Great Indian Peninsula Railway

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Great Indian Peninsula Railway
Great Indian Peninsula Railway.jpg
HeadquartersBombay, British India
LocaleBritish India
Dates of operation1 August 1849–5 November 1951
Track gauge5'3" or 1676 mm
Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company Act 1849
Long titleAn Act to incorporate the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company, and for purposes connected therewith.
Citation12 & 13 Vict. c. 83
Territorial extent British Raj
Royal assent1 August 1849
Status: Unknown
Text of statute as originally enacted
Extent of Great Indian Peninsula Railway network in 1870

The Great Indian Peninsula Railway (reporting mark GIPR) was a predecessor of the Central Railway (and by extension, the current state-owned Indian Railways), whose headquarters was at the Boree Bunder in Mumbai (later, the Victoria Terminus and presently the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus). The Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company was incorporated on 1 August 1849 by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company Act 1849 (12 & 13 Vict. c.83) of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It had a share capital of 50,000 pounds. On 21 August 1847 it entered into a formal contract with the East India Company for the construction and operation of a railway line, 56 km long, to form part of a trunk line connecting Bombay with Khandesh and Berar and generally with the other presidencies of India.[1] The Court of Directors of the East India Company appointed James John Berkeley[2] as Chief Resident Engineer and Charles Buchanan Ker and Robert Wilfred Graham as his assistants.[3] It was India's first passenger railway, the original 21 miles (33.8 km) section opening in 1853, between Bombay (Mumbai) and Tanna (Thane). On 1 July 1925, its management was taken over by the Government.[4] On 5 November 1951, it was incorporated into the Central Railway.

Incorporation in London[edit]

Incorporated as a company in 1849, with its head office in London, the Great Indian Peninsula railway was initially proposed for a length of 1,300 mi (2,100 km), to connect Bombay with the interior of the Indian peninsula and to the major port of Madras (Chennai) on the east coast. It was originally meant to connect the towns of Poona (Pune), Nassuek (Nashik), Aurungabad (Aurangabad), Ahmednuggur (Ahmednagar), Sholapoor (Solapur), Nagpur, Akola (West Berar), Oomrawutty (Amravati), and Hyderabad. It was meant for the purpose of increasing the export of cotton, silk, opium, sugar and spices.[5]

The management committee consisted of 25 British men, including officials of the East India Company and banks in London, most of whom resided in Britain and some who had resided in India. The original 25 person board consisted of people such as John Stuart-Wortley and William Hamilton (both MPs from Britain who became the company's chairman and deputy chairman), Frederick Ayrton (ex-East India Company), cavalrymen such as Major Clayton and Major-General Briggs, Bombay residents John Graham, Col. Dickenson, Hon. Jugonnath Sunkersett and Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy,[6] bankers such as John Harvey (Commercial Bank of London) and S. Jervis (Director of the London and County Bank, Lombard Street), and directors of other railway companies such as Richard Paterson (Chairman of the Northern and Eastern Railway Company) and Melvil Wilson (Director of the Alliance Assurance Office).[7]

Railways around Bombay[edit]

On 16 April 1853 at 3:35 pm, the first passenger train of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway left Boree Bunder station in Bombay (present day Mumbai) for Tanna (present day Thane).[8] The train took fifty-seven minutes to reach Tanna.[9] It covered a distance of 21 miles (33.8 km). Three locomotives named Sultan, Sindh and Sahib pulled the 14 carriages carrying 400 passengers on board.[3]

Tanna railway viaducts
The smaller railway viaduct (top) and the longer railway viaduct (bottom) near Tanna (present day Thane) in 1855.

The portion of the line from Tanna to Callian (present day Kalyan) was opened on 1 May 1854. The construction of this portion was difficult as it involved two-line viaducts over the estuary (see picture on right) and two tunnels.[10]

On 12 May 1856 the line was extended to Campoolie (present day Khopoli) via Padusdhurree (present day Palasdhari) and on 14 June 1858 Khandala-Poona (present day Pune) section was opened to traffic. The Padusdhurree-Khandala section involved the difficult crossing of the Bhore Ghat (present day Bhor Ghat) and it took another five years for completion. During this period, the 21 km gap was covered by palanquin, pony or cart through the village of Campoolie.

