A commemorative postage stamp issued by the Indian Post celebrating 100 years of the Indian Railway in 1953.
A plan for a rail system in India was first put forward in 1832, but no further steps were taken for more than a decade. In 1844, the Governor-General of India Lord Hardinge allowed private entrepreneurs to set up a rail system in India. Two new railway companies were created and the East India Company was asked to assist them. Interest from a lot of investors in the UK led to the rapid creation of a rail system over the next few years.

The first train in India became operational on 1851-12-22, and was used for the hauling of construction material in Roorkee. A few years later, on 1853-04-16, the first passenger train between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thana covering a distance of 34 km (21 miles) was inaugurated, formally heralding the birth of railways in India.

The British government encouraged the setting up of railway companies by private investors under a scheme that would guarantee an annual return of five percent during the initial years of operation. Once completed, the company would then be transferred to the government, but the original company would retain operational control.Soon various independent kingdoms began to have their own rail systems and the network spread to the regions that became the modern-day states of Assam, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. A Railway Board was constituted in 1901, but the powers were still formally held by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon. The Railway Board operated under aegis of the Department of Commerce and Industry and had three members: a government railway official serving as chairman, a railway manager from England and an agent of one of the company railways. For the first time in its history, the Railways began to make a tidy profit. In 1907, almost all the rail companies were taken over by the government.
One of the earliest pictures of railways in India.
The following year, the first electric locomotive made its appearance. With the arrival of First World War, the railways were used to meet the needs of the British outside India. By the end of the First World War, the railways had suffered immensely, and were in a poor state. The government took over the management of the Railways and removed the link between the finances of the Railways and other governmental revenues in 1920.
The Second World War severely crippled the railways as trains were diverted to the Middle East, and the railway workshops converted into munitions workshops. At the time of independence in 1947, a big chunk 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 amalgamated as a single unit which was christened as the Indian Railways.The existing rail networks were abandoned in favour of zones in 1951 and a total of six zones came into being in 1952. As the economy of India improved, almost all railway production units were indigenised. 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.

Independence/Partition. Two big systems, Bengal Assam Railway and North Western Railway are no longer in India (these included the workshops of Saidpur and Mogulpura, respectively). Some 2955 route-km of NWR became the East Punjab Railway in India, leaving 8070km in the then West Pakistan. Part of the Jodhpur Railway also went to West Pakistan. Much of the Bengal Assam Railway went to the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Exchanging assets and staff dislocates all normal work, as does the large-scale movement of people between India and Pakistan.

There are 42 separate railway systems, including 32 lines owned by the former Indian princely states

Calcutta time is discontinued and Indian Standard Time (introduced in 1906) is observed everywhere in the country.
Several diesel locos with mechanical transmissions obtained to work services

An initial agreement is signed with the Swiss Car and Elevator Co. of Schlieren-Zurich, Switzerland, which eventually led to the establishment of the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur.
Assam Rail Link finished, re-connecting Assam Railways with the rest of the Indian system wholly through Indian territory: 229 km meter-gauge line built within 2 years. Link opened to passenger traffic on Jan 26, 1950: Republic Day.
Jan. 26: Chittaranjan Locomotive Works established in West Bengal for the manufacture of 120 steam locos annually.

Several Janata Express ("People's Express") trains are introduced, with only second-class accommodation

Some railway coaches production (10 a month) begins at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Bangalore. These are all-metal coaches made with indigenous components.

Zonal grouping of IR begun. SR is created on April 14, CR and WR on Nov. 5.

About 388 km of trackage is electrified (Bombay and Madras suburban lines) out of a total of about 55,000 km.

The post of Chief Commissioner of Railways is abolished; the Railway Board now adopts the practice of making the seniormost member Chairman of the board. The Chairman did not have overriding powers as the Chief Commissioner did; but the Chairman and Financial Commissioner could together override the rest of the Board.

NR, ER, and NER zones created on April 14.

Dec. 24: Construction of Ernakulam-Quilon MG line begins.                                                    

TELCO begins production of YG locomotives.

  • Howrah-Bandel-Burdwan electrification work commences (3kV DC).
  • Bandra-Andheri mainline tracks electrified.

(Oct.) Railway Board reorganized, with the Chairman made responsible for all technical and policy matters with the status of a Secretary to the Government of India. One more member was added to the Board.

Sleeping accommodation is introduced in 3rd class coaches.

Integral Coach Factory set up at Perambur, with the help of Swiss Car and Elevator Manufacturing Co. (Switzerland).

