Over 25 years Laurie Marshall has been travelling the highways and byways of India’s amazing railway system. His knowledge and experience, including taking eight large groups of enthusiasts on comprehensive tours (The Great Indian Train Journeys) along with his undoubted fascination in steam railways, is celebrated in this the first of a three volume set that is witness to the end of an era. The modernisation of India’s industrial and transport infrastructure has brought about the demise of the steam locomotive and with it the skill and knowledge first imparted by British rule. Whilst Laurie Marshall’s Indian railway friends tell of their sadness to see the end of steam in their country they look forward to the economies that come with more modern motive power. Included in this footage are footplate rides rare steam shed scenes and numerous train run pasts through fascinating scenery. In volume one Laurie travels firstly south from Bombay to Hubli where the end of steam on the metre gauge is imminent.
Hastening this process is the conversion from metre to broad gauge of much of the Indian rail network. Behind diesel the journey includes a side excursion down the famous Western Ghats from Castle Rock towards Goa. This programme encapsulates those experiences in sight and sound that could themselves only be India. The railways still rich in colonial propriety are very much a part of that whole experience. The warmth of the people that run them and the pride they display in their work are all evident in this film. Back in Bombay the party then travel northwards into Gujerat taking in branches to the wilds of Waghai and Umarpada on what was the last week of regular steam operations on the Western Railway narrow gauge. This first tape concludes further north at Udaipur amidst the lake palaces and glowing sunsets of Rajastan.
‘The vast knowledge and experience of Laurie Marshall, who for 25 years has travelled extensively in this fascinating country has resulted in a very interesting programme.’ (Railway Magazine Sept. 1996) ‘…a rounded view of the whole railway scene in India.’ (Steam Railway Oct. 1996)