By Aastha Anupriya
Back in Time is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
For this incident, we go back in time to 1925.
February 4, 1925: With the willingness to move forward and the love of freedom in their hearts, yesterday, Indians woke up to a new dawn in history. Generations to come shall remember February 3, 1925 as the day the era of the electric train began.
Following in the trail of the first ever train in India, the new train too started its journey from Victoria Terminus though it travelled with four coaches, a distance of 16 kilometres along the harbour route to Kurla Harbour. His Excellency The Governor of Bombay Province, Sir Leslie Wilson flagged the train off.
Having witnessed the advent of electricity-run railways, it is believed that the Indians hope for a time when none of them are forced to put in manual labour in the steam-powered engines. Optimistic Indians are terming it the final lump of coal in the stocking of British Raj.
The idea of electrified railways was first proposed by W.H. White in 1904 as the chief engineer of Bombay Province. It then took a year to obtain permission from the British government and upgrade the infrastructure of Bombay city.
The execution of the project was heavily and adversely affected when the War broke. The railways were under extremely heavy strain and the railway production was diverted to meet the needs of the British forces outside India, leaving the railways in an unfortunate state by the end of the War.
However, the work regained momentum in 1920 and as a result, we are looking forward to being our own masters, inside and outside the railway engine.
Almost of the railway-covered area has been electrified. Indian Railways is the single largest employer in India and the seventh largest in the world. If that isn’t daunting enough, look at the stats; 115,000 km of track, 8.397 billion passengers and 1058.81 million tonnes of freight in a year, and Rs 1634.50 billion of revenues. IR operates on three different gauges and produces its own locomotives and coaches. It doesn’t just connect Indians to all of India but also provides international services to places in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. Yes, there are issues with time and services, but again, what in this world is without issues?
91 years down the line, we have travelled a long way forward and the Indian Railways has taken us places.