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Chapter: Civil : Railway Airport Harbour Engineering : Railway Engineering : History and General Features of Indian Railways

Developments in Indian Railways

Important developments in Indian Railways have been chronologically listed

The history of railways is closely linked with civilization. As the necessity arose, human beings developed various methods of transporting goods from one place to another. In the primitive days goods were carried as head loads or in carts drawn by men or animals. Then efforts were made to replace animal power with mechanical power. In 1769, Nicholes Carnot, a Frenchman, carried out the pioneering work of developing steam energy. This work had very limited success and it was only in the year 1804 that Richard Trevithick designed and constructed a steam locomotive. This locomotive, however, could be used for traction on roads only. The credit of perfecting the design goes to George Stephenson, who in 1814 produced the first steam locomotive used for traction in railways.


The first public railway in the world was opened to traffic on 27 September 1825 between Stockton and Darlington in the UK. Simultaneously, other countries in Europe also developed such railway systems; most introduced trains for carriage of passenger traffic during that time. The first railway in Germany was opened from Nurenberg to Furth in 1835. The USA opened its first railway line between Mohawk and Hudson in 1833.


The first railway line in India was opened in 1853. The first train, consisting of one steam engine and four coaches, made its maiden trip on 16 April 1853, when it traversed a 21-mile stretch between Bombay (now Mumbai) and Thane in 1.25 hours. Starting from this humble beginning, Indian Railways has grown today into a giant network consisting of 63,221 route km and criss-crossing this great country from the Himalayan foothills in the north to Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) in the south and from Dibrugarh in the east to Dwarka in the west. Indian Railways has a glorious past of more than 150 years. The developments in Indian Railways, its organization, and its working are explained in the following sections.

Developments in Indian Railways


Important developments in Indian Railways have been chronologically listed below.

Table 1.1   Important events in the history of Indian Railways


Year  Important events


1831-33     The first idea of a railway line from Madras (now Chennai) to Bangalore conceived to improve the transport system of southern India


1843  Lord Dalhousie considers the possibility of connecting India by means     of railways


1844  Mr R.M. Stephenson forms the East Indian Railway Company for           construction of railway lines


1845-46     Trial survey of a new line from Calcutta (now Kolkata) to Delhi


1848-49     Construction of a railway line from Howrah to Raniganj sanctioned


1850  Construction of a railway line from Bombay to Thane started by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company


1850  Work started for a railway line between Bombay and Kalyan on 31 October 1850


1853  First railway line from Bombay to Thane opened for passenger traffic for a distance of 21 miles (34 km) on 16 April


1854  Railway line between Howrah and Hoogly (24 miles) opened for passenger       traffic on 15 August


1856  Railway line between Veyasarpady and Waljah road (63 miles) opened    for traffic under the banner of Madras Railway Company. In fact, this was    the first proposal initiated in 1831 but could be completed only in 1854.


1856  First train in South India from Royapuram to Waljah road (Arcot)


1866  Calcutta linked with Delhi, Amritsar, and Bombay


1850-68     First stage of development of Indian Railways classified as the Early           Guarantee System. The Government guaranteed a minimum percentage   of return to shareholders in order to attract private enterprises to construct       railways, but retained the right to purchase these railways at the end of 25           or 50 years.          A number of railway companies were formed for the construction of   railways, namely, East India Railway (EIR), Great Indian  Peninsula Railway (GIP), Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CIR) and Madras State Railway (MSR), etc.


1869-81     In 1869, it was decided by the British Government that future railway     projects should be either under the new guarantee system or under state-     owned railways. Few states started construction of railway lines separately.            The Government, however, exercised a considerable measure of control        to commercialize them. At this time there were company-managed railways          under the new guarantee system as well as state-managed railways. After 1870 the railways developed very fast.


