Indian Railways History: 1970 - 1994

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Chronology of Railways: 1970 - 1994


1 Up/2 Dn Bombay-Howrah Mail via Nagpur is dieselized; it is hauled by an electric loco between Howrah and Rourkela and between Igatpuri and Bombay.

June 30: The last WG is manufacturered by CLW (WG 10560 "Antim Sitara").

CLW produces its first WAM-4 locos.

Shahdara-Saharanpur line of Martin's Light Railways closed.

Across the border, Pakistan's first electric services begin on June 25 (Lahore-Khanewal, 268km).

Oct. : One line of the Howrah network of the Calcutta trams is closed.


WCG-2 and WCAM-1 design prototypes are tested.

Farakka railway bridge (one of the longest prestressed concrete bridges) is opened and the Assam Mail is routed through it, reducing its running time by five hours.

Jan 1: Howrah-Amta, Howrah-Sheokhala sections of Martin's Light Railway closed.

The Permanent Way Training School becomes the IR Institute for Advanced Track Technology.

Suri and Nayar begin production of diesel locos.

CLW begins production of TAO-659 traction motors.

Pathankot-Jammu Tawi section opened (construction of parts of this began in 1965 after the war with Pakistan).

Dec.: Second line of the Howrah network of the Calcutta trams is closed.


IR extends some operations for the military into Pakistan, during the India-Pakistan war, from the Barmer area of Rajasthan, using the Munabao - Khokraphar MG route.


Electrification from Howrah reaches Tundla (near Agra).

Calcutta Metro construction work begins .

Petrol trams in Karachi (Pakistan) cease to operate.

May 17: The Bombay Rajdhani begins service, hauled by a WDM2. The trip takes 19 hours and 5 minutes.

Feb. 5: CLW's last steam loco, YG 3573 is rolled out.

Liluah workshops stop manufacturing coaches.

Railway Board gets a post of Additional Member for electrical engineering.


Jan. 26: Jayanti Janata Express introduced between New Delhi and Ernakulam/Mangalore, the first "classless" (all second-class coaches) train.

First marine ISO container handled in India at Cochin (although not by rail).

May: Nimtollah (Nimtala) Ghat line of the Calcutta trams is closed.

Dec.: Third line of the Howrah network of the Calcutta trams is closed. Total trackage now at 62km.


CLW begins work on production of dual-power WCAM-1 locos.

RITES formed for research and consultancy services.

(Mid-1970s) IRS standards for rails are laid down (52kg/m for BG, 75lb/yd for MG).

Third-class accommodation abolished (1972?).

May 3: A total strike by railway workers including the All India Railwaymen's Federation (led by its president at the time, George Fernandes, later Union Minister for Railways) paralyzes IR completely; tens of thousands are jailed (some sources say 28,000, others put the number as high as 70,000). This event was among the factors that led to the imposition of a state of emergency in India by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in June 1975.

Aug. 13: Parliament regulates working hours for engine drivers to 10 hours continuous duty at a time.

Barauni - Samastipur - Muzaffarpur BG line.


First export order for IR – DLW sends some YDM4 units to Tanzania.

Jan. 30: First dual-system electric loco (WCAM-1 class) from CLW, "Vallabh", is commissioned.

February: The first of the widely used WDS-6 class shunters from DLW.

June: Bombay's Churchgate station is the first to be provided with a special 50Hz AC supply unit to keep its station clocks accurately set; the clocks' error dropped to about 1 second in 8 days.

Nov.: Ernakulam-Quilon MG line converted to BG.

Charbagh Workshop of NR takes on diesel loco maintenance.

Railway Board gets a post of Additional Member for health.

AC 2-tier class is introduced on select trains.


Jan.: IR wins its first export contract, for the supply of 15 YDM locomotives (to be built in DLW, Varanasi) to Tanzania.

IRCON formed as a separate organization from RITES, for railway construction projects overseas.

Tamil Nadu Express introduced.

The Samjhauta Express begins running between India and Pakistan. Freight trains also begin running between the two countries. The rail link agreement for these trains is valid for 3 years (and later periodically renewed).

