Indian Railways

New Delhi, India | C.1845

Photo Credit: Jodi Forsberg

Indian Railway’s vast rail system, and the massive population that it serves, has made it the fourth largest railway network in the world, serving more than 22 million passengers every day.

The first train in India, Red Hill Railway, was built by British general and irrigation engineer Sir Arthur Cotton to transport granite blocks for his road-building enterprise in 1853. The first passenger trains were introduced to these tracks soon after, hauled by three different steam locomotives called the Sahib, Sindh and Sultan.

In 1897, electrical lighting was introduced to the passenger coaches, and in February 1925, the first electric passenger train in India made its maiden journey between Victoria terminus and Kurla.

The creation of the Southern Railway, Central Railway and Western Railway in the 1950s crowded India’s landscape and prompted a reorganization of lines into regional zones. This reorganization effort also involved improvements to the trains, with fans and lights mandated on all passenger cars. 1956 saw the introduction of the first air-conditioned train on the line, keeping India’s railways up to a modern standard.

Passenger service continues on the line today, which is now entirely owned and operated by the state-owned Indian Railways. The transportation organization has since announced that India’s entire rail network will be electrified by 2022.

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