1871  Introduction of metric gauge in India on account of its being cheap and    economic


1873  First metre gauge line opened from Delhi to Farukanagar


1881  First hill railway (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway; narrow gauge, 2 ? 0?? gauge) inaugurated


1887  Victoria Terminus railway station constructed in Bombay


1891  Toilets introduced in third class coaches


1903  96-km-long Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge line opened to traffic on   9 November


1905  Railway Board assumes office; established with one president and two    members


1922  Railway Board reconstructed and given a free hand with extra powers 1924      Railway finances separated from general finances


1924  Railway Board reconstituted with the chief commissioner as the president,an ex-officio secretary to the Government of India, and two members


1925  12' wide, 1500-V dc stock started plying on the Mumbai-Kurla electrified         section on 3 February


1925  As a general policy to assume control over company railways, the Government took over the management of East India Railway and Great           India Peninsula Railway


1925  First railway line electrified, consisting of the harbour branch line of GIP


1928  BB&CI Railway electrified its Bombay Suburban section


1929  Electrification of the entire section from Bombay VT to Pune completed on 5 November


1930  Central Standards Office (CSO) under Chief Controller of Standardization        set up to standardize all equipment commonly in use by the Railways


1930  Indian Railways stretched over 66,300 route km


1931  Madras suburban section electrified


1930-31     There was general economic depression and a sum of Rs 110 million was           withdrawn from the Railways reserve fund and credited to general revenues


1931  Electrification of double track from Madras Beach to Tambaram and of   sidings at Madras Beach, Madras Egmore, and Tambaram stations       completed on 2 April; first electric train started running on 11 May


1931  Suburban services between Madras Beach and Tambaram converted to   electric traction on 1 August


1936  Air conditioning introduced in passenger coaches


1937  Burma separated from India and about 3200 km of railway lines taken    out of Indian Railways


1939-42     During the second world war, the Indian Railways was called upon to release track material, locomotives, and wagons for construction of lines in the Middle East. This resulted in the closing down of 26 branch          lines. Railway workshops were used for manufacture of defence material. At the end of the war, there were heavy arrears for the renewal and           replacement of various assets 1942  War Transport Board formed


1947  India became independent; due to partition of the country, railway lines   and assets divided between India and Pakistan


1947  Immediately after independence, the Railway Board consisted of five       members including a chief commissioner and financial commissioner


1947-51     At the time of independence, there were 42 railway systems consisting of          13 class I railways, 10 class II railways, and 19 class III railways. These       included 32 lines owned by ex-Indian states. The Government of India decided to rationalize these railways to improve efficiency and facilitate better management     Regrouping of railways was completed and six zones were formed,     namely, Central Railway, Eastern Railway, Northern Railway, North          Eastern Railway, Southern Railway, and Western Railway The main objective of the planning of Indian Railways after independence has been to develop rail transport to provide appropriate support for the planned growth of national resources as a whole. While doing so, the emphasis has been suitably readjusted during each 5-year period to take note of certain special features


1950  Production of steam locomotives started in Chittaranjan Locomotive       Works


1952  Railway Staff College, Vadodara, set up


1952  Railway Testing and Research Centre (RTRC) set up


1952  Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Madras, set up as a production unit for all          welded steel, lightweight integral coaches


1954  Position of chief commissioner for Railways renamed as chairman of       Railway Board


1955  Indian Railway Institute for Civil Engineering, Pune, set up


1951-56     During the first Five Year Plan, there was special emphasis on       rehabilitation and replacement of the assets overstrained and totally neglected during World War II. A sum of Rs 2570 million was allotted to Indian Railways out of a total plan expenditure of Rs 23,780 million


1956-61     During the second Five Year Plan, the focus was on the development of rail transport capacity to meet the requirement of movement of raw materials and goods. A sum of Rs 8960 million (18.7%) was allotted to Indian Railways (IR) out of a total plan expenditure of Rs 48,000 million.


1957  Indian  Railway  Institute  for  Signal  and  Telecommunication, Secunderabad, set up


1957  Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, set up after the merger of various standards committees and RTRC


1957  IR decides to adopt a 25-kV, 50-cycle, single-phase, ac system for electrification


1957  Railway Protection Force (RPF) constituted


1959  Post of Member Mechanical created in the Railway Board


1961  Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) set up at Varanasi; Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) started manufacture of electric locomotives


1961-66     The strategy adopted in the third Five Year Plan was to build up an adequate rail transport capacity to meet the traffic demands. It was proposed that this should be done through modernization of traction, i.e., by switching from steam traction to diesel or electric traction in a progressive manner.  Track technology and signalling were also improved to match the new traction system. During the third Five Year Plan, a sum of Rs 8900 million (11.9%) was allotted to Indian Railways out of a total grant of Rs 75,000 million.