Aug. 5: Entire Howrah-Delhi trunk route is electrified.

Sep. 13: Trivandrum-Ernakulam BG converted line opened to traffic.

Smoking is banned in Mumbai suburban trains.

Nov. 8 : All assets of the Calcutta Tramway Co. are now vested with the government of West Bengal.


Feb. 1: National Rail Museum opened at New Delhi.

Guntakal division of SR made part of SCR, and Solapur division of SCR made part of CR (Oct. 2: Pune - Shahabad is transferred from SCR to CR; Shahabad - Wadi is transferred in 1978. Daund and Kurduwadi sheds now under CR.)

(Late 1970s) Concrete sleepers come into use.

DLW manufactures prototype of high-speed bogie rated for 170km/h service.

March: DLW's 1000th locomotive.

Railway Convention Committee meets.


Jan. 1: The eight posts of Additional Members of the Railway Board are abolished. The number of Advisors to the Board rises to 16.

Arrah-Sasaram line of Martin's Light Railways closed.

Plans drawn up for Wheel and Axle Plant.

Raj Committee revisits the issue of the economics of electrification; since electricity costs had risen faster than diesel prices, the break-even point for electrification to be viable was now at 30 million gross tonne km per route km a year.

March 1: Shahabad - Wadi transferred from SCR to CR.


CORE (Central Organization for Railway Electrification) formed.

Madras-Gummidipundi (April 13) and Madras-Thiruvellore sections (Nov. 23) electrified providing a second electrified corridor for SR. Madras Beach - Korukkupet - Madras Central is also electrified (Aug. 9).

Nagercoil-Tirunelveli and Trivandrum-Kanyakumari via Nagercoil opened.

May 20: Mangalore - Hassan MG line opened to traffic.

Oct. 2: Trivandrum division of SR created.


Viramgam - Hapa MG section converted to BG.

National Energy Policy defined, which recommends increasing the pace of railway electrification and a goal is set for 1000 route km to be electrified every year.

First WDM-2 with AC-DC transmission.

Oct. 1: First WAP-1 locomotive commissioned (variant of the WAM-4R); used for the Rajdhani service.

Third Ghat line opened on the north-east of Mumbai.


Diesel Component Works, Patiala, is set up.

July 27: Bangalore division of SR created.

The first ISO container is hauled by IR, to the new Inland Container Depot at Bangalore.

IR contracts with BARC to develop energy-efficient EMUs for for Mumbai, leading to the development of chopper-controlled EMUs.

[Disaster] Feb. 11: Three trains collide on the same track at Vaniyambadi. (Number of casualties unknown.)

[Disaster] Jun. 6: Possibly the worst accident in IR's history: Seven coaches of a passenger train fall off a bridge into the Bagmati river near Samastipur. There has never been a satisfactory explanation for the cause of the disaster, with diverse reasons such as a sudden storm or tornado, or sudden and extreme braking by the drivers on sighting oxen on the track, being offered for the accident. At least 212 bodies were recovered from the river, but it is almost certain that there were many more persons who perished in this disaster. Unofficial death toll at over 800.

[Disaster] Jul. 17: A goods train runs into the rear of a passenger train in Madhya Pradesh. At least 39 die.

[Disaster] Jul. 19: An express train heading to New Delhi from Ahmedabad derails in Gujarat, killing 30 and injuring many. The incident is blamed on sabotage.

[Disaster] Jul. 31: Forty-three die when six coaches of a train derail near Bahawalpur.


[Disaster] Jan. 27: At least 50 persons die when a goods train and a passenger express train collide head-on in dense fog near Agra.

Oct. - The Taj Express gets diesel locomotives (WDM-2).

Sep. 3: Thiruvellore - Arakkonam section electrified.

Lucknow-Muzaffarpur BG line.


DLW gets export order for 15 YDM-4 locos to Vietnam.

Howrah Rajdhani is hauled by a WAP-1 loco.

Guntakal-Bangalore BG conversion.

IR begins studies on telecom, IT, and freight information management upgrades.

