One hundred and forty eight years ago, on Saturday 16t April 1853, three stream locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib, hauled fourteen railway carriages from Mumbai to Thane, taking an hour and fifteen minutes for the 34-kilometre journey. On board were four hundred distinguished guests who naturally did not have to pay their first class fare-a princely sum of rupees two and ten annas (65 paise).
The train bought them bake to Mumbai later that very evening. To mark the occasion the government declared a holiday for all the public offices in Mumbai. Rail travel had arrived in India.
Today the Indian Railways is the largest rail system in the world under a single management. With a network of more than 630000 kilometers, it runs more than 14000passenger and goods trains everyday and transports nearly 11 million passengers daily between thousands of stations across the country.
A wooden structure acted as a terminus when the first train was flagged off at Boribunder, Mumbai. In its place today is one of the most magnificent stations in the world, Victoria terminus or VT, now named Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Many other railway stations which were built before India gained her freedom, such as those at Delhi, Chennai and Lucknow, reflect their imposing colonial heritage. Sadly some of them are now dwarfed by modern concrete structures built nearby.
The invention of the railways has made life comfortable for people of all caste, creed and status. We can now move or transport things quickly, moreover it has reduced the time taken to travel long distances. Today with the invention of the wheels and discovery of new machineries and fuel and constant upgraded quality services offered by the officials traveling is quick, easy and comfortable.