1966-69     There was a gap of three years between the third Five Year Plan and the fourth Five Year Plan as the Government wanted to review the results of the preceding development plans and adjust its strategy accordingly. A sum of Rs 5920 million was allotted to Indian Railways for increasing its transport capacity.


1969  Divisional system uniformly adopted by Indian Railways


1969  New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express running at a speed of 120 km/h introduced


1969-74     The fourth Five Year Plan was drawn with a renewed emphasis on the twin objectives of modernization of the Railways and improving the operational efficiency of the system by more intensive utilization of the existing assets of the Railways. A sum of Rs 10,500 million (6.6%) was allotted for the development of the Railways out of a total of Rs 159,000 million


1974  Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) formed


1976  Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) formed


1974-78     The main emphasis of the fifth Five Year Plan was on the development of a rapid transport system in metropolitan cities, improvement in financial viability through cost reduction techniques, resource mobilization,  optimum utilization of assets, and achievement of national self-sufficiency in railway equipment. A sum of Rs 22,000 million (5.6%) was allotted to the Railways out of a total of Rs 393,000 million


1982  The Railway Reforms Committee recommends four additional zones after studying the efficiency bureau reports of 1954, 1961, and 1965 on the existing nine zones


1984  First Metro rail introduced in Kolkata


1980-85     The sixth Five Year Plan was drawn up in the face of anticipated resource constraints and a heavy backlog of arrears of renewal of assets such as wagon and tracks. The main plan was that the limited resources of the Railways would be used for the rehabilitation of assets. A sum of Rs 51,000 million was allotted to the railways out of a total of Rs 975,000 million for all the public sector undertakings for the entire plan period.


1985-90     The seventh Five Year Plan provided an outlay of Rs 123,340 million. Freight traffic in the terminal year of the plan, namely, 1989-90, was estimated to reach a level of 340 million tonnes.


1985  Computerized Passenger Reservation System introduced


1987  Rail Coach Factory (RCF) established at Kapurthala


1988  First Shatabdi train introduced between New Delhi and Jhansi


1988  Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) established


1992-97     The eighth Five Year Plan provided an outlay of Rs 272,020 million (6.3%) for Indian Railways out of a total outlay of Rs 4,341,000 million for the full plan. Some of the main objectives of the eighth Plan were to generate adequate transport capacity, complete the process of rehabilitation of overaged assets, modernize the system to reduce cost and improve reliability, complete uni-gauge conversion of 6000 km of metre gauge (MG) and narrow gauge (NG) to broad gauge (BG), phase out steam locomotives, electrify 2700 route km, expand and upgrade intermodal operation, and improve manpower productivity


1998  Konkan Railway system becomes fully operational on 26 January


1998  Guiness Certificate for Fairy Queen-the oldest working steam locomotive in the world


1999  Darjeeling Himalayan Railway declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO


1999  Centenary celebrations of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway


1999  Guiness certificate for Delhi main station equipped with the world's largest route relay interlocking system


2000  Railway Board consisted of seven members including a Chairman


1997-2002 The ninth Plan envisages an outlay of Rs 454,130 million, which is 14.1% of the total outlay of Rs 8,592,000 million for the full plan. Some of the main objectives were generation of adequate transport capacity for handling additional traffic, modernization and upgrading of the rail transport system, completion of the process of rehabilitation, replacement and renewal of overaged assets, and continuation of the policy of unit gauge.


2002  150th year of Indian Railways starts with effect from 16 April 2002


2002  Jan Shatabdi trains introduced


2002  East Cental Railway (HQ in Hazipur) and North Western Railway (HQ in Jaipur) become operational with effect from 1 October.


2003  Indian Railways has 16 (earlier 9) zones and 67 (earlier 59) divisions with effect from 1 April 2003


2003  Indian Railways completes 150 years of existence on 15 April 2003


2002-07     The Tenth Five Year Plan envisages an outlay of Rs 606,000 million, which is 4% of a total outlay of Rs 15,256,390 million for the full plan. The main objectives of the plan have been outlined in Section 1.7.6.

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