Mumbai, April 15 (IANS) It was exactly at 3.35 pm on April 16, 1853 that the first passenger train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway chugged out on its journey from Bori Bunder Station to Tanna, running into history.
This was the first-ever railway line inaugurated during the British rule in India and it took 57 minutes to cover the approximately 38-km distance from modern day Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus to Thane on Central Railway (CR), marking the advent of the railways into the Asian continent.
However, the 167th anniversary tomorrow will be a quiet affair, and will be the first ever instance when no passenger train would be operated on this red-letter day in the Indian Railways calendar in view of the ongoing national lockdown from March 25-May 3.
"We have not planned any commemoration event, not even a cake-cutting in view of the Covid-19 restrictions," a CR official told IANS.
The GIPR's first train had three steam locomotives named Sahib, Sindh and Sultan, to haul the inaugural 14-car rake with 400 excited passengers, and the historic service was dedicated by the then Governor-General of India, James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, famous as Lord Dalhousie.
The advent of the railways in India was followed by several epochal events like the Indian Rebellion or Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, considered the first war of Independence, later the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, the Quit India Movement of 1942 and finally India's Independence on August 15, 1947.
In the early days of the freedom struggle, the railways was the popular mode of transport for several top leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and many other prominent personalities of that era.
The small Bori Bunder station gave way to the magnificent Victoria Terminus, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
Later, the Indian Railway witnessed its biggest single disruption in the form of a 20-day long strike in May 1974 spearheaded by the late George Fernandes.
During the ongoing lockdown, the IR network has suspended all long-distance passenger services, besides the lifeline of Mumbai, suburban trains, and only freight traffic movement is operational.