Indian Railways turns 162 today | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Indian Railways turns 162 today

punjab Updated: Apr 16, 2015 09:59 IST
Vandana Singh
Ludhiana: Indian railway network

Today, as one of the world's largest railway networks is turning 162-years-old, people associated with the department can't help but feel overwhelmed.

The first train of the Indian Railways was introduced from Mumbai to Thane on April 16, 1853.

The Railways has undergone massive changes since then, and so has the train station in Ludhiana.

"Indian Railways moved a long way ahead from the tiny speck of 34 miles in western India in April 1853 to its present 64,000 route kilometers and transports nearly 2.3 crore people daily and over a billon tones of freight annually," says divisional traffic manager (DTM) SP Singh Bhatia, who is fond of collecting historical information about his favourite subject, Indian trains.

"The Railways with its rich heritage and a glorious past need to be showcased to the younger generation," he added.

Bhatia says Punjab's connection with the department ais as old as the department itself. The first train in the state ran in 1863 from Lahore to Amritsar. The Ludhiana railway station came into existence when this line was extended up to Delhi via Saharanpur in 1870.

"During this period mega railway bridges over Beas river between Amritsar, Jalandhar and over Satluj near Phillaur were constructed in 1869 and 1870 respectively. It is very interesting to point out that most branch of railway lines in Punjab were constructed between 1912 and 1929. Ludhiana was linked with Firozepur onwards Fazilka, Mcloedganj in 1905 by Southern Punjab Railway company," he says.

And how have things changed? "From its inception in 1870 Ludhiana has witnessed many changes with advancement of technology. After phasing out completely, low efficient steam engine in 1994, electric loco shed and diesel loco shed were established here. Old mechanical lever systems were replaced with technically advanced route relay interlocking, electrification and so on," Bhatia says.

"Also Ludhiana is associated with one of the oldest running train, which is the frontier Mail - now renamed as Golden Temple mail which made its inaugural run on September 1, 1928," he says.

President of the national railway pensioners welfare association, Sher Singh, said, "I have seen the changes…. Till my time we used to issue tickets through a manual system on card boards. Now, it is a lot different."

He says the main trains to Ludhiana were the Frontier Mail and Howrah Mail, which remained full of passengers. He also remembers the role of the trains in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

"Indian Railway always played pro-active role for the nation and at that time too we saw trains taking necessary material to the war zones."