Eastern Railway split to form a new South-Eastern Railway. New Eastern Railway comprises the portion of the old East Indian Railway up to Moghalsarai. South-Eastern comprises the old Bengal-Nagpur Railway.


Fiat supplies a dozen MG railcars (YRD1, coupled in pairs).
First-class abolished, and 2nd, Inter, and 3rd classes are renamed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd classes, respectively.

August 1: South-Eastern Railway carved out of ER.

Andheri-Borivili section electrified.

WL class locos supplied by Vulcan Foundry.

YDM-1, ZDM-1, and NDM-1 diesel locos are brought into use.

Passenger fares standardized at 30 paise, 16 paise, 9 paise and 5 paise per mile for 1st, 2nd, Inter, 

and 3rd class, respectively. (Platform 

tickets are 2 annas each.)Divisional system of administration set up or planned for the various regional railways.
The first fully air-conditioned train is introduced between Howrah and Delhi
 On August 14, the first all-indigenous steel-bodied integral design coach rolls out from ICF.

Sep. 1: India's first Route-Relay Interlocking set up at Churchgate - Marine Lines (WR).

Railway Board expanded with posts of five Additional Members, of the status of General Managers, who were to deal with the extra work arising from the Second Five-Year Plan.
The EM/2 (later WCM-2) class of 3000V DC locos is introduced

All-India numbering scheme introduced for locomotives.

Research, Designs, and Standards Organization (RDSO) of IR formed.

 Electrification of main line from Howrah proceeds to Bandel.

Trial runs of BG diesel locos (WDM-1).

Nov. 24: Indian Railways Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications established at Secunderabad.

Railway Protection Force is constituted.


WDM-1 class BG diesel locos (100 of them) are imported from Alco (US),
wdm1harsh.jpg (200910 bytes)

Jan.: Ernakulam-Quilon MG section opened.


anuary 15: North-Eastern Railway splits to form a new Northeast Frontier Railway.

Karnail Singh Fuel Committee recommends a mix of 50% electric traction, 25% diesel, and 25% steam until 1975.

First steam loco designed and built entirely by CLW (WT class, "Chittaranjan" was the first one).

Fans and lights finally become standard fixtures in all passenger coaches, including Third Class.

Rajendra Pul (bridge) across the Ganga at Mokameh opened; this connects the MG North-Eastern Railway to the BG network of Eastern Railway with access to the Calcutta Port. River Brahmaputra is bridged at Pandu.

The Permanent Way Training School is set up (later to become IRICEN)

Sealdah Division, Asansol-Gomoh-Gaya is electrified 

 IR begins replacing copper wiring and electrical equipment with aluminium.

vestibuling of long-distance coaches became widespread.

1960's, the Salem-Bangalore MG line is opened1960

CLW starts producing 1500 V DC electric locos. The first one is "Lokmanya" (a WCM-5), commissioned on October 14.

Jamalpur Workshops begin producing rail cranes and electric arc furnaces.

Golden Rock workshops begin manufacturing wagons.

Electrification reaches Mughalsarai from Gaya
First MG diesels from DLW. First Diesel-hydraulic shunters from TELCO.

ICF begins production of self-propelled units (EMUs) - initially only trailer coaches.

Saraighat Bridge across the Brahmaputra near Amingaon is completed, connecting the two parts of the MG network in Assam to the north and south of the river.

All 8-car rakes in Mumbai converted to 9-car rakes, the standard formation for a long time thereafter.

Early experiments carried out to test the feasibility of 140km/h and 160km/h running for passenger trains.

 Diesel Locomotive Works starts production of WDM-2 locos, about 40 every year at first. The first 12 are assembled from kits supplied by Alco, and thereafter production is with mostly indigenous components. The first one from DLW is "Lal Bahadur Shastri", commissioned in January.

Diva-Panvel line opened.

Taj Express from New Delhi to Agra is introduced to allow tourists to visit Agra and return to New Delhi the same day. Running at 105km/h it brought down the travel time on this route to 2h 35m. It is hauled by a WP locomotive.

First AC loco, a WAG-1, built by CLW.

Kalyan-Kasara/Karjat section switches to using 6-car rakes from 4-car rakes.

March 31: Bombay trams stop operating.

Dec 23: Boat Mail at Dhanushkodi is washed away by large waves in a cyclone and 150 or more passengers are drowned. The official death count was about 128, but the number of unreserved passengers could not be determined.

The storm was so severe the bridge was broken. The compartment of the earlier train which was in Dhanushkodi was windswept, the storm was so severe, it carried the whole train to the other side of the island reaching Rameswaram.The boats which were lyingat the Danushkodi pierwas swept off to Rameswaram beach.

