Up to now I thought overloading was the major trait of transportation peculiar to India alone. But, now, I am really confused …
I grabbed the above image from a video titled “Indian train in all its (crowded!) glory!“ uploaded on November 10, 2011 by WildFilmsIndia. I do not think anyone in the West would have seen a train crowded like this in their country. But in India, it is a common sight, particularly during the festival seasons.
The regular commuters are mainly laborers coming to New Delhi from neighboring states. They would work for a week and then return home over the weekend. Most of them travel without tickets, and the state-owned Indian railways, are compelled to permit this, else their entire railway system will be debacled by these laborers.
I came across the above image captioned “Indian Railway…” on IMC – India meets Classic presents… web page hosted on wordpress.com. I doubt whether this photo was taken in India. I think it was most probably, taken somewhere in Pakistan. Also, I wonder whether all these people are genuine passengers or merely clinging on to the train, posing for the photograph to prove a point.
Recently, I viewed several videos on YouTube about railways in Asia. When I saw the following video titled “End of Ramadan rush-hour in Bangladesh” uploaded by No Comment TV on August 8, 2013, I was dumbfounded.
Eid al-Fitr or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). On this day all Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity.
This video shows thousands of Bangladeshis getting crammed on ferries and climbing on trains while leaving Dhaka, Bangladesh on Wednesday, August 7, 2013, to return to their home villages and celebrate Eid al-Fitr. This video needs no further comments.
It is generally believed that the railways were first introduced to India on April 16th, 1853. The Bori Bunder to Thane line is customarily seen as the birth of the world’s largest railway systems, but the plan for the first rail system was drawn in 1832. The laying of an experimental track began in 1836 near Chintadripet, in Madras (now Chennai). When the experiment proved successful, a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) rail track was laid between Red Hills and St. Thomas Mount in Chennai.
On December 22, 1851, the first steam locomotive in India was used during the construction of the Solani canal near Roorkee, a city in Haridwar district, Uttarakhand. Bengal Sappers of the Indian Army built the railway line to carry soil for the construction of the canal from Piran Kaliyar, 6.2 miles (10 km) from the city.
It is commonly believed that the two-wagon train was hauled by a Jenny Lind class locomotive built by E.B. Wilson and Company at their Railway Foundry in Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England or something very similar in design, by the name of “Thomason“. However, surviving work records do not substantiate this fact.
The engine had a short life. A boiler explosion destroyed it a few months after it started operating. It might have been a secondhand engine. Nonetheless, it pioneered a new era in the transportation history of India.
The locomotive rail paths are still intact.
A replica of what the locomotive might have looked like is exhibited at Roorkee Railway Station in original LB&SCR (London, Brighton and South Coast Railway) livery as a monument to the historic moment.
The National Railway Museum in Delhi also has illustrations of a Jenny Lind with the name “Thomason” the shop.
Although the first rails were laid at Chintadripet in Madras, the first train flagged off was on April 16, 1853, between Bori Bunder (laterVictoria Terminus, now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) in Bombay (now Mumbai) and Thane. It travelled 21 miles (34 Km) with the aid of three locomotives: Sahib, Sindh, and Sultan. 400 invited guests in 14 carriages enjoyed the historic ride. This journey set a milestone in passenger train service. The governor, Lord John Elphinstone flagged off the train at 3:30 pm.
A British engineer, Robert Maitland Brereton, was responsible for the expansion of the railways from 1857 onwards. The Allahabad-Jabalpur branch line of the East Indian Railway was opened in June 1867. Brereton linked this track with the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, resulting in a combined network of 4,000 miles (6,400 km). And, from March 7, 1870, onwards, it became possible to travel directly from Bombay to Calcutta. “Around the World in Eighty Days,” the classic adventure novel written by the French writer Jules Verne was partly inspired by this railway.
At the opening ceremony, the Viceroy Lord Mayo concluded:
“… it was thought desirable that, if possible, at the earliest possible moment, the whole country should be covered with a network of lines in a uniform system.”
In 1951, the various railway systems were nationalized and brought under the banner of the Indian Railways becoming the world’s largest railway network. It covers more than 71,000 miles (115,000 km) of multi-gauge track – broad, metre and narrow gauges – over a route of more than 40,000 miles (65,000 km) and 7,500 stations. Its operations cover all the states and seven union territories in India. It also provides limited international services to Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Indian Railways have roughly over 200,000 (freight) wagons, 50,000 passenger coaches and 8,000 locomotives. Indian Railways also own locomotive and coach production facilities at several places in India.
In 2011, Indian railways transported more than 24 million passengers daily, roughly half of which were suburban passengers, amounting to 8,900 million passengers annually (not counting the ticketlesstravellers), and over 2 million tonnes of goods daily.
In 2011–2012, the Indian Railways had revenues of: ₹1119849 million (US$19 billion) consisting of ₹696760 million (US$12 billion) from the freight and ₹286455 million (US$4.8 billion) from tickets issued to passengers.
Since last week, as many as 30,000 people from the northeast have fled from Bangalore. The exodus was triggered by rumours of attacks. The city is now under heavy security. To instill trust in the minds of the panic-stricken Northeasterners, as many as 17,000 police force, supported by Rapid Action Force are standing by. The Karnataka State Reserve Police, has been recalled for active duty.
A few days ago, Indian Railways, ran additional train services to Guwahati to meet the sudden onrush of fleeing Northeasterners. However, for the past two days, they did not operate any special services. Travelers from Bangalore are now being told to board the Yeshwanthpur – Howrah Express from Yeshwanthpur and then proceed to Guwahati from Howrah.
On Sunday night, Mr. R. Ashoka, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister of Karnataka went on rounds with top police officials. He visited places largely populated by people from the northeastern states. He said that he would work incessantly to ensure their safety.
On Monday August 20, the police and the railway authorities in Bangalore said that the exodus of North-easterners back to their home-states seemed to have ended. This they believed was due to the scaled-up security along with measures implemented to create confidence.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Suneel Kumar told PTI, “The situation is absolutely peaceful and normal with people observing the Ramzan festival with usual bonhomie. People from the northeast are going about their chores without any disturbance, and the exodus has completely stopped. People from the northeastern states are safe and secure.”
Thousands of workers and students from Assam and other northeastern states living in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala have already left for their native places. This was due to the threat spread via SMS, that a set of miscreants probably would seek them out after Eid. This has prompted the Assam government to stay on high alert to reduce recurrence of violence after Eid.
On Sunday, August 19, Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister of Assam convened a high-level emergency meeting attended by the State Chief Secretary N.K. Das, Director General of Police J.N. Chaudhury, three former DGs of Assam law enforcement and government officials. The Chief Minister informed them that in Jalpaiguri area of West Bengal, miscreants killed four people and injured at least nine others in an Assam-bound special train originating from Bangalore. The train that was among three Bangalore-Guwahati specials, which were coming to Assam, had reached Guwahati that Sunday morning.
The chief Minister then told them that Assam government had dispatched officials to Jalpaiguri area to find out what exactly triggered the death of the four people. He said that occurrence of fresh violence that could erupt as soon as the Eid festivity comes to an end in the state worried him. He asked his officials to set up a contingency plan straight away to meet any emergency that could happen in the next few days.
In the meantime, the Assam government has asked the Indian Railways not to offer any more special trains from any state to Guwahati for the panic-stricken people from the region. The Chief Minister said most people who had come due to panic were now eager to return to their workplaces and educational institutes outside the state.