I need to close this thing off somehow. Here’s a few bullets. If you want to know how to do this, read the last two posts in here, and the How To Do This page
If you hadn’t worked it out yet, let me explain it just once again. I invited loads of people I’d never even met, including a bunch who had next to no idea what to expect, on what was supposed to be a nightmare of a journey, as a dare to myself and my friends in order to blag money for an appropriate charity. It took hundreds of hours to organize, much of it spent running dozens of discussion threads and communicating with scores of people who ultimately dropped out. I built and ran software to analyze the behaviour and reliability of the services we were using, and managed the booking for everyone . When we had to extend the pass dates due to an error on the part of myself (and Shankar and Steve in fairness) I bore the expense out of the free ticket I was due. Several other people with experience and knowledge you can’t easily buy, notably Steve on IndiaMike, also made significant contributions.
The total cost for anyone doing this would have been about £300. That was an astonishing figure even by Indian standards. Each and every person left the train with a rail-road story to trump anyone. The sum total raised for railway children appears to be about £4,267.44, or over 300,000 rupees. Extra special thanks to Stoy, and Laird and Lady Glenmuchkin, as well as Julian Galvin, and Bella, Andrew and Jason for sticking up their own pages, and absolutely everyone who stumped up a few quid, or a heck of a lot more in many cases.
If you have made any income from this trip, and have yet to make a donation despite being provided with such an incredible journey at such a fantastic price, please rectify the situation.
I wanted to write a letter to The Railways, ranting about the abysmal situation regarding litter. It really is appalling, seemingly across the whole country. The shocking state of Darjeeling literally had me in tears at one point. It was always a bit of a dump, but it was at least a biodegradable one. As for the railways,the entire length of any mainline route is strewn with discarded plastic. Any line with Rajdhani trains is even worse.
I appeal to anyone visiting India, and it’s trains, to think before you stick your spent plastic in the vestibule waste bin. All that will happen to it is that it will get tossed out of the door by the train cleaner guy. If you don’t have a problem with that then you can stare at the rubbish strewn track-side with a sense of personal achievement that you’ve helped make all that happen. Or if the spectacle pisses you off as much as it does me then you can try and use tiffin boxes and keep your rubbish to yourself till you get off so that at least its got half a chance of making it to some kind of land fill.
Udhampur will, eventually, cease to be the northernmost point on the network. Once they link it up with the rest of the Kashmir railway you’ll be able to go all the way Baramulla. That’s not likely to happen for quite a few years though.
A more imminent threat to the integrity of the route that we did is a place called Naliya, north of the gulf of Kutch that splits Gujarat in two. There is a military line up there which is about to be opened for public use. When open it will beat Dwarka by about 5 miles. Note that as of now, the real most westerly station is Varvala, between Dwarka and Okha, but only by about 100 yards and it really is a tiny halt. We had an idea of getting a boat from Jamnagar to Gandhidam and keeping it more convex by not having to backtrack all the way to Ahmedabad. A more feasible method might be to go all the way to Okha and arrange a boat from there. Working this out in advance though isn’t going to be easy.
What Next ?
I’ve got two ridiculous railway projects on the boil. One is GCERC, a European version of this, as defined by the limits of a Eurail pass. We’ll be going from London to Narvik, Istanbul, Siracusa, Lisbon and back in 2 weeks. We’ll hit Narvik for summer solstice in 2013, have a full day in Istanbul, catch the spectacular Bernina Express across the alps, and have some kind of stop off at more than 20 of Europe’s greatest cities and capitals . The ticket alone for that wont give you much change out of £1,000, and we’ll be grabbing any reasonable luxury on offer when we can. No, you can’t come.
A great circular European railway
The other is a long weekend traversing every bridge and tunnel in New York City between islands and other islands or the mainland. This is as good an excuse as any to eat loads of over sized sandwiches while riding around the biggest get lost city of them all, and I have enough to make up a foursome which is about as many as I can be bothered with. If you too think the only way you’ll be able to handle New York is by gyrating your way round the tube, rail, ferry and bus system for 72 hours (we will be sleeping beds fyi) , plus a few walkways and footpaths, and are big enough that you don’t need me to hold your hand, i.e you can cook up your own route to do this, you are welcome to turn up at Grand Central on the same, as yet to be decided, day, and we’ll make it a challenge of some kind. We’ve called it Project Konigsberg.