Friday, 29 July 2016

Railways built by the British - boon to them and to the natives!!

Royapuram railway
Royarpuram railway station - South India's first station.
Transportation of any kind sea, river, land, etc  is essential for the growth and development of a nation. Realizing the importance of transportation, the British who had vast areas in the Indian subcontinent under their control,  they gave priority to the transport sector. Roads and railways connecting different parts of India were developed. During the Mogul and other rulers, roads, bridges, etc were developed closer to the power of their seat. In spite of some development of transport that was mainly dependent on wheels in the 17th century, the conservative Indian natives never wanted to give up their traditional transport -   bullock-carts, donkeys and camels for inland transportation of good, etc.. In arid areas of Rajasthan and part of Gujarat camel carts were widely used. The conventional methods of transport never came down.  In view of necessity that arose as a result of expansion and improvement of military  between 1780 and 1840, the British began to  repair and  improve the existing  roads of India mainly for the purpose of moving their ever-increasing military, military equipment, etc. Correspondingly  communications between Calcutta and northern India saw considerable growth.  between 1781and 1855 military and several Grand trunk roads were laid connecting places like Calcutta, Banares, Karnal, etc. Between 1820 and 1850 military roads were built for the solely for the purpose of moving military equipment and soldiers  without any hurdles. 

Metaled roads were built  under the administration of Lord Wellesley . They served as supply routes to the various military stations to deal with emergency or war-like situations. Much emphasis was given to NE India that was poorly developed. In order to have their hold tight on the southern regions, various kinds of transportation were given importance and later implemented. which also  served as a military supply route. In the southeast, 
 roads were built in order to  strengthen the British hold on south India. Grand Trunk roads between Calcutta and NE regions revolutionized transport on a small scale. Horse drawn carriages replaced slower modes of transport by early 1850s.  

In the 1800s,  realizing the need for the continuous supply of cotton from cotton plantation areas scattered across India to mills in Manchester, England and transport of coal from  in land coal fields of  Bengal and other areas, railways were introduced in India. It opened up an era of industrialization and growth of economy. This resulted in the growth of railroads on a much larger scale for the first time. With the introduction of railways, India's inland  coal fields which had not yet been exploited fully, transportation of coal to distant areas became a necessity  and this led to marked improvements in  railway construction works. The advantage the  English had was,  easy transport of  large military equipment and troops across the vast land. In 1855, train ran about 120 miles from Hooghly to the Raniganj coalfield on the first ever built tracks in this part of India. A British engineer, Robert Maitland Brereton, was responsible for the expansion of the railways from 1857 on wards.

First passenger train. april 1853. india

In the 1840s the first proposals for railways in India were  much debated in Great Britain and they were supported by banks, traders, shipping companies etc., through lobbying. Realizing the potential for growth and  enormous profit,  the  English investors  wanted the British Parliament to create a 'Guarantee System' by which any railway company  in India was guaranteed a certain rate of interest on its capital investment. This guarantee was to  be honored by the East India Company which then controlled large parts of India.  Dubbed as  Guaranteed Railways, they were assured  of 5% annual return, and they had the  right to pull out of the venture, if need be, and get  reasonable compensation from the government at any time. To encourage the investors in  the Indian Railways,  Guarantee System acted as a catalyst for the business people. It was during Lord Dalhousie’s time that on April 16, 1853 at 3:35pm a train with 14 railway carriages and 400 guests left Bombay’s Bori Bunder for Thane, with a 21-gun salute. The deubt train was hauled by  three locomotives  called Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. This 75 minutes journey, covering a distance of  around 21 miles was the first  ever  passenger train service of  the Indian Railway that embarked on era of growth and mass transport, culminating in the development of industries, etc. Great Indian Peninsula Railway (privately owned; Jeejeebhoy and Shankarsheth  were the only two Indians among the ten directors of the GIP railways) was the  main operator.
april, 1853-first train run in
Prior to that passenger service in 1851, a locally assembled steam loco, Thompson, was used  to handle  construction materials for a viaduct projectin Roorkee.  GIPR used a locomotive called Falkland  mainly for shunting operations on the first line out of Bombay.

The growth of the rail network  had a positive impact on India's progress and population. It considerably decreased the impact of famine in India. According to Robin Burgess and Dave Donaldson, "the ability of rainfall shortages to cause famine disappeared almost completely after the arrival of railroads."
 The first-ever electric train in India also ran
on February 3, 1925  from Bombay VT to Kurla, a distance of 16 km  along the city’s harbor route. 

The first train in South India began operating in June, 1856 from Royapuram  (Chennai suburb) railway station. The station also remained the headquarters of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway till 1922, when the headquarters was shifted to Egmore.

At Royapuram railway station second railway line work was  commenced in 1853. The idea of a railway in South India long predated any other railway lines in the Indian Subcontinent when a railway line for Madras was proposed in 1832

In 1853 and the railway line was extended from Royapuram (Madras) to Arcot, then titular capital of the Nawab of the Carnatic (the present day Walajapet, near Ranipet in Tamil Nadu). 

Royapuram was selected as the location for the new station as it was near the settlement of British traders and natives near Fort St. George. Since then, Royapuram had been the only railway station in the city for about 17 years till Madras Central Station became functional in 1873.