Developments in Indian Railways

Important developments in Indian Railways have been chronologically listed in Table 1.1.


Important events


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


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


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


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


Construction of a railway line from Howrah to Raniganj sanctioned


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


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


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


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


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.


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


Calcutta linked with Delhi, Amritsar, and Bombay


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.


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.


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


First metre gauge line opened from Delhi to Farukanagar


First hill railway (Darjeeling Himalayan Railway; narrow gauge, 2' O'" gauge) inaugurated


Victoria Terminus railway station constructed in Bombay


Toilets introduced in third class coaches


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

Table 1.1 (contd)


Important events


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


Railway Board reconstructed and given a free hand with extra powers


Railway finances separated from general finances


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


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


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


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


BB&CI Railway electrified its Bombay Suburban section


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


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


Indian Railways stretched over 66,300 route km


Madras suburban section electrified


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


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


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


Air conditioning introduced in passenger coaches


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


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


War Transport Board formed


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


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


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



Important events

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


Production of steam locomotives started in Chittaranjan Locomotive Works


Railway Staff College, Vadodara, set up


Railway Testing and Research Centre (RTRC) set up


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


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


Indian Railway Institute for Civil Engineering, Pune, set up


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


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.


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


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


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


Railway Protection Force (RPF) constituted


Post of Member Mechanical created in the Railway Board


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


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.


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

(contd )

Table 1.1 (contd)


Important events



sum of Rs 5920 million was allotted to Indian Railways for increasing its transport capacity.

Divisional system uniformly adopted by Indian Railways

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



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




Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) formed Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) formed 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


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



existing nine zones

First Metro rail introduced in Kolkata

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.


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.



1988 1988 1992-97

Computerized Passenger Reservation System introduced Rail Coach Factory (RCF) established at Kapurthala First Shatabdi train introduced between New Delhi and Jhansi Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) established 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


Important events


Konkan Railway system becomes fully operational on 26 January


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


Darjeeling Himalayan Railway declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO


Centenary celebrations of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway


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


Railway Board consisted of seven members including a Chairman


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.


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


Jan Shatabdi trains introduced


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


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


Indian Railways completes 150 years of existence on 15 April 2003


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.

History and General Features of Indian Railways | RAILWAY ENGINEERING - Contents | Different Modes of Transport