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Railway yards are unwelcoming places at their very best. A smorgasbord of  of metal, noise and human sweat – they are intimidating for someone who does not belong there. There is always something new – the smell of fresh paint, a brand new coach being delivered, a new recruit. There is always something old – rusting parts, decrepit buildings and men who have spent their entire lives in this one place, to make sure others get elsewhere.

But amidst this chaos, there is beauty. Especially at night, when darkness all that is unnecessary and draws your attention the true spirit of the railway yard. Where man and metal become one. Amritsar Jṉ welcomed us one night – and laid bare its soul.

Away from the bright lights of the main station, the coaching yard is a world of it’s own
Amid massive columns and girders, an accident relief train rests – hoping to be never put in use
A shunting locomotive goes about its business while paint shop is closed for the day
A weary traveller catches a snooze amidst the overpowering smell of paint and turpentine
An old signal cabin lies disused the yard. Modern electronics have made these levers redundant
Once upon a time these tappets allowed the yard master to be in touch with others down the line
And this circuit diagram gave him full control of the goings on in his yard
A twist of the key and a pull at the lever made sure line operations were safe
Outside, men of the night shift line up to pick up their duty orders
The peepul tree has provided shade to generations of railway men, and has kept their secrets
This veteran has seen it all – from steam locomotives to diesels and now the modern electrics
Lights twinkle in the washing lines, as one more train is prepared to despatched for the long road ahead

3 thoughts on “One night in Amritsar Jṉ”

  1. “Once upon a time these tappets allowed the yard master to be in touch with others down the line”
    This is actually called the Station Master’s Slide Box.These boxes usually came with slides in multiples of 6 and depending on the requirement of the yard,an appropriate slide box would be used.It is like a miniature lever frame with mechanical interlocking inside between the slides as well as electrical contacts.The various slides are pulled to release “Slots” or “Controls” to various signalling gears/Signal Cabins/Ground Frames/etc.
    For example,at those stations where there are outlying cabins,the slide box is used to release the Home signal and the Advance Starter for the cabins.Hence,the SM exercises dual control on the important reception and despatch signals at the station.The mechanical interlocking between the slides ensures that the SM cannot release a conflicting slot.
    At some stations,the yard master is provided with such a slide box with which he controls into which line a train is allowed to be admitted.

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