Indian Railway History
The history of Indian Railway dates back over 160 years as the first proposal was shared in 1832 and the first train ran on 16 April 1853. Indian Railway operates the fourth-largest network in the world spanning over 1.2 Lakh km across the country. With over 14 Lakh employees, it is the world’s seventh-largest employer in the world following the Defence Department of the US, the Chinese Army, Walmart, China National Petroleum, State Grid of China, and British Health Service.
History of Indian Railways from 1853 to 2020
One of the best ways to understand the history of something is to go through it chronologically. We are providing candidates with an overview of the Indian Railway History from 1853 to 2020 in chronological order below. It will help you get acquainted with the facts and prepare well for the upcoming exam. Take a look at the complete history of Indian Railways in chronological order here.
History of Indian Railways: Industrial Railways (1832 to 1852)
Industrial Railways 1832-1852
The first proposal of Indian Railway was discussed in Madras
The country's first train, Red Hill Railway, ran from Red Hills to Chintadripet bridge in Madras. The train was pulled by a rotary steam locomotive engine which was manufactured by William Avery.
The Godavari Dam Construction Railway was constructed at Dowleswaram in Rajahmundry. This structure was also built by Also built by Arthur Cotton. It mainly supplied stone for the construction of a dam over the Godavari River.
8 May 1845
The Madras Railway was amalgamated, followed by the East India Railway
1 Aug 1849
The Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR) was formed by an Act of Parliament
‘Guarantee System’ was introduced which provided free land and a guaranteed 5% return to private British companies who were willing to build railways in India
The Solani Aqueduct Railway was built in Roorkee. It was pulled by the Thomason steam locomotive engine. The railway transported construction materials for an aqueduct over the Solani River.
In 1852, Madras Guaranteed Railway Company was formed
Indian Railway History: Passenger Railways and Expansion (1853 to 1924)
Passenger Railways and Expansion 1853-1924
16 April 1853
India’s first passenger train ran between Bombay's Bori Bunder station and Thane, which was dedicated by Lord Dalhousie. The 14-carriage train was pulled by three steam locomotive engines which were Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan.
15 Aug 1854
In Eastern India, the first passenger train ran from Howrah to Hoogly and covered a distance of 39 km (24 miles). The Railway line was built and managed by the East Indian Railway Company (EIR).
The Bombay-Thane line was further extended to Kalyan with the Dapoorie viaduct over the Ulhas River which was also India's first railway bridge.
In 855 BB & CI Railway was formed. In the same year in August, the EIR Express and Fairy Queen steam locomotives were launched.
1 July 1856
South India's first passenger train ran from Royapuram-Veyasarapady (Madras) to Wallajah Road in Arcot and covered a total distance of 97 km. The train was built and operated by the Madras Railway department.
In 1858, the Eastern Bengal Railway was formed.
24 Feb 1873
India's first tramway system which is a horse-drawn tramway was opened in Calcutta. It was opened in between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street which covered a distance of 3.8 KM.
9 May 1874
On 9th May 1874, a horse-drawn tramway started its operation in Bombay between Colaba and Parel.
In 1880, the Calcutta Tramway Company was formed.
In 1897, many passenger railway companies introduced lighting in passenger coaches
The Jodhpur Railway Department was the first one to introduce electric lighting as standard fixtures.
Electric signal lighting was introduced between Currey Road and Dadar in Bombay.
Indian Railways History: Electrification and further expansion (1925 to 1950)
Electrification and further expansion 1925-1950
In 1925, the first railway budget was presented in India.
3 Feb 1925
On 3rd February 1925, the first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria Terminus (VT) and Kurla on 1,500 V DC overhead traction. The locomotives for this train were manufactured by Cammell Laird and Uerdingen Wagon Fabrik.
The Kurla-Kalyan section was electrified with 1,500 V DC. Also, electrification to Poona and Igatpuri with 1,500 V DC over the Bhore and Thal Ghats was also completed.
The Bandra-Virar section was electrified with 1,500 V DC.
The Frontier Mail made its maiden run from Bombay VT to Peshawar.
