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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail

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Indian Railways recently marked 170 years since the country’s first passenger trains entered service. It is worthwhile to investigate and analyse the extensive and complex history of one of the world’s greatest rail systems, from the British Raj to modern rail operations of a rising and developing economy. It may be noted that despite being started as an initiative to suffice the requirements of the colonial British East India Company to foster and strengthen their rule in the nation, over more than a century and a half, Indian Railways have come to define, shape and influence the country. The goals of the British plan to build railways were to reduce transportation costs and to provide English merchants with greater access to raw cotton from India. In addition, the railway would open the Indian market to British-made goods such as cotton textiles.

However, the self-driven motive of the Britishers to suffice their narrow needs on a fraudulently entered nation appeared to be a boon for the country and perhaps one of the most significant engines of its growth in due course of time. The networks and connections that were once laid to boost and help an authoritarian regime and fill the coffers of foreign investors evolved to transform the country itself, helping to establish a staggeringly large network that the world today refers to as a jewel in India’s crown. 

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First passenger train in India

On April 16, this year, exactly on this day 170 years ago, the first passenger train ran and headed from Bombay to Thane for around 34 km. On April 16, 1853, a 14-carriage train carrying 400 passengers set out from what is now called Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal for a distance of thirty-four kilometres. Three engines, Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan, pulled the train. However, the first significant milestone for the nation was created when steam locomotives started to be manufactured in country workshops. The Rajputana Malwa Railway’s Ajmer workshop manufactured the first steam locomotive, No. F-734, in 1895.

The Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) built and operated the passenger line. It had been built in 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge, which later became the standard gauge for the railway. In 1925, the first railway budget was proposed. The first electric passenger train in India travelled between Victoria Terminus (VT) and Kurla on February 3, 1925. Since then, Indian Railways have progressed and advanced in a significant way, and it has now become one of the most vital means of transportation in the nation, carrying over 30 million passengers and more than 3 million tonnes of freight across the country every day. Under one management, the Indian Railways network is the largest in Asia and the second largest in the world.

Indian Railways in Independent India

After independence, India inherited a rail network that needed significant modernisation. Many lines were rerouted, and new lines were constructed to connect important towns and cities. Later, Indian Railways was established through the merger of 42 railways held by former Indian princely states. The rail network in the country stood around nearly fifty-five thousand kilometres after independence in 1947. 

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 14

For administrative purposes, the existing rail networks were divided into six Zones in 1952. With the growth of the economy, Indian Railway started making all railway productions indigenously. Steam locomotives were phased out beginning in 1985, and electric and diesel locomotives took their place. Today, Indian Railways is one of the world’s most prominent rail service providers. With nearly 1,30,000 Kms of total route length, it truly is a mammoth rail system of the world. Indian Railways operates the world’s second-biggest network under a single administration and Asia’s largest rail network. The railway operates around 7,500 cargo trains every day, carrying more than 3 million tonnes of freight. With approximately 1.4 million employees, Indian Railways is the world’s seventh-largest employer.

Soon after independence, Indian Railways was nationalised in 1951. It is currently Asia’s largest rail network. Millions of people in India rely on the Indian railway as a lifeline. It plays an extremely important role in nation-building, whether economic or social. It is a low-cost transportation system that not only carries people but also goods and cargo. Under the control and ownership of Railways, DFCCIL is also constructing dedicated goods and freight corridors to improve and smoothen the rail operations in the country. Additionally, the railway is also working on the development of a Diamond quadrilateral for a high-speed rail network. The railways in India employs the highest number of people. In addition, a large section of the society relies on the rail services to earn their bread and butter and living. Rail service companies such as RailRestro and e-catering apps are linked to the Indian railways. The Mettupalayam-Ooty Nilgiri passenger train is the slowest in India. It averages 10 kmph, while the Vande Bharat Express is the fastest train presently. This train, also known as Train 18, travels at a speed of 160 kilometres per hour on average. This train can reach to a top speed of 180 kmph.

