Indian Railways History: 1947 - 1969

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Chronology of Railways: 1947 - 1969


Apr. 1: Mandra-Bhaun line taken over by state (now in Pakistan).

Independence/Partition. Two big systems, Bengal Assam Railway and North Western Railway are no longer in India (these included the workshops of Saidpur and Mogulpura, respectively). Some 2955 route-km of NWR became the East Punjab Railway in India, leaving 8070km in the then West Pakistan. Part of the Jodhpur Railway also went to West Pakistan. Much of the Bengal Assam Railway went to the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Exchanging assets and staff dislocates all normal work, as does the large-scale movement of people between India and Pakistan.

Assam Railway is cut off from the rest of the Indian system.

Traffic patterns change drastically. Instead of Karachi to northern India, now all traffic is from Bombay.

Traffic from and to Jammu & Kashmir which used to be through Lahore (via Rawalpindi and Jammu) now had to go directly to Delhi.

There are 42 separate railway systems, including 32 lines owned by the former Indian princely states.

Baldwin supplies the first batch of prototypes of the WP class locos (classified WP/P).

TELCO starts production of boilers.

Dec. 19: 56 EMU coaches ordered for Bombay suburban system from Metropolitan Cammell.


100 WG class 2-8-2 locos ordered from North British, the start of this very successful class in India.

Bhavnagar State Rly., Kathiawar State Rly., Jamnagar & Dwarka Rly., Gondal Rly., and Morvi Rly. all merged into Saurashtra Rly.

Hyderabad lines of the Jodhpur-Bikaner Rly. west of Jodhpur transferred to Pakistan Western Rly. on Aug. 1.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is taken over by the state.

Calcutta time is discontinued and Indian Standard Time (introduced in 1906) is observed everywhere in the country.


YP prototypes in trial runs.

Several diesel locos with mechanical transmissions obtained to work services in arid areas of Saurashtra (supplied by Fowler).

The Gaekwar's Baroda State Railway is merged into the BBCI Rly.

Jodhpur-Bikaner Rly. taken over by the government of the state of Rajasthan.

Railway Board adopts all-steel construction for coaches as the new standard. An initial agreement is signed with the Swiss Car and Elevator Co. of Schlieren-Zurich, Switzerland, which eventually led to the establishment of the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur.


Assam Rail Link finished, re-connecting Assam Railways with the rest of the Indian system wholly through Indian territory: 229 km meter-gauge line built within 2 years. Link opened to passenger traffic on Jan 26, 1950: Republic Day. For this link, the Kishanganj branch of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was taken over and converted to MG and connected to the NER network at Barsoi. The Teesta Valley Line was taken over for MG (until Sivok), but the rest of it was devastated by floods and closed. The link spanned the Teesta, Torsha, and Sankosh rivers.

The Assam Rail Link project also saw the first use of pre-stressed reinforced concrete in railway construction in India.

Jan. 26: Chittaranjan Locomotive Works established in West Bengal for the manufacture of 120 steam locos annually. The first of the extremely successful WG class (#8401, "Deshbandhu") from CLW is commissioned on November 1, 1950.

Several Janata Express ("People's Express") trains are introduced, with only second-class accommodation.

Nov. 1: Flying Ranee introduced (resurrection of the Flying Queen from 1938).

Kurla-Mankhurd section electrified.

Some railway coaches production (10 a month) begins at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Bangalore. These are all-metal coaches made with indigenous components.

Wagon pooling established across south Indian MG networks.


Zonal grouping of IR begun. SR is created on April 14, CR and WR on Nov. 5.

About 388 km of trackage is electrified (Bombay and Madras suburban lines) out of a total of about 55,000 km.

New batch of 30 EMUs from Metropolitan Cammell arrive at Bombay for CR.

One track between Kurla and Mankhurd opened for suburban steam services.

Widening of the route and re-spacing of the double lines (from 3.65m to 4.72m) on the Bhore and Thull (Thal) ghat sections completed.

(1951-1953) New Metro-Cammell EMU units for Bombay suburban trains have air brakes with the Westinghouse twin pipe system.

One track between Kurla and Mankhurd is opened for suburban steam service, although the section was electrified the previous year.

