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Indian Railways Glorious 150 years

Indian Railways Glorious 150 years


Item Code: IDK090

by R.R. Bhandari

Hardcover (Edition: 2006)

Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India
ISBN 8123012543

Size: 9.8" X 7.5"
Pages: 252 (Color Illustrations: 100)
Price: $27.50
Discounted: $20.62   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 1st Jun, 2014


Back of the Book

This book celebrates the successful march of Indian Railways in the country for 150 years and vividly documents its phenomenal growth during this eventful period. Written by a senior administrator and avid railway enthusiast, the book is a lucid expression of interesting facts and figures pertaining to Indian Railways that has now become a part of India's rich cultural heritage. The veteran author provides crisp details of various phases of its evolution from steam locomotives of the yore, to present day environment friendly metro railway running underground, from the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company to corporations glorifying Indian Railways image abroad. The author deftly incorporates all aspects and operations of Indian Railways in this book viz., the spectacular feat of engineering in the construction of bridges, tunnels, locomotives, coaches and its won Research, Design and Standards Organisation. The author's vision of preserving the rich heritage of Indian Railways at the end of the book is a food for thought for all those who are keen to enrich the rich heritage of India.


This is the story of 150 glorious years of Indian Railways. It is a story of our rich heritage. My exposure to the heritage of Indian Railways began in 1979 with my posting as the Head of the National Rail Museum in New Delhi. Mr. Michael Satow O.B.E. taught me the basic lessons and encouraged me to get into the heritage trail. Over the last 25 years, I have seen working on this project and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It was, thus very natural to respond to the proposal by Prof. Umakant Mishra to write a book on the 150 years of Indian Railways to be published by the Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi. Since most of the research on the subject was part of my long project for the last 25 years, penning it down in a short span of about one year was not very difficult. This book has 25 chapters and is extensively illustrated.

The 1st chapter "The Beginning" covers thoughts before the formation of the two premier companies, the East Indian Railway Company and the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company. The 2nd chapter, "The Premiers" covers some of the earliest Guaranteed Railway Company including the East Indian Railway and the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.

The State or the Government in colloquial terms threw its weight in the construction and management of the railways in the early 1870s. Government officials felt that private companies had fleeced the national exchequer by keeping the cost of construction abnormally high and that if a private company could construct and manage a transport system, the Government would be able to do it better. A number of State Railway projects came up in the next 15 years, the lines passing through the territory of British India and also through the Native States of India under the leadership of their dynamic rulers. At this stage, the very issue of "One and Only One Gauge" propounded by Lord Dalhousie in 1849 was shelved and Lord Dalhousie's wisdom was questioned. After a prolonged dialogue, another gauge was adopted for the Indian Railways and thus Metre Gauge established itself. The Metre Gauge dominated the decades of the 1870s and the 1880s. Metre Gauge dominated the decades of the 1870s and the 1880s. Metre Gauge railways grew faster and were much cheaper than the Broad Gauge lines built by the Companies: Chapters 3 & 4 cover these issues viz., Construction by the State and the Evolution of the Metre Gauge system.

The late 1880s saw another change in the policy of the British Government of India. The government officials raised the fundamental question - what is the role of the State? Is running Railways was a function of the government or should it not be left for the market forces? Even after 125 years, this question continues to baffle the minds of many a railway-man of our great country. The shift in policy brought out a new set of Railway companies with comparatively better for the State. The Bengal Nagpur Railway Company took the lead. All this is covered in Chapter-5 "Modified Guaranteed Railway Companies".

The Railway Administration, over the years, kept on moulding itself to the requirements of the times, more so because of the shift in the policies of the Government. The organization of the Railways also passed through various stages in their long history. The Railway Administration and Reorganization of Railways have been covered in Chapter-6 and Chapter-7 of the book. A major change took place only two years ago with the formation of seven new zones out of the existing nine. At present, Indian Railways with 16 zones are in the process of setting down after this major change during 2002-03.

Chapter 8 covers Railway Finance. It is worthwhile to mention here that Indian Railways are a profitable venture. The rate of return is reasonable and usually keeps pace with the prevalent rate of interest. This has been made possible by a deep sense of belonging and inherent financial acumen among railway employees.

In the field of engineering, Indian Railways stand out on many counts. Bridges are one of the most spectacular feats of Railway Engineering. They had to encounter mighty rivers, bridge them and also train them. This sort of work had not been done earlier as the railway systems in England and Europe had not faced such problems. Indian Bridge Engineers did a superb job and some of the bridges built in the 19th century are serving the requirements of the 21st century without much of a problem. Bridges have been covered in Chapter-9.

Steam Locomotives were the genius of Railway Engineering. This is an old proverb and is true even in the 21st century. The first steam locomotive to have steamed on Indian soil was brought for construction of the Ganges canal near Roorkee in 1851. Since their introduction in railway services in 1853, steam locomotives continue to operate in some sections of Indian Railways. Mountain Railways continue to operate regular train services with steam locomotives. For the benefit of vintage steam loco enthusiasts, the 1855-built 'Fairy Queen' has been deployed to have a Heritage Special Train every week during the winter months from Delhi to Alwar and back. Stream locomotives have passed through various phases in their long history. These have been covered in Chapter 10. Most of the material for this chapter came from Mr. Hugh Hughes's books on Indian Railway Locomotives. Mr. Hughes helped me understand the locomotives better in several aspects.

