Great Indian Peninsula Railway

The Great Indian Peninsula Railway (reporting mark GIPR) was a predecessor of the Central Railway (and by extension, the current state-owned Indian Railways), whose headquarters was at the Boree Bunder in Mumbai (later, the Victoria Terminus and presently the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus). The Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company was incorporated on 1 August 1849 by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company Act 1849 (12 & 13 Vict. c.83) of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It had a share capital of 50,000 pounds. On 21 August 1847 it entered into a formal contract with the East India Company for the construction and operation of a railway line, 56 km long, to form part of a trunk line connecting Bombay with Khandesh and Berar and generally with the other presidencies of India.[1] The Court of Directors of the East India Company appointed James John Berkeley[2] as Chief Resident Engineer and Charles Buchanan Ker and Robert Wilfred Graham as his assistants.[3] It was India's first passenger railway, the original 21 miles (33.8 km) section opening in 1853, between Bombay (Mumbai) and Tanna (now Thane). On 1 July 1925, its management was taken over by the Government.[4] On 5 November 1951, it was incorporated into the Central Railway.

Great Indian Peninsula Railway
HeadquartersBombay, British India
LocaleBritish India
Dates of operation1 August 1849–5 November 1951
Track gauge5'6" or 1676 mm
Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company Act 1849
Long titleAn Act to incorporate the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company, and for purposes connected therewith.
Citation12 & 13 Vict. c. 83
Territorial extent British Raj
Royal assent1 August 1849
Status: Unknown
Text of statute as originally enacted
Extent of Great Indian Peninsula Railway network in 1870

Incorporation in London edit

Incorporated as a company in 1849, with its head office in London, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway line was initially proposed for a length of 1,300 mi (2,100 km), to connect Bombay with the interior of the Indian peninsula and to the major port of Madras (Chennai) on the east coast. It was originally meant to connect the towns of Poona (Pune), Nassuek (Nashik), Aurungabad (Aurangabad), Ahmednuggur (Ahmednagar), Sholapoor (Solapur), Nagpur, Akola (West Berar), Oomrawutty (Amravati), and Hyderabad. It was meant for the purpose of increasing the export of cotton, silk, opium, sugar and spices.[5]

The management committee consisted of 25 British men, including officials of the East India Company and banks in London, most of whom resided in Britain and some who had resided in India. The original 25 person board consisted of people such as John Stuart-Wortley and William Hamilton (both MPs from Britain who became the company's chairman and deputy chairman), Frederick Ayrton (ex-East India Company), cavalrymen such as Major Clayton and Major-General Briggs, Bombay residents John Graham, Col. Dickenson, Hon. Jugonnath Sunkersett and Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy,[6] bankers such as John Harvey (Commercial Bank of London) and S. Jervis (Director of the London and County Bank, Lombard Street), and directors of other railway companies such as Richard Paterson (Chairman of the Northern and Eastern Railway Company) and Melvil Wilson (Director of the Alliance Assurance Office).[7]

Beginnings in Bombay edit

An year after the passing of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway Company Act in 1849, the first sod was turned ('Bhoomipujan' was done) of the first rail line at Sion on 30 October 1850, by the Chief secretary of Bombay Government, John P. Willoughby. The line was meant to be an "experimental line" between Bombay and Thana, whose gauge was set at 5' 6'' (1676 mm) by Governor General Lord Dalhousie in January 1851. The contract for this segment was handed to the contractors Faviell and Fowler, while the next segment from Tannah to Callian (today's Kalyan) to contractors George Wythes and William Jackson along with Jamsetjee Dorabjee Naegamwalla. [8]

Work began, but was soon slowed down by heavy showers in October 1851. This was the same year the first locomotives for this line (Locomotives GIP-1 to 8) were built at the Vulcan Foundry in England. Several problems were encountered, for instance, the laying of the line among the swamp at Sion, worker strikes, among others. Then there was a question of whether the experimental line be a single line, or a double line. The contract opted for the latter option, but there were other ideas. Doing this would have saved money. In the end, the Government of Bombay asked to retain the 'double line' option, owing to complications in contracts and finances.

First locomotive edit

The following year, in 1852, Bombay received its first locomotive. Built by E. B. Wilson, the same firm that built Roorkee's locomotive Thomason, it was brought by sea to Bombay. The Bombay Telegraph of 17 February states that "She had been landed six days ..." suggesting that the locomotive landed in Bombay on 11 or 12 February 1852. On its arrival, it was pulled down a public road by 200 coolies, before it was put on the rails. This Locomotive was named "Lord Falkland" after the then Governor of Bombay, Lucius Bentinck Cary, who reportedly left the city on the eve of the occasion.

