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4 - Competition and Adaptation: The Operation of Railways in Northern India: Uttar Pradesh 1860–1914

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2011

Roopa Srinivasan
Affiliation:
Indian Railways Accounts Service
Manish Tiwari
Affiliation:
Indian Railways Accounts Service
Sandeep Silas
Affiliation:
Indian Railways Accounts Service
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Summary

At the August 1864 opening ceremony for the East Indian Railway (EIR) through-line from Calcutta, a massive crowd gathered spontaneously in Delhi to witness the new technology. The local authorities allowed the river Jamuna to be crossed toll free and declared a public holiday. The Government's Consulting Engineer, Richard de Bourbel, viewed from the railway station, ‘…a continuous stream of locals emerging from the fort of Selimghur on the other side of the Jamuna, passing over the bridge of boats and extending past the railway station … for two miles down the line’.

Despite this initial interest, railways faced a difficult first two decades of operation in the United Provinces (UP, now known as Uttar Pradesh) in northern India. The flat, densely populated valley, or Doab (area between two rivers), of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers served by the EIR was described by the railway promoter and pamphleteer, WP Andrew as, ‘the best portion of country, perhaps in the globe’ for a railway. Later, the EIR was to become the most profitable railway in India, paying dividends of 10 per cent and contributing hugely to Government revenues. However, before the mid-1870's it failed frequently to repay the 5 per cent return on capital that was guaranteed to shareholders by the Government of India or to create new bulk traffic, except for carriage of coal for use on the railway itself. The Oudh and Rohilkhand (O&R), the second railway built in the UP, was even less successful and was a constant drain on Government finances.

Wholesale diversion of long and medium distance traffic from river and alternative land channels and creation of new bulk commerce did not occur until the 1880s.

Type
Chapter
Information
Our Indian Railway
Themes in India's Railway History
, pp. 50 - 76
Publisher: Foundation Books
Print publication year: 2006

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