The first recorded steam-hauled railway journey took place long back on 21 February 1804 from Penydarren Ironworks (a community for manufacturing iron goods in South Wales) to Abercynon (a small village in South Wales). It took almost 50 years for the British East India Company to establish its first Rail Track in India under the supervision of British officer Lord Dalhousie (also known as the father of Indian Railways). He was a Governor-General of India at that period.
Now Indian Railways is India’s national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways (one of the ministries in the Government of India, responsible for the country’s rail transport). As of March 2017, it operates the fourth-largest rail network in the world and is 67,368 km wide.
Being the 7th largest country in the world, and having such geological diversity was always in need of some network that connects the cities altogether and this need was fulfilled by Indian Railway. Indian Railway took its time to became nerve of the whole nation but it started way before complete road transport was available to the common folk of Inda. Railway changed the course of the history and economy of India as it did for no other country in the world.
We today may seem too forgot its importance due to other means of transportation, however, without the railway, their employment wouldn’t have been possible. Following are some facts and figures about Indian railway that really make it best in the world.
1. Indian Railway is 168 years old
The inception of the Indian railway dates back to 16 April 1853. The first train track was 33 kilometers in length and was started between Mumbai and Thane. It was capable to carry 400 passengers, another interesting fact about it is that day was declared as a holiday by the British Government.
2. It carries equivalent Population of Australia Every Day
Yes, every day 23 million people use Indian railway to move from one place to another. This fact on its own enough to show one importance of the Indian railway. We can really say that it carries the nation on its soldiers.
3. It Really does some heavy lifting
Not only people but a huge quantity of freight is carried by Indian railway. There are 7,421 freight trains operating in India and they are capable to carry 3 million tonnes (MT) of freight daily.
4. Indian Railway has its own finances
Back in the financial year of 1920-1921 a separate committee and budget were made for the development of Indian railway. In 1924 all of its finances were separated from other Government finances.
5. Other transport has taken the load off the Indian railway now
In 1950’s Indian Railway used to carry 75% of public transport and 90% of freight of the whole nation however due to other mediums of transportation, it has reduced to 15% and 30%. respectively.
6. It even has a Mascot
Indian railway even has a Mascot who is an elephant named-Bholu. It can be seen wearing guard dress at various places, however, it is not very common.
7. Its Max Speed is 180 Km/hr
Vande Bharat Express is the fastest train in Indian and has a max speed of 180 Km/hr. However, due to safety concerns speed is restricted to 130km/hr. Anything above it could have been very dangerous.
8. Indian railway is fourth-largest in the world
Lenght of Indian railway tracks is 67,368-kilometre it is long enough to cover the equator one and a half time. Railway networks of the USA, Russia and China are the only ones in the world that are longer than India.
9. Its slowest speed is 10 km/hr
Mettupalayam Ooty Nilgiri Passenger train is the slowest train in the Indian railway system, with a speed of 10 km/hr. It is because of the hilly area where the train can’t achieve a very high speed.
10. It is one of the World’s largest employers
Indian railway has 1.6 million that keep the whole system running for the world’s largest democracy. Its is arguably one of the top 10 employers of the world.
11. New Delhi Main Station has a place in Guinness Book of World record
Having the world’s largest route relay interlocking system made New Delhi Main Station get a name in Guinness Book of World record. It makes Delhi station a hub for all the railway networks in India.
12. Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh has the longest platform in the world
Having a length more that 1.3 kilometres Gorakhpur railway station in Uttar Pradesh has the longest platform.
13. It is set to have the highest railway bridge
Chenab Bridge will be built in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir and it will be 359 m above Chenab river and will have a length of 1.3 Kilometers. It is even higher than the Effie Tower.
14. It has 7500 stations
Indian railway is so large that 7500 stations are needed to hold it all together. These stations carry out the task of loading and unloading of passengers and various maintenance-related tasks too.
15. It has the oldest steam Locomotive
Indian railway has the Fairy Queen. It is the oldest steam locomotive that is still running. It runs between New Delhi and Rajasthan and was constructed back in 1855. In 1998 it also got a Guinness book of world record.
16. It has a train that runs 6.5 hours non-stop
Trivandrum – H. Nizamuddin Rajdhani covers 528 km between Vadodara and Kota without stopping. It completes this journey in about 6 and a half hour.
17. It got its first toilet in 1909
Indian railway didn’t have any toilets for the first 50 years. Only when a passenger named Okhil Chandra Sen wrote a letter to the railway department, this need was fulfilled. That letter is currently in the railway museum.
18. In 2012 it was stopped for several hours
In 2012 North India met an energy crisis due to which caused a blackout for Indian railway. All the railroads were stopped because of it for several hours.
19. In 1981 it met its deadliest disaster
In 1981 a passenger train fell into the Bagmati river that killed nearly 600 people. It was considered as a black day in the history of Indian Railway.
20. It has one of the world’s most unreliable train
The Guwahati Thiruvananthapuram Express with an average delay of 10-12 hours is one of the most unreliable trains in the world. However, considering its odd geographical path it can’t be said it’s the worst.
21. It has a popular website
The IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation) has a website that gets 12 lakh hits per minute, due to its online booking system. It has expanded railways reach to the people and it is much easier nowadays to book tickets online.
22. It has four sites declared “World Heritage sites” by UNESCO
Darjeeling, Himalayan Railway (1999), Mumbai CST Building (2004), Neelgiri Mountain Railways (2005) and Kalka-Shimla Railways (2008) were declared “World Heritage sites” by UNESCO.
23. It also has a toy train
In Darjeeling, there is a famous toy train that was built by the British government back in 1881. It is famous for its small size and it still runs on steam. Over the years it has become a famous tourist attraction.
24. It has a railway station that is in 2 states
Navapur railway station is built on a border between Maharashtra and Gujarat thus it has area spanned in both the states.
25. Samjhauta Express runs between India and Pakistan
Samjhauta Express runs between Delhi and Lahore and connects both nations. However, due to continued tension between both countries, it gets suspended from time to time.
26. It saved people after partition
From August to November in 1947 Indian railway helped in the evacuation of Over a million non-Muslims from Pakistan and 1.3 million Muslims from India. It was all possible because of Indian railway’s efficiency.
Indian railway has always been the lifeline of India. We hope all the aforementioned facts provided will boost your knowledge about the fourth-largest networks in the World. A network this large helps the people of the nation to move around in a certain way which can’t be achieved by any other medium. After the rise of road transportation, its use certainly has been compromised but its importance and role in Indian history certainly aren’t. Indian history couldn’t have been the same without the Indian railway, so it is important for us to know about it.