Railway transportation in India
A plan for a rail system in India was first put forward in 1832, but no further steps were taken for more than a decade. In 1844, the Governor-General of India Lord Hardinge allowed private entrepreneurs to set up a rail system in India. Two new railway companies were created and the East India Company was asked to assist them. Interest from a lot of investors in the UK led to the rapid creation of a rail system over the next few years. The first train in India became operational on 1851-12-22, and was used for the hauling of construction material in Roorkee. A few years later, on 1853-04-16, the first passenger train between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thana covering a distance of 34 km (21 miles) was inaugurated, formally heralding the birth of railways in India.
The British government encouraged the setting up of railway companies by private investors under a scheme that would guarantee an annual return of five percent during the initial years of operation. Once completed, the company would then be transferred to the government, but the original company would retain operational control. This network had a route mileage of about 14,500 km (9,000 miles) by 1880, mostly radiating inward from the three major port cities of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. By 1895, India had started building its own locomotives, and in 1896 sent engineers and locomotives to help build the Uganda Railways.
Extent of Great Indian Peninsular Railway network in 1870. The GIPR was one of the largest rail companies at that time. Soon various independent kingdoms began to have their own rail systems and the network spread to the regions that became the modern-day states of Assam, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. A Railway Board was constituted in 1901, but the powers were still formally held by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon. The Railway Board operated under aegis of the Department of Commerce and Industry and had three members: a government railway official serving as chairman, a railway manager from England and an agent of one of the company railways. For the first time in its history, the Railways began to make a tidy profit. In 1907, almost all the rail companies were taken over by the government.
The following year, the first electric locomotive made its appearance. With the arrival of First World War, the railways were used to meet the needs of the British outside India. By the end of the First World War, the railways had suffered immensely, and were in a poor state. The government took over the management of the Railways and removed the link between the finances of the Railways and other governmental revenues in 1920.
The Second World War severely crippled the railways as trains were diverted to the Middle East, and the railway workshops converted into munitions workshops. At the time of independence in 1947, a big chunk of the railways went to the then newly formed Pakistan. A total of forty-two separate railway systems, including thirty-two lines owned by the former Indian princely states were amalgamated as a single unit which was christened as the Indian Railways.
The existing rail networks were abandoned in favour of zones in 1951 and a total of six zones came into being in 1952. As the economy of India improved, almost all railway production units were indigenised. By 1985, steam locomotives were phased out in favour of diesel and electric locomotives. The entire railway reservation system was streamlined with Computerisation in 1995.
1. Vocabulary Analysis.
In the first paragraph find a Synonym for the following words or phrases.
- Presented (v)
- Businessman (n)
- Design (v)
- Railroad (n)
- Transportation (n)
- Announcing (v)
2. According to the text say right wrong or I don’t know. Support your answers.
____ a. The annual return during the first years of operation is high
____ b. New railways spread to other regions that became the modern-day states of Assam, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
____ c. The first electric locomotive made its appearance in 1908
____ d. The former Indian princely states were amalgamated as a single unit which was baptized as the Indian Railways.
____ f. As the economy of India improved, almost all railway production units were became the country’s property.
3. In no less than 60 words make a brief synthesis of the text.
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