Article & Video: Riding India’s Longest Train Journey

The largest employer in India with 1.4 million employees, Indian Railways is one of the largest railways in the world with over 115,000km or track over a route of 65,808km and 7,112 stations, carrying a staggering 23 million passengers a day, with freight and passenger revenues of US$24 billion. Rolling stock includes 10,499 locomotives and 66,392 passenger coaches. The infrastructure is gargantuan, and at times beautiful.

Great time lapse and stunning photographs of the longest rail journey in India from photographer, film-maker and tabla player, Ed Hanley.  

There is something particularly alluring about travelling by train compared with other forms of transport.  For me its the combination of chatting with other passengers, and having time to read and stare out of the window.  A fellow traveller once told me that the ideal train journey lasted for three hours because it allowed enough time to indulge in all three.   

The Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express travels from a city on the Brahmaputra river in Assam in north east India to the southern tip of India in Tamil Nadu.  The journey lasts three days and four nights and covers 4,273km, so that is definitely a trip with plenty of time to stare out of the window as well as read.  As to the chatting, my experience is that passengers on Indian trains are particularly social, so the shy needn’t worry about how to strike up a conversation with strangers.  

In his time lapse and accompanying photo essay, Ed Hanley perfectly captures the experience of riding trains in India and I especially like the way he takes the opportunity to treat the train not just as a mode of transport but something to be explored and enjoyed in its own right.  A great initiation. 

For further reading about travelling India by train, see Monisha Rajesh’s Around India in 80 Trains:

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