Great Indian Peninsula Railway

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Great Indian Peninsula Railway
Industry Railways
Founded 1849
Defunct 1951
Headquarters Bombay, British India
Area served
British India
Services Rail transport
Extent of Great Indian Peninsula Railway network in 1870

The Great Indian Peninsula Railway was a predecessor of the Central Railway, whose headquarters was at the Boree Bunder in Bombay (later, the Victoria Terminus and presently the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus). The Great Indian Peninsula Railway was incorporated on August 1, 1849 by an act of the British Parliament. It had a share capital of 50,000 pounds. On August 17, 1849 it entered into a formal contract with the East India Company for the construction and operation of an experimental 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 C. B. Kar and R. W. Graham as his assistants.[3] It was India's ever first railway, the original 21 mile (33.8 km) section opening in 1853, between Bombay (Mumbai) and Tannah (Thane). On July 1, 1925 its management was taken over by the Government.[4] On November 5, 1951 it was incorporated into the Central Railway.

Bombay to Tannah[edit]

A passenger train travelling from Bombay to Tannah, 1855

On April 16, 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 Tannah (present day Thane)[5] The train took fifty-seven minutes to reach Tannah.[6] It covered a distance of 21 miles (33.8 km). Three locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib pulled the 14 carriages carrying 400 passengers on board.[3] The railway bridge over Thane creek, first in India, was completed in 1854.

The Sahyadri crossed[edit]

The portion of the line from Tannah to Callian (present day Kalyan) was opened on May 1, 1854. the construction of this portion was difficult as it involved a two-line viaduct over the estuary and two tunnels. On May 12, 1856 the line was extended to Campoolie (present day Khopoli) via Padusdhurree (present day Palasdhari) and on June 14, 1858 Khandala-Poonah (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 January 1, 1861 and the steep Thull ghat (present day Thal Ghat) section up to Egutpoora (present day Igatpuri) was opened on January 1, 1865 and thus completed the crossing of the Sahyadri.[6]

Further extensions[edit]

The south-east main line proceeded over Bhor Ghat to Poonah, Sholapore (present day Solapur) and Raichore (present day Raichur), where it joined the Madras Railway. By 1868, route kiometerage was 888 km and by 1870, route kilometerage was 2,388.[7][8]

Bombay to Calcutta[edit]

Beyond Callian, the north-east main line proceeded over the Thull ghat to Bhosawal (present day Bhusawal) near Nusseerabad. From Bhosawal, there was a bifurcation. One passed through great cotton district of Oomravuttee (present day Amravati) and was extended up to Nagpore (present day Nagpur). 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. 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”. [9]


  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 (April 18, 2002). "The great Indian Railway bazaar". The Hindu. 
  4. ^ "About Indian Railways-Evolution". Ministry of Railways website. 
  5. ^ Costa, Roana Maria (17 April 2010). "A sepia ride, from Boree Bunder to Tannah". Mumbai: The Times of India. p. 6. 
  6. ^ a b Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, p.17
  7. ^ Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, pp.17-8
  8. ^ Mihill Slaughter (1861). Railway Intelligence 11. The Railway Department, Stock Exchange, London. p. 202. 
  9. ^ Indian Railway History Timeline, R.P. Saxena