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#2 The Unsung Heroes Behind Indian Railways (Indian Railways Series)


Do you know that Indian Railways was built by brilliant British and Indian engineers working together? Their pioneering efforts faced many challenges but ultimately triumphed. You will be shocked to know the kind of obstacles they had to overcome to lay railway lines across India in the 19th century. Let’s dive into this blog to know the depth of the struggles and challenges faced. 


Many stalwarts were involved in the planning and construction of early railways in India. The British engineers included Lord Dalhousie, Rowland Macdonald Stephenson, George Turnbull, Sir Guilford Lindsey Molesworth, and Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Cotton.

On the Indian side, eminent leaders like Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, Jagannath Shunkersett, and Premchand Roychand provided financial support. The project could never have succeeded without the partnership between British expertise and Indian funding. 

Challenges Galore

The engineers encountered many challenges while building the railways across unfamiliar Indian terrain. They had to survey dense jungles, cross overflowing and deep rivers, cut through rocky hills, and deal with Extreme temperatures. 

Not only that, they also faced resistance from orthodox communities like Brahmins. The introduction of railways was seen as a threat to the traditional way of life by many.

To top it all, they also had to transport all the heavy machinery from Britain to India – a daunting logistical feat in itself.

Ingenuity & Hard Work

Despite all odds, the engineers used innovative solutions to lay thousands of miles of railway lines. They designed special wide-gauge trains to navigate the mountains of Shimla. For crossing rivers, they built massive bridges like the Vembanad Rail Bridge. Through swamps, the tracks were laid on raised embankments.

The project demanded tremendous hard work from both British and Indian laborers. Many even lost their lives during the hazardous construction. But their efforts did not go to waste.

Triumph Over Adversity 

In just 50 years, between 1850-1900, the railway network spread rapidly to cover most major cities in India. The very first passenger train between Bombay and Thane in 1853 was just 34 km long. But by 1929, the length had grown to over 66,000 km.

This extraordinary feat was a testimony to engineering brilliance and perseverance in the face of challenges. The railways went on to play a pivotal role in India’s economic development and independence struggle.

Legacy of the Pioneers

Thanks to pioneering engineers and builders, the railways transformed India’s communication and commerce. It connected far-flung regions, accelerated trade, and integrated the country like never before. 

Indian Railways is today the largest employer in the world, with over 1.2 million employees. The network has expanded to over 68,000 km of track routes and 12,000 passenger trains. It transports over 8 billion passengers every year! 

This incredible legacy was built on the solid foundations laid by 19th-century engineers and workers. Their pioneering efforts must never be forgotten. Next time you travel by train, spare a thought for the stalwarts and laborers who made it all possible. They are the real unsung heroes of modern India.

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