The post of Chief Commissioner of Railways is abolished; the Railway Board now adopts the practice of making the seniormost member Chairman of the board. The Chairman did not have overriding powers as the Chief Commissioner did; but the Chairman and Financial Commissioner could together override the rest of the Board.

The government of West Bengal enters into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Co. to take over many of its administrative functions, and to reserve the right to purchase the entire system in the future with 2 years' notice.


NR, ER, and NER zones created on April 14.

Mukerian-Pathankot line (25.8 miles) on NR opened to traffic.

Fans and lights mandated for all compartments in all classes of passenger accommodation, although this is not implemented for many years.

Kalka-Shimla Railway regauged to 2'6" gauge under guidelines from the War Department seeking to ensure uniformity in all imperial narrow gauge systems.

Kandla-Deesa MG line completed connecting the rail network to the Kandla port.

Dec. 24: Construction of Ernakulam-Quilon MG line begins.

TELCO begins production of YG locomotives.

Kurla-Mankhurd suburban trains switch to electric traction.


Howrah-Bandel-Burdwan electrification work commences (3kV DC).

Bandra-Andheri mainline tracks electrified.


Through service resumes between Amritsar and Lahore. Zafarabad-Sultanpur section dismantled during the war is restored.

Following SNCF's success with 25kV AC traction in France, IR begins to study the possibility of AC traction and ways of avoiding ill-effects of locomotive loads on the public electricity grids.

The EM/1 (later WCM-1) class of 3000V DC locos is introduced.

(Oct.) Railway Board reorganized, with the Chairman made responsible for all technical and policy matters with the status of a Secretary to the Government of India. One more member was added to the Board.

Sleeping accommodation is introduced in 3rd class coaches.

Khandwa-Hingoli MG section is sanctioned.


Integral Coach Factory set up at Perambur, with the help of Swiss Car and Elevator Manufacturing Co. (Switzerland).

Eastern Railway split to form a new South-Eastern Railway. New Eastern Railway comprises the portion of the old East Indian Railway up to Moghalsarai. South-Eastern comprises the old Bengal-Nagpur Railway.

Fiat supplies a dozen MG railcars (YRD1, coupled in pairs).

First-class abolished, and 2nd, Inter, and 3rd classes are renamed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd classes, respectively.

August 1: South-Eastern Railway carved out of ER.

Baraset-Basirhat section of Martin's Light Railways is closed, as is the Kalighat-Falta line of McLeod's Light Railways.

Andheri-Borivili section electrified.

WL class locos supplied by Vulcan Foundry.

YDM-1, ZDM-1, and NDM-1 diesel locos are brought into use.

June 16: 18 EMU shells, underframes, and bogies ordered from Metropolitan Cammell for CR's suburban services.


Passenger fares standardized at 30 paise, 16 paise, 9 paise and 5 paise per mile for 1st, 2nd, Inter, and 3rd class, respectively. (Platform tickets are 2 annas each.)

Divisional system of administration set up or planned for the various regional railways.

New Italian-made EMU introduced for the Madras Beach - Tambaram suburban line.

The first fully air-conditioned train is introduced between Howrah and Delhi (predecessor of the Poorva Exp.). Another fully air-conditioned train (the first that is vestibuled) is introduced later between Delhi and Bombay Central. A "buffet-cum-cinema" car is introduced in the Janata Exp. between Kanpur and Jha Jha. Third-class passengers are permitted to use the dining car earlier reserved for higher classes of travel.

Gandhidham-Kandla MG line opened to traffic.

The first seven coaches (third-class seating coaches) assembled from imported shells and other components roll out from ICF in February. On August 14, the first all-indigenous steel-bodied integral design coach rolls out from ICF.

[Disaster] The Grand Trunk Express (?) derails at Mahboobnagar in Andhra Pradesh and kills 112.

[Disaster] Madras-Tuticorin express plunges into river when when bridge at Ariyalur (Tamil Nadu) is washed away in floods; 156 are killed. Railway Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri resigns accepting moral responsibility.

Suri transmission developed at RDSO.

SNCF delegation proposes 25kV AC traction for IR.

Sep. 1: India's first Route-Relay Interlocking set up at Churchgate-Marine Lines (WR).

