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#1 The First Train in India: Bombay to Thane (1853) – (Indian Railways Series)


As we all know, the first train in India ran between Bombay and Thane in 1853. This was a historic moment that marked the birth of the railway era in India. You will be shocked to know that people back then were afraid to even sit on the train.

The idea of a train was first proposed in 1832, but it took 21 years for the first train to actually run in India. The construction faced many challenges and could have been smoother.

The Governor of Bombay, Lord Elphinstone, wanted to connect Bombay City to Thane, which was 34 km away. He brought in engineers from England to build this railway line. Construction started in 1851 amidst protests from native villagers. They had never seen such huge machinery and smoke-spewing trains before. Many believed it was a demon creation that would bring ill fate!

Triumph Over Superstitions 

But the British were determined and overcame all superstitions and obstacles. The hard work paid off when India’s first train ran on April 16, 1853, between Bombay and Thane. It was hauled by three steam locomotives named Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. 

The historic journey took 57 minutes to complete at a speed of 34 km/hr. The trains had no toilets or lights back then. Passengers sat on wooden benches in candle lit carriages.

Fear of the Unknown

Most Indians had never seen a train before. So people were fearful about sitting inside them. According to a passed-down oral tradition, a Parsi priest had to ride the first train before allowing people to use it. After his safe journey, people’s fear vanished. Thousands gathered at the station for the inaugural ride. 

The success of this short line led to the rapid expansion of railways across India in the 19th century.

Connecting India

In few decades, railway tracks were laid across the towns and cities of India. This helped in the connection of a vast nation like never before. Goods and people could now move faster. Railways reduced journey time from months to days.

Not only that, the railways also gave a boost to industry and trade. New cities and industries developed along the railway routes. It also promoted nationalism by connecting diverse cultures.

The railways played a key role in unifying the country under British rule. By 1930, India had one of the largest railway networks in the world, covering over 40,000 km!

The First Step of a Journey

The historic Bombay to Thane journey was just 34 km long. But it heralded the dawn of a new technological era in India. From humble beginnings, Indian Railways is today one of the largest employers in the world. The trains continue to be the nation’s lifeline, even after 170 years.

So next time you hop on a train, remember how it all started with a single journey in 1853. That first step ignited a transport revolution that completely transformed India.

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