Western Railway enters 150th year

Published: 28 November, 2013 07:30 IST | Agencies |

November 28, 1864 marked the dawn of a new era in seamless and direct connectivity between Gujarat and Bombay, as the first train chugged in on the western coastline; today the WR caters to over 35 lakh commuters

Exactly 150 years ago, the first train on the western coastal lines of Bombay (now, Mumbai) chugged in November 28, 1864, heralding a new era of seamless and direct connectivity between Bombay and Gujarat and further north. The railways contributed in large measure to the socio-economic and overall development of Bombay, then a cluster of fishing villages, which later developed into the country’s financial capital.

A beautiful view of WR’s headquarters at Churchgate, surrounded by green trees, clicked over 100 years ago

New extension
That day marked an extension of the first Bombay, Baroda & Central India railway (BB&CI) from Uttran in Gujarat to Bombay, a Western Railway (WR) official said. In those days, the first terminus on the western line was Grant Road station, and nine years later, in 1873, it was extended further to Colaba, the southernmost tip of the city. However, Colaba was shut down in 1930 and the terminus was shifted to Churchgate, which remains till date for suburban trains.

Churchgate station is the southernmost point on the Western Railway line

Over the years, Mumbai Central and Dadar were developed as separate termini for long-distance trains. The BB&CI railway was launched in 1855 with the construction of a 47-km long broad gauge line between Ankleshwar to Uttran in Gujarat; the same was extended to Mumbai in 1864.Rail travel had earlier been introduced in the country on April 16, 1853, with the first railway line opened between Mumbai and Thane.

The Western Railway itself, in its present form, was formed on November 5, 1951 by the merger of several state-owned railways, including the BB&CI, Saurashtra Railway, Rajputana Railway and Jaipur State Railway, besides the narrow gauge lines of the Cutch State Railways.

The project was extended beyond Vadodara towards places like Godhra, Ratlam, Nagda, later Kota, Mathura and finally linked with the erstwhile Great Indian Peninsular Railway, which is now known as Central Railway, headquartered in Mumbai.

Up steam
The first suburban train services were started in Mumbai in April 1867 with steam engines and by 1900, there were 45 trains in each direction carrying over one million passengers annually. Today, WR runs a whopping 1,305 suburban services, which carry around 3.5 million commuters daily.

To commemorate the historic occasion, WR general manager Hemant Kumar inaugurated a two-day exhibition of rare photographs ‘Celebrating 150 Years In Mumbai’. The exhibition will showcase rare pictures of the erstwhile BB&CI railways dating back to the 19th century, and how the railway system grew on the western side of the country, in and around Mumbai.

Did you know?
November 28, 1864 marked an extension of the first Bombay, Baroda & Central India railway from Uttran in Gujarat to Bombay


Grant Road station was the first terminus on the western line


The year in which Colaba railway station was inaugurated on the western line


The first suburban train services were started in Mumbai with steam engines


The Colaba terminus was shut down and the starting terminus was moved to Churchgate station


No of suburban services that run on Western Railway today

35 lakh

The number of commuters that the western railway caters to daily

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