The Kanpur Central and Lucknow stations were opened.
1 June 1930
The Deccan Queen commenced its service, it was hauled by a WCP-1-No. 20024 (old number EA/1 4006). The route was electrified and the train had seven coaches. The train traveled from Bombay VT to Poona (Pune).
Zonal re-organization and further developments (1951 to 1983)
Zonal re-organization and further developments 1951-1983
In 1951, the railway was re-organized into regional zones
14 April 1951
The Southern Railway zone was created.
14 April 1952
On 14th April 1952, Northern, Eastern, and North Eastern Railway zones were created
5 Nov 1951
The Central and Western Railway zones were created.
In 1952, lights fans and were mandated for all compartments in all classes of passenger accommodations, and sleeping accommodations were launched in coaches.
1 Aug 1955
The South-Eastern zone was separated from the Eastern Railway zone.
A divisional system of administration was established for the zones.
Indian Railways decided to adopt 25 kV AC electrification, choosing SNCF as a technical consultant.
The Northeast Frontier Railway zone was separated from the North-Eastern zone.
The first section was electrified from Raj Kharswan to Dongoposi with 25kV AC traction.
The first train ran on the Raj Kharswan-Dongoposi section using 25 kV AC traction
The first freight service with containers started between Bombay and Ahmedabad.
The Main Line Electrification Project was converted into the Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE).
Rapid Transit and Later Developments (1984 to Present)
Rapid Transit and Later Developments 1984-Present
24 Oct 1984
Calcutta Metro was the country's first rapid-transit line.
In 1986, computerized ticketing and reservations were introduced in New Delhi.
India's fastest train, the Shatabdi Express, was introduced between New Delhi and Jhansi.
In 1990, the first self-printing ticket machine (SPTM) was introduced in New Delhi.
Separate three-tier air-conditioned coaches and a sleeper class was introduced
16 Jan 1995
On 16th January 1995, the first regularly scheduled service with 2 x 25 kV traction commenced on the Bina-Katni line.
The CONCERT system of computerized reservations further commenced in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai.
Coupon-Validating Machines (CVMs) was launched at Mumbai CST.
18 April 1999
The CONCERT system became operational at the national level.
The website of Indian Railways went online.
6 July 2002
The East Coast, South Western, South East Central, North Central and West Central Railway zones were formed.
3 Aug 2002
Indian Railways (IR) started online ticketing and reservations.
1 Dec 2002
Internet ticketing expanded to many cities of India
5 Feb 2012
The Western Railway zone (WR) completely switched to 25 kV AC traction and ended its use of 1,500 V DC.
26 Sep 2013
The Tatkal (Emergency) system of ticketing was extended to all trains available in India
5 April 2016
India's fastest train, Gatimaan Express made its maiden journey from Delhi to Agra
11 April 2016
On 11th April 2016, the Central Railway zone (CR) completely switched to 25 kV AC traction and ended its use of DC traction in the Mumbai area country's main-line rail network.
India’s fastest train Gatimaan Express was introduced for passengers
31 March 2017
Indian Railway declared that India's entire rail network would be electrified by 2022
History of Indian Railways PDF
Since it is not easy to remember all the details about Indian Railways, you can download the Indian Railways History PDF. We have provided the direct link to download the History of Indian Railways PDF to help you revise it whenever you want to.
Indian Railway History PDF
This document summarizes all the important details and contains the questions that one might face in competitive exams. Candidates will be able to gain useful insights into Indian Railway History to prepare efficiently for the exam.
Statistical Data of Indian Railway History
Though Indian Railway has a monopoly in the market, however, the gross revenue has been fluctuating from 2016 to 2020. The below graph highlights the gross revenue (in US Billion $) over the years:
Indian Railway Revenue
From the graph below, you can determine that Freight Railway contributes the maximum revenue in the Indian Railway. The graph below highlights the revenue break-up of different sectors of Indian Railway for the year 2020:
Trends in Passenger Volume of Indian Railways Over the Years
The graph below states the passenger trends of Indian Railways over the years:
Trends in Freight Volume of Indian Railways
Here is the graph for trends of freight carried (in million tons) over the years:
Indian Railway History - Zones, Divisions, and Establishment Year
All important details regarding the Indian Railway Zone, Year of Establishment, Headquarter, and Division are stated below. This is an important part of the history of Indian Railways on which questions are always asked in the exam. Refer to this table below for exact details to refresh your knowledge.
