|present view of Howrah station. see the Howrah bridge built by the British. Kolkata . bp.blogspot.com/|
|earliest train in India, Indian Imperial Mail( Calcutta- Bombay).(credit:John Lacey. www.irfca.org|
|EIR emblem, British India wiki.fibis.org|
|Howrah railway station, 1895. puronokolkata.com|
|Howrah after the construction a new building. 1905.www.irfca.org|
|Howrah in 1930.Credit: John Lacey. www.irfca.org|
As there was no landing ghat on the Howrah side, passengers had to go to Armenian ghat on the eastern riverbank to buy train tickets from its booking counter. The EIR steamer had to take the passengers back and forth from Howrah station. The ticket counter used to issue tickets to all classes of passengers”. The train fare included the fare of crossing the river by the ferry to arrive at the provisional rail platform consisting of just a tin shed over the head. This hardship continued till 1886. To go to Bombay in those days, passengers had to take the train run by Bengal Nagpur Railway from here to Nagpur and from there to Bombay by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.
The city of Kolkata has four railway stations. Howrah is one of the four intercity railway stations serving the city of Kolkata, the others being Sealdah Station, Shalimar Station and Kolkata railway station. Located on the west bank of the Hooghly River, it is linked to Kolkata by Howrah Bridge. It has 23 platforms, to handle incoming and out going trains and is credited with the highest train-handling capacity of any railway station in India. As for passenger volume per day, it is one of the busiest railway stations in India, the others being Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai Central.
Credit goes to one George Turnbull, the Chief Engineer of the East Indian Railway Company who submitted the Initial plans for the first Howrah railway station on 17 June 1851. It is of interest to know that George Turnbull wanted a large land with enough waterfront for future growth. As he anticipated rapid future growth and development, he insisted on getting a big chunk of land for the railway operations - for maintenance, train yards, shunting, extra lines for parking additional bogies, parcel terminals, etc.Though approval came late because of insufficient funds, the work began after October, 1852. To handle increase in unexpected traffic, another building (proposed in 1901) came up redesigned by one Halsey Ricardo and the service began on 1 December, 1905. This building later came to be called 'Howrah Station' with 15 functional platforms only.
The station was expanded in 1980s with the construction of additional 8 platforms to handle more passenger and freight traffic, urban trains, etc. The area to the south of the station had parcel services and terminals. Later it included transit passenger facility as well.
There are currently 23 platforms in Howrah Station. Terminal-1: Platforms 1-15 are located in the old complex; serves the local and long-distance trains of Eastern Railway as well as local trains of South Eastern Railway. Terminal-II: platforms 17-23 are in the new complex (Terminal-2) serves the long distance trains of South Eastern Railway.
By 1929, the railways had 66,000 km (41,000 mi) of tracks covering most of the districts in the country and had a passenger volume of whopping 628 million people and 90 million tons of goods a year. Then the railways capital value was worth roughly £687 million. The important fact is it was not controlled by the British Government, rather the railways were privately owned by companies with British Board of directors and share holders. Consequently the profits went to their coffers in England.
The early Indian railways owe their growth and development to the military engineers of the East India Company. Later their responsibility was handed over to the civilian technocrats and engineers. Credit goes to British army engineers for the development of, construction and operation of rail transportation in the North West Frontier Province, a difficult terrain now in Pakistan adjacent to Afghanistan - an unstable region presently.
Early locos, EIR.(Image source: Elgin Collection. British Library).puronokolkata.com