Indian Railway History – History of Indian Railways PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

Indian Railway History is an important part of various exams conducted by the Railway Recruitment Board. It is quite vast and hence, aspirants often struggle with it. However, we are going to discuss the history of Indian railways from 1853 to 2020 in detail here. Indian Railway provides three kinds of services to the public which are Express trains, Mail Express trains, and Passenger trains. The fare of Passenger trains is the lowest and the fare of Mail Express trains is the highest.

In this article, we have covered all the details regarding the history of Indian Railway such as the benefits of transporting goods and passengers through the Indian Railway and other interesting facts. Through this article, you will get all the details you need to know about Indian Railway History along with PDF notes.

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


Work Done


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.
Built by Engineer Arthur Cotton, the railway was mainly used for transporting granite stone for road-building work in Madras.


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

17 Aug


‘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


Work Done

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.
The train traveled a total of 34 km and carried a total of 400 people. This passenger line was built and operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR).

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).

May 1854

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 the same year, GIPR opened its first Railway workshop in Byculla.


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 the same year, Madras Railway’s first workshop was opened at Perambur (near Madras) and the Bombay-Thane line was extended to Khopoli.


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.
In the following year, the Great South Indian and Carnatic Railways combined to form the South Indian Railway Company.

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


Work Done


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 VT-Bandra section was electrified through the elevated platform at Sandhurst Road, the Oudh and Rohil khund Railway was merged with the EIR.


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.
In the same year, the Charbagh Railway Station/ Lucknow Railway Station was built.

Jan 1928

The Bandra-Virar section was electrified with 1,500 V DC.


The Frontier Mail made its maiden run from Bombay VT to Peshawar.
In the same year, the country’s first automatic color-light signals became operational, on GIPR’s lines between Bombay VT and Byculla.


The Kanpur Central and Lucknow stations were opened.
In the same year, the Grand Trunk Express started running between Peshawar and Mangalore. Also, the Punjab Limited Express began moving between Mumbai and Lahore, and automatic color-light signaling was extended to the Byculla-Kurla section.

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).
In the same year, the Hyderabad Godavari Valley Railway was merged into Nizam’s State Railway and the route of the Grand Trunk Express was changed to Delhi-Madras.

Zonal re-organization and further developments (1951 to 1983)

Zonal re-organization and further developments 1951-1983


Work Done


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 the same year, the government of West Bengal also entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Company to take over its administrative functions and operations.


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.
In the same year, the first fully air-conditioned train was introduced in between Delhi and Howrah


Indian Railways decided to adopt 25 kV AC electrification, choosing SNCF as a technical consultant.
In the same year, the Main Line Electrification Project was established which later became the Railway Electrification Project.


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 electrification (with 25 kV AC) of several suburban tracks over Delhi, Madras, and Calcutta was done.


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


Work Done

24 Oct 1984

Calcutta Metro was the country’s first rapid-transit line.
India’s first metro train ran from Esplanade to Bhowanipur (presently known as Netaji Bhawan station) in Calcutta.


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.

Sep 1996

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.
In the same year, the South East Central Railway zone was formed and credit cards were accepted for tickets and reservations at some stations.

Feb 2000

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

Zone Code

Established Year

Route (in KM)


Zone Divisions

Western Railway





Mumbai Central, Ratlam, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Vadodara

Southern Railway





Chennai, Trichy, Madurai, Palakkad, Salem, Thiruvananthapuram

Central Railway





Mumbai, Bhusawal, Pune, Solapur, Nagpur

Eastern Railway





Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol, Malda

Northern Railway





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





Secunderabad, Hyderabad,

Guntakal, Guntur, Nanded, Vijayawada

East CentralRailway





Danapur, Dhanbad, Mughalsarai, Samastipur, Sonpur

East Coast Railway





Khurda Road, Sambalpur, Visakhapatnam

North Western Railway





Jaipur, Ajmer,Bikaner, Jodhpur

North Central Railway





Allahabad, Agra,Jhansi

South East

Central Railway





Bilaspur, Raipur, Nagpur

South Western Railway





Hubli, Bangalore, Mysore

West CentralRailway





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

Established Year


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

Samjhauta Express

The train that operates between India and Bangladesh

Maitree Express

World’s longest Railway platform

Gorakhpur (1,366 meter)

India’s oldest working locomotive

Fairy Queen

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

24 Km/hr

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

Mamata Banerjee

Railway budget of 2020-21

Rs 72,216 crore (US $10.33)

Freight Earnings in 2020

US $16.24

Passenger Earnings in 2020

US $7.25

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

Pankaj Saxena

Director of Infrastructure and Project Planning in DFCCIL

Nanduri Srinivas

Director of Operations & Business Development in DFCCIL

Hira Ballabh

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.


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