India proudly boasts of world’s largest railway network. Not only that, but the India railways itself can boast as the biggest employer in India.
Railways is a major part of India, not only because of its importance as a means of transportation but also because of its political and economic significance.
Here are some interesting facts about Indian Railways which might surprise you :
The New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express is the fastest train in India. The train runs at an average speed of 91 kmph and touches a top speed of 150 kmph on the 195 km Delhi-Agra stretch. The Nilgiri Express with an average speed of 10 kmph is said to be India’s slowest train.
Indian Railways-owned the longest railway platform in the world at Kharagpur with a length of 2,733 feet. Now, breaking the record, Gorakhpur station has recently taken its place with a length of 4,430 feet.
Two historical railway elements are included in the UNESCO’ World Heritage site list – the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and the Indian Mountain Railways.The Indian Mountain Railways includes three railways – the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, Nilgiri Mountain Railways and Kalka Shimla Railway. All three trains have been functional for some 100 years. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is famous for its classic fusion of Gothic art with Indian architecture.
The Vivek Express (Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari) travels the longest distance of 4273 km. The shortest run is taken by a few scheduled services between Nagpur and Ajni – a total of 3 kms.
Mathura junction has the maximum number of routes emerging from it. The 7 of them include – Broad Gauge (BG) line to Agra Cantt, BG line to Bharatpur, BG line to Alwar, BG line to Delhi, Metre Gauge (MG) line to Achnera, MG line to Vrindavan and MG line to Hathras.
The railways function on a high operating ratio of 94%, that is, it spends 94 paise on every rupee that it earns.
The mascot for Indian Railways is Bholu, or Bholu the guard elephant, which was designed by National Institute of Design. It was introduced on 16th April 2002.
The oldest working Indian locomotive still in use is the Fairy Queen, which worked with a steam engine.
India has eight Railway Museums – in Delhi, Pune, Kanpur, Mysore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ghum, and Tiruchirappalli. The National Railway Museum in Delhi is the largest rail museum in Asia.
Toilets were introduced in 1909 in the lower classes of trains, after a letter by certain Okhil Babu that described the ordeal he faced due to the absence of lavatories.
The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.
The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.
The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.
The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.
The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.
The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.
UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.
Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.
In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.
The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.
In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.
The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.
The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.
The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)