History of rail transport in India

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This article is part of the history of rail transport by country series.

The history of rail transport in India began in the early nineteenth century.

1832–1852: Industrial railways

The first proposals for railways in India were made in Madras in 1832.[1] The first train in India ran from Red Hills to Chintadripet bridge in Madras in 1837. It was called Red Hill Railway. It was hauled by a rotary steam engine locomotive manufactured by William Avery. It was built by Sir Arthur Cotton. It was primarily used for transporting granite stones for road building work in Madras.[1] In 1845, a railway was built at Dowleswaram in Rajahmundry. It was called Godavari Dam Construction Railway. It was also built by Arthur Cotton. It was used to supply stones for construction of a dam over Godavari.[1] On 8 May 1845, Madras Railway was incorporated. In the same year, the East India Railway company was incorporated. On 1 August 1849, Great Indian Peninsular Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. "Guarantee System" providing free land and guaranteed rates of return (5%) to the private English companies willing to work on building railways was finalized on 17 August 1849. In 1851, a railway was built in Roorkee. It was called Solani Aqueduct Railway. It was hauled by steam locomotive Thomason, named after a British officer in-charge of same name. It was used for transporting construction materials for building of aqueduct over Solani river.[1] In 1852, the "Madras Guaranteed Railway Company" was incorporated.

1853–1924: Passenger railways and expansion

India's first passenger train between Bombay and Thane in 1853

The first passenger train in India ran between Bombay (Bori Bunder) and Thane on 16 April 1853. The 14-carriage train was hauled by three steam locomotives: Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. It ran for about 34 kilometers between these two cities carrying 400 people. The line was built and operated by GIPR.[2][3] This railway line was built in 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge, which became the standard for the railways in the country. The first passenger railway train in eastern India ran from Howrah, near Calcutta to Hoogly, for distance of 24 miles, on 15 August 1854. The line was built and operated by EIR.[4] In May 1854, the Bombay-Thane line was extended to Kalyan by building bridge over "Dapoorie viaduct" over Ulhas river.[5] This was also the first railway bridge in India. In the same year GIPR started its first workshops in Byculla. In 1855, BB&CI Railway was incorporated.[6] In August 1855, EIR 'Express' and Fairy Queen steam locomotives started hauling trains.[7] The first passenger train in South India ran from Royapuram / Veyasarapady (Madras) to Wallajah Road (Arcot) on 1 July 1856, for a distance of 60 miles. It was built and operated by Madras Railway.[8] In the same year, first workshop was set up by the Madras Railway at Perambur, near Madras. The Bombay-Thane line was extended to Khopoli in same year. In 1858, Eastern Bengal Railway was incorporated.[9] On 24 February 1873, the first tramway (a horse-drawn tramway) opened in Calcutta between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street, a distance of 3.8 km.[10] In 1874, GSIR and Carnatic Rly. merged to form the South Indian Railway. On 9 May 1874, horse-drawn tramway began operations in Bombay between Colaba and Parel. In 1880, Calcutta Tramways Company was incorporated.[11] In 1890, East Coast State Railway was incorporated. In 1897, lighting in passenger coaches was introduced by many railway companies. In 1902, the Jodhpur Railway became the first to introduce electric lights as standard fixtures. In 1920, electric lighting of signals was introduced between Dadar and Currey Road in Bombay.

1925–1950: Electrification and further expansion

On 3 February 1925, first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria terminus and Kurla. It ran on 1500V DC overhead traction.[12] Cammell Laird and Uerdingenwagonfabrik companies provided the locomotives for the same. In the same year VT-Bandra section was also electrified and electric services began there, with an elevated platform at Sandhurst Road.[12] In the same year, the Oudh and Rohilkhund Railway was merged with EIR. The first railway budget was also presented in 1925.[13] East Indian Railway Company and Great Indian Peninsular Railway were taken over by the state in the same year.[14] In 1926, Kurla-Kalyan section was electrified with 1500 V DC. Electrification to Poona and Igatpuri (both 1500V DC) over the Bhore and Thal Ghats was also completed in the same year.[12] Charbagh railway station in Lucknow was built in the same year. On Jan 1928, Bandra-Virar section was electrified with 1500V DC. In the same year, the Frontier Mail made its inaugural run between Bombay VT and Peshawar.[15] and first automatic colour-light signals became operational in India, on GIPR's lines between Bombay VT and Byculla.[16] In the same year, Kanpur Central and Lucknow stations were inaugurated. In 1929, the Grand Trunk Express began running between Peshawar and Mangalore,[17] Punjab Limited Express began running between Mumbai and Lahore. Automatic colour-light signalling was extended to the Byculla-Kurla section in the same year. On 1 June 1930, the Deccan Queen began running, hauled by a WCP-1 (No. 20024, old number EA/1 4006) and with 7 coaches, on the GIPR's electrified route from Bombay VT to Poona (Pune).[18] In the same year, Hyderabad Godavary Valley Rly. was merged into Nizam's State Rly. In the same year, the route of the Grand Trunk Exp. was changed to Delhi - Madras.

