Habibganj to Rani Kamlapati: How a railway station’s name is changed

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What is the news?

The name of Bhopal’s Habibganj railway station has been changed to Rani Kamlapati station.

How did the name of the railway station get changed?

While Indian Railways may own the station, it does not get involved in the business of naming it. Similarly, Indian Railways did not change the name of the stations. Change of station names is entirely a state subject.

Ministry of Home Affairs, the nodal ministry for the name change. The state governments send the request to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry accords its approval, keeping the Ministry of Railways in the loop.

Note: Usually, it is ensured that no other station with the new name proposed exists anywhere in India.

What happens when a name is changed?

Once the name change is notified by the state government following all due process, Indian Railways steps in to do the necessary work. A new station “code” for railway operation purposes may need to be invented.

The name change is then fed into its ticketing system so that the new name along with the code is reflected on its tickets and reservation and train information.

Lastly, it physically changes the name written at the station — building, platform signage, etc, and also in its communication materials for all practical purposes.

How are the languages, spellings to be displayed on the signboard?

Traditionally, station names were written only in Hindi and English. Over time, it was instructed that a third language, which is the local language, should be included.

Paragraph 424 of the Indian Railway Works Manual says that Railways should obtain approval from the state government concerned on the spelling of the names (in all three languages) before putting them on its signboards.

Note: Indian Railway Works Manual is a 260-page document that codifies everything related to civil engineering construction works of Railways.

The station names shall be exhibited in the following order: Regional Language, Hindi and English, except for Tamil Nadu where the use of Hindi will be restricted to important stations and pilgrim centres as determined by the Commercial Department.

Source: This post is based on the article “Habibganj to Rani Kamlapati: How a railway station’s name is changed” published in Indian Express on 15th Nov 2021.

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