Indian Railway Centenary Celebrations

An extract from the Railway Gazette, 15 May 1953, p. 574.
This material is under copyright held by the Railway Gazette International and is reproduced here by permission granted generously by the Editor of the Railway Gazette International.

The Indian Railway Centenary Day celebrations were held on April 16 in the Railway Exhibition grounds at New Delhi. Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Minister for Transport & Railways; Mr. 0. V. Alaggesan, Deputy Minister; Mr. Shah Nawaz, Parliamentary Secretary; Members of the Railway Board and senior railway officials received Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the Vice-President, at the New Delhi ceremonial platform. Dr. Radhakrishnan deputised for Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President, who was indisposed. After inspecting the guard of honour provided by the Northern Railway, he was conducted to the special train arranged to take the party to the exhibition grounds, where a large audience including Cabinet Ministers, diplomats, and senior officials awaited.

Mr. S. S. Vasist, Member for Transportation, Railway Board, said that today the Indian railway system was the largest in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. The capital outlay, Rs.38 lakhs in 1853, was Rs.862 crores in 1951-52. It was to be hoped that before long the railways would not only be meeting the current requirements of trade and industry but also developing facilities and services to get ahead of the nation's expanding industrialisation. Mr. Vasist then introduced to the audience Mr. Durga Manoo, the oldest serving railwayman in India, who was appointed on the Indian Midland Railway in 1900.

The Minister for Transport & Railways recalled that railways appeared in India at a. time when there were scarcely any internal communications worth the name and nothing could have been more welcome to the country than the changes which they brought about. The second world war and the partition of the country which followed profoundly affected the Indian railways. Nevertheless in six years their progress had been such as to satisfy the severest critic. The railways had been regrouped successfully into six zonal systems, an organisational change of far-reaching importance. Dismantled lines had been restored and new lines opened. Chittaranjan works was now producing locomotives and a large coach building works at Perambur was being built.

Dr. Radhakrishnan, to whom the Minister for Transport & Railways presented a commemorative volume on Indian railways, looked forward to a lessening of international tension which would release more money for constructive purposes and therefore enable them to allot more funds to the railways. He congratulated the Railway Minister, the members of the Railway Board and every railwayman on the success which they had achieved.

A documentary film entitled 'A Century of Progress' was then shown, with a running commentary on the developments during the period. In the evening there was a centenary dinner in the exhibition grounds.

The day was observed as a holiday on all railways, and celebrations also were held at other places. That at the Victoria Terminus in Bombay had a special significance as the first train in India ran from Bombay (Borce-Bunder) to Thana. At the meeting held in the afternoon of April 16, attended by Mr. F. C. Badhwar. Chairman of the Railway Board, Mr. Gida Shanker Bajpai, Governor of Bombay, presided. Mr. H. P. Hira, General Manager, Central Railway, who welcomed the guests, traced the development of the system to its present mileage and organisation. Mr. Badhwar compared the function to a birthday party, and added that as presents were usual on such occasions the public might offer one in the form of consideration and understanding of their problems. Mr. Bajpai praised the efficient work of the railwaymen. There was an exhibition of old and new rolling stock, and models.

At a meeting of the officers and staff of the Western Railway at Bombay, held on the lawns adjoining the Churchgate Building, Mr. K. P. Mushran, General Manager, spoke on the importance of the occasion. At Calcutta there was a celebration at the Garden Reach office of the Eastern Railway, presided over by Dr. H. C. Mukerjee, Governor of Bengal. Mr. K. B. Mathur, General Manager of the Eastern Railway, reviewed in a speech the history and progress of the system. The Governor's speech referred appreciatively to the contributions made by railways to the economic progress of the country. Dr. B. C. Rey, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, emphasised the importance of the railways to the economy of Eastern India. A the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway at Goraklipur, Mr. G. Pande, General Manager, addressed the officers and staff.

Headquarters offices, workshops and important stations were illuminated on all railways. The illuminations at Victoria and Churchgate, Bombay. were elaborate and attracted thousands of sightseers. At Delhi, the main station and the headquarters offices at Baroda House and at Calcutta the Fairlie Place offices, and Howrah and Sealdah stations were illuminated. Undeterred by an electricity cut, the Southern Railway brought out wick and oil lamps to illuminate the frontage of Egmore Station, Madras, in a manner reminiscent of the Deepavali, or Festival of Lights.

The material above is under copyright held by Railway Gazette International and is reproduced here by permission granted by the Editor of the publication.