1975

Riding the Ring Railway in Delhi

Rail Enthusiasts' Society

Built to link up several of Delhi’s major railway stations and provide a loop around the city, Nizamuddin Station is similar in concept to the Petite Ceinture in Paris and the North London Railway in the UK.

The Delhi ring railway was an early project to support urban transport for Delhi’s growing population. A ring railway is a circular rail network in Delhi, which runs parallel to the ring road. It was introduced to service goods traffic in 1975, but ran 24 additional services during the Asian Games of 1982. The ring railway was never a real success, as it was away from major population centres and was poorly connected to feeder buses. Out of Nizamuddin, the railway line branches East from the main Southern line and heads to Lajpat Nagar.

Indian Railways provide several services around the ring on weekdays, but on a Sunday the only service available is a train at 8.00 a.m., which starts and finishes at Hazrat Nizamuddin station. It runs nearly empty for most of its circuit.

The stations were built with long platforms. The ring railway also carries freight traffic as a connection between the many main lines in and out of Delhi. This will continue to be a major function, even if passenger services around the ring are terminated. Numerous heavy freights pass through this station and are hauled by robust-looking electric locos.

As if to mock the ring railway train, a metro train sweeps overhead on a new flyover. If the ring railway never quite met its objectives, the Delhi Metro has been a runaway success.

After crossing Sardar Patel Marg on the rail route, the surroundings become quite rural and the train gains a respectable speed. At Brar Square a sizeable group of well-dressed ladies get on and liven up the carriage as they head for the markets.

In the picture: Seen from the ring railway at Shakurbasti station, an old man takes a morning nap on the platform.

Shakurbasti station has the atmosphere of a rural station; spacious platforms, shady trees, food and chai vendors, and passing mainline trains. A 10 minute halt is allowed at this station as the train reverses in direction for its return via North Delhi.

There’s not much to note on the final leg back to Nizamuddin, except for a new footbridge being built at Shivaji Bridge and a glimpse of the back of Humayun’s tomb. And then almost immediately, the train is back to where it started from.

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