161 years ago on this day… the first train in India (and in Asia) was flagged off on 16th April 1853, a Saturday, at 3:35 pm between Bori Bunder (Mumbai) and Thane, a distance of 34 kms. The importance of the day can be gauged from the fact that the Bombay Government declared the day as a public holiday.
The train, hauled by three engines – Sahib, Sindh and Sultan, carried as many as 400 passengers in its 14 coaches on its debut run. The Great Indian Peninsula Railway had ordered a set of eight locomotives from Vulcan Foundry, England, for the purpose. Durbar tents were erected at Thane to Welcome the first train and accommodate four hundred passengers for a celebratory Party. Tables were laid in there with a grand menu consisting of every delicacy.
Indian Railways, which had such a modest beginning in 1853, has since then become an integral part of our nation - a network that has held together a population of 1.3 billion. A self-propelled social welfare system that has become the lifeline of our nation, Indian Railways has woven a sub-continent together and brought to life the concept of a united India.
The railways in India are the largest rail web in Asia and the world’s second largest under one management. With a huge workforce of about 1.65 million and 7,500 Stations, it runs some 11,000 trains every day, including 7,000 passenger trains over tracks of 115, 000 kms. and routes of 65,000 kms. transporting 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily.
Well done Indian Railways, keep it up! And a big THANK YOU!