India's Frontier Railways

Watch India's Frontier Railways

  • 2015
  • 1 Season
  • 8.0  (119)

India's Frontier Railways is a fascinating documentary series that follows the lives of people who work on the railways in some of the most remote and challenging areas of India. The show, which premiered on BBC Four in 2015, is hosted by actor Bernard Hill, who is known for his roles in films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.

In each episode, Hill takes viewers on a journey through the stunning landscapes of India's frontier regions, from the majestic Himalayas to the deserts of Rajasthan. Along the way, he introduces us to the people who keep the railways running, from train drivers and station masters to track maintenance crews and ticket collectors.

One of the highlights of the series is the stunning aerial footage of the railways as they wind their way through mountains, valleys, and forests. We see how the railway lines were built over the years, often in extremely challenging terrain, and how they have become vital lifelines for the communities they serve.

The show also presents a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the people who work on the railways. We meet drivers who have been working on the same route for decades, and who have a deep knowledge of the trains they operate and the landscapes they traverse. We see ticket collectors who travel for hours each day to reach the remote stations they serve, and who have to deal with a wide range of passengers, from tourists to rural farmers.

One of the most interesting parts of the series is the way it shows how the railways are adapting to India's changing economy and society. We see how new technologies are being introduced to improve safety and efficiency, such as the installation of computerized signalling systems and the use of drones to inspect tracks. We also see how the railways are being used to promote tourism and economic development in some of India's most remote regions.

Throughout the series, Hill's narration and on-screen presence add depth and warmth to the stories being told. He clearly has a great respect and affection for the people he meets, and his enthusiasm for the railways and the landscapes they traverse is infectious.

Overall, India's Frontier Railways is a compelling and beautifully produced documentary series that provides a unique window into the lives of the people and communities that depend on India's railways. Whether you have a love for trains, an interest in Indian culture, or simply an appreciation for stunning scenery, this is a show that is definitely worth watching.

India's Frontier Railways
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The Samjhauta Express
3. The Samjhauta Express
March 26, 2015
Freedom came to the sub-continent in August 1947. The British hastily partitioned British India before they left. Independence was attended by a million deaths and 14 million people were displaced. Yet despite three wars, Pakistan and Indian railways have established a cross-border train, known as the Samjhauta Express - Samjhauta meaning agreement. Amongst the passengers on the Samjhauta Express from Lahore to Delhi are Bilal and his father Abiz. 17-year-old Bilal was the victim of an accident which damaged his eye. Unable to source the right treatment in Pakistan, father and son trawled the internet and finally found a suitable clinic. But it was in India. They have never stepped outside Pakistan so they are a little nervous. Will they be successful in getting Bilal's eye treated? Also on the train is Rahat Khan, the hockey queen. She's a Pakistan international and a railway hockey champion. She's travelling with her Pakistan girls' hockey team to play a match in India. But not eveything goes to plan. For the Sikh community the Punjab is home. The golden temple of Amritsar is the holy of holies. But each year, on Guru Nanak's birthday, the railway runs special trains across the border to the guru's birthplace in Pakistan, despite the security concerns.
The Last Train in Nepal
2. The Last Train in Nepal
March 19, 2015
In 1927 a British civil servant drew a line on a map to define the border between their Indian empire and the kingdom of Nepal. Today, that border line is only marked by a chain of boundary stones and pillars - it's a border that is almost invisible. This is the story of an international railway line. It runs for twenty miles from the little-known town of Janakpur in Nepal and crosses over the border to Jaynagar junction in India. But now the last train in Nepal is under threat of closure. Starved of funds from central government, the train and the track are in a dilapidated state. Derailments are common and the engine often breaks down. Yet it's a lifeline both for the community and the railway workers - their little train is held together with determination, invention and love. Regina is strong, independent Nepali woman, married at 12 and pregnant at 13. Deserted by her husband, she's now a single mother of two teenage boys. She makes a living as a smuggler of small household goods. But it's illegal, so even when the train is running there's always the chance of getting caught. Aarman is a ticket collector in Janakpur station. Married with three small children he's the sole breadwinner for an extended family and he hasn't been paid for three months. Already deeply in debt, he wanted to send his kids to school, but if the line closes he's out of job - and no job means no money. This is the story of the last train in Nepal and the community and railway workers who struggle every day to keep their train and their hopes alive.
The Maitree Express
1. The Maitree Express
March 12, 2015
Filmed during the holy month of Ramadan, this is a journey from India into Bangladesh on a train that reunites the region of Bengal. Partitioned in 1947, Bengal was divided in half, creating East Pakistan - a satellite state ruled by Pakistan. It was an unwelcome occupation. In 1971 they fought a war of independence and East Pakistan became the People's Republic of Bangladesh. 37 years later, the first train ran between India and Bangladesh - the Maitree Express. Maitree means friendship. It takes 12 hours to make the 392km journey from Kolkata to Dhaka, and staffing on the train is almost the same on both sides of the border. They speak the same language, share a history, and they all love fish. Amirul, once a freedom fighter in the war of independence, now plays announcements and religious tapes on the Maitree. Aalo supports his family by selling chocolates on the train but has a problem with the 30-degree heat. Sixteen-year-old Abdullah ran away from home and a madrasa. Now he sells papers on Dhaka's trains and platforms, hoping for a brighter future. Gautam Bannerjee is a guard on the Maitree and a respected astrologer. Can his calculations foretell the future? Urmi Rahman, a writer, was born in Bangladesh, married an Indian and lives in Kolkata, but she is very clear about her identity. Krishendu Basu is happy with his life. Not only a guard, he is also a tabla player, photographer and self-confessed foodie. But music is his passion. These stories of people who work, travel or depend on the Maitree Express take us on a journey through history, sharing their hopes, needs and desires - on India's frontier railways.
  • Premiere Date
    March 12, 2015
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (119)