Clockwise: Suburban service being pulled by a Steam engine; Late 1920s, Railway lines from Colaba (T) going towards Churchgate station; Churchgate station building in Swiss Chalet style in 1860-70; View of bridge outside Dadar station. Pis/Western Railway
The Western Railway achieved one more historical milestone on Wednesday April 12, 2017 when the first suburban train service operated on the erstwhile Western line (former BB & CI Rly), completed 150 glorious years.
The history of suburban local on Western Railway dates back to 1867 when the first local service was introduced between Virar and Backbay (near Marine Lines) on April 12 with one train in each direction. The train which was run by a steam engine, left Virar, then called 'Viraur' at 6:45 am for BackBay and in the return direction the train departed from BackBay at 5:30 pm.
The train halted at the following stations - Neela, Bassein, Panjo, Berewla, Phade, Andaru, Santacruz, Bandra, Mahim, Dadar, Grant Road. The BackBay station was located between the present Charni Road and Marine Lines stations. Due to the slow progress of the Back Bay Reclamation Work, there was delay in completing the task of the suburban line at the southern end of the city. The second class fare was then 9 pies a mile. They could also buy return ticket at 3/4 of the fare.
On June 10, 1869 monthly and quarterly season tickets were introduced on the BB&CI Railway upto Bandra for Ist and IInd class commuters. The cost of monthly season ticket for Ist and IInd class commuters between Charni Road and Bandra was Rs. 14/- and Rs. 8/- respectively.
Heralding a glorious past, since its humble beginning 150 years back, today Western Railway runs 1323 suburban services from Churchgate to Dahanu Road, ferrying almost 3.4 million commuters daily.
Gradually evolving from 3 to 6 car coaches, 9 to 12 car and now finally with 15 car suburban rake, which is incidentally the longest suburban commuter rake in the world.