India’s rail network is one of the world’s largest and busiest. Every day, about 10,000 trains connect twenty-eight states and two union territories. Rail connectivity to the main cities of the North East states of Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh is improving, and one can expect full-fledged connectivity to every area of the country in the future years. The railway’s dense and complicated network is administered by dividing it into several zones, which are further subdivided into divisions.

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 15

Today, the railway comprises seventeen zones and sixty-eight divisions, which help in connecting the urban and rural areas of the country. The railways in the country operates on a multi-gauge system with broad, narrow, and metre gauges. With over 1.5 million employees, it is the world’s largest commercial employer. Other than long-distance trains, many cities have a suburban or local train network for its commuters.

There are several classes of travel available on the trains, including First Class AC, Air-conditioned coaches that are 2-tier or 3-tier, First Class, Sleeper Class, AC Chair car/Seater Class, and General or unreserved. The fare list varies based on the services offered. Trains are the most dependable and inexpensive mode of transportation. The Shatabdi Express, Rajdhani Express, and Duronto Express are some of India’s fastest trains, competing with the country’s low-cost airlines. Every year, railways tries to incorporate and adopt new safety measures and introduce new trains in various locations to accommodate and handle the increasing number of passengers.

The history and phase-wise development of Railways in India can be stated as under: 

 1853-1869: Launching passenger rail services

Although rail services were first proposed in India in the 1830s, historians attribute 16 April 1853 as the turning point for India’s passenger rail revolution. The country’s first passenger train began its 34-kilometre journey between Bombay’s Bori Bunder station and Thane on this date. It consisted of fourteen carriages pulled by three steam locomotives and carried four hundred passengers.

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 16

The railway was established through an alliance between the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), founded in 1849, and the East India Company, which governed significant portions of the country at the time. The success of the alliance prompted the development of railways in Eastern India (1854) and South India (1856). Following the completion and opening of the Calcutta-Delhi line in 1864 and the Allahabad-Jabalpur line in 1867, these lines merged with the GIPR to form a 4,000-mile network that stretched across India. This initial phase of passenger transportation was predominantly financed and supported by private corporations under a British Parliament-created guarantee system that ensured they would earn an established and certain rate of interest on their capital investment. Between 1855 and 1860, eight railway companies were established, including the Eastern India Railway, Great India Peninsula Company, Madras Railway, Bombay Baroda Railway, and Central India Railway.

1869-1900: Famine and economic growth

The British Raj reigned dominant and supreme in India following the Indian revolt of 1857 and the subsequent liquidation of the East India Company. From 1869 to 1881, it took over railway building from external contractors and expanded to help areas hit by hunger and famine following the country’s severe droughts. By 1880, the network had grown to 9,000 miles long, with lines winding inward from the three major port towns of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. Toilets, gas lamps and electric lighting were among the new passenger facilities introduced in the 1890s. By this time, the railways’ popularity had soared, and overcrowding forced the introduction of a fourth class onboard. By 1895, India had begun to develop its own locomotives and was able to send its own experts and equipment to aid and assist in the construction of the Uganda Railway by 1896.

1901-1925: Moves towards centralisation

In 1901, the railways began to make a profit after years of construction and financial investment. Nonetheless, the scope of government interference rose considerably in the early years of this century. In 1900, GIPR was the first corporation to become state-owned. By 1907, the government had bought all major lines and began leasing and renting them back to private operators.

In 1901, the Railway Board was formed, consisting of a government official, an English railway manager, and an agent of one of the company railways. The government, then led by Viceroy Lord Curzon, formalised the board’s powers in 1905, and the board thereafter rose in size and influence ever since then. Both the GIPR and the East Indian Railways (EIR) were nationalised in 1923 as part of a move towards a more centralised management system.