1951–1983: Zonal re-organisation and further developments

The re-organisation of railways in India into regional zones began in 1951.[19] On 14 April 1951, Southern Railway was created. On 5 November, Central Railway and Western Railway were created.[20] In the same year,the post of Chief Commissioner of Railways was abolished and the Railway Board adopted the practice of making the seniormost member Chairman of the board.[20] In the same year, the government of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Co. to take over its administrative functions. On 14 April 1952, Northern Railway, Eastern Railway and North-Eastern Railway were created.[20] In the same year, fans and lights were mandated for all compartments in all classes of passenger accommodation and sleeping accommodation was introduced in coaches. On 1 August 1955, Eastern Railway was split to form new South-Eastern Railway. In 1956, divisional system of administration was set up for the various regional zones. Also in 1956, the first fully air-conditioned train was introduced between Howrah and Delhi.[21] In 1957, after successful trials in France, SNCF proposed 25kV AC electrification for railways. Railways took a decision to adopt 25kV AC electrification and chose SNCF as technical consultant.[22] An organisation, Main Line Electrification Project (which later became the Railway Electrification Project and still later the Central Organization for Railway Electrification) was established in the same year.[23] In 1958, the North-Eastern Railway split to form a new Northeast Frontier Railway.[20] In 1959, the Raj Kharswan - Dongoposi section became the first section to be electrified with 25kV AC traction.[22] The first scheduled train using 25kV AC traction ran on Raj Kharswan - Dongoposi section on 11 August 1960.[22] In 1966, first containerized freight services were started, between Bombay and Ahmedabad. In the same year, electrification of several suburban tracks around Delhi, Madras and Calcutta was completed with the 25 kV AC system. In 1979, Main Line Electrification Project was reconstituted into Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE).

1984–present: Rapid transit and later developments

Railway network schematic map, 2009

On October 24 1984, first metro train ran in India between Esplanade to Bhowanipur (now the Netaji Bhawan station) in Calcutta.[24] Thus Calcutta Metro became the first metro in the country.[25] In 1986, computerized ticketing and reservation was introduced in India, for the first time, at New Delhi.[26] In 1988, The first Shatabdi Express was introduced in the country between New Delhi and Jhansi (later extended to Bhopal), and also became the fastest train at the time.[27] In 1990, first Self-Printing Ticket Machine (SPTM) was introduced, at New Delhi. In 1993, AC 3-tier coaches were introduced for the first time in India. In the same year, Sleeper Class was introduced on IR for the first time, separate from Second Class. On 16 January 1995, first regularly scheduled services on trains hauled by locos using the 2*25kV system of traction started on Bina-Katni. In September 1996, CONCERT system of computerized reservations was fully deployed at New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. In 1998, Coupon Validating Machines (CVMs) were introduced at Mumbai CST. The complete networked nationwide CONCERT system became operational on 18 April, 1999. In the same year, South East Central was constituted. Credit cards were started being accepted for booking tickets and reservations in some stations also in 1999. In February 2000, Indian Railways web site was deployed.[28] On 6 July 2002, the East Coast, South Western, South East Central, North Central, and West Central zones were created.[29] On 3 August 2002, IR began online train reservations and ticketing over the Internet. On 1 Dec 2002, Internet ticket booking was extended to many cities.[30] On 5 February 2012, WR switched completely to 25kV AC traction, ending its use of 1.5kV DC traction.[31] On 26 September 2013, Tatkal system of ticketing extended to ordinary trains. On 5 April 2016, Gatiman Express, India's fastest train with the maximum speed of 160 km/h, made its maiden journey from Delhi to Agra.[32] On 11 April 2016, CR completely switched to 25 kV AC traction, ending the use of DC traction completely in Mumbai area as well as on entire main-line rail network in the country.[33] On 31 March 2017, IR announced that the entire rail network in the country will be electrified by 2022.[34]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "[IRFCA] India's First Railways". www.irfca.org. 
  2. ^ "164 Years Ago On This Day, India's First Train Ran From Mumbai To Thane". 
  3. ^ "India’s 1st train: When Sahib, Sindh & Sultan blew steam - Times of India". 
  4. ^ "[IRFCA] Indian Railways FAQ: IR History: Early Days - 1". www.irfca.org. 
  5. ^ "Facts about the Indian Railways that will surprise you!". 11 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "Western Railway". www.wr.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  7. ^ "Fairy Queen". www.irctctourism.com. 
  8. ^ "Legacy of First Railway Station of South India". RailNews Media India Ltd. 
  9. ^ "Eastern Bengal Railway - Graces Guide". www.gracesguide.co.uk. 
  10. ^ "Kolkata’s trams – A ride through history". 2 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "History - The Calcutta Tramways Company [1978] Ltd.". calcuttatramways.com. 
  12. ^ a b c "Welcome to Official Website of CORE". www.core.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  13. ^ indiainfoline.com. "History of Indian Railway Budget". 
  14. ^ http://www.nair.indianrailways.gov.in/uploads/files/1430369423822-operating.pdf
  15. ^ "Frontier Mail". iaslic1955.org. 
  16. ^ "Signalling in India - Past and Present". signalbox.org. 
  17. ^ "The Grand Trunk Express". iaslic1955.org. 
  18. ^ "Deccan Queen Facts - General Knowledge for Kids - Mocomi". 26 January 2012. 
  19. ^ User, Super. "History of Railways". www.kportal.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  20. ^ a b c d http://www.indianrail.gov.in/ir_zones.pdf
  21. ^ "160 years of Indian Railways: Here's how AC trains were kept cool". 2 April 2013. 
  22. ^ a b c "Welcome to Official Website of CORE". www.core.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  23. ^ "Welcome to Official Website of CORE". www.core.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  24. ^ "History of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation - KMRC". 4 December 2015. 
  25. ^ "Metro Railway Kolkata / Indian Railways Portal". www.mtp.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  26. ^ http://icisa.cag.gov.in/audit_report/2/15db5cf8539e7f66e05214564e6b5d01.pdf
  27. ^ "Shatabdi Express - Shatabdi Express Train, Shatabadi Express Timetable, Shatabadi Express Schedule Booking India". www.iloveindia.com. 
  28. ^ "Indian Railway". www.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  29. ^ "North Central Railways / Indian Railways Portal". www.ncr.indianrailways.gov.in. 
  30. ^ "IRCTC Next Generation eTicketing System". www.irctc.co.in. 
  31. ^ UK, DVV Media. "Mumbai switches from DC to AC". 
  32. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gatimaan-express-reaches-agra-in-targeted-99-minutes/1/635554.html
  33. ^ "End of an era: Mumbai bids goodbye to last DC local". 11 April 2016. 
  34. ^ "48 per cent rail tracks electrified, aim to double it in 5 years: Govt". 31 March 2017. 