Suburban Train Overcrowding Enquiry Commission presents its report with suggestions on improvements to Bombay suburban services.

Railway Board expanded with posts of five Additional Members, of the status of General Managers, who were to deal with the extra work arising from the Second Five-Year Plan.

The EM/2 (later WCM-2) class of 3000V DC locos is introduced.


Research, Designs, and Standards Organization (RDSO) of IR formed.

All-India numbering scheme introduced for locomotives.

Following a decision to adopt 25kV AC traction, SNCF are chosen as technical consultants for the electrification projects. An organization called the Main Line Electrification Project -- which later became the Railway Electrification Project and still later the Central Organization for Railway Electrification -- is established. Burdwan-Mughalsarai via the Grand Chord is electrified, the first 25kV AC traction section. Tatanagar-Rourkela on the Howrah-Bombay route is chosen as the next route to be electrified at 25kV AC.

Nov. 30: Electrification of Sheoraphulli--Tarakeshwar branch of Eastern Railway completed (142 km, on the 3000 V DC system).

The EM/3 (later WCM-3) class of 3000V DC locos is introduced.

Dec. 14: Electrification of main line from Howrah proceeds to Bandel.

Trial runs of BG diesel locos (WDM-1).

Nov. 24: Indian Railways Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications established at Secunderabad.

Railway Protection Force is constituted.

Aug. 23: Gudur-Renigunta BG section opened to traffic.

Nov. 23: Narsapur-Nidadavole Passenger collides with a goods train at 3:15am at Nidadavole (near the South Cabin); many injured.

Nov. 24: IRISET set up at Tarnaka, Secunderabad.


WDM-1 class BG diesel locos (100 of them) are imported from Alco (US), and most were homed at Chakradharpur, for use around Tatanagar, Rourkela, Burnpur.

Electrification of Howrah--Burdwan Main Line section complete.

Jan.: Ernakulam-Quilon MG section opened.

January 15: North-Eastern Railway splits to form a new Northeast Frontier Railway.

Karnail Singh Fuel Committee recommends a mix of 50% electric traction, 25% diesel, and 25% steam until 1975.

The ubiquitous F/1 class steam locos are withdrawn from service.

WCM-2 and WCM-3 locos are converted to run on 1500V DC instead of 3000V DC as ER electrification is changed to 25kV AC.

Samdari-Raniwara section extended to Bhildi.

A coach washing machine is procured for the EMU carshed at Bombay Central.

Signal and Telecom Workshops established at Podanur.

Mar. 30: First Crack Train run between Gaya and Mughalsarai.


WAM-1 locos from Kraus-Maffei, Alsthom, Krupp, Brugeoise et Nivelles, and SFAC are brought into service. (Aug. 1: First WAM-1, "Jagjivan Ram" is commissioned.)

December 15: The first scheduled train runs using 25kV AC traction -- Kendposi-Rajkharswan on SER.

First steam loco designed and built entirely by CLW (WT class, "Chittaranjan" was the first one).

The Permanent Way Training School is set up (later to become IRICEN).

Fans and lights finally become standard fixtures in all passenger coaches, including Third Class.

Rajendra Pul (bridge) across the Ganga at Mokameh opened; this connects the MG North-Eastern Railway to the BG network of Eastern Railway with access to the Calcutta Port. River Brahmaputra is bridged at Pandu.


The Khandwa-Hingoli section is completed, which for the first time links the MG networks in northern and southern India, going across the Tapti and Purna rivers and the Satpura and Melghat ranges. The section is open only for goods traffic at first (on November 1).

Sealdah Division, Asansol-Gomoh-Gaya is electrified at about this time (dates uncertain).

In the early 1960's, IR begins replacing copper wiring and electrical equipment with aluminium.

Also in the early 1960's, vestibuling of long-distance coaches became widespread.

Some time in the 1960's, the Salem-Bangalore MG line is opened on the alignment of the former Hosur-Dharmapuri NG line which was decommissioned in 1941.


CLW starts producing 1500 V DC electric locos. The first one is "Lokmanya" (a WCM-5), commissioned on October 14.

Diesel Loco Works (DLW), Varanasi, is set up

Khandwa-Hingoli MG link is open to passenger traffic.

