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The bustling world of Indian Railways

Last updated on: March 8, 2013 09:58 IST

The bustling world of Indian Railways

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The Indian Railways is one of the world's largest railway networks comprising 115,000 km of track over a route of 65,000 km and 7,500 stations.

Railways were first introduced in India in 1853 from Bombay to Thane. In 1951 the system was nationalised, making Indian Railways one of the largest networks in the world.

The train services are used by over 25 million passengers daily (over 9 billion on an annual basis). Indian Railways is the world's ninth largest commercial employer, with over 1.4 million employees.

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Complete coverage: Union Budget 2013-14



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The first railway on Indian sub-continent operated over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane.

The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclines first occurred to George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay government, during a visit to Bhandup in 1843. 

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Image: Commuters disembark from crowded suburban trains during the morning rush hour at Churchgate railway station in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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The Railway service was formally inaugurated on 16 April 1853, when 14 railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder, Mumbai.

The first passenger train steamed out of Howrah station to Hooghly, a distance of 24 miles, on 15 August, 1854.

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Image: Train driver TS Unnikrishnan Nair, 60, who has been working for Indian Railways for 40 years, shows a picture taken when he first started his job, at his apartment in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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In the south, the first line was opened on I July, 1856 by the Madras Railway Company. It ran between Vyasarpadi Jeeva Nilayam (Veyasarpandy) and Walajah Road (Arcot), a distance of 63 miles.

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Image: A man runs to catch a train at Dadar Railway Station in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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In the North, a length of 119 miles of line was laid from Allahabad to Kanpur on 3 March 1859. The first section from Hathras Road to Mathura Cantonment was opened to traffic on 19th October, 1875.

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Image: Commuters stand at the open doorways of a suburban train as they head toward their destination in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Passenger revenue has been steadily increasing, though it formed only about 27% of the total earnings of the Railways in 2011-12.

The passenger revenue stood at Rs 28,246.43 crore (Rs 282.46 billion) from Rs 8,27.47 crore (Rs 8.27 billion) in 1980-81.

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Image: A man sits on a wall near the tracks of Bandra Railway station in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Telecom, tourism and railways have been the best performers in services sector in India, according to the the 2012-13 Economic Survey.

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Image: Boys play cricket along the tracks as a suburban train passes by, near Bandra railway station in Mumbai.
Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A train passes through slums in Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A suburban train passes through slums in Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Commuters stand by the open doors of a suburban train as it goes over a bridge in the outskirts of Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Commuters cross the tracks to reach the other side of the platform in Allahabad.

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A worker is pictured at the newly built railway track in Allahabad.

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Homemade alcohol containers hang from a train window as people hang from the doors and windows at Parsha Bazar railway station in Bihar.

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A bicycle hangs from the window of a train at Parsha Bazar railway station in Bihar. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Empty milk containers hang from the window of a train in Uttar Pradesh. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Commuters struggle to board a train at Noli railway station in Uttar Pradesh. 

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Kanpur Central Railway Station is reflected on a ticket counter in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A woman keeps her child on the ticket counter as she buys a train ticket at Allahabad railway station.

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Vendors carry food to sell inside a train at Agra Cantt Railway Station in Agra. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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A boy drinks tea in the early morning inside a train at Agra Cantt Railway Station in Agra. 

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Children travel on a train heading from Agra to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. 

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Commuters travel in a train heading from Agra to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh

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A child sits on the floor of a train heading towards Allahabad from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. 

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A man watches a film on his laptop as the train heads towards Agra from Delhi. 

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Commuters travel by suburban train as they head toward their destination in Mumbai. 

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Train driver TS Unnikrishnan Nair, 60, who has been working for Indian Railways for 40 years, lies on a bed in the train drivers' rest area at Kalyan Railway Station in Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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An employee works in the control room of Kalyan Railway Station in Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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TS Unnikrishnan Nair, undergoes a breathalyser test, a standard procedure for all train drivers, before going to work at Kalyan Railway Station in Mumbai.

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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TS Unnikrishnan Nair, is reflected in a speedometer as he drives his train from Kalyan Railway Station toward Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station in Mumbai. 

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Photographs: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters.
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Train driver Ts Unnikrishnan Nair, operates the train from Kalyan Railway Station toward Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station in Mumbai.


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