Further reading

  • Andrew, W. P. (1884). Indian Railways. London: W H Allen. 
  • Awasthi, A. (1994). History and Development of Railways in India. New Delhi: Deep and Deep Publications. 
  • Bhandari, R.R. (2006). Indian railways : Glorious 150 Years (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India. ISBN 8123012543. 
  • Ghosh, S. (2002). Railways in India – A Legend. Kolkata: Jogemaya Prokashani. 
  • Government of India Railway Board (1919). History of Indian Railways Constructed and In Progress corrected up to 31st March 1918. India: Government Central Press. 
  • Hurd, John; Kerr, Ian J. (2012). India's Railway History: A Research Handbook. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 2, South Asia, 27. Leiden; Boston: Brill. ISBN 9789004230033. 
  • Huddleston, George (1906). History of the East Indian Railway. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co. 
  • Kerr, Ian J. (1995). Building the Railways of the Raj. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 
  • Kerr, Ian J. (2001). Railways in Modern India. Oxford in India Readings. New Delhi; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195648285. 
  • Kerr, Ian J. (2007). Engines of Change: the railroads that made India. Engines of Change series. Westport, Conn, USA: Praeger. ISBN 0275985644. 
  • Khosala, Guradiala Si?gha (1988). A History of Indian Railways. New Delhi: Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, Government of India. OCLC 311273060. 
  • Law Commission (England and Wales) (2007) "Consultation Paper: Indian Railways Repeal Proposals" (PDF).  (1.62 MiB)
  • Rao, M.A. (1999). Indian Railways (3rd ed.). New Delhi: National Book Trust, India. ISBN 8123725892. 
  • Sahni, Jogendra Nath (1953). Indian Railways: One Hundred Years, 1853 to 1953. New Delhi: Ministry of Railways (Railway Board). OCLC 3153177. 
  • Satow, M. & Desmond R. (1980). Railways of the Raj. London: Scolar Press. 
  • South Indian Railway Co. (1900). Illustrated Guide to the South Indian Railway Company, Including the Mayavaram-Mutupet and Peralam-Karaikkal Railways. Madras: Higginbotham. 
  • — (1910). Illustrated Guide to the South Indian Railway Company. London. 
  • — (2004) [1926]. Illustrated Guide to the South Indian Railway Company. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 81-206-1889-0. 
  • Vaidyanathan, K.R. (2003). 150 Glorious Years of Indian Railways. Mumbai: English Edition Publishers and Distributors (India). ISBN 8187853492. 
  • Westwood, J.N. (1974). Railways of India. Newton Abbot, Devon, UK; North Pomfret, Vt, USA: David & Charles. ISBN 071536295X. 

External links

  • "History of the Indian railways in chronological order". IRFC server. Indian Railways Fan Club. Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  • Roychoudhury, S. (2004). "A chronological history of India's railways". Retrieved 2007-10-21. 
  • Rail Enquiry
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