Thursday, April 12, 2012

Railways enters 159th year of its journey

PATNA: The Indian Railways stepped into 159th year of its journey in April this year. The wheels of railways had first moved on April 16, 1853, between Bombay (Mumbai) and Thane, a distance of about 34 km. Since then the railways has continuously gained momentum and achieved a landmark of being the largest rail network in the world.
Lord Dalhousie of the East India Company had first initiated the move to run the railway passenger train in the eastern region in 1844 under the supervision of R M Stephenson. About 100 km tracks were laid between Kolkata and Raj Mahal in West Bengal. However, the first train moved on April 16, 1853, in Maharastra with load combination of 14 coaches. About 400 passengers had then travelled by the train.
Encouraged by it, the East Indian Railway set in motion another train on August 15, 1854, between Howrah and Hooghly.
In 1869, the British government took over charge of the railways in the country from private agencies following recommendation by a committee headed by Sir Arkwarth. By the end of 1879, about 12,455 km railway tracks were laid in the country. The nationalization of the railways took place in 1924 in the country.
Rail link between Lakhisarai and Mughalsarai of the Eastern Railway falling under Danapur division was laid by the Britishers in 1862. But the Howrah-Khana-Kiul, which is now known as the Sahibganj loop line, was thrown open for the public in 1860. The importance of Danapur division had came into being in 1925 after linking of the Howrah-Delhi route via Patna.
The historic Koilwar bridge was built in 1924 and known as 'roller and rocker' rail bridge, covering a distance of about 1.8 km. This rail-cum-road bridge was built by the Britishers. Mahatma Gandhi had praised its construction when he visited Patna in 1931. During the freedom movement, Patna Junction remained a centre place for meeting of politicians.
The Jamalpur railway workshop, which was set up in 1862, is one of the oldest workshops of Indian Railways. Danapur and Jhajha used to be the largest loco sheds for steam locomotives. The Mughalsarai marshalling yard, which was under Danapur division till 1978, was a rare feat of the railways.
The Indian Railways first released its own postal stamp in 1907 and the railway budget was separated from general budget in 1925. Safety was not the priority for the railways then, but it chalked out a safety plan when the first train accident took place on January 25, 1869, at Bhorghat on Pune-Mumbai rail route. The Railway Board came into being on February 18, 1905, to monitor traffic in the country.


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