Jamalpur Workshops begin producing rail cranes and electric arc furnaces.

Kunzru Committee investigating level-crossing accidents and other mishaps issues many recommendations for improving safety.


Initial order of WDM-2 locos reaches India (supplied by Alco).

July 25: Electrification reaches Mughalsarai from Gaya.

Bukhtiarpur-Bihar line of Martin's Light Railway taken over by IR and under conversion to BG.

First MG diesels from DLW. First Diesel-hydraulic shunters from TELCO.

ICF begins production of self-propelled units (EMUs) - initially only trailer coaches.

Siliguri connected to New Jalpaiguri.

Saraighat Bridge across the Brahmaputra near Amingaon is completed, connecting the two parts of the MG network in Assam to the north and south of the river.

Delhi trams stop operating.

Jamalpur workshops begin producing 'Jamalpur jacks'

Golden Rock workshops begin manufacturing wagons.


CLW starts producing 25 kV AC electric locos. Nov. 16: The first one is "Bidhan" (a WAG-1), the first entirely India-built electric loco.

Mar. 12: CLW also builds its first WP class loco.

ICF begins producing MG coaches and EMU production is enhanced to include motor coaches.

Sahai Committee investigates the benefits of electrification and concludes that with the prices of diesel and electricity at that time, the break-even point where electrification was worthwhile was at 6.9 million tonne km per route km a year.

April: Sambalpur-Titlagarh and Bimalgarh-Kiriburu lines opened, facilitating movement of ore from mines at Kiriburu.

December: Alco personnel at DLW to train local staff.

All 8-car rakes in Mumbai converted to 9-car rakes, the standard formation for a long time thereafter.

Early experiments carried out to test the feasibility of 140km/h and 160km/h running for passenger trains.


Jan.: Diesel Locomotive Works starts production of WDM-2 locos, about 40 every year at first. The first 12 are assembled from kits supplied by Alco, and thereafter production is with mostly indigenous components. The first one from DLW is "Lal Bahadur Shastri", commissioned in January.

Diva-Panvel line opened.

Taj Express from New Delhi to Agra is introduced to allow tourists to visit Agra and return to New Delhi the same day. Running at 105km/h it brought down the travel time on this route to 2h 35m. It is hauled by a WP locomotive.

Kalyan-Kasara/Karjat section switches to using 6-car rakes from 4-car rakes.

CLW starts manufacturing traction motors (MG-1580 model).

March 31: Bombay trams stop operating.

Dec 23: Boat Mail at Dhanushkodi is washed away by large waves in a cyclone and 150 or more passengers are drowned. The official death count was about 128, but the number of unreserved passengers could not be determined.

Railway Board gets a post of Additional Member for vigilance.


Taj Exp. runs at 105 km/h with a steam loco. The Southern Express (21 Dn/22 Up) train is introduced between New Delhi and Madras.

Asansol-Bareilly Passenger is the first long-distance train on ER hauled by an AC loco.

Howrah-Madras mail is the first one dieselized on SER (has a WDM-1).

Madras-Tambaram-Villupuram is converted from 1.5kV DC traction to 25kV AC traction, as is the Madras Beach - Tambaram suburban section. The mainline tracks between Madras and Tambaram are also electrified (25kV AC).

Fast freight services ("Super Express") are introduced on several routes, especially those linking the four major metropolitan centres, and other important cities such as Ahmedabad and Bangalore.


First containerized freight services started, between Bombay and Ahmedabad.

Electrification of suburban tracks around Calcutta (Sealdah-North, Sealdah-South sections) covering 347 km completed with the 25 kV AC system. Several DC sections converted to AC in the Madras and Calcutta areas. The Igatpuri-Bhusaval section is partially electrified (Igatpuri to Nandgaon). Total electrified route km about 2,400.

Oct. 2: South-Central Railway formed from portions of Southern Railway (Vijayawada, Guntakal, Hubli divisions)

Brindavan Exp. is dieselized. Flying Ranee is now the fastest medium-haul train (Bombay Central - Surat).

Deccan Queen gets a new ICF rake of anti-telescopic coaches.

