- First Indian Railway train journey took place on 16th April 1853 between Mumbai and Thane
- For the first time in 167 years, Indian Railways did not travel passengers on its birthday
The Indian Railways turned 167 years old on 16th April 2020 and in the history of the company it was first time that the Indian Railways did not travel any passenger on its birthday instead stood idle in the yards because of the nationwide lockdown.
On 16th April 1853, the first train of the Indian Railways embarked on a journey which made history, the train travelled from Mumbai to Thane.
However, this is not the first time the trains are not running, in 1974, Indians, for the first time, experienced life without trains. In May of 1974 during the strike of the railways which lasted for almost 21 days, the drivers, guards, station masters, track staffs and many others called a “Chakka Jaam” demanding fixed working hours for the train drivers and a pay hike for each and every employee.
Shiv Gopal Mishra, General Secretary of All India Railway Men’s Federation said, “I can recall those times vividly. I remember that our leader George Fernandes had almost secured a deal with the then railway minister, but it fell through when it was taken to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,”.
Mishra who just an apprentice in the Railways back then added, “Fernandes was arrested in Lucknow. The workers went through a lot at that time. But those were days that angry workers had refused to give in and took great risks to get their demands met,”.
Having said this, the similarity is that even back then, 36 years ago, freight trains which carried the essential goods were running and the Unions had agreed to let some passenger trains run on the trunk routes such as Kalka Mail running from Howrah to Delhi.
A spokesperson from the Railways said, “Never ever in its history, there has been such a long interruption of services. Not during the World Wars, not during the 1974 railway strike, or any other national calamity or natural disaster,”.
When the first Indian Railways passenger train was flagged off on the 16th of April 1853 from Mumbai to journey till Thane, it was nothing short than a monumental step for India.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Railways wished the organisation a happy birthday saying, “Today, 167 years ago with the zeal of ‘never to stop’, the wheels of the first passenger train from Mumbai to Thane started rolling. For the first time, passenger services are stopped for your safety. Stay indoor & make the nation victorious. Artistic impression of first train”.
Today, 167 years ago with the zeal of 'never to stop', the wheels of the first passenger train from Mumbai to Thane started rolling— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) April 16, 2020
For the first time, passenger services are stopped for your safety
Stay indoor & make the nation victorious
Artistic impression of first train pic.twitter.com/8K8L2y2mfO
Railways have suspended all of its passenger services since the 25th March till the 3rd of May owing to the ongoing lockdown to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. As the national lockdown was extended by the Central Government, the Indian Railways readied itself to cancel close to 40 lakh train tickets for the booking it took for training running post 15th April until 3rd May.
Over 15,000 trains have been affected which includes 9,000 passenger trains and 3,000 Mail Expresses which runs daily and caters to more than 2 crore passenger.