Nonetheless, World War I had a negative impact on the growth of the railways, with production redirected to satisfy British needs outside of India. The network was in disrepair by the war’s end, with many services banned or reduced. In 1924, railway funds were separated from the general budget, and the railway received its first independent dividend in 1925.

1925-1946: Electrification and hard times

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 17

On 3 February 1925, the first electric train ran between Bombay and Kurla, laying the groundwork for future electrification. By 1929, the railway network had expanded to a total length of 66,000 kilometres, carrying approximately 620 million passengers and 90 million tonnes of goods every year. However, even in the final days of the British Raj, foreign events continued to influence rail operations in the country. The economic depression caused by the Wall Street Crash resulted in the withdrawal of INR 11m from the railway reserve funds. Meanwhile, World War II also hampered railway development and seized the construction works as waggons were largely appropriated and commandeered for military movements and transportation.

1947-1980: Partition and zonal creation

The departure of Britain in 1947 divided the country in two, producing a ripple effect on the railways as more than 40% of the network was lost to the newly formed Pakistan. The Bengal Assam and North Western Railways were divided and disconnected from the Indian rail system. During the post-partition uproar, rioters destroyed railway infrastructure and attacked refugee trains.

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 18

A few years later, Indian Railways began to shape its own future, gaining control of the majority of railway franchises in 1949-1950. It began reorganising the network into zones in 1951-1952. The Samjhauta Express, the first train between India and Pakistan, began service between Amritsar and Lahore in 1976. As the twentieth century progressed, the railways made more strides towards modernisation. Colonial-era locomotives were replaced with cutting-edge trains, while efforts to adopt 25kv AC traction in the 1950s spurred a new wave of electrification.

1980-2000: Technology and phasing out steam

As a result of energy challenges that occurred in the 1970s, steam locomotives were completely phased out in the 1980s. Between 1980 and 1990, approximately 4,500 km of track were electrified. Meanwhile, the first metro system in India debuted in Calcutta in 1984. Though economic stagnation and political unrest hampered network expansion in the 1980s, the Konkan Railway, a 738-kilometer behemoth connecting India’s western coast to the rest of the country, opened in the 1990s. The greatest transformation of the time, however, originated in the field of computing. 

The Indian Railways, in particular was, benefitted by it, and subsequently, the Indian Railways online passenger reservation system was developed in 1985 and gradually launched at Delhi, Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta. This was designed to allow customers to reserve and cancel reserved accommodations (reservations) on any train from any terminal, which was expanded in 1995 with the introduction of the country-wide network of computerised enhanced reservation and ticketing (CONCERT).

2000-2017: Moving online

Metro stations have been sprouting up in India’s main cities since 2000, including Delhi (2002), Bangalore (2011), Gurgaon (2013), and Mumbai (2014). In 2002, the East Coast, South Western, South East Central, North Central, and West Central Railway zones were established on the network.

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 19

However, the launch of online train bookings and ticketing through its IRCTC system in 2002 was undoubtedly the most significant stride forward for IR. Passengers could now schedule their journeys online or buy tickets from thousands of agents across the country, which truly was an important convenience added considering that passengers had reportedly travelled more than 4.5 billion kilometres on the railways between 2000 and 2001. More recently, on 5 April 2016, the Gatimaan Express, India’s fastest train with a top speed of 160km/h, made its inaugural run from Delhi to Agra. On March 31, 2017, Indian Railways declared that the country’s entire train network would be electrified by Dec, 2022.

2018 to present and beyond: The future of Indian Railways

Today, Indian Railways manages the fourth-largest rail network in the world, with tracks spanning more than 120,000km of the country. The railway is preparing for the future with a number of initiatives like running freight and goods trains on a separate dedicated corridor across the nation called the Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFC). The first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) called RapidX, which is also the country’s first indigenous semi-high speed train. 