Feb. 10: 'Great Indian Rover', a tourist train for Buddhist sites, with a specially built rake, launched.


Wheel and Axle Plant, Yelahanka, begins production.

Engineering survey begun for Mangalore-Madgaon line.

Oct. 24: First phase of Calcutta Metro from Esplanade to Bhowanipur (now the Netaji Bhawan station) done, inaugural run of metro.

Hapa-Okha MG section converted to BG.

The Mumbai Rajdhani becomes the first long-distance train with air brakes.

Jan. 22: CLW's first loco of the WAG-5B class, at first denoted WAM-4B, is commissioned.

May: DLW's 2000th locomotive produced.

May: First shipment of 15 YDM-4 locos to Vietnam from DLW.

Aug. 11: Electric locomotive hauled trains begin running between Madras and Katpadi.

MUTP-I completed, with several improvements to the Mumbai suburban train services.

New railway line from Guwahati to New Bongaigaon opened.

Prinsep Ghat - Dum Dum Jn. section of Calcutta Circular Railway commissioned.

Railway Reform Committee suggests creation of 4 new zones to cope with growing freight traffic.

Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway closed.


Scope of engineering survey work for Mangalore-Madgaon is extended to cover the entire west coast section from Mangalore to Roha, for the proposed Konkan Railway.

Railway Convention Committee meets.

SR becomes the first zone to eliminate BG steam operations.

Charbagh Workshop of NR takes on electric loco maintenance.

Apr. 17 : Maniktala - Ultadanga section of Calcutta Tramways built.

[Disaster] Feb 23: 50 people killed when an express train catches fire near Rajnandgaon, MP.

[Disaster] Jun 13: 38 people killed, many injured, when an express train rams into a goods train near Agra.


Computerized ticketing and reservation introduced, at New Delhi (pilot project begun in 1985).

Futwah-Islampur section of Martin's Light Railways closed.

Apta-Roha line opened.

IRCOT (IR's telecom division) founded.

12-car rakes used in trial runs for suburban EMU services on WR.

The Taj Express gets electric locomotives.

Howrah Rajdhani becomes air-braked (the train is hauled by a single WAP-1).

Dec. 31: Behala line of Calcutta Tramways extended to Joka.

[Disaster] March 10: 50 people killed and 200 injured in a train collision near Khagaria, Bihar.

[Disaster] Aug 6: 52 killed and 35 injured as two coaches of an express train fall into a stream after colliding with a stationary goods train in Palamau district, Bihar.


Bombay-Delhi WR route is fully electrified. (CR route electrified in 1988.)

January 4: First WAP-3 loco, 'Jawahar', commissioned.

The rarely seen WDM-7 locos introduced (June). On NG, NDM-5 locos introduced.

Automatic signalling based on axle counters introduced by CR on Palwal-Mathura section.

July 25: First solid-state interlocking (SSI) system in operation at Srirangam.

April 14: Madras-Avadi EMU services begin.

Railway Coach Factory, Kapurthala, is set up.

Work begins on the Narnarayan Setu road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra at Jogighopa. (Foundation stone laid in 1983.)

June: An early system for computerized reservations begins operating at Mumbai VT for a few trains (pre-CONCERT).

July: Early standalone computerized reservation system begins operations at Chennai.

October: Early standalone computerized reservation system begins operations at Kolkata.

Electrification stands at 7275 route-km.

(Dates uncertain - 1985-1988) Further closings of the Calcutta trams - High Court branch and the line over the Howrah Bridge to Howrah Station are shut down; there is now not trackage west of BBD Bag (Dalhousie Square). Behala line on the Diamond Harbour Road is extended to Joka (15km) and a new line built to Ultadanga (originally intended to reach the airport).

[Disaster] July 8: 53 are killed as Dakshin Exp. derails near Mancherial, AP.

[Disaster] Rockfort Express plunges into river when Ariyalur bridge is blown up by terrorists. Over 75 killed.


WAG5HB locos from BHEL, WAG6A from ABB, and WAG6B, WAG6C from Hitachi brought into service, mostly for the heavy freight routes of SER.

