India’s rail journey has witnessed remarkable transformations over the years, with the advent of modern AC trains being one of the most significant. However, the roots of air-conditioned travel in India trace back nearly a century, long before the Modi government’s infrastructure developments. Let’s take a fascinating trip down memory lane and explore the cool origins of India’s first AC train.
A Glimpse into the Past
Around 90 years ago, during the British colonial era, India witnessed the inauguration of its first AC train known as the “Golden Temple Mail” (formerly Frontier Mail). In a time when electricity was a luxury, innovative methods were employed to maintain a comfortable environment within the train’s carriages.
The British-Era Marvel
The inaugural run of the Golden Temple Mail took place on 1st September 1928. This train was initially operated from Mumbai Central to Lahore. After India gained independence, its route was shortened to run between Mumbai and Amritsar. It was during 1934 that AC coaches were introduced into this iconic train. The British, unaccustomed to India’s scorching heat, were among the first travelers to enjoy these air-conditioned carriages.
Cooling Techniques of Yesteryears
At the time, traditional AC compartments as we know them today did not exist. Instead, a clever and resourceful method was employed to keep the coaches cool. Ice blocks were placed underneath the train carriages, creating a natural cooling system. Fans strategically installed above these ice blocks circulated the refreshing air throughout the coach, offering travelers respite from the heat.
A Train of Distinction
The Frontier Mail, India’s pioneering AC train, boasted special berths, comfortable seating, and well-equipped toilets. Passengers could enjoy the luxury of fans and lighting within the carriages. Renowned for its speed, it held the title of the fastest train of its era. On one occasion when it was delayed by a mere 15 minutes, it caused quite a commotion. The British authorities conducted a thorough investigation and took action against those responsible for the delay, underscoring the significance and punctuality of train travel during that period.
Today, as India continues its journey towards rail innovation, it’s worth revisiting the fascinating history of the Golden Temple Mail, an iconic pioneer in the realm of air-conditioned train travel.