It was stationed on a land in Byculla, previously used for planting toddy. This plot of land, belonging to William Phipps, among others, was bought by the GIPR at a cost of Rupees 4000. This locomotive was a tank engine, meaning that it had all its fuel, water and boiler on the same frame, not having an external tender wagon. Four wheels were attached to the cranked driving shaft, and placed in the center. The Telegraph further stated that efforts were made to prepare the loco for work by 'the end of the week'.

The Locomotive had its first run on 18 February 1852 from its stationing at Byculla, to Parel. Thousands crowded around the place, watching the loco at the entrance of its shed. The excitement was immense, with the natives amazed when the loco commenced its maiden journey. The engine started at a walking speed, later travelling at 15 miles an hour (about 24 km/h). A crowd ran after the moving contraption, hardly leaving the tracks clear. The locomotive traveled the 2 miles (3.2 km) between Byculla and Parel, waiting at its destination for some time. The second trip was completed, notably with a lady being among the passengers. On both trips the loco was stopped briefly, to correct some small matters; however, the engine was found to be in proper order.[9]

Around this time there arose debates on what vocabulary be introduced for the railways in native languages. The natives had already started referring to railways, in their language, some calling it "Aag Boat"' (the term for steam boats). Without proper words to describe the railway systems, even the 1854 translation of the Lardner's Rail Economy (translated by Krishnashastri Bhatwadekar in Marathi) referred to rail roads as "Lokhandi Rustey" the term for Iron Roads, hence even the name of the book was Lokhandi Rustyanche Sunshipt Vurnan (translated as "A Short Account of Iron Roads"). Some translations were soon suggested.

The Locomotive in its shed at Byculla drew crowds of thousands from over the city. When it began its operations, sometimes carrying twelve wagons of Ballast up the steep slopes, the natives standing in the way in astonishment. For the natives, it was a mesmerizing experience, for they had never seen such an immensity traveling on rails. Not satisfied by watching from sides, the crowds would come extremely close to the operating locomotive, only paving way when the loco came a few meters away. Police was ordered around the line for the safety of the observers. Finally twelve men with sticks were employed for this duty. Some people sought an opportunity, setting up stalls of Toddy and cakes, to sell to the visitors.

The same year, three Locomotives and the rail carriages arrived on the ship, Charles along with six European locomotive drivers in September 1852.[9]

The First Trial run edit

The first trial run was conducted between Bombay and Thane on 18 November 1852, at noon. The locomotives and the carriages were still not yet in order (having arrived only 2 months ago). Hence the same Lord Falkland was employed as the locomotive, with trucks, temporarily fitted to be used as carriages. The Journey was to be commenced at noon, reaching the destination of Parsick (Parsik) point at about 1 p.m. They were to have their tiffin in the tunnel built there, to later return back at sunset, as reported by the Allen's Indian Mail of 1852. The passengers were the engineers, directors and their friends. The Journey started soon after twelve p.m., later halting at near the beginning of the Salsette island for refilling water. The entire journey was extensively described by the newspaper The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce (now known as The Times of India). The journey was reported completed in 45 mins, the highest speed being 50 mph (about 80 km/h), with the average being 30 mph (about 48 km/h). This Journey soon paved way for the official run next year (1853) on 16th April, that formally began the era of the Indian Railways.

Railways around Bombay edit

On 16 April 1853 at 3:35 pm, the first passenger train of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway left Boree Bunder station in Bombay (present day Mumbai) for Tanna (present day Thane).[10] The train took fifty-seven minutes to reach Tanna.[11] It covered a distance of 21 miles (33.8 km). Three locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib of the GIP-1 Classification pulled the 14 carriages carrying 400 passengers on board.[3]

Tanna railway viaducts
The smaller railway viaduct (top) and the longer railway viaduct (bottom) near Tanna (present day Thane) in 1855.

The portion of the line from Tanna to Callian (present day Kalyan) was opened on 1 May 1854. The construction of this portion was difficult as it involved two-line viaducts over the estuary (see picture on right) and two tunnels.[12]

On 12 May 1856 the line was extended to Campoolie (present day Khopoli) via Padusdhurree (present day Palasdhari) and on 14 June 1858 Khandala-Poona (present day Pune) section was opened to traffic. The Padusdhurree-Khandala section involved the difficult crossing of the Bhore Ghat (present day Bhor Ghat) and it took another five years for completion. During this period, the 21 km gap was covered by palanquin, pony or cart through the village of Campoolie.

