Indian Railways has a rich history. The first plan was proposed sometime in 1832 but no action was taken till the 1840s. In 1842, British Civil Engineer, Charles Blacker Vignoles submitted a report on a Proposed Railway in India to the East India Company and in 1845 the then Governor General of India-Lord Hardinge decided that the East India Company would assist the private capitalists to build a railway system. So, two private companies were formulated the East India Railway Company that would operate from Calcutta and Great India Peninsula Railway that would operate from Bombay. They would receive a 5% return annually for the initial years of operation and then the company would pass on to the Government although the operations would still be handled by the company that built it.
The first train started in 1851 to Roorkee to carry construction material while the first passenger train ran between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thane in the year 1853. It covered a distance of 34 km. The East India Railway Company’s Chief engineer, George Turnbull built India’s first train that ran from Calcutta, the commercial capital of India then. It was opened for the passengers in the year 1854 and started from Howrah to Hooghly. The 541 miles (871 km) to Benares was opened to passengers from 1862. Gradually the railway network expanded to 14,500km (9000 miles) by 1880. All moving inwards from the important ports-Calcutta, Bombay and Madras since it suited East India Company to keep its trade flourishing. By 1895 India had started building its own locomotives and also sent engineers and locomotives to built Uganda Railways.
Soon major states and cities had their own railway networks and covered various regions, now modern day Assam, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Once the network was steady it all came under the government and by 1908 India’s first electronic locomotive appeared but the World War I broke the spirit of the system and railways fell into disrepute since they were left uncared for. World War II further crippled the system since the trains were diverted to the Middle East and railway workshops were turned into munitions workshops. During partition a huge chunk of the railways went to the new country Pakistan. A huge part had to be re-routed to the country, India and lot of construction had to take place. Finally a total of 42 separate railway systems, including 32 lines held by the former princely states spanning over 55,000km was amalgamated to form the Indian Railways.