(Last Updated on : 29/07/2011)
Indian Railways is one of India`s most effective networks that unite the integral social, economical, political and cultural fabric of the country. Indian Railways is owned and managed by the Indian government. Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway system in the entire world that carries around 30 million people and almost 3 million tons of cargo on a daily basis. It is also amongst the major employers around the globe with almost 1.6 million people working in the network. Indian Railways has almost 7000 stations spread across the country. From the mountainous terrains to the long stretches through the Rajasthan
desert, Indian Railways cover the huge area of the country from north to south, east to west, and connects the entire nation.
History of Indian Railways
In the year, 1853 the first passenger train service was inaugurated between Bori Bunder, Bombay (now Mumbai
), and Thane
. This was the formal birth of Indian Railways. The first passenger train steamed out of Howrah Railway Station
destined for Hooghly
, a distance of 24 miles, on 15th August 1854. Thus the first section of the East Indian Railway was opened to public traffic, inaugurating the beginning of railway transport on the Eastern side of the sub-continent. In south, the Madras Railway Company opened the first line on 1st July 1856. It ran between Veyasarpandy and Walajah Road, a distance of 63 miles. In the North, a length of 119 miles of line was laid from Allahabad
on 3rd March 1959.
By 1880, the Indian Railway system had a route mileage of about 9000 miles. The route mileage of this network was about 14,500 km by 1880, mostly spreading inward from the three major port cities of Bombay (now Mumbai
), and Calcutta (now Kolkata
). By 1895, India had started building its own locomotives, and in 1896 sent engineers and locomotives to help build the Railways.
Soon the network spread to the regions that became the modern day states of Assam
, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Railway Board was constituted in 1901, but decision-making power was retained by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon
. The Railway Board operated under the guidance of the Department of Commerce and Industry. In 1907, almost all the rail companies were taken over by the government.
At the time of independence in 1947, a large portion of the railways went to the then newly formed Pakistan. A total of forty-two separate railway systems, including thirty-two lines owned by the former Indian princely states, were merged as a single unit which came to be known as the Indian Railways. In 1952, a total of six zones came into being. As the economy of India improved, almost all railway production units were diagnosed. By 1985, steam locomotives were phased out in favour of diesel and electric locomotives. The entire railway reservation system was streamlined with Computerisation in 1995.
Recent Developments in Indian Railways
To further improve upon its services, the Indian Railways have commenced upon various schemes, which are massively motivated. The railway has changed from meter gauge to broad gauge. Now, there are the impressive looking locomotives that haul the 21st-century harbingers- The Rajdhani and Shatabdi at speeds of 145 kmph with all amenities and comfort. The Research, Designing, and Standardising Organization at Lucknow, the largest railway research organisation in the world, was constituted in 1957. It is constantly devising improvements in the signalling systems, track design and layout, coach interiors for better riding comfort and capacity, etc along with improvements in locomotives. The workshops of the railways too have been given new equipment to create sophisticated coaches at Perambur and Kapurthala
and diesel engine parts at Patiala
. Locomotives are being made at Chittaranjan and Varanasi
More trains and routes are constantly being added to the railway network and services. The network of lines has grown to about 62,000 km. the variety of Indian Railways is diverse. It still has the idealistic toy trains on narrow gauge hill sections, meter gauge beauties on other and broad gauge bonanzas as one visits places of tourist interest. They are an acknowledgement of the Railways that tourism as an industry has to be promoted and that India is full of unique beauty.
The Kolkata Metro is a fine example of highly complex engineering techniques being adopted to install an underground railway system in the densely populated areas of kolkata. the Metro Railway started operating in Kolkata from September 27, 1995 over a length of 16.45 km. There is also a Circular Railway from Dum Dum to Princep Ghats covering 13.50 km to provide commuter trains.
The Delhi Metro, operated by the DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited) connects New Delhi, Ghaziabad
, Gurgaon and Noida through an effective transit network. The network consists of 142 stations and 35 of them are located underground. The total length of the Delhi Metro is 189.63 km and comprises of six lines.
Today railway stations are being given the shape of large complexes and besides having the usual amenities like retiring rooms, restaurants, they now include large office areas. Over bridges is now being replaced by underground passages providing more space above, on the platforms. Moreover, Indian Railways are planning to have in-train internet and telephone system, so that the passengers` time is not wasted, but rather utilised properly. Indian Railways are improving and enhancing by adopting world class standards in order to every possible facility to the passengers.