Wednesday 14 November 2012

Indian Railway

By the word run a train we mean a vehicle with motive power running on metal rails.

" The Stockholm and Darlington Railway" (1825) is recognised as  the starting of railway age, because they were the first "Railway" to use a steam locomotive and iron rails to haul a load. It was a load of 38 carriages laden with passengers and goods ran between Stockton and Darlington. The railway line was actually commenced in 1821, but it took 4 years to complete construction.

Prior to this in 1801 Richard Trevithick made the steam carriage and in 1804 constructed a locomotive to haul a 10-ton load not on the rails but on the roads.

For other countries the list is as follows:

Now let us see about India.

       The core of the pressure for building railways in India came from London in 1840s. For a century thereafter the basic policies and ultimate management of the Indian Railways were issued from London. The British built railways in India in order to intermesh the economies of the two countries. The building of railways in India brought about unintended as well as hoped for consequences in economic, political and military front. The new railways tied the the different parts of India together more closely than ever before.

       Some mention should be made of the role of Indian businessmen played in the early years. There were Indian merchants , both in Calcutta and Bombay who took an interest in founding of the railways. The most prominent of these was a remarkable Bengali merchant Prince Dwarkanath Tagore , grandfather of Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. Dwarkanath's firm Carr, Tagore & Company, is reported to have offered in 1844, to raise one-third of the capital required for a railway from Calcutta northwest to the coalfields above Burdwan. After Dwarkanath's premature death a few tears later the other Indian businessmen played only a passive role. The conception, promotion and launching of India's railways were all British. ( Daniel Thorner 1955)   

      The Railway Age dawned in India on 16th. April 1853, when the first train ran from Bombay to Thana, a distance of 21 miles(33.81 Km.) For some years before that the idea of building railways in India had taken concrete shape with the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London. The East India Company had obtained a foothold in India as a trading company, but gradually lost most of its privileges it had enjoyed as an instrument of commerce. It had , however been made responsible for the governance of India under the supervision of a Court of Directors in London. The final authority lay , of course , with the British Cabinet, who acted on the advice of its special Board of \control for Indian Affairs. There was a Governor General at Fort William in Calcutta, having superintending authority over the administration of India.
       The first proposals for construction of railways in India were presented in 1844 to East India Company in London by, (a) East Indian Railway Company headed by R.McDonald Stephenson, and (b) Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company.

       George Stephenson the great British Locomotive inventor was one the first Directors of GIPR and his son Robert Stephenson was appointed as the consulting engineer based at London.

        Both E.I.R. and G.I.P.R were incorporated in England for the purpose of constructing railway lines in Calcutta and Bombay presidencies respectively. Though GIPR company was formed in 1844. George Stephenson could not see his Locomotives run on Indian soil as he died in 1848.

       Lord Hardinge was the Governor General of India at this point of time. He considered the proposals from political, military and commercial point of view and thought that Court Of Directors of East India Company should liberally give assistance to private capitalists, willing to make railways in India , without waiting for proof that the construction of railways in India should yield reasonable profit. The Court of Directors in their suggestion that the first attempt should be made on a limited scale due to some difficulties, deliberated as under,

1. Periodical rains and inundations;
2. The continued action of violent winds, and influence of a vertical
3. The ravages of insects and vermin upon timber and earth work;
4. The destructive effect of spontaneous vegetation of Underwood
     upon earth and brick  work;
5. The unenclosed and unprotected tracts of the country though which
     railroads would pass;
6. The difficulty and expenses of securing the services of competent
     and trustworthy engineers. 

How do you feel about these apprehensions about 150 years ago ?

The development of railways in India started on all sides after successful initial projects in the west and the east.

West : On 16th April, 1853 the first railway on Indian sub-continent ran over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane . The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclineFirst train run in Bombay first occurred to Mr. George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government, during a visit to Bhandup in 1843.The first Indian train steamed off from Bombay(Bori Bunder) to Thane  on 16th. April 1853, at 3:30 P.M. "amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns." The train consisting of 14 carriages was hauled by three locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib with 400 VVIPs The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853, when 14 railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.35 PM.

     In the East :

       The Survey from Calcutta to Delhi was carried out by Mr. Stephenson during 1845-46. The construction of railway line from Howrah to Raniganj was sanctioned only after 3 years. But by the end of 1853 61 kms. of line was ready upto Pandooah. Two historical incidents denied  EIR , the first position in history of railways in India.. The Locomotive Engine and the carriages for both the  trains of Bombay and Howrah were despatched from England almost at the same time, but the ship carrying the loco for E.I.R. (HMS Goodwin) was misdirected to Australia and the other carrying the carriages for Howrah  sank  at Sandheads. Otherwise Howrah would have had the legacy of running the first train in India. The Locomotive Engine and the carriages for both the  trains of Bombay and Howrah were despatched from England almost at the same time, but the ship carrying the loco for E.I.R. (HMS Goodwin) was misdirected to Australia and carriages for Howrah  sank  at Sandheads.  The other problem faced was that the line was aligned through Chandernagore (Chandannagar) which was a French territory at that time. The settlement of this dispute with french rulers of Chandernagore also took considerable time. The Locomotive reached Calcutta via Australia and a trial run was made on 28th. June 1854. The coaches for the first train was however manufactured by two Calcutta based companies Steward & Company and Seton & Company. Otherwise Howrah would have had the legacy of running the first train in India. 

           The first passenger train steamed out of Howrah station destined for Hooghly, (click) 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. 

          From 15th August 1854, the company ran regular services, morning and evening, between Howrah and Hugli with stops at Bally, Srerampore and Chandannagar. The fare ranged from Rs.3 by first class to 7 annas by third class. The main booking office was on the Calcutta bank, at the Armenian Ghat, and the fare covered the ferry to the station. At the Howrah end, the station consisted of a tin shed and a single line flanked by narrow platforms, somewhat to the south of the present station building constructed between 1901 and 1906.

       In the South the first line was opened on Ist July, 1856 by the Madras Railway Company. It ran between Veyasarpandy and Walajah Road (Arcot), a distance of 63 miles. the first line was opened on Ist July, 1856 by the Madras Railway Company. It ran between Veyasarpandy and Walajah Road (Arcot), a distance of 63 miles.

      In the North a length of 119 miles of line was laid from Allahabad to Kanpur on 3rd March 1859. The first section from Hathras Road to Mathura Cantonment was opened to traffic on 19th October, 1875.

         The first locomotive built in India : The F-734 built in 1895 by the Ajmer workshop of the Rajputana Malwa Railway. Earlier some locomotives were assembled using spares supplied with fully assembled locomotives which were imported. This locomotive with outside connecting and side rods was used on Rajputana Malwa & Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway systems.

          These were the small beginnings which is due course developed into a network of railway lines all over the country. By 1880 the Indian Railway system had a route mileage of about 9000 miles.
( Source : Old Eastern Railway Magazines of 1953)

Here are some of the many commemorative postage issued in India for different occasions of Indian Railways.