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Rapidx Train

The priority section of 17 Kms from Shahibabad to Duhai Depot of the 83.14 Km corridor from Delhi to Meerut is complete, and the operations shall commence shortly. Apart from that, Indian Railways is already spearheading with its plans of launching Vande Bharat 3.0 Sleeper Version, Vande Bharat Trains, after successful implementation of Train-18 alias Vande Bharat Semi-High Speed Trains. The Railways, by the end of the year, may come up with the first prototype of the country’s first hydrogen-powered trains along with Vande Metro and other significant development in train operations. The nation is already on the verge of achieving a significant milestone of hundred percent electrification of its entire route length. The works on the nation’s first HSR Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project are also in full swing, and the priority corridor is expected to be completed by 2025. The Indian Railway also envisages the ambitious goal of going completely green by 2030.    

Freight, Tourist & Luxury Trains

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A Journey Through Time and Ages: The Whistling Indian Rail 20

The rail journeys are always thrilling and provide a true taste of India’s rich tradition and culture. The goods and freight sector contributes over seventy per cent of the railway’s revenue. It delivers a wide range of commodities, including fertilisers, petrochemicals, agricultural produce, mineral ores, and many others. It also transports vehicles to and from long-distance locations. Indian Railways has been exceptionally successful in helping tourism growth. It has been an excellent host to all of the visitors. The most luxurious trains in the country include Deccan Odyssey, Maharaja Express, Palace on Wheels, The Golden Chariot, Royal Orient Train, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, and the Fairy Queen. The Fairy Queen is also the nation’s pride and the world’s oldest functioning locomotive. On board, passengers can look forward to an unforgettable royal experience that combines Indian heritage and hospitality. The finest way to see the incredible India is through a train journey. Indian Railways is the nation’s lifeline, whether for passenger or freight transport. The railways contribute significantly to tourism, being the primary source of transportation for all types of tourists from both the domestic and international sectors. In addition to simple train excursions from point to point for visitors and the general public, the Indian Railways offers the following exclusive tourist trains:

  • Luxury Tourist Trains
  • Mahaparinirvan Express
  • Bharat Darshan Trains
  • Punj Takht Train
    Steam train
    |
    A train on the tracks

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  • Additionally, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, a Public Sector Undertaking under the Ministry of Railways, offers a wide range of specialised tourism products and packages as well as assistance with unique tourism needs.
  • 12,000 HP most powerful locomotive
  • The Indian Railways’ most powerful 12000 HP Made in India locomotive made its commercial debut between the Deen Dayal Upadhaya and Shivpur stations of Uttar Pradesh. These engines, built at the Railways’ Madhepura factory in Bihar under the government’s Make in India programme, are the most powerful locomotives that are running on Indian rails. All 800 of these locomotives are being built in the country after being designed at the company’s engineering centre in Bengaluru. With the debut, India has joined a selected and elite group of countries that have 12,000 HP or higher capacity electric locomotives, including Russia, China, Germany, and Sweden.