ICF begins production of YAU1 MG EMUs (4-car units) and of air-conditioned coaches.

Ahmadpur-Katwa and Burdwan-Katwa lines of McLeod's Light Railways transferred to ER.

Panvel-Apta line opened.

(Late 1960s) Long-welded rail (LWR) is introduced in many areas.

May: Kirandul-Kottavalasa line completed, allowing ore from the Bailadilla iron mines (and Bacheli) near Kirandul to be brought to the east coast and connecting to the main rail network near Waltair. This is the highest broad-gauge line in the world and sees some of the heaviest freight loads of IR.


Ajanta Exp. (Kacheguda - Manmad), the fastest MG train in India with an average speed of 42.5 km/h.

Diesel Loco Shed created at Ratlam.

Second-class sleeper coaches for select trains (GT Exp., Frontier Mail, Howrah-Madras Mail, Bombay-Madras Exp., Delhi-Lucknow Mail, etc.).

First diesel loco with Indian equipment rolls out of DLW. WDS-5 shunters from Alco are introduced.

CLW begins work on production of diesel locos, starting with the WDS-4 class shunters.

August: Conversion of Howrah-Burdwan main line and Tarakeshwar branch near Calcutta from 3000V DC to 25kV AC finished.

CR runs its first superfast goods train from Wadi Bunder to Itarsi (the "Freight Chief").

Bankura-Damodar River line of McLeod's Light Railways transferred to SER.

Bombay-Delhi containerized freight services introduced.

Pokharan-Jaisalmer line constructed.

Jul. 19: Calcutta Tramways Co. is taken over by the government of West Bengal. (Assets vested with government in 1976.)

Pakistan Rlys. transfers the permanent way assets from Mirjawa to Zahidan, on the former Nushki Extension Rly., to Iranian Rlys.


Jan. 6: CLW's first diesel-hydraulic (WDS-4) shunter.

Lakheri-Bayana section is doubled.

Punjab Mail dieselized between Igatpuri and Jhansi.

Dadar Terminus inaugurated. (First train out is the Dadar-Nagpur Exp. hauled by a WCM4; other trains using this station are Poona Passenger and Poona Exp.)

Allahabad/Kanpur - Mughalsarai section gets electric traction (AC).

ICF begins production of DC EMUs.

Private goods consolidating agents are permitted to operate, thus allowing all manner of goods to be transported by standardized containers.

Pokharan-Jaisalmer link built in the aftermath of the '65 hostilities with Pakistan.

Nov.: First indigenous MG diesel loco (YDM-4 "Hubli") from DLW.

State of signalling: 2 route-relay interlocking systems in use, and 4 panel interlocking systems.


March 1: Howrah – New Delhi Rajdhani Express begins running, covering the 1441 km distance in 17 hrs 20 min (was previously 24 hours). Max. speed of 120 km/h with technical halts at Kanpur, Mughalsarai, and Gomoh.

Total of about 3,500 route km electrified. Howrah-Kharagpur section electrification is complete, as is the Igatpuri-Bhusaval section.

Salem-Bangalore MG section completed.

Golconda Exp. introduced between Vijayawada and Secunderabad as the fastest steam-hauled train in the country. Average speed is 58 km/h.

Divisional system introduced for NER.

Madras-Tambaram suburban section gets a Centralized Traffic Control center at Egmore.

Bombay-Madras Exp. (11 Dn/12 Up) is dieselized between Poona and Madras.

Golden Rock Workshop begins operation overhauling diesel locos.

Metropolitan Transport Project division set up to look into the problem of urban transit in Calcutta.

Sep.: Jhund-Kandla BG line opened, providing a BG connection to now expanded major port of Kandla.

The very successful WDS-4B shunters are introduced by CLW.

Railway Minister Panampilly Govinda Menon makes the first proposal for a 'West Coast Railway' – the idea for what eventually became the Konkan Railway – although this is not acted upon.

Part 5 continues the chronology from 1970 to 1994, Part 6 - 1995 to 2004, Part 7 - 2005 to 2014 and finally Part 8 covering 2015 to the present day.

The chronology begins in Part 1 (1832 - 1869). Followed by Part 2 (1870 - 1899) and Part 3 (1900 - 1946)