Mumbai local history: History of Mumbai local trains and stations? How All lines; Western, Central, Harbour came into existence!


am lined electric train in Bombay approaching to Victoria Terminus.
am lined electric train in Bombay approaching to Victoria Terminus.

This may be a long read and I will try to put everything in order as each and every station has a history but I would like to cover only the major ones.

We all know that Bori Bunder to Thana(now Thane) was the first train to run in this country and it was launched in 1853, but why did the British Government even consider to start Railways in India.

It was because around 1830’s The East India Company was managing the administration of India and one of its key trade was cotton which was needed to be exported to Britain and other countries which bought profit to them. At that time bullock carts were only the transporters which were not reliable on monsoon and would take hell lot of time to transport cotton from the rural areas to the Bombay port.

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The main idea was to bring all the export market materials to Bombay port via Railways and transport them via Ship to England, Singapore, Ceylon(Sri Lanka) and many more nations. Cotton has to be brought from central India to Bombay and already America was doing good with cotton exports just not because of the quality but also they had the same tactic, use Railway for internal transportation. Not only cotton but also Metals, Oil, Spices, Fruits, pulses and many more were planned to export from Bombay.
Now this is not known to everyone that at beginning the Railway’s at India from Bori Bunder to Thana was planned as an experimental line. This job was given to James John Berkley who was the Chief resident Engineer of the Great Peninsular Railway (GIPR) in India, educated at King’s College in London.

James John Berkley’s grave at London

He may not be known to today’s generation but he is the reason that we have Mumbai Suburban Railway today. Berkley was responsible to build the the first steam train from Bori Bunder to Thana where he had to face too many hurdles and some of them are:

Bombay was always a city which had rough monsoons and it made a huge problem and flooded all the rails, embankments were needed to be made.
Many areas like Matunga where the land was not fit for carrying the trains, it had to top with tar and cover it with rubble.
Practical problems like workers were not trained for this specific job and their timings issues were also there.
Within eight months of Berkley’s arrival around 31st October 1850 the bhoomipoojan of Indian railway was done at Sion by John P. Willoughby, Cheif Secretary of the Bombay Government. After beating all the odds the first commercial train journey started on 3:35 pm 16th April 1853 a 14 carriage train, having 3 locomotives, from Bombay to Thana with Sion a station in between to fill up the water tanks and had 3 classes first,second and third respectively. The journey was 34km journey and it took 57mins to reach to Thana from Bombay.

Now the GIPR (Great Peninsular Railway) is called as Central Railway in Mumbai and BB&CI as the Western Railway.

There were two different developments GIPR and BB&CI(Bombay Baroda and Central Indian railway), which was built for the sole purpose of connecting Bombay and Surat and Baroda from where cotton could have transported.

I would like to cover the rest of the history within quick facts:

The Thane line was extended to Callian (Kalyan) and services for Callian started on 1st April 1854.
1882 January Bori bunder station was pulled down and replaced by a new station Bombay passenger station and the process of Victoria Terminus(Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) started. VT was named as CST at 1995 by a congress leader and currently in the world heritage list since 2004.

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Each station have a history and was built one by one as per the needs were calculated, for instance Sion was for filling up water tanks earlier but later the Sion hospital(then called as sick bay) became a major station for military passengers.
Today all the trains of violet and purple carriages are manufactured by SIEMENS since 2007. 80 years before that started the electric locomotives which were introduced at Victoria terminus at 1925 and after that we have been using the improvised version of the electric locomotives started with 1500V DC to 25KV single phase traction and the conversion of this line is still an ongoing process in Bombay.
Nahur is the latest station which was built in 2006.
After the central line was developed upto Kalyan and even further, at 12 December 1910 there was the first train at Harbour line from Kurla to Reay Road. As it abruptly stopped in Reay Road it was further exteneded till VT, and as land acquisitions by 1910 was difficult in Southern Bombay then a bridge was constructed for the line.
There were two major dump yards in Bombay, one at Sion and another after Chembur. Railways were used to transport garbage to the dump yard after Chembur.
1st July 1927 the Harbour line was extended till Mankhurd and 1990 till Vashi crossing the sea and 1995 till Panvel Raigad district. Harbour had the most electric locomotives at that time and ironically its in the last position of all the three lines now.

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For all the rapid developments in early twentieth century despite the world war the credits must be given to TISCO(Tata Iron and steel Company Limited). Tata was the major materials provider to Railway’s. When British supplies of iron and steel stopped in 1915 due to war Dorabji Tata filled the gap and became the major supplier.
At 21 November 1855 the East India Company signed an agreement with BB&CI to build the railway line between Surat to Baroda and Ahmedabad. Four years later Bombay entered in the plans and a new agreement was formed to build a railway line from Utran Grant Road to Baroda. By 1864 this line witnessed its first train from grant road to Ahmedabad which took 47 hours.
After all these starts and establishments, slowly western line also extended till Churchgate and Virar having the first DC-AC nodes in Mumbai and Worlds first ladies special train.
Mumbai Suburban Railway has always been the backbone of Mumbai, it never ceases to amaze the people across the globe.

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Mumbai local history: History of Mumbai local trains and stations? How All lines; Western, Central, Harbour came into existence!

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