The first Shatabdi Express is introduced between New Delhi and Jhansi (later extended to Bhopal), and becomes the fastest train in the country.

Feb. 1: Bombay-Delhi CR route is electrified. (WR route electrified in 1987.)

March 31: First (ICF-designed) coaches produced by the newly set-up Railway Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala

Madras-New Delhi route is electrified.

Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) created.

Ruthiyai-Bina section transferred from WR to CR.

CLW begins production of Hitachi-designed traction motors HS-15250A for WAG-5 and WAP-4 locos.

Aug. 6: Karur-Dindigul BG line opened.

August: Pilot project for the NTES train status enquiry system begun.

SER introduces the 'Locotrol' system to operate several (usually up to 5) locos (then WDM-2's) in MU mode to haul heavy freight trains on the Kirandul-Kottavalasa line.

[Disaster] July 8: Bangalore-Trivandrum Island Express derails and plunges into Ashtamudi lake near Kollam, Kerala, killing 107. It is said that a freak tornado was the cause.


Systematic renumbering of train services using 'universal' numbers (new 4-digit scheme).

Railways Act, 1989, updates the legal framework for railways in India after nearly a century, replacing the Railways Act of 1890.

Work begins on the Konkan Railway.

The second Shatabdi Express is introduced between New Delhi and Kanpur (later extended to Lucknow).

The Indrayani Express between Bombay and Pune is introduced (as well as the Pragati Express between the same pair of cities).

Aug. 29, 1989: The IRFCA electronic mailing list for IR railfans is born. 😀

Rail Spring Karkhana set up for production of coil springs for IR.

July: Early standalone computerized reservation system begins operations at Secunderabad.

Oct. 15: Ernakulam-Alleppey BG line is opened.

[Disaster] April 18: 75 killed as Karnataka Exp. derails near Lalitpur, UP.

[Disaster] Nov. 1: 48 killed as Udyan Abha Toofan Exp. derails at Sakaldiha, Bihar.


Bhusaval-Itarsi section has electric services – Bombay-Delhi CR route is fully electrified.

Work progresses on Mangalore-Udupi section of KR.

Bombay Rajdhani gets an air-braked rake.

Computerized reservations (PRS) introduced at Secunderabad, Chennai, Mumbai, and Kolkata in addition to New Delhi (this was the early version before the CONCERT system was developed to interconnect these).

First Self-Printing Ticket Machine (SPTM) introduced, at New Delhi.

Victoria Terminus gets a double-discharge platform.

Surekha Bhonsle joins IR - she later became the first woman locomotive driver on IR.

[Disaster] April 16: 70 killed in fire on local shuttle train near Patna.

[Disaster] June 6: 36 killed in collision at Gollaguda, AP.

[Disaster] June 25: 60 killed as a goods train rams into passenger train at Mangra, Daltonganj, Bihar.

[Disaster] Oct. 9: 47 killed when fire breaks out on the Kakatiya Fast Passenger near Cherpalli, AP, between Hyderabad and Warangal. The fire is said to have been lit deliberately by miscreants.


Work begins on Udupi-Roha section of KR.

RCF begins production of air-braked coaches and coaches with roof-mounted AC units.

Railway Convention Committee meets.

July 16: The hospital train, 'Lifeline Express' (Jeevan Rekha), begins operation.

All platforms at Victoria Terminus converted to the double-discharge kind.

Kurla Terminus opened.

Gauge conversion begins on Sawai Madhopur - Jaipur - Phulera, Chhapra - Aunrihar, and Bhildi - Mahesana - Viramgam sections.

Some codes with 4 or fewer letters in their names are changed to coincide with the station names.

[Disaster] Oct. 31: 30 killed as Karnataka Exp. derails near Makalidurga, Karnataka.

[Disaster] Dec. 7: Train derailment in north India [details?] kills 25.


Palace on Wheels changed to a broad-gauge train.

March 29: First of the WAG-7 class locos, 'Shantidan', from CLW commissioned.

March: Bangalore-Jolarpettai section electrified.

May 8: Churchgate-Virar Ladies' Special is the first IR train reserved exclusively for women.

