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Indian Railways celebrates 165th birthday

Network ferries 8.1b passengers and over 1.1b tonnes of freight annually as of 2016

Image Credit: Supplied
India’s first passenger train plied between Bori Bunder and Thane 165 years ago on April 16.
Gulf News

Mumbai: Indian Railways celebrated its 165th birthday on Monday.

The country’s first passenger train ran between Bori Bunder (later rebuilt as Victoria Terminus and then renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane, Maharashtra, on April 16, 1853.

Interestingly, the passenger train was flagged off following a 21-gun salute at 3.30pm.

The 14-carriage first passenger train was hauled by three steam locomotives — named Sahib, Sindh and Sultan — carrying 400 passengers.

The train stopped at Sion for 15 minutes to water the engines and oil the new wheels.

It finally arrived at Thane which stretched for 40 kilometres, after 55 minutes, travelling at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour, to a jubilant welcome from the crowds gathered there.

The fare from Bori Bunder to Thane was 2 rupees and 10 annas for first class, and a single rupee and one anna for second class. Third class was priced at five annas and three pice. An anna was a currency unit formerly used in India and Pakistan, equal to 1/16 rupee

In November 1852, a year before the maiden journey, a trial run took place but it was done with a shunting locomotive instead of a rail engine.

Later on, The Great Indian Peninsular Railway was formed.

Since then, Indian Railways is the largest public transporter and also one of the largest employers in the world which has been serving the nation by carrying more than 23 million railway passengers across all trains per day.

The rail network ferries 8.10 billion passengers and over 1.1 billion tonnes of freight annually as of 2016.

Even though trains in India started running much before 1853, this was the first time that a passenger train plied on the tracks of Indian Railways.

India’s rail network is the fourth largest in the world after the US, Russia and China covering 121,407 kilometres of track with 7,216 stations along it.

To celebrate the occasion, the railways have been organising Railway Week celebrations across all its zones to commemorate the momentous occasion of the first journey.

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