As interesting and fascinating the Indian Railways seems; it has a vast history behind it. The busy railway system was surely not built in a day. It has taken centuries for the system to evolve and become reliable. The Railways, like any other transport system, has changed with time, added to itself new techniques and modernized to suit the current trends. There is a huge difference in what it was when the first train was flagged off, to what it is in the present day.
Here is a sneak peek into the journey of the Indian railway –
- The first train of the country ran in 1837, from Red Hills to Chintadripet Bridge in Madras. It was called the Red Hill Railway. It was a typical rotary steam engine train that was common in those times. The train was mainly used to transport granite stones to build roads in Madras.
- In 1845, the East India Railway company came into existence. Most of the trains in that era were used to transport raw material for civil and construction work.
- On 16 April 1853, the first passenger train of the country ran from Bombay to Thane. It was a 14 carriage train hauled by three steam locomotives named Sahib, Sultan and Sindh. The train ran 34 kilometres carrying 400 people.
- In eastern India, the first passenger train ran from Howrah to Hooghly for 24 miles. This was on 15 August 1854.
- The same year, Bombay-Thane line was extended up to Kalyan by the construction of a bridge on Ulhas River. It was the first railway bridge in India.
- South India’s first passenger train ran from Royapuram in Madras to Wallajah Road (Arcot) covering 60 miles. It was on 1 July 1856.
- It was not until 1897 that lighting was introduced in passenger coaches by many railway companies.
- The Jodhpur Railway was the first to introduce electric lights as standard fixtures in 1902.
- Electric lighting of signals was introduced in 1920 between Dadar and Currey Road in Bombay.
- India’s first electric train ran on 3 February 1925, between Victoria Terminus and Kurla. The train ran on 1500V DC overhead traction.
- India’s first railway budget was presented in 1925.
- After independence in 1947, India inherited a crumbling rail network with 40 percent of the railway lines in the newly created country, Pakistan. Many lines were rerouted through Indian Territory, and where rerouting was not possible, new lines were constructed.
- In 1952, the existing rail networks were replaced by zones. Six zones were formed in 1952. On 6 September 2003 six more zones were added to the existing zones for administration purpose. One more zone was added in 2006. Today, there are seventeen zones in India, which include Kolkata Metro.
- In 1977, India’s first railway museum was set up in New Delhi at Chanakyapuri. It is a unique museum spread over 10 acres, consisting of nine display galleries and a Railway Yard.
Today Indian Railways has developed its technology and standards. From online bookings to air-conditioned coaches, we have all the comforts in the Railways.