HOWRAH DIVISION : HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE - THE FIRST JOURNEY
Eastern Railway, Howrah Division a synthesis of history, culture and modern technology plays an important role as a spoke in the moving wheel of the Indian Railways. Eastern Railway today comprises four divisions viz, Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol & Malda. Howrah Division is the oldest Division of Eastern Railway.
On 15thAugust 1854, East Indian Railway’s first train commenced its inaugural commercial run from Howrah to Hooghly (24 miles). Regular Services were introduced from the same day, morning and evening with stoppage at Bally, Serampore and Chandannagore.
It is a matter of pride and privilege for all Indians that by an unpremeditated but a pleasant and patriotic coincidence, Eastern Railway Passenger Services began on the same day India was to gain independence ninety three years later.
Railways arrived in India within 30 years of their inauguration in England.
Rowland McDonald Stephenson, the first Agent and Managing Director of the East Indian Railway Company submitted the first traffic and Engineering feasibility Report for a line from Calcutta to Mirzapore, to the East India Company.
In May 1845, Stephenson established the East Indian Railway Company.
On 17thAugust 1849 a contract was signed between East Indian Railway Company and East India Company with the involvement of the then British Prime Minister. This entitled the former to construct and operate an ‘experimental line’, 161 Kms long between Calcutta and Rajmahal which would later be extended to Delhi via Mirzapore.
The works began on EIR in 1851.
One line, one platform, one red brick room, one ticket window and just one train adds up to the neo-natal stage of train operations in Eastern India.
After the Government of India took over the management of EIR on 1st January, 1925, and of GIP Railway on 30th June, 1925, EIR was first to be organised into divisions. Initially there were six divisions in EIR- Howrah, Asansol and Danapore known as the lower divisions and Allahabad, Lucknow and Moradabad known as the upper divisions.
The Railway Finance was separated from the General Budget in 1924. This afforded Railways considerable financial and administrative autonomy to conduct their own affairs and to initiate and carry out future policies on “Sound business principles”.
The following are the phased development of opening of Railway:
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Opened for traffic
Howrah – Burdwan Chord Line
Howrah – Hooghly Main Line
Hooghly – Pandooah Main Line
Bandel – Barddhaman Main Line
Sheoraphuli – Tarakeswar Branch Line
Sheoraphuli – Tarakeswar Line Doubling
SBG Loop (Khana Jn. – Kiul Jn.)
SBG Loop (Doubling completed)
BB Loop (Bandel – Barharwa Loop)
Azimganj – Nalhati Branch Line
Ahmedpur – Katwa (NG) Line
Burdwan – Katwa (NG) Line
The territorial jurisdiction of Howrah division consists of Howrah – Khana (Main line and chord line), Khana – Gumani, Rampurhat – Dumka, Bandel – Azimganj, Dankuni – Bhattanagar, Dankuni – Rajchandrapur, Bandel – Hooghly ghat, Sheoraphuli – Tarakeswar – Goghat and Azimgang – Nalhati Section. Narrow Gauge section of Howrah Div. between Bardhaman – Katwa and Ahmadpur – Katwa has been converted to Broad Gauge in 2018.
Traffic over the division includes suburban and long distance passenger service originating from Howrah and is going to be increased with time. Today a total of 252 Mail/Express trains, 500 suburban EMUs and 20 passenger trains are handled from 23 Platforms of Howrah station daily. Howrah station has average daily passenger earnings of Rs. 3.53 Cr with average 1.90 Lakh of Originating Passengers (on all routes originating from Howrah).The average daily footfall at Howrah is 8.96 Lakh nos. of passengers.
Traffic over the Division is predominantly Passenger, including suburban traffic and long distance passenger. Originating Freight traffic on the Division is mainly Stone Chips and Stone Ballast from Pakur and Rajgram and Coal traffic from Pakur.
Railway Protection Force/Howrah has conducted special drives on regular basis in association with GRP against theft of passenger belongings, robbery, crime against women passengers and Human trafficking resulting registration of 64 cases and 131 arrests. They have also conducted raids under “Mission Tatkal” to curb e-touting resulting in recovery of e-ticket worth Rs. 16.56 lakh and arrest of 99 Touts.
Division caters to important places of Tourist interest such as, Shantiniketan (Bolpur), Belur Math (Belur), Tarapith (Rampurhat), Tarakeswar, Hooghly Imambara & Portuguese Church (Bandel), Nabadwip Dham (ISKCON temple), Azimganj (Hazarduri) and Bardhaman etc.
Howrah Railway Museum exhibits historical development of Indian Railways with plush green lawns, bollard lighting and prime exhibits highlighted by focus lamps and is open for general viewing.
Century – old Howrah railway station has been awarded the first Green Railway Station among the metropolitan cities by the Indian Green Building Council – Confederation of Indian Industries (IGBC-CII).
HOWRAH-BARDHAMAN CHORD LINE
The Howrah-Bardhaman Chord is a broad-gauge railway line connection Howrah and Bardhaman. The 95 kilometres railway line operates in Howrah, Hooghly and Bandhaman discticts in the State of West Bengal. It is part of the Howrah-Delhi line and the Kolkata Suburban Railway system.
The Howrah-Bardhaman Chord, a shorter link to Bardhaman from Howrah than the Howrah-Bardhaman Main Line, was constructed in 1917.
In 1932, the Calcutta Chord Line was built over the Willingdon Bridge (Vivekananda Setu) joining Dum Dum with Dankuni.
Dhaniakhali station on the Howrah-Bardhaman chord line was added in December 2003.
Earlier, nine rake EMU coaches were used in local trains but twelve coach EMU trains have been introduced in the chord line in 2011, for which the platforms have been extended.
The 119 kilometers long Bankura Damodar Railway connect Howrah-Bardhaman Chord near Masagram.The 231 kilometres distance for Bankura-Howrah Travelling via Kharagpur has been reduced to about 185 kilometres. Presently trains are running between Bankura and Masagram through Rainagar(119 KM). Masagram in 23 kilometers from Burdwan and 72 kilometers from Howrah Station on the Howrah Burdwan chord line.
Howrah-Bardhaman Chord was electrified in 1964-66.
Dankuni is a fast-growing industrial township near Kolkata. The town is part of the Hooghly District, in the state of West Bengal. It is a part of the area covered by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority. One unit of Chittaranjan Locomotive Works inaugurated in Dankuni. The unit will work as an ancillary unit of Chittaranjan Locomotive Works. Initially state of art 3-phase high Horse Power locomotive with regenerative breaking of 6000 Horse Power (WAG-9) electric Locomotive will be turned out. Subsequently, the infrastructural facilities shall be utilized for the production of 9000 Horse Power Locomotives in future.