The wharf from where the ships to Sri Lanka from India used to go has been badly damaged. Totally the island was cut off Many pilgrims were marooned. One of the Tamil movie star and his wife was caught in the storm and was marooned in the island. I went there in a boat and reached Rameswaram station walking. There was the lone policeman only with a wireless set which kept communication alive to the outside world. The next morning I went around the island recording the damages and the boats and railway carriages carried away by the storm. I had to walk on the beams of 9 inches to reach the rescue ship `Sharada' I had taken only water from the mainland and starved throughout the day. The railway line between Mandapam and Rameswaram has been twistedand broken.The railway line itself was unique and the railway track will move up to let the ships pass, There was no link to the island and plgrims have to go by boat, walk to the temple to offer prayers. (Now a road bridge has been constructed and a broad gauge railway line has also been built.I finished the job and returned. That was the story the TOWN THAT WAS.

The Southern Express (21 Dn/22 Up) train is introduced between New Delhi and Madras.

Howrah-Madras mail is the first one dieselized on SER (has a WDM-1).

Madras-Tambaram-Villupuram is converted from 1.5kV DC traction to 25kV AC traction, as is the Madras Beach - Tambaram suburban section. The mainline tracks between Madras and Tambaram are also electrified (25kV AC).

Fast freight services ("Super Express") are introduced on several routes, especially those linking the four major metropolitan centres, and other important cities such as Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

First containerized freight services started, between Bombay and Ahmedabad.1966

Electrification of suburban tracks around Calcutta (Sealdah-North, Sealdah-South sections) covering 347 km completed with the 25 kV AC system. Several DC sections converted to AC in the Madras and Calcutta areas. The Igatpuri-Bhusaval section is partially electrified (Igatpuri to Nandgaon). Total electrified route km about 2,400.

Oct. 2: South-Central Railway formed from portions of Southern Railway (Vijayawada, Guntakal, Hubli divisions


rinBrindavan Exp. is dieselized. 
Flying Ranee is now the fastest medium-haul train (Bombay Central - Surat)

Deccan Queen gets a new ICF rake of anti-telescopic coaches.

CF begins production of YAU1 MG EMUs (4-car units) and of air-conditioned coaches.

Long-welded rail (LWR) is introduced in many areas.

Ajanta Exp. (Kacheguda - Manmad), the fastest MG train in India with an average speed of 42.5 km/h.

Second-class sleeper coaches for select trains (GT Exp., Frontier Mail, Howrah-Madras Mail, Bombay-Madras Exp., Delhi-Lucknow Mail, etc.).

First diesel loco with Indian equipment rolls out of DLW. WDS-5 shunters from Alco are introduced

CLW begins work on production of diesel locos, starting with the WDS-4 class shunters.

CR runs its first superfast goods train from Wadi Bunder to Itarsi (the "Freight Chief").

Jul. 19: Calcutta Tramways Co. is taken over by the government of West Bengal. (Assets vested with government in 1976.)
1968Dadar Terminus inaugurated. (First train out is the Dadar-Nagpur Exp. hauled by a WCM4; other trains using this station are Poona Passenger and Poona Exp.)

Allahabad / Kanpur - Mughalsarai section gets electric traction (AC).
State of signalling: 2 route-relay interlocking systems in use, and 4 panel interlocking systems
March 1: Howrah -- New Delhi Rajdhani Express begins running, covering the 1441 km distance in 17 hrs 20 min (was previously 24 hours). Max. speed of 120 km/h with technical halts at Kanpur, Mughalsarai, and Gomoh.

Total of about 3,500 route km electrified. Howrah-Kharagpur section electrification is complete, as is the Igatpuri-Bhusaval section.
Golconda Exp. introduced between Vijayawada and Secunderabad as the fastest steam-hauled train in the country. Average speed is 58 km/h.
Bombay-Madras Exp. (11 Dn / 12 Up) is dieselized between Poona and Madras.

Metropolitan Transport Project division set up to look into the problem of urban transit in Calcutta.

Railway Minister Panampilly Govinda Menon makes the first proposal for a 'West Coast Railway' -- the idea for what eventually became the Konkan Railway -- although this is not acted upon.
[but railway  minister George Fernandez  finished the konkan railway --738 km(438 miles) distance was finished in just 5 years,in1997-- may be he is from Mangalore -from where he came to Bombay when there was neither rail nor road connecting Mangalore to Bombay till 1965