I’m a big train buff and during the mid-1980s, there was one train name that I heard frequently and the name still mystifies me – the GT Express, an acronym for the majestically named Grand Trunk Express.
(GT Express, captured in 1986)
Every time Shanti Chikkamma, as we fondly called my Grandmother’s younger sister, visited her daughter Geeta married to a gentleman in Bhopal, GT Express is the train she chose to travel. Skipping the directly connecting then biweekly Kerala Karnataka Express between Bangalore and Bhopal, for reasons I have forgotten, she always travelled to erstwhile Madras, now renamed as Chennai, and cruised in GT Express fruits origin city to Bhopal.
(GT Express, in recent times)
Today as I read the history of GT Express, what strikes me most is its initial run – when introduced in 1929, the train ran between Peshawar, now in Pakistan, and Mangalore, a port city in Karnataka, India via Chennai. The journey took 104 hours in total, probably making it the longest train route in then British India. After a year, the route was cut short to run between Lahore and Mettupalayam, the gateway to the Southern hill station Ooty and later to its present-day run between Chennai and New Delhi.
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