Mumbai: Railways' first electric train journey turns 95

Updated: Feb 03, 2020, 07:47 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar | Mumbai

It was on February 3, 1925, that the first electric passenger train on the Indian Railways ran between the then Bombay Victoria Terminus and Kurla

People gather to watch as the first electric train leaves the VT
People gather to watch as the first electric train leaves the VT

As Mumbai's commuters look forward to travelling in air-conditioned local trains, today marks 95 years since the first electric passenger train ran on the Indian Railways. Just as passengers vie for the AC train, they waited eagerly to board a train that offered a clean — smokeless — journey then. The first electric passenger train ran from the Bombay Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai) to Kurla, a distance of 16 km, in 1925 on February 3 on the Harbour line.

Central Railway officials said they intend to commemorate the day by flagging off a special old-style local train between Mumbai CSMT and Kurla today. Records with Central Railway state that the first electric local train had four cars and was flagged off by Sir Leslie Wilson, the then governor of Bombay.

CR archives state that the proposal had been worked out as early as 1904, but money and later the first World War delayed the project and it was eventually taken up seriously around the 1920s. Plans were drawn up for lines in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras (now Chennai). Newspapers of the day said that the era of clean transport had just arrived in Bombay, as steam engines used to create a lot of smoke and noise, and this was the first time that commuters were experiencing a smokeless journey.

The debut journey of the electric train covered the 16-kilometre distance at the remarkable speed of 50 miles per hour. The first motorman was Jahangir Framji Daruwala, a senior driver with the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, as Central Railway was called in those days. It was three years later in 1928 that the first electric train ran on Western Railway, then called the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CIR).

A first for trains (in Mumbai)

1925 4-car on Harbour Line
1927 8-car on the main line
and Harbour Line
1961 9-car on the main line
1986 12-car on main line
1987 12-car towards Karjat
2008 12-car towards Kasara
2010 12-car on Transharbour Line
2012 15-car on main line
2016 12-car on Harbour line

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