    India’s first bullet train project
  • Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train
  • The design of bridges and tunnels for the country’s first high-speed bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is well underway. The train would cover the over 500 km trip between the two cities in less than three hours, as compared to the current seven hours. The train shall stop at 12 stations, four of which are located in Maharashtra. The projected corridor will run from Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) to Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Railway Station. Three trains have been planned to run during peak hours and two trains to run during non-peak hours. Train operations have been slated to be divided into two categories. A few trains that would stop only at a few stoppages, while the others that shall stop at every station between Mumbai (BKC) and Sabarmati. There will be 70 trips each day (35 in each direction) connecting the two stations, with an estimated ridership of nearly forty thousand passengers per day.
  • The soil testing, surveying and land acquisition works are underway. The route travels and passes through more than hundred villages of Maharashtra. The majority of these villages are located in the Palghar district. The National High-Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) issued a notice of intent to acquire land in 17 villages and notified the landowners. Those who donate their land will be reimbursed above and beyond the existing market values. Those who do not appear will have their lands taken under Section 19 of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act of 2013. The train will reach a top speed of 320 km/hr in 320 seconds and will have travelled nearly eighteen kilometres by then. Passengers would go from BKC in Mumbai to Thane in 10 minutes and to Virar in Palghar district in 24 minutes.
  • Different Types of Trains in India
  • There are many types of trains which are operated by Indian Railways. These include:
  • Special Trains: Special trains are not permanent because they are put in place on a temporary basis to meet the high volume of traffic during the summer vacation and festival season. The numbers for Special Trains begin with zeros.
  • Covid-19 Special Trains: During the pandemic outbreak, Indian railways launched Covid-19 Special Trains to transport passengers trapped in cities to their homes. To reduce the possibility of spreading COVID 19, Indian Railways cancelled all regular trains, but began COVID 19 special trains to serve passengers. The tickets for these trains could be purchased 120 days in advance.
  • Train 18 Vande Bharat Express: Vande Bharat Express is a semi-high-speed, completely air-conditioned daytime train capable of reaching speeds of up to 180 km/h. Train 18, as it is often known, began operations on February 15, 2019. These trains include odour control systems, sensor-based water taps, bottle holders, on-board Wi-Fi, CCTV cameras, and bio-toilets.
    A train in a building