Railway Zone Name
Route (in KM)
Mumbai Central, Ratlam, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Vadodara
Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Palakkad, Salem, Thiruvananthapuram
Mumbai, Bhusawal, Pune, Solapur, Nagpur
Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol, Malda
Delhi, Ambala, Firozpur, Lucknow, Moradabad
North Eastern Railway
Izzatnagar, Lucknow, Varanasi
South Eastern Railway
Adra, Chakradharpur, Kharagpur, Ranchi
Northeast Frontier Railway
Alipurduar, Katihar, Rangia, Lumding, Tinsukia
South Central Railway
Guntakal, Guntur, Nanded, Vijayawada
Danapur, Dhanbad, Mughalsarai, Samastipur, Sonpur
East Coast Railway
Khurda Road, Sambalpur, Visakhapatnam
North Western Railway
Jaipur, Ajmer,Bikaner, Jodhpur
North Central Railway
Bilaspur, Raipur, Nagpur
South Western Railway
Hubli, Bangalore, Mysore
Jabalpur, Bhopal, Kota
Kolkata Metro Railway
Southern Coast Railway
Vijayawada, Guntur, Guntakal, Waltair
Source: International Journal of Engineering Development and Research
Busiest Railway Station of India
Candidates often face questions about the busiest railway stations of India in the SSC and Railway Exams 2023. So, to help you out, here is the list of the 10 busiest Indian Railway stations:
Station Name & Code
Total No. of Platforms
Total No. of Passengers (Daily)
No. of Trains per Day
Total No. of Tracks
Howrah Junction (HWH)
Eastern Region (ER)
5 to 10 lakhs
New Delhi (NDLS)
Eastern Region (ER)
5 to 6 lakhs
Kanpur Central (CNB)
North Central (NC)
2 to 3 lakhs
Kalyan Junction (KYN)
North Central (NC)
3 to 4 lakhs
Patna Junction (PNBE)
East Central (EC)
2 to 3 lakhs
Vijayawada Junction (BZA)
South Central (SC)
1.5 to 2 lakhs
Allahabad Junction (ALD)
North Central (NC)
3 to 4 lakhs
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)
Central Railway (CR)
3 to 4 lakhs
Vadodara Junction (BRC)
Western Railway (WR)
4 to 5 lakhs
Lucknow/ Charbagh Railway Station (LKO)
Northern Railway (NR)
3 to 4 lakhs
Indian Railway History Facts
To help candidates refresh their minds about the Indian Railway History, we have mentioned major facts about it. This will help you recall important facts so you have them at your fingertips. Tabulated below are some interesting facts about Indian Railways that every aspirant must know!
|History of Indian Railways Facts|
Total zones of Indian Railway
Indian Railway Slogan
Lifeline of the Nation
The train that operates between Pakistan and India
The train that operates between India and Bangladesh
World’s longest Railway platform
Gorakhpur (1,366 meter)
India’s oldest working locomotive
Total Railway Museums in India
8 (Delhi, Pune, Mysore, Kanpur, Kolkata, Ghum, Chennai, Tiruchirappalli)
First Computerized Reservation in India started from
1986 in New Delhi
Indian train with a status of World Heritage Status given by UNESCO
Total number of passengers that travel through Indian Railway
Around 2.5 crore
Longest train route in the Indian subcontinent
Dibrugarh Kanyakumari Vivek Express
The fastest train in India
New Delhi to Bhopal Shatabdi Express (Max. speed 150 KM/hr.)
