The Journey of Indian Railways

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The first train in the country had run between Roorkee and Piran Kaliyar on December 22, 1851 and not two years later as widely known. To solve the then irrigation problems of farmers, large quantity of clay was required which was available in Piran Kaliyar area, 10 km away from Roorkee.

In 1845, along with Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, Hon. Jaganath Shunkerseth (known as Nana Shankarsheth) formed the Indian Railway Association.
The first commercial train journey in India between Bombay and Thane on 16 April 1853 in a 14 carriage long train drawn by 3 locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib. It was around 21 miles in length and took approximately 45 minutes.

In 1900, the GIPR became a government owned company. The network spread to the modern-day states of Assam, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh and soon various independent kingdoms began to have their own rail systems.
In 1901, an early Railway Board was constituted, but the powers were formally invested under Lord Curzon. It served under the Department of Commerce and Industry and had a government railway official serving as chairman, and a railway manager from England and an agent of one of the company railways as the other two members. For the first time in its history, the Railways began to make a profit.
India's first electric locos (two of them), however, had already made their appearance on the Indian soil much earlier. They were delivered to the Mysore Gold Fields by Bagnalls (Stafford) with overhead electrical equipment by Siemens as early as 1910.
The first electric train ran between Bombay (Victoria Terminus) and Kurla, a distance of 16 kms, on February 3, 1925 along the city’s harbour route.
Following independence in 1947, India inherited a decrepit rail network. About 40 per cent of the railway lines were in the newly created Pakistan. Many lines had to be rerouted through Indian territory and new lines had to be constructed to connect important cities such as Jammu. A total of 42 separate railway systems, including 32 lines owned by the former Indian princely states existed at the time of independence spanning a total of 55,000 km. These were amalgamated into the Indian Railways.

In 1952, it was decided to replace the existing rail networks by zones. A total of six zones came into being in 1952. As India developed its economy, almost all railway production units started to be built indigenously. The Railways began to electrify its lines to AC. On 6 September 2003 six further zones were made from existing zones for administration purpose and one more zone added in 2006. The Indian Railways has now seventeen zones including Kolkata Metro.

Zone Formation

Around 1950, legislation was passed allowing the central government to take over many of the independent railway systems that were in operation.
In 1951, the following zones were created:
  • SR — April 14: From Madras & Southern Mahratta Rly., South Indian Rly., and Mysore State Rly. (about 9660 km).
  • CR — Nov. 5: From the GIPR, the Nizam's State Rly., and the Scindia and Dholpur Rly. (about 8690 km).
  • WR — Nov. 5: From the BB&CI Rly., the Saurashtra, the Rajasthan, the Jaipur, and the Cutch Rlys. (about 9120 km).
In 1952, the following zones were created:
  • NR — April 14: From the Jodhpur Rly., Bikaner Rly., three divisions of the East Indian Rly. north-west of Mughalsarai, and the Eastern Punjab Rly. (about 9670 km).
  • ER — April 14: From the rest of the East Indian Rly. (east of Mughalsarai) and the Bengal Nagpur Rly. (about 9120 km).
  • NER — April 14: From the Oudh-Tirhut Rly., the Assam Rly., and the Kanpur-Achnera section of the BB&CI Rly. (about 7660 km).
In 1955, the South-Eastern Railway is carved out of ER:
  • SER — August 1: ER retains three divisions of the old East Indian Rly. and the Sealdah division of the old Bengal-Assam Rly. (about 3740km); the rest becomes SER (about 5380km).
In 1958, the Northeast Frontier Railway was carved out of NER:
  • NFR — Jan. 15: the former Assam Rly. lines in the Pandu region are split off from NER to become the NFR (about 3730km).
In 1966, South-Central Rly. was carved out of SR:
  • SCR — Oct. 2: The former Nizam's State Rly. network (by then the Secunderabad and Solapur divisions of SR) and part of the former Madras & Southern Mahratta Rly. (by then the Vijayawada and Hubli divisions) are split off from SR to become the South-Central Rly. (about 6070km).

The Story of Railways Construction

1849-1868 The Early Guarantee System: Under these contracts the Railway Companies undertook to construct and manage specified lines, while the East India Company (or the Secretary of State for India) agreed to provide land and guaranteed interest on the capital, the rate fixed being in various cases 5, 4.75 and 4.5 percent according to the market rates prevailing when the various contracts were made.
1869-1881 State Railway constructions: There were three kinds:
  • Imperial State Railways- owned by the British Government of India through the Governors of one of the Presidencies of Bombay, Bengal or Madras.
  • Provincial State Railways- owned by the British provinces e.g. Northwest Awadh, Punjab etc.
  • Railways owned by the native states e.g. Jodhpur Railway owned by the Maharaja of Jodhpur etc.
The New Guarantee System- Three new guaranteed companies were formed- Southern Maratha in 1882, the Indian Midland Railway in 1885 and the Bengal Nagpur Railway in 1887. The State started acquiring the old guaranteed companies as and when their contracts came up for renewal.

Then came the Nationalization of Railways: Acworth committee recommended the government should take control of railways.
East India Railway
Awadh & Tirhut Railway
South Indian Railway
Bengal Nagpur Railway
Madras and Southern Marhatha Railway

Content Courtsey: Indian Railways



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