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Railway quiz: Come aboard the Mystery Express

Bibek Debroy creates a railway trivia challenge for Lounge. Each question has two partsan easy one and a tough one

Courtesy M Senthil Kumar/IRFCA
Courtesy M Senthil Kumar/IRFCA


(1) (a)Which train has the number 12345?

(b) What does “2" in 12345 indicate?

(2) (a) What was the name of the locomotive used in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag?

(b) Who built it?

(3) (a) Which is the world’s oldest working steam locomotive?

(b) There is a sister locomotive, now restored, which may also claim the title. What is it called and where is it now?

(4) (a) What is special about the stations of Lakhan Majra and Sultanpur/Barahkalan?

(b) What is special about the Srirampur and Belapur stations in Maharashtra?

(5) (a) The Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai line was opened in 1870. The opening was reflected in a novel published in 1873. Which novel and who was the author?

(b) According to the novel, there was a missing link in the railway line from Bombay to Calcutta. At which station was the link missing?

(6) (a) Which of India’s mountain railways have World Heritage status?

(b) What is special about locomotive No.778?

(7) (a) There is a famous letter (from 1909) that is supposed to have led to the introduction of toilets in lower classes. It used to be displayed at the National Railway Museum. Who wrote that letter?

(b) Why is the letter no longer displayed?

(8) (a) What is special about the prototype (not operational) locomotive WDG5, also known as Bheem?

(b) What does WDG5 signify?

(9) (a) Which workshop built (not assembled) the first indigenous locomotive in 1895?

(b) What has Lady Curzon got to do with locomotives?

(10) (a) Where is Bhowani Junction?

(b) What is the name of the engine driver in ‘Bhowani Junction’?

(11) (a) Which train has an official birthday?

(b) What is the birthday?

(12) (a) A famous author wrote a book titled ‘Among The Railway Folk’, a compilation of articles he originally published in a newspaper in 1888, based on a visit to Jamalpur. Who are we talking about?

(b) Several of this author’s books were published by the Indian Railway Library. Which concern set up the Indian Railway Library?

(13) (a) The railway board was set up in 1905. Initially, where was the office located?

(b) That building is a heritage structure. Who built it?

(14) (a) Who wrote the collection of essays titled ‘Third Class In Indian Railways’?

(b) In the film ‘Gandhi’, a famous scene occurs near a railway bridge. What was the bridge called and what is its current name?

(15) (a) The Indian Railways logo has a number of stars around the circle. What determines the number of stars?

(b) Some special trains, like Rajdhani or Shatabdi, have different colours. Otherwise, all coaches are now in shades of blue. The older ones used to be dull maroon or rust coloured. Given a rust-coloured and blue-coloured coach, what difference can be deduced, other than the blue ones being relatively new?


Courtesy M Senthil Kumar/IRFCA


1) (a) Saraighat Express (Howrah-Guwahati).

(b) It is a superfast train.

(2) (a) Akbar (Shahanshah).

(b) Baldwin Locomotive Works.

(3) (a) Fairy Queen, 1855.

(b) Express, Perambur.

(4) (a) Villagers raised the money to build them.

(b) On one side of the track, the station is called Srirampur. On the other side, it is called Belapur.

(5) (a) ‘Around The World In Eighty Days’, Jules Verne.

(b) Kholby, the Kholby-Allahabad stretch.

(6) (a) Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway and Kalka-Shimla Railway.

(b) The only Darjeeling Himalayan locomotive to have been exported from India. It is now in England.

(7) (a) Okhil Chandra Sen.

(b) It may not be genuine, its antecedents are in doubt.

(8) (a) The only locomotive with a toilet.

(b) W means broad gauge, D means diesel, G means goods train and 5 means 5500 HP.

(9) (a) Ajmer Workshop.

(b) Jamalpur Locomotive Workshop, set up in 1862, produced the “Lady Curzon" engine in 1899.

(10) (a) In fiction, in a novel by John Masters.

(b) Thomas Jones, father of Victoria Jones.

(11) (a) Mumbai-Pune Deccan Queen.

(b) 1 June.

(12) (a) Rudyard Kipling.

(b) AH Wheeler and Company.

(13) (a) Shimla.

(b) Richardson and Cruddas.

(14) (a) Mahatma Gandhi.

(b) Koilwar Bridge, Abdul Bari Bridge.

(15) (a) The number of zones.

(b) Blue ones have air brakes.

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