Slowest train in India
Metupalayam Ooty Nilgiri (Passenger train)
Railway station with the longest name
Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta Railway Station
Railway station with the shortest name
IB, near Jharsuguda in Odisha and Od, near Anand in Gujarat
Highest Railway Station in India
Ghum Railway Station in West Bengal
Longest Railway Bridge in India
Vallarpadam Bridge, Kerala with a total length of 4.62 KM
Longest Railway Tunnel in India
Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir with a total length of 11.2 KM
The train which has most stops
Howrah – Amritsar Express 115 halts
Most powerful locomotive engine
Electric Locomotive WAG-9
The busiest station in Indian Railways
Vijayawada Junction (247 unique trains)
Total number of trains run on daily basis
12,000 passenger trains and 7,000 freight trains (a total of 19,000 trains)
Class of Accommodation in Indian Railway
1-AC, 2-AC, 3-AC, 3-AE, EC, CC, FC, SL, 2S, II-UR
Highest earning zone
Northern Railway (120 to 125 Millo
State which has highest per capita rail route
Andhra Pradesh (0.1 metre/ person)
State which has the lowest per capita rail route
Kerala (0.03 metre/ person)
Railway Station which is built on 2 states
Navapur Railway Station (one half of the station is Gujarat and other half in Maharashtra)
Total number of Freight trains run every day
Total load carried every day
Average speed of freight trains in India
Most powerful freight locomotive of Indian Railways
WAG-12 (Generates a 12,000 Horse Power)
International freight services link between
Birgani in Nepal and Raxaul of Bihar
Freight Corridor with the highest traffic
Golden Quadrilateral Freight Corridor with a total of 55% freight traffic
Container Railway Freight traffic is managed by
Container Corporation of India (CONCOR)
Guinness Book of Records for having the world’s largest Route Relay Interlocking System is taken by
New Delhi Railway Station
The first woman to become Railway Minister
Railway budget of 2020-21
Rs 72,216 crore (US $10.33)
Freight Earnings in 2020
Passenger Earnings in 2020
Indian Railways History of Benefits
Indian Railways is an essential part of India as it plays a major role in the life of the public. It is a preferable mode of transport due to many reasons. Here are some benefits of carrying loads and passengers through Indian Railways.
- It is the cheapest and safest mode of transport as compared to other means of transport such as airways, roadways, etc.
- Also, the chances of breakdown and accidents are least as compared to other modes of transportation
- There is no effect of weather on goods such as rain, fog, etc.
- Indian Railway is a better mode of transportation because it has fixed schedules and routes
- As per the companies, it is the best way to transport goods for long-distance traffic
- The carrying capacity through Indian Railways is immensely large and moreover, there is flexibility to add a few loads by adding more wagons
History of Indian Railways - DFCCIL
DFCCIL stands for Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited. DFCCIL was formed on October 30, 2006, and it comes under the Ministry of Railway. As per the records, freight contributes around 60 to 70 of the revenue in total profit percentage of the Indian Railway and from 1950 to 2011 the freight traffic has dropped from 83 percent to 35 percent leading to a huge loss of revenue
Hence, DFCCIL was created with the idea to dedicate a high-speed, high-capacity track for freight along the golden quadrilateral (Delhi – Mumbai – Chennai – Howrah) and its diagonals (Delhi – Chennai and Mumbai – Howrah). DFCCIL is mainly responsible for the construction, mobilization of financial resources, maintenance, and operation of the freight corridor
Mission of DFCCIL
- The main mission of the DFCCIL is to take back the market share of freight transport by creating additional capacity along with ensuring a reliable, safe, efficient, and cheaper option for mobility to its businesses
- Also, to provide assistance to government projects towards ecological sustainability by encouraging businesses to adopt railways as the most efficient and environment-friendly mode for transporting needs
DFCCIL Current Board of Directors
Designation in DFCCIL
Director of Infrastructure and Project Planning in DFCCIL
Director of Operations & Business Development in DFCCIL
Director of Finance in DFCCIL
Ravindra Kumar Jain
Managing Director in DFCCIL
That's all you need to know about the History of Indian Railways! Stay tuned with us to get more such topics.
Commentswrite a comment