New Delhi: The Indian Railways that commenced its historic journey on December 22, 1851 by bringing a goods train on track, is now 158-year-old. However, historians consider April 16, 1853 as the first day of the Indian Railways, when the wheels of railways moved for the first time between Mumbai and Thane. Railways, facing hosts of challenges, has still to go a long way.

Development plan

Indian Railways started sketching its development route after four years of independence in 1951. Zonal railway system came into effect in 1952. The number of zones in Indian Railways increased from six to eight in 1951, nine in 1952, and finally 17 in 2010 respectively.

Dhanbad Railway zone left a deep impact for decades in the loading division section. Its Howrah-Delhi rail zone, also known as Grand cord, came into existence in 1906, which completes its 105th year on Saturday.

History with a twist

The dream of Indian Railways was first visualised in 1832 but unfortunately could not be brought into reality. In 1842 when poet Rabindra Nath Tagore’s grandfather was on a tour to London he was impressed to see the development of foreign railways, which were running on the broad gauges.

He tried to spread a railway track between Kolkata and Rajmahal but was unsuccessful in his attempts. However, it was in British India in 1844, when first news on Indian Railways was published.

In 18345 the survey regarding Howrah-Rajmahal line was complete and the construction commenced in 1851.

1852 saw the completion of Boribandar-Thane Railway track line as the trial run was done on November 18, the same year.

It was on April 16 that the first passenger train with 14 bogies and 400 passengers travelled between Boribandar and Thane.

Another train comprising 9 bogies and 300 passengers ran between Howrah and Hoogly.

Challenges

Completion of 158 years of Railways is both a matter of pride and concern for the Indians.

WAPP, WAG has taken the place of steam engine and Duranto and Rajdhani are running in place of express trains but much needs to be done as Indian Railways lags far behind, in terms of infrastructure, essential services and other amenities.

JPN/Bureau