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  • Humsafar Express: The Humsafar Express is a premium train featuring three-tier AC and sleeper class accommodations. Humsafar trains are equipped with most of the latest features and conveniences, such as CCTV surveillance, charging connections, bio-toilets, an innovative GPS tracking system, reading lights, LED screens that indicate passing by stations, train speed display, and so on.
  • Rajdhani Express: The Rajdhani Express is one of the Indian Railway’s oldest trains, connecting the national capital with various other states. It is a completely air-conditioned, superfast long-distance train capable of reaching speeds of 130-140 km/h. There are currently 24 pairs of Rajdhani trains operating in the country.
  • Shatabdi Express: Shatabdi Express trains are superfast daytime trains that arrive and depart on the same day. The Shatabdi trains may reach speeds of up to 150 km/h. It travels short to medium distances with fewer stoppages. It only has an AC chair car sitting facility. Indian Railways is currently operating 25 pairs of Shatabdi trains.
  • Tejas Express: Tejas Express trains are air-conditioned chair car trains that travel at a semi-high speed. It only has two modes of accommodation: executive chair car (EC) and AC chair car (CC). It is India’s first private train, run by the IRCTC. It can reach a top speed of 180 km/h. Onboard modern amenities include tea and coffee vending machines, LED TVs for individual travellers, a celebrity chef menu, free Wi-Fi, CCTV cameras, charging plugs, and so on.
  • Duronto Express: The Duronto Express is one of our country’s fastest trains. It’s a nonstop premium long-distance train that doesn’t stop at any stations except for technical stoppages.
  • Antyodaya Express: Antyodaya Express began service on March 4, 2017. These trains are entirely unreserved and run on congested routes to alleviate congestion. Travellers do not need to reserve a ticket in advance; they can purchase one whenever they want to board the train.
  • Passenger Trains: Passenger trains in India provide railway passengers with cost-effective train travel. It links minor towns, villages, and cities to major cities. Passenger trains stop at nearly every station along the route and can travel at speeds ranging from 40 to 80 km/h.
  • Garib Rath Express: Garib Rath Express Trains are a series of low-cost, air-conditioned long-distance trains that provide rail travel at a low cost. These trains can reach speeds of up to 130 km/h.
  • Double Decker Express: Double Decker Express trains are superfast express trains that travel during the day and provide bi-level seating to passengers.
  • Uday Express: Uday Express trains are completely air-conditioned double-decker trains for business travellers, with 120 seats for each coach. Uday Express has a top speed of 110 km/h.
  • Jan Shatabdi Express: Jan Shatabdi Express trains are a cheaper variant of the Shatabdi Express. It has a top speed of 130 km/h and, like the Shatabdi, completes its route on the same day. AC and non-AC seating is available on Jan Shatabdi trains.
  • Sampark Kranti Express: Sampark Kranti Express trains are non-AC high-speed express trains that connect India’s capital to other major cities. It has a top speed of 130 km/h and only stops at major stations.
  • Suvidha Express: Suvidha Express is a fleet of premium express trains with dynamic fare pricing. Tickets for these trains can only be booked and purchased through IRCTC. Suvidha trains have a 15-day advance reservation period, and only confirmed tickets are booked. It is not possible to cancel e-tickets for these trains.
  • AC Express: AC Express trains are fully air-conditioned high-speed trains that connect the country’s major cities. It has limited stoppages and has a top speed of 130 km/h.
  • Mail Express Trains: Unlike passenger trains, express/mail trains only stop at key stoppages and do not stop at all stations along the route. Express trains can travel at speeds of up to 130 km/h.
  • Superfast Express: Superfast trains stop less frequently than regular passenger trains. Superfast trains can travel at the maximum permitted speed of 160 km/h. The superfast surcharge is added to tickets for these trains.
  • AC Superfast Trains: Superfast AC Trains are totally air-conditioned trains that the Indian railway operates. These trains have precedence over conventional passenger and mail trains on the tracks. It does not stop at smaller stations in order to shorten journey time.
  • Mountain Railways: Mountain Railways of India are train lines developed in India’s hilly regions that provide train services to mountain areas. Our country has seven mountain railways, three of which have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Local Trains: Indian Railway also operates commuter or local train services to connect cities and metropolis with its peripheral and adjoining areas. Some of the popular local train services in India are- The Mumbai Suburban Railway or Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad suburban, commuter or local train systems.
  • Demu Trains: DEMU trains are commonly used by passengers who travel on a regular basis in India’s semi-urban and rural areas.
  • Memu Trains: Memu Trains operate on railway tracks that have multiple electrical units and provide short and medium-distance routes.
  • Tourism Trains
  • The railways contribute significantly to tourism, being the primary means of transportation for all types of tourists from both the domestic and international sectors in the country. In addition to simple train journeys from point to point for visitors and the general public, the Indian Railways offers the following exclusive tourist trains: 
  • Luxury Tourist Trains
  • Mahaparinirvan Express
  • Bharat Darshan Trains
  • Punj Takht Train
  • Steam train
    ‘Splendors of Deccan’: Bharat Darshan Tourist Train to chug from Dec.2
  • Metro Rail Services
