When Sahib, Sindh & Sultan blew steam….

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India’s first passenger train was flagged off on its maiden run between (later Victoria Terminus, now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane — a distance of 21 miles covered in 57 minutes, at 3.35pm on April 16, 1853. Drawn by three engines, Sahib, Sindh and Sultan, the train lurched forward amid fanfare and celebration.

The customary infirmation is 3:35pm on April 16th, 1853, when a train with 14 railway carriages and 400 guests left Bombay’s Bori Bunder for Thane, with a 21-gun salute. It was hauled by three locomotives: Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. The journey took an hour and fifteen minutes.


That, however, was just the first commercial passenger service in India. In fact, a few other railways are known to have operated in India prior to 1853, for hauling materials.

In 1835, a short experimental line was laid near Chintadripet. This appears to have been a practice run of sorts for the Red Hill Railroad line. Construction on this line began in 1836. This line was intended for the carriage of granite stone. It was opened in 1837, and while it had teething troubles, it appears that it was definitely in operation in 1837, with a written report of its running from January 1838. While primarily intended for rail wagons hauled by animals, locomotives were also used on the line. One of them may even have been built in India.

In the year 1832 the first Railway running on steam engine, was launched in England. Thereafter in May 1843 a young Engineer Graham Clark got down from a ship harbored at Mumbai (then Bombay). He was sent to India at the insistence of the Textile Industrialists of Manchester, Lancashire, Liverpool, in England to find out how and in which part of India a railway can be built which would be useful to transport cheap cotton from Indian hinterland first to Bombay Harbor and then from there to England by ship.

Thereafter on 1st of August, 1849 the Great Indian Peninsular Railways Company was established in India. On 17th of August 1849, a contract was signed between the Great Indian Peninsular Railways Company and East India Company.

As a result of the contract an experiment was made by laying a railway track between Bombay and Thane (56 Kms.).

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( A pair of bullocks an engine of a goods train in Gujarat).

(The Frontier Mail was the first obe of the trains in India to get an Air conditioned car. In fact Ac cars started after 1934).

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Originally intended only to house the main station and the administrative offices of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, a number of ancillary buildings have been added subsequently, all designed so as to harmonise with the main structure. A new station to handle main line traffic was erected in 1929. The original building is still in use to handle suburban traffic and is used by over three million commuters daily. It is also the administrative headquarters of the Central Railway.
More on VT Victoria Terminus , now called CST in upcoming post.

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