A British-era Train Dispatchers’ cabin between platform no 2 and 3 at the Ludhiana Railway Station will soon be history. The Indian Railways has decided to tear down the structure, along with a foot over bridge, both of which are no longer in use.
Abandoned in 2004, the cabin, which was built in 1893, is a legacy from the era when the mechanical interlocking system, for which cabin levers were pulled for altering routes of trains, was still widely used.
SP Singh Bhatia, Divisional Traffic Manager (DTM), Ferozepur Railway Division, said, “Prior to that there was no interlocking of points and signals and trains were running without any communication in a highly unsafe manner.”
This hut-like structure was one a hub of activities, with Indian Railways staffers working in shifts to keep a round-the-clock vigil to decide on the line or platform a train can use and signal the cabinman accordingly. Ludhiana TD cabin was crucial-being a junction, the station catered to rail traffic from four directions. Technological advancements, however, rendered this structure useless-with the introduction of the modern Relay Route Interlocking system in 2004, staff was shifted to a new building.
“Such cabins were once inseparable part of railways when tracks were changed through mechanical levers to divert trains to different tracks or platforms but with technological advancements in signaling, old lever-frame signal cabins are fast vanishing from the railways. Now only few old stations have such cabins,” said Bhatia. To date, only a small number of lever-frame signal cabins are operational in Indian Railways’ yards.Bhatia said, “As the lines even today runs on the same old blueprint, there are a lot of relics lying abandoned that are a part of national heritage.
Know the history
This TD cabin system was introduced by John Saxby, a British engineer from Brighton, England, ensured foolproof safety in train operations and was installed in India by Messer’s Saxby & Farmer in 1893. Punjab got railway lines early as in 1862 when first broad gauge railway was constructed linking Lahore with Amritsar by Scinde, a Punjab and Delhi Railway company. Subsequently, same railway company extended the line up to Delhi linking Ludhiana and Ambala via Saharanpur in 1870. TD cabin was installed at Ludhiana station in 1893, which was main linking line for four directions.