The Kassarah (present day Kasara) line was opened on 1 January 1861 and the steep Thull ghat (present day Thal Ghat) section up to Egutpoora (present day Igatpuri) was opened on 1 January 1865 and thus completed the crossing of the Sahyadri.[9]

Bombay to Madras[edit]

Beyond Callian, the south-east main line proceeded over Bhor Ghat to Poona, Sholapore (present day Solapur) and Raichore (present day Raichur), where it joined the Madras Railway. By 1868, route kilometerage was 888 km and by 1870, route kilometerage was 2,388.[11][12]

Bombay to Calcutta[edit]

Beyond Callian, the north-east main line proceeded over the Thull ghat to Bhosawal (present day Bhusawal). From Bhosawal, there was a bifurcation. One passed through great cotton districts of Akola (West Berar) and Oomravuttee (present day Amravati) and was extended up to Nagpore (present day Nagpur) and then to Raj-nandgaon in Drug district (Present day Durg). The other was extended up to Jubbulpore (present day Jabalpur) to connect with the Allahabad-Jubbulpore branch line of the East Indian Railway which had been opened in June 1867. Hence it became possible to travel directly from Bombay to Calcutta.

The Howrah-Allahabad-Mumbai line was officially opened on 7 March 1870 and it was part of the inspiration for French writer Jules Verne's book Around the World in Eighty Days. Although, in the novel it is erroneously claimed that the line passes through Aurangabad, which is, again erroneously claimed as the capital of the Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgeer. At that time period, line had not reached Aurangabad but rather moved northward after reaching Bhusawal towards Jabalpur. At the opening ceremony, the Viceroy Lord Mayo concluded that "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".

Rolling stock[edit]

By the end of 1874 the company owned 345 steam locomotives, 1309 coaches and 7924 goods wagons.[13] In 1906 a steam railcar from Kerr, Stuart and Company was purchased.[14] By 1936, the rolling stock had increased to 835 locomotives, 1285 coaches and more than 20.000 freight wagons.[15]


It was labeled as a Class I railway according to Indian Railway Classification System of 1926.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, p. 15.
  2. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 690.
  3. ^ a b Khan, Shaheed (18 April 2002). "The great Indian Railway bazaar". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 16 July 2008. Retrieved 21 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ "About Indian Railways-Evolution". Ministry of Railways website. Archived from the original on 8 February 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  5. ^ Company registration − 1845. London: Grace's Guide. 1846. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  6. ^ Westrip, Joyce (2014). Fire and Spice. London: Serif Books. p. 20. ISBN 978-1909150287.
  7. ^ "Incorporation of Great Indian peninsula Railway". The Evening Standard. 19 November 1845.
  8. ^ Costa, Roana Maria (17 April 2010). "A sepia ride, from Boree Bunder to Tannah". The Times of India. Mumbai. p. 6.
  9. ^ a b Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, p.17
  10. ^ "Extracts from the Railway Times". Railway Times. 1854. Archived from the original on 23 August 2020. Retrieved 1 January 2019.
  11. ^ Rao, M.A. (1988). Indian Railways, New Delhi: National Book Trust, pp.17-8
  12. ^ Mihill Slaughter (1861). Railway Intelligence. Vol. 11. The Railway Department, Stock Exchange, London. p. 202. Archived from the original on 18 October 2022. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  13. ^ "Central Railway History". Archived from the original on 18 August 2022. Retrieved 27 April 2022.
  14. ^ New Locomotives for the Great Indian Peninsula Ry., The Locomotive Magazine, Vol. XII, No. 125 (Jul. 14, 1906); pages 114. Includes photo.
  15. ^ World Survey of Foreign Railways. Transportation Division, Bureau of foreign and domestic commerce, Washington D.C. 1936. p. 215. Archived from the original on 18 October 2022. Retrieved 30 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Indian Railway Classification". Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  17. ^ World Survey of Foreign Railways. Transportation Division, Bureau of foreign and domestic commerce, Washington D.C. 1936. p. 210–219.

External links[edit]