The Kassarah (present day Kasara) line was opened on 1 January 1861 and the steep Thull ghat (present day Thal Ghat) section up to Egutpoora (present day Igatpuri) was opened on 1 January 1865 and thus completed the crossing of the Sahyadri.[11]

Bombay to Madras edit

Beyond Callian, the south-east main line proceeded over Bhor Ghat to Poona, Sholapore (present day Solapur) and Raichore (present day Raichur), where it joined the Madras Railway. By 1868, route kilometerage was 888 km and by 1870, route kilometerage was 2,388.[13][14]

Bombay to Calcutta edit

Beyond Callian, the north-east main line proceeded over the Thull ghat to Bhosawal (present day Bhusawal). From Bhosawal, there was a bifurcation. One passed through great cotton districts of Akola (West Berar) and Oomravuttee (present day Amravati) and was extended up to Nagpore (present day Nagpur) and then to Raj-nandgaon in Drug district (Present day Durg). The other was extended up to Jubbulpore (present day Jabalpur) to connect with the Allahabad-Jubbulpore branch line of the East Indian Railway which had been opened in June 1867. Hence it became possible to travel directly from Bombay to Calcutta.

The Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai line was officially opened on 7 March 1870 and it was part of the inspiration for French writer Jules Verne's book Around the World in Eighty Days. Although, in the novel it is erroneously claimed that the line passes through Aurangabad, which is, again erroneously claimed as the capital of the Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgeer. At that time period, line had not reached Aurangabad but rather moved northward after reaching Bhusawal towards Jabalpur. At the opening ceremony, the Viceroy Lord Mayo concluded that "it was thought desirable that, if possible, at the earliest possible moment, the whole country should be covered with a network of lines in a uniform system".

Rolling stock edit

By the end of 1874 the company owned 345 steam locomotives, 1309 coaches and 7924 goods wagons.[15] In 1906 a steam railcar from Kerr, Stuart and Company was purchased.[16] By 1936, the rolling stock had increased to 835 locomotives, 1285 coaches and more than 20.000 freight wagons.[17]

Classification edit

It was labeled as a Class I railway according to Indian Railway Classification System of 1926.[18][19]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, p. 15.
  2. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 690.
  3. ^ a b Khan, Shaheed (18 April 2002). "The great Indian Railway bazaar". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 July 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "About Indian Railways-Evolution". Ministry of Railways website. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  5. ^ Company registration − 1845. London: Grace's Guide. 1846. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  6. ^ Westrip, Joyce (2014). Fire and Spice. London: Serif Books. p. 20. ISBN 978-1909150287.
  7. ^ "Incorporation of Great Indian peninsula Railway". The Evening Standard. 19 November 1845.
  8. ^ Aklekar, Rajendra B. (2014). Halt Station India: The Dramatic Tale of the Nation's First Rail Lines. Rupa Publications. pp. 6–12. ISBN 978-81-291-3497-4.
  9. ^ a b "The first running of a railway locomotive in India" (PDF). Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  10. ^ Costa, Roana Maria (17 April 2010). "A sepia ride, from Boree Bunder to Tannah". The Times of India. Mumbai. p. 6.
  11. ^ a b Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, p. 17
  12. ^ "Extracts from the Railway Times". Railway Times. 1854. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  13. ^ Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, pp. 17–18
  14. ^ Mihill Slaughter (1861). Railway Intelligence. Vol. 11. The Railway Department, Stock Exchange, London. p. 202. Archived from the original on 18 October 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  15. ^ "Central Railway History". Archived from the original on 18 August 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  16. ^ New Locomotives for the Great Indian Peninsula Ry., The Locomotive Magazine, Vol. XII, No. 125 (Jul. 14, 1906); pages 114. Includes photo.
  17. ^ World Survey of Foreign Railways. Transportation Division, Bureau of foreign and domestic commerce, Washington D.C. 1936. p. 215. Archived from the original on 18 October 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  18. ^ "Indian Railway Classification". Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  19. ^ World Survey of Foreign Railways. Transportation Division, Bureau of foreign and domestic commerce, Washington D.C. 1936. pp. 210–219.

External links edit