The Punjab Mail, which now begins its journey from Firozpur in Punjab and ends at Mumbai, has achieved the distinction of being the first Indian train to enter the 100th year.
The Punjab Limited, as it was known during the pre-Independence days, was started in 1912. The train used to run over the great Indian peninsula railway and passed through Agra, Delhi, Amritsar, and Lahore before terminating at Peshawar cantonment, one of the biggest towns in North West frontier province (now Khyber Pakhtunwala in Pakistan) during those days.
The train used to run on fixed mail days from Bombay’s Ballard Pier Mole station all the way to Peshawar, covering 2,496 km in about 50 hours. During those days, it was the fastest train in British India.
Old timers remember the train to be one of the most elite trains in the undivided India. “I used to travel from Peshawar to Delhi in Punjab Mail. It started as a limited service but later, it was made daily,” said KL Sapra, 88, who was born in Peshawar and now lives in Delhi.
The destination station of Punjab was changed from Peshwar to Ferozpur after partition and today, the Punjab Mail takes 36 hours to cover 1,929 km between Mumbai and Ferozpur.
“Those days, it was pulled by one of the biggest steam engines, most probably the UK-made WL engine. It has become the prestigious train for the Indian railways,” said SK Sharma, Chief PRO, northern railways. At the parade, the Indian railways tableaux had the Punjab Mail as its main attraction.