  • The first Metro Rail stretch in Kolkata city, between Esplanade and Bhowanipur, was commissioned in 1984, covering a distance of 3.40 kilometres with five stations under Metro Railway, Kolkata. At the moment, 27 cities have a network that is either active or under construction. There are currently sixteen operational or active rapid transit metro systems in fifteen cities across India, the largest of which is the Delhi Metro. India had 859 kilometres of operating metro lines and 16 systems as of March 2023. The metro rail services in the country have grown exponentially in the last one decade. The development is expected to surge further with more than 1,000 km of new metro lines projected to expand to nearly 30 cities by 2025. Recently, Kolkata Metro (the only metro system to be governed by Indian Railways) achieved a major feat by running the first under-water metro trial run successfully under the Hooghly River.
  • Conclusion
  • The Indian Railway network not only connects various regions but also touches the hearts of its citizens regardless of race, religion, caste, gender, or class. The tangled and twisted railway lines connect and unite the Indians in one thread. It precisely symbolises and embodies the vision of makers of our constitution, who stated that no one should be discriminated upon based on their origin and background. Railways carries us all, giving us space to learn more about others, nature, and explore different region and locations. The national carrier of people and goods in India is also packed with a number of amazing details and facts. It may be surprising to find that over 1.3 million IRCTC rail tickets are booked every day, and thousands of passengers check their PNR status every second. These statistics should make every Indian proud of their preferred means of transportation. 
  • The Indian railway system was established on April 16, 1853. The inaugural passenger train travelled a distance of thirty-four kilometres from Mumbai’s Bori Bandar to Thane. Three locomotives, Sahib, Sultan, and Sindh, drove the train. The train consisted of thirty waggons. Some fascinating facts about Indian Railways are as follows:
  • The railway’s ‘Shubhankar’ is named Bholu. On the 150th anniversary of railways, the National Institute of Design developed Bholu, an elephant costumed as a railway guard. In 2003, the railways officially adopted this joyful, ethical, responsible, truthful, and steady elephant artwork as their emblem.
  • The British government’s first railway workshop was established in Jamalpur, near Munger, Bihar. It was established prior to Indian independence in 1862. With iron and steel foundries, rolling mills, and other facilities, the area rapidly evolved into one of India’s most important core industrial divisions.
  • With more than sixty-eight thousand km of track, Indian Railways is the world’s fourth largest railway network, trailing only the United States, China, and Russia. It currently has approximately 45 thousand kilometres of the electrified rail network. Besides that, the railway is the most important rail route in the world, operated by a single government.
  • Indian Railways has 34 active and three under-construction Rail Museums, Heritage Gallery, Art Gallery, and Heritage Park in various locations across India to highlight the sprawling history of the nation’s lifeline. These locations both protect and promote rail tourism. The Delhi Rail Museum, also known as the National Rail Museum of India, is India’s first railway museum.
  • The Hubballi railway station in Karnataka has been inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world’s longest railway platform. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 1,507-meter-long platform on March 12, 2023.
  • The Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Palace on Wheels, The Golden Chariot, The Maharajas’ Express, and The Deccan Odyssey are the five royal luxury trains owned by Indian Railways. The Palaces on Wheels is the oldest luxury train of all. 
  • Vivek Express covers the longest rail in India, travelling from Kanyakumari to Dibrugarh. It covers 4189 kilometres spanning over 82 hours and 30 minutes, including fifty-six stoppages. On the other hand, the shortest train ride in India is from Nagpur to Ajni, stretching over only 3 kms. 
  • The Indian Railway is building the world’s highest steel and concrete rail arch bridge over the Chenab River. It is located at an elevation of 1178 feet above sea level. The bridge would connect the Bakkal and Kauri villages in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district.
  • In India, railways employ over 1.4 million people. The Indian Railway is, without a doubt, one of the world’s major employers and institutions. Other than direct employment, some people make a living by selling goods and services at railway stations and trains. Job opportunities are created through e-catering and rail apps that supply rail services.

    Another attempt to use the railway as a marketplace to improve people’s livelihoods is through One Station One Product. 
  • Pir Pranjal, located in the Pir Pranjal range of the middle Himalayas in Jammu Kashmir, is India’s longest rail tunnel. It is 11.25 kilometres long. The tunnel is part of the railway line between Jammu and Baramulla. 
  • Howrah Junction is the busiest railway station in India, with the most platforms. Its 23 platforms serve nearly one million passengers each day. Howrah is also India’s oldest railway station. 
  • Household appliances in India work at 220 volts, although electric appliances such as lamps, fans, and outlets on railway coaches operate at 110 volts. It assists the railway in protecting its lamps and fans from robbery because it is challenging to convert 110-volt appliances to 220 volts. 
     
  • When developing rail coaches, the resonance frequency of suspension is kept near 1.2 Hz or 72 bpm to match the frequency of the human body. It is the only reason one can sleep on a moving train. 

  • Fairy Queen, India’s oldest functioning locomotive, is still used for rides. The locomotive is powered by a steam engine and operates as a tourist train between Delhi and Alwar. The train was built in 1885 and was decommissioned in 1909. The Fairy Queen has been relaunched in 1997. It is currently in operations and used as a premium tourist train.

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