Letter: Simple side of the tracks

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The Independent Online
MY FATHER was the agent and chief engineer of the Nizam's State Railways (Hyderabad) and he was perhaps the last engineer to construct new railways up to the outbreak of the last war ("Sun sets on the Empire's railway", 8 August). My fondest early memory is of going out on line with him. The villagers would clamour to have the line built to their area so that they could send their produce economically to the cities. The railway also provided affordable travel and for the first time ordinary people could move great distances, usually going on pilgrimage. Cost was more important than comfort. Indian Railways must have provided the cheapest form of mechanical transport ever devised.

Please note that when Gandhi travelled third-class, he required a whole carriage (not just a compartment) and it would have been cheaper for him to go first-class.

C M LLOYD-JONES

Altrincham, Cheshire

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