|Royapuram railway station, Chennai en. wikipedia.org/wiki|
As time goes by, Royapuram railway station building is in a dilapidated condition over the decades due to poor maintenance and neglect. Pathetically, one end of the station has become a play ground and the other end is is being used for the transport of goods trains and the platform adjacent the main building is used for passenger trains. A sum of rupees 3.5 million was spent to carry out major repair works and was re-opened to the public on 2 October 2005 by the then union railway ministry. The station is classified as one among 800 heritage structures.
It was here at Royapuram railway station, the laying down of the second railway line of the South Asia began in 1853. The idea of a railway in South India was mooted as far back as in 1832. Though the Madras Railway Company was formed on 8 July1845 in London to form railway lines in the Madras Presidency, four years later, it was the Great India Peninsula Company in 1849, built a 21-mile-long route from Bori Bunder (later the Victoria Terminus) in Bombay to Thane. It was India's first railway line opened for traffic on 16 April 1853. As for the south, the EIC did not show any interest initially and subsequently a new company with the same name was formed in July 1952 and with permission from the English company - EIC it began the work on the southern line in 1853 and a railway track was extended from Royapuram (Madras) to Arcot town ( a distance of 101.74 km), then titular capital of the Nawab of the Carnatic (the present day Walajapet, near Ranipet in Tamil Nadu). It took 3 years to complete the work.
As Royapuram was close to the edge of a settlement of British traders and natives near Fort St. George and, in consideration of its vantage point, it was decided to have a railway station with a main terminus built here. The main terminus at the Royapuram station, was declared open on 28 June 1856 by the then Governor Lord Harris. The railway line was opened for traffic on 1 July 1856 with the introduction of two services on the inaugural day - Royapuram to Ambur and Royapuram to Tiruvallur. The first train produced by Simpson and Company, made its maiden journey with the Governor and 300 Europeans from Royapuram to Walajapet and after the journey, a stately dinner was arranged in Ambur. The second train included Indian invitees to a shorter distance till "Triveloor" (the present day Thiruvallur).
Royapuram station, 1856. Sketch by
Capt Barnett, Madras Army.v-sundaram.blogspot.in
|Gov. of Madras Harris 1854-1859. Painting by Sir Francis Granth.v-sundaram.blogspot.in|
|Opening of 2nd rail track, Royapuram.v-sundaram.blogspot.in|
A fascinating fact about the Royapuram railway station is it ranks second next to Howrah, Calcutta in India in terms of space availability with 246,000 sq m. The station covers a huge plot of 72 acres of prime land and has about 28 tracks. Located about 2 km from Chennai Central station, part of the station serves the suburban traffic in the station. The historic station has arches, ionic pillars and high-rise ceilings with a separate goods shed. No doubt it is an interesting heritage building that needs to be preserved for the posterity.