August: DLW's 3000th locomotive produced.

Nov. 20: Alleppey-Kayankulam BG line opened.

Liluah workshops begin producing DMUs.

ECIL supplies the first chopper control equipment to CR for use with Mumbai EMUs.

RDSO/ICF develop high-capacity (250kVA) power cars for Rajdhanis. RDSO develops bidirectional BG railbus design.

Mumbai suburban services extended to Vashi.

Bangalore Rajdhani introduced.

Gauge conversion of Salempur - Barhaz Bazar, Manmad - Aurangabad, Bikaner - Merta Road.

[Disaster] April 7: At least 20 killed when the Bitragunta-Vijayawada Passenger passes a signal at danger and rams into a stationary good strain at Tsundru South Cabin, near Tenali.

[Disaster] Sep. 5: 41 killed when a Nagpur-Jamshedpur train rams into a stationary goods train at night near Raigarh, MP.


Work begins on installing 2*25kV "dual" system of AC traction on the Bina-Katni-Annuppur-Bishrampur/Chirimiri sections of ER and SER.

Secunderabad-Mahboobnagar MG section is converted to BG, removing an important link in the MG system towards the north from Secunderabad.

AC 3-tier coaches introduced.

ICF begins production of MEMUs and 700hp DMUs.

Sleeper Class introduced on IR, separate from Second Class.

April 16: Bangalore-Mysore BG line opened.

Railway Capital Fund established.

CLW stops (apparently) the production of diesel shunters.

The formerly pre-eminent steam loco shed at Bhusawal is shut down and the last steam loco homed at Bhusawal is withdrawn on Dec. 16.

The first 'chopper' EMU rake is introduced in Mumbai.

Mumbai suburban services extended to Nerul and Belapur.

[Disaster] April 20: At least 15 killed when the Ranchi-Lohardaga Passenger derails 40km from Ranchi.

[Disaster] July 16: 60 killed in accident near Darbhanga, Bihar.

[Disaster] Sep. 21: 71 killed when Kota-Bina passenger train collides with goods train near Chhabra, Rajasthan.


Royal Orient train introduced by WR and Gujarat.

CLW stops production of diesel-hydraulic locos.

Five ZDM-5 locomotives and 6 NG 8-coach rakes are transferred from India to Nepal for operation on the Jaynagar (Bihar) to Janakpur Dham (Nepal) line, from SER's Nagpur division.

July 11: First MEMU service, Asansol - Burdwan.

August 27: CLW's first WAP-4 loco, 'Ashok', commissioned.

August 22: First WDM-2C loco commissioned.

August 31: Chikjajur-Chitradurg-Rayadurg line converted to BG.

September: CONCERT system of computerized reservations deployed at Secunderabad.

Manmad-Aurangabad MG line converted to BG.

Feb.: Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur MG line converted to BG.

Dec.: Ajmer-Delhi MG line converted to BG.

December: Telephone-based phone inquiry (IVRS) introduced.

Gauge conversion of Mau - Shahganj (?), Chaparmukh - Haibargaon.

Secunderabad-Mahboobnagar gauge conversion breaks one of the important north-south MG freight connections.

[Disaster] May 3: 35 killed as Narayanadri Exp. rams into a tractor near Nalgonda, AP.

[Disaster] Nov: Coaches of the Bombay-Howrah Mail catch fire, several killed (27 in some reports). Kerosene fuel, LPG cylinders, and stoves were found to have been carried on to the coach by passengers.

[Disaster] Dec. 1: The freak incident in which a combination of a loco fire and human error caused the rake of the Indrayani Express, full of passengers, to roll away on its own from Thakurwadi to Karjat, saved from becoming a fatal accident only when it slowed down when the incline changed.

Continue with the chronology in Part 6 - 1995 to 2004, Part 7 - 2005 to 2014 and Part 8 - 2015 to present day).

The chronology begins in Part 1 (1832 - 1869). Followed by Part 2 (1870 - 1899), Part 3 (1900 - 1946) and Part 4 (1947 - 1969).