What is a cantonment railway station? How is it different from other railway stations?
Cantonment stations are the stations which are in the Cantt area of a city. A cantt is an area of a city where the army or the armed forces are stationed. The term ‘Cantonment’ stands for a large Army Establishment.
There are cities with cantonment, like Agra, Pathankot, Delhi etc. Most of the part of Indian Railways was made under British Raj. At the time of British Raj, trains were one of the only few transports available to transport. To make some stations specially for Military Movement, the cantonment stations were made at that time, distinguishing them from other railway stations, marking the Army Presence there.
Cantt stations are special because of their proximity to the army bases in various cities and thus hold facilities that can be utilised by the Defence forces for their needs like Logistics, Unit Transfer, Troop Movement etc.
Many Cantt stations in India are small stations with limited stoppages of trains on them like Delhi Cantt, Meerut Cantt etc, but there are some cities which have Cantt stations serving as the main station for the city.
Many Cantt stations have also been classified as Junctions and hence they don’t have Cantt in their name like Allahabad Jn., Varanasi Jn. Both of these stations lie in the cantonment region but also act as a junction for multiple lines and hence the different classification.
Today there is no major difference between a normal railway station and “Cantonment” railway station. The name just implies that the station is near a Military station. “Civilians” could use this railway station just like any other railway stations. These stations generally have a “MCO” (Movement Control Office – of the defense forces) only to help the defense personnel arriving/departing that station.