East Indian Railway, 1855

Extracts from Australian newspapers

Made available by the National Library of Australia. Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: January 14, 2010.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 23 May 1855, p. 8


An account of the inauguration of the East Indian Railway


(From the Melbourne Morning Herald.)

At the official inauguration of the East Indian Railway, Mr. Stephenson made a powerful speech, from which we select the following passages: -

"A line exceeding in length either of the two great lines of England has been completed and opened under every advantage incident to the construction of new works in a country where a strange language, a trying climate, imperfect means of communication and trans- port, and other serious drawbacks, have been encountered and overcome, within a considerable less period, and at less than one - fourth of the cost, of the two great lines referred to - the London and Birmingham, and the Great Western Railways.

"121 miles of railway are now completed, and ready for public traffic.

"649 miles are under contract to be completed by the beginning of 1857.

"200 miles are being constructed by the Railway Company.

"380 miles are bring surveyed, to complete the connection between Calcutta and Lahore; the construction of which will speedily follow the decision as to the direction, which it ill be ascertained in March next.

"1350 miles of continuous trunk line between the metropolis of India and its present furthest confines, may be reasonably regarded as a work without a European parallel, either for cost of construction as already demonstrated, for the despatch which has hitherto characterized it, and which, with augmented resources, will hereafter be increased, or for the vast amount of social benefit which will be spread throughout the country.

"Of the past results, the brief period of observation must limit the extent and review.

"The short line to Pundooah of 37 1/2 miles has demonstrated the fallacies previously put forward, that the native population could not afford and were not disposed to travel by railway - that the works could not be constructed, or, if constructed, could not be maintained, and that the cost would be excessive.

"Practice has refuted theory - and the evidence of the senses has satisfactorily controverted the speculations of the fancy.

"The line is made, has been maintained, is moderate in cost, yields a large surplus, after paying all working expenses, and is universally availed of.

"It has imparted a new impulse towards realizing the boasted mineral and agricultural wealth of the country. It has dispelled the illusion that detection and punishment follow crime at too measured and distant a pace to deter offenders. It has been the means of providing occupation for thousands. It has inculcated into the native mind new ideas of the powers of combination, the value of time, and the inestimable benefits of speedy and cheap means of intercommunication. It has infused more enlarged views, and extended the circumscribed sphere of thought and enquiry.

"These are among the results of the past.

"To anticipate the future would open the door to a discussion too vast and comprehensive to be permitted, to be more than briefly referred to."


We extract the following items of intelligence from the papers before us:

The first sod of the railway in the North-west Provinces was turned up at Mirzapore on the 10th February, ...

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2010.