The novel plan for the introduction of a rail system, transformed the whole history of India. This innovative plan was first proposed in 1832; however no auxiliary actions were taken for over a decade. In the year 1844, private entrepreneurs were allowed to launch a rail system by Lord Hardinge, who was the Governor-General of India. By the year 1845, two companies were formed and the East India Company was requested to support them in the matter.
The credit from the UK investors led to the hasty construction of a
rail system over the next few years. On 22nd Dec' 1851, the first train
came on the track to carry the construction material at Roorkee in
India. With a passage of one and a half years, the first passenger train
service was introduced between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thana on the
providential date 16th Apr' 1853. This rail track covered a distance of
34 kms (21 miles). Ever since its origin, the rail service in India
never turned back.
The British Government approached private investors and persuaded them
to join the race with a system that would promise an annual return of 5%
during the early years of operation. Once finished, the company would be
transferred under the Government ownership, yet the operational control
will be enjoyed by the original company. In 1880, the rail network
acquired a route mileage of about 14,500 km (9,000 miles), mostly
working through Bombay, Madras and Calcutta (three major port cities).
By 1895, India had started manufacturing its own locomotives. In no
time, different kingdoms assembled their independent rail systems and
the network extended to the regions including Assam, Rajasthan and
Andhra Pradesh. In 1901, a Railway Board was formed though the
administrative power was reserved for the Viceroy, Lord Curzon. The
Railway Board worked under the guidance of the Deptt of Commerce and
Industry. It was comprised of three members - a Chairman, a Railway
Manager and an Agent respectively.
For the very first time in its history, the Railways instigated to draw
a neat profit. In 1907, most of the rail companies were came under the
government control. Subsequently, the first electric locomotive emerged
in the next year. During the First World War, the railways were
exclusively used by the British. In view of the War, the condition of
railways became miserable. In 1920, the Government captured the
administration of the Railways and the linkage between the funding of
the Railways and other governmental revenues was detached.
With the Second World War, the railways got incapacitated since the
trains were diverted to the Middle East. On the occasion of India's
Independence in 1947, the maximum share of the railways went under the
terrain of Pakistan. On the whole, 42 independent railway systems with
thirty-two lines were merged in a single unit and were acknowledged as
Indian Railways. The existing rail networks were forfeited for zones in
1951 and 6 zones were formed in 1952. With 1985, the diesel and electric
locomotives took the place of steam locomotives. In 1995, the whole
railway reservation system was rationalized with computerization.