Diesel locomotives hauled the major volume of traffic from the early 1960s to the 1990s. Diesel traction was introduced on all the four gauges of Indian Railways and has been covered in Chapter-11.

Close on the heels of stream traction, electric traction was introduced. Bombay went for electric trains in 1925, closely followed by Madras. The DC (Direct Current) electric traction continues in Bombay area and has been covered in Chapter-12. The 2nd five-year plan (1956-61) brought AC (alternating current) electric traction on the Indian railway scene. Since then, AC electric traction has become the dominating system. Over the years, several major routes have been electrified. The growth of AC electric traction has been covered in Chapter-13.

Railways offer the safest form of land transport mainly due to their adherence to an elaborate set of rules. Railway working and Rules of Operation have been covered in Chapter-14. Chapter-15 covers Railways Signalling, often associated with the Railway Rules for working of trains.

Hill Railways have a very special position on the Indian railway system, mainly because of their variety. The British had love for the Indian Hills and had established a number of resorts at these places. These came to be known as Hill Stations. Five rail lines in different parts of the country carry passengers to these hill stations. These rail lines are popularly known as Hill Railways and have been covered in Chapter-16, most of the material coming out from my previous books on these railways.

The Metro Railway in Kolkata made a major change in the city transport scenario since 1984. This was followed by a Metro system for Delhi and other metropolitan cities. Metro Railways are covered in Chapter-17.

The in-house Research, Design & Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Indian Railways is the brain behind our indigenous rolling stock, track and bridges. The designs are applied by the production units such as the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works for electric locomotives, the Diesel Locomotive Works for diesel locomotives, the Integral Coach Factory and Rail Coach Factory for passenger coaches and Rail Wheel Factory for wheel sets for the railways. RDSO and the Production Units have been covered in Chapters 18 and 19.

The 1970s saw Railways launching new ventures in the form of public sector undertakings. RITES and IRCON were the first for projecting Indian Railways outside our ordinary domain. They have established themselves as multinationals in an open and competitive world. Konkan Railway Corporation came up for building a new line utilizing financial resources of the Center and some States. Over the years, public sector undertakings under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways have multiplied. These have been covered in Chapter 20.

The Railway family, perhaps next only to the Army, is a large one and looks after each and every member for their development, welfare and in difficult times. Training at all levels have been the hallmark of Indian Railway system. Railways have built their own institutes for upgrading the skills of its employees. These have been covered in Chapter 21.

The new millennium saw new thrust for the golden quadrilateral routes connecting the four metropolis. The six trunk lines including the diagonals are the lifeline of Indian Railways and cater to a huge volume of traffic. Tackling bottlenecks on the golden quadrilateral and providing connectivity to the ports were assured a massive investment in the coming years. This is covered in Chapter 22.

Chapter 23 covers Indo-Sri Lanka rail-sea connection, a dream of the early twentieth century, which is yet to materialize. This chapter is more of a reminder of our glorious past.

I have worked as the head of the National Railway Museum, New Delhi from 1979 to 1982 and since then have been associated with the preservation scene of Indian Railways in one or another way. Chapter 24 covers my scheme of preserving the rich heritage of Indian Railways. This scheme was evolved over the years and it could become a basic document for any such work.

The last chapter of the book is devoted to eminent railwaymen of yesteryears and covers a brief biographical account of eight railwaymen who contributed in construction and management of railways in the nineteenth and the early in this chapter in the name of Michael Graham Satow, the spirit behind the National Rail Museum. This chapter is a result of my research during my tenure at the Railway staff college, Vadodara from 1991 to 1995. It, however, is not an exhaustive list of eminent railwaymen. More names would come in subsequent publications.

I am fully aware of my shortcomings in authoring a book such as this, in rather a short time frame. I humbly accept them. I have received help from all corners and gratefully acknowledge it. Mentioning a few names will not be proper. It is a railwayman's book and it would not have been possible to produce it without wholehearted support from one and all.

1.The Beginning 1
2.The Premiers5
3.State Construction20
4.Evolution of Metre Gauge System30
5.Modified Guaranteed Railway Companies34
6.The Railway Administration38
7.Reorganisation of Railways44
8.Railway Finance53
9.Bridges: The Spectacular Feat of Indian Engineering59
10.Steam Locomotives73
11.Diesel Traction87
12.DC Electric Traction92
13.AC Electric Traction103
14.Rules of Operation106
15.Railway Signalling112
16.Hill Railways119
17.Metro Railways142
18.Research, Design & Standards Organization149
19.The Production Units152
20.Public Sector Undertakings164
21.The Railway Family173
22.The Golden Quadrilateral and Port Connectivity182
23.Indo-Ceylon Connection187
24.Preserving Railways Rich Heritage193
25.Eminent Railwaymen of Yesteryears203
26.Reading List238
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