic river, the coming ofthe railways changed the course of manylives in India.

    Railway lines, more and more.

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    Travel, in the opening years of the nine-teenth century, was a very tedious and slowprocess, the world over. There was, generallyspeaking, hardly any movement of peoplefrom one place to another. Pilgrim centres, ofcourse, attracted vast crowds, especiallyVaranasi, Haridwar, Rameswaram and so on.But so uncertain was the return of a pilgrimthat many hesitated to step out of their.homes. Travellers often fell ill and died.Others suffered the risks of being waylaid.For, travelling those days meant going mostlyon foot or bullock carts, if and when available.Horses were not commonly used in India,as they were costly. In Rajasthan, Gujaratand Sindh camels were in great abundanceand were, therefore, used for towingcaravans. It took 35 to 40 days, however,travelling from Surat to Agra in a caravan.Palanquins were used in cities and for longjourneys. They were usually carried by four

    Palanquin

    men, though eight or twelve people wereengaged for relieving one another.Elephants with howdahs were also used.

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    Rivers, mostly unbridged, could becrossed only during the dry seasons. In utterdespair an English merchant remarked-"Ofwhat earthly use is the cotton produced byBroach, if this cannot be shifted to Bombayquickly enough and without any damage onthe way?"Out of despair, they say, comes hope.That, perhaps, is what egged man on toprogress. Narrow paths gradually changedinto roads and wheeled carts increased innumber. They were used for carrying goodsfrom the countryside to towns and ports.The really momentous change, however,came with the invention of the railway. Andalmost simultaneously human civilization tooka leap ahead. Not only did mass movementof people become easier, but mountains ofmaterial could now be transported from onepart of the country to another. A railway linepassing through a remote area suddenlybrought it on the road to big towns, citiesand ports. Besides this, the construction of

    railways itself soon became a major industry.Steel plants and thermal powerhousessprang up as a result and became thekey industries of the first half of thetwentieth century.

    Signal levers

    If you have stood near a busy railway crossing,you may have heard di fferent bells ringing andwondered what all the fuss was about! Well, thesebells are actually codes that some signalmen useeven today, to advise each other about the trainsgoing through. They not only warn the signalmanto expect a train but they tell him what kind of trainit is.

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    Fancy a horse with a long train behind it,going...clip-c1op c1ippety-c1op down a railwaytrack! Well, that is exactly how the first trainsworked. Except that they were known aswagons.When it was discovered that heavy loadscould be carried along a smooth track moreeasily than on a rough road, some coalminers got together and laid wooden rails.On these they placed wagons carrying coal.But a push was not enough to keep thewagons going. So horses were brought in.And it was 'clip-clop clip-clop' all the way,though considerably faster than before. Butwooden rails were not very strong. So therails and wheels of the trucks (wagons) weremade of iron instead.

    Traction by horse

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    orld'Trains, as we know them today, came into

    existence much later. In 1812, a mineinspector, John Blenkinsop, designed a rackrailway. This meant that the rails had teeth . .which engaged with toothed wheels on thewagons. For, Blenkinsop believed thatsmooth wheels would slip on rails.Blenkinsop's system was the forerunner ofmountain rack railways the world over,including the lovely hill trains we have today,going up to Shimla, Ootacamund orDarjeeling. Toothed tracks are very much inuse along these routes and worth a visit ifyou haven't seen them already.However, the first steam engine to run onrails was built by Richard Trevithick called'Catch me who can'. This resembled a toytrain with a circular track and thus the name.

    Blenkinsop's rack railway

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    Catch me who can - Richard Trevi thick's demonstration of a railroad

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    It was in 1823, when an Englishman,George Stephenson, was appointed asengineer to the Stockton and DarlingtonRailway that the turning point in railwayhistory came. Stephenson dreamt of a landcriss-crossed by a network of steam railways.He set about his task diligently and in 1825,when a 40-kilometre line was opened inCounty Durham, Stephenson and his sonRobert made history by inaugurating theworld's first public steam railway, called'Locomotion'. It could haul freight about19 to 25 kilometres an hour.

    The oldest station in the world is LiverpoolRoad Station, in England. It was first used onSeptember 15,1830, and is now partly turned intoa museum.

    1. Piston 2. Cylinder 3. Coal supply 4. Chimney 5. Water barrel6. Boiler 7 Driving wheel 8. Trailing wheel 9. Safety valve Rocket

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    Inspired by their success, the Stephensonsintroduced yet another engine, the 'Rocket'in 1829. This was when the Liverpool andManchester Railways were holding trials tolocate the best engine available. The 'Rocket'had a new design. It had a boiler in whichthe water was turned into steam by contactwith 25 tubes which were heated from afire-box. This, along with an improvedexhaust system, enabled the 'Rocket' to pulla 14-ton train at almost 46 kilometresper hour.. The 'Rocket' in fact was the beginning ofthe passenger train-speedier, morecomfortable and cheaper than horse-drawnservices. Have you ever imagined your,self .sitting in a train without a roof over yourhead! Well, the first railway carriages forpeople were open and smoke from theengine blew in their faces. In its very firstyear it carried more than 70,000 personsand 40,000 tonnes of freight. It was a majorengineering feat!

    o Yellow Greeno Redj rt Signals are a very important part of t ra injourneys. In order to attract the driver's attention,they are painted red or yellow arms on tall whiteposts. If these arms hang down or incline upwards,

    . it means the line is clear ahead, But if one of thered signal arms stands at right angles to the signalpost, it means "danger" and the driver must stop atonce. Yellow arms in the horizontal position is awarning to the driver to slow down. Green lightstands for "all clear",....

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    o rlumOverwhelmed by this totally revolutionarymethod of travel, people came out withstrange predictions about its consequences.'The smoke will kill the birds,' said some.'The cows will cease to give milk,' saidothers. A panel of London scientistspronounced that the train should never gofaster than 48 kUometres an hour, otherwise"passengers would suffocate". The medical

    faculty at Munich warned that all railwaypassengers were sure to contract a new typeof mental illness called 'Delirium ad furiosum'.The phenomenal success of the railwaysdrowned all such forecasts. Not only didcommunication become easier but also moreeconomical. It gave England, the innovator ofrailways, the power and wealth to dominatemuch of the world. It was as if England hadacquired, all of a sudden, an army of millionsof inanimate slaves to sweat and toil for her,without her having to feed or clothe them.

    One steam engine of 500 horsepower(1 hp=750 watts) is equivalent to a forceof about 10,000 men. The work of a milli0':lmen can be done with 100 steam engines.