A Brief on the Indian Railways – 10 Minute Overview on Indian Rail

During the Industrial Age, locomotives played a hugely important role in shaping the world in its current form. India has a rich history and association with railroads, they were first introduced in 1837, when a carriage from Red Hills to Chintadripet Bridge in Madras carried granite for construction, and it was named as the ‘Red Hill Railway’. However, the first passenger train ran in 1853 between Mumbai and Thane. It embarked an era where trains would be paramount in the economic and cultural history of India.

Milestones for the Indian Railways

  • Eastern India’s first passenger train ran in 1853. The first passenger train in Eastern India ran in suburban Kolkata on 15th August 1854. In South India, it ran from Madras to Arcot on July 1st, 1856.

  • On February 3rd, 1925 India’s first electric train ran between VT and Kurla in Mumbai.

  • The Dapoorie viaduct, India’s first railway bridge was constructed in 1854 over the Ulhas River, for the Mumbai-Thane line.

  • The Kolkata trams that run to this day first came into operation in 1871.

The Post-Independence history of the Railroads

After years of struggle and tyranny, India finally attained its independence on August 15th, 1947, and took over the reins of the Indian Railways from the British. However, all the railroads in India were not handled by one organization and even if so, it would still be a monumental task to maintain the function of such an extensive network. In the 1950s it was decided that all remaining state-owned railways would be merged into Zonal systems. And so, 9 zones were demarcated, and the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central Railways to name a few came into existence.

As modernization took place, some important events, in no particular order, during the post-independence railways were:

  • Lighting and fans were mandated for all coaches in 1951.

  • Computerized ticketing was introduced to replace manual ticketing in 1986.

  • Air-conditioned coaches and fully air-conditioned trains were introduced in 1956.

  • With the advent of the internet age, online train ticket systems were introduced in the 2000s and are now the go-to way to get reservations.

  • The Shatabdi Express, which is considered as the Ideal way to travel in India was brought to fruition in 1988.

The railways have played an integral part in molding what is essentially a modern India, but it hasn’t forgotten its roots. In honor of that rich history, two UNESCO World Heritage sites namely The Mountain Railways of India and The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), still function to this day.

The Mountain Railways which are the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal, Shimla-Kalka Railway in the Siwalik Hills, Himachal Pradesh, and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in the Nilgiri Hills,  Tamil Nadu. These are a very popular tourist attraction and regularly attract flocks of people every day. The CSMT is an old historical building nearly 150 years old and is the headquarters of the Central and Western Railways.

The future for Indian Railways looks bright, and there are plans already in place to introduce HSR and metros in various cities. For years to come, it will continue to act as a backbone of this fast developing nation.

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Mihir Patel

A blogger by the mind and a passionate blogger by heart ❤️. Fountainhead of 10Minuteideas. Life motto: Live while you can! Teach & inspire while you could & Smile while you have the teeth.

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