Say Happy Birthday to Indian Railways! April 16 marks a very special day for Indian Railways as today 165 years ago, i.e., April 16, 1853, the first passenger train of Indian Railways ran between Bori Bunder (Mumbai CSMT) and Thane in Maharashtra. Interestingly, the passenger train was flagged off following a 21-gun salute. The 14-carriage first passenger train was hauled by three steam locomotives namely, Sahib, Sindh, Sultan and carried 400 railway passengers. Since then, the largest public transporter, which is also one of the largest employers in the world has been serving the nation by carrying more than 2.3 crore railway passengers across all trains per day. Even though trains in India started running much before 1853, this was the first time that a passenger train plied on the tracks of Indian Railways. To celebrate the 165 glorious years of Indian Railways, here are quirky, little known facts about the national transporter:
In 1861, Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BBCI) Railway opened the Churchgate railway station as its new terminus for Bombay (now Mumbai).
In 1864, the oldest railway station of Delhi, Delhi Junction railway station was established near Chandni Chowk, starting train service between Delhi and Calcutta (now Kolkata).
In 1867, the first railway line from Lucknow to Kanpur was built in the month of April.
In 1870, construction of the Sutlej bridge was completed, which is still defined as “work of great magnitude”.
In 1880, the Darjeeling Steam Tramway, which later became Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, started its services on its first section Siliguri- Darjeeling Rail line.
In 1895, the first locomotive, an F Class 0-6-0 MG Loco, was built in Ajmer for the Rajputana Malwa Railway (F-734). Still now, it has been preserved at National Rail Museum.
In 1911, the construction of Pamban Railway Bridge was started and the Bridge was commenced on 1914. It the first Indian Bridge which is built across the sea.
In 1920, Railways introduced Electric lighting between Dadar and Currey Road in Mumbai.
From 1924 to 1944, nationalization of Railways was initiated. The state took over all the major rail companies such as GIPR, EIR etc.
In 1928, first ever automatic colour light signals in India was introduced on GIPR’s lines between Bombay VT and Byculla.
In 1930, Railways introduced power signalling and upper quadrant semaphore signals. Also, the Deccan Queen started its journey, hauled by a WCP-1 on a newly electrified route to Poona (now Pune).
In 1943, Kolkata’s iconic Howrah Bridge was commissioned. The opening of the Bridge allowed tramps to be connected to the Howrah routes.
In 1948, 100 WG class 2-8-2 locos were ordered from North British. However, CLW started to produce them in 1950.
In 1954, the Railways introduced sleeping accommodation in 3 Tier railway coaches.
In 1959, WAM-1 “Jagjivan Ram” was commissioned. WAM-1 are among the first AC electrics to run in India.
In 1961, CLW started manufacturing 1500 V DC electric locomotives, first one being “Lokmanya”. These are first indigeniously designed DC electrics, mostly used for passenger duties.
In 1962, WDM2 locomotive of the American locomotive company, ALCO was introduced.
In 1964, Taj Express train service between New Delhi and Agra was introduced to allow tourists to visit Agra and return to New Delhi on the same day.
In 1965, the Railways introduced Fast Freight services across several routes, especially those connecting the four major metropolitan cities of the nation and other important cities such as Ahmedabad, Bangalore etc.
In 1966, Centralized Traffic Control System was first introduced on Indian Railways between, 187 km long stretch- Gorakhpur and Chhapra.
In 1970, Indian railways developed its last BG sream engine, a WG named “Antim Sitara”.
During 1978-1979, few locomotives of WDM 2 class were produced, which were termed “Jumbos” by the crew.
In 1980, WAP-1, built by CLW to RDSO specifications was introduced. This was the first in dedicated electric passenger loco series.
In 1986, Indian Railways introduced computerized ticketing and reservation at New Delhi.
In 1990, the first Self Printing Ticket Machine was introduced by the Railways at New Delhi.
In 2001, WDP-4 was started in the month of June and 10 of them were provided by General Motors, operating out of Hubli.