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A prologue

Bhusawal is a railway junction. Its railway yard is second biggest yard in Asia. There are total 243 tracks in the yard. Daily minimum 150 trains pass through Bhusawal. The goods for export too are loaded here. Besides, there are two 'Ordnance Factories': one is at Bhusawal and other is at Varangaon. An electricity producing plant too is at Deepnagar. To know how Bhusawal gained its importance let us look at the history of Central Railway.

The Genesis

Lord Dalhousie in the year 1843 had conceived the possibility of opening up an Indian Railway network. He was a far-sighted British governor-general who promoted rapid construction of trunk lines; that reached inland from the ports to meet in the interior. India's first coast-to-coast line, from Bombay to Calcutta, was finished in 1870. With the stimulus of India's thriving agriculture and industry, the country had by 1913 assembled 56,300 km (35,000 mi.) of railway; far more per square kilometer of territory than in Australia or Africa. Therefore, we owe much to Lord Dalhousie. Because of Lord Dalhousie's efforts, an best-organized Asian railway network had emerged in 1850. Although Lord Dalhousie had been the precursor; but 'The Great Indian Peninsula Railway' had been the forerunner of Indian Railway's network.

Great Indian Peninsula Railway came into being during the period of important economic and sociopolitical changes. The story of advent and evolution of Railways on Indian soil too has its roots in the history of the emergence of modern Indian nation. The reformist movements had greatly influenced the railway working at that time. Soon after the first journey was undertaken on 1853, April 16th the progress thereafter was marred at first instance by the Santhol rebellion in 1855 and; then by the mutiny in 1857. By 1859, the mutiny in Central India was subdued. Due to upheaval, work of construction was suspended and there was much loss to Railway property. East India Company was abolished and British Crown took over government of India. The narrow strip of land, which divided Mediterranean and Red Sea, was made into Suez Canal during the years 1870-74. Construction of Suez Canal was a welcome event for national and international trade community. The progress between 1870-1874 was a very significant one from the point of view of agriculture, industries, trade, and commerce. Suez Canal had also increased the importance of Great Indian Peninsula Railway.

By the year 1858, the railway lines had been extended beyond Kalyan towards Vasind and Campoolie. Bhusawal Junction falls on the Northeast route. It was connected by rail line to Mumbai on 20-05-1863. Six-year period between 1870 to 1875 was a period of intense construction activity. The Railway line between Bhusawal and Bhadli was doubled on 06-06-1873. Branch lines between Jalamb and Khamgaon was opened on 04-03-1870 and between Badnera and Amravati on 16-02-1871. In early days, the first class fare between Mumbai and Kalyan used to be 4 rupees and 4 annas. 2nd class fare was 1 rupee, 12 annas and 6 paise. 3rd class fare was only 8 annas and 6 paise. Cost of first engine 'Falkland' purchased to haul the train between Mumbai and Thana was Rs. 11,000.00. The fuel used in locomotive was dry wood.

By the end of 1874, the number of locomotives with Great Indian Peninsula Railway had increased from just two locomotives to 345. It had 1309 passenger coaches and 7924 Goods wagons. The railway line from BSL to Jabalpur was opened on 12/03/1870. Duke of Edinburgh had taken part in the opening ceremony. Railway line simultaneously built from Calcutta to Jabalpur was connected at Jabalpur on this day. Thus, a 1300 miles distance from port to port was opened for public.

The administrative Head Quarters of Bhusawal division is at Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus. Earlier known as Victoria Terminus this Head quarter of Central Railway was built by Great Indian Peninsula Railway in the year 1888. The building was built in late Italian Medieval Gothic style, and was named Victoria Terminus in celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee on June 20, 1887. In the year 1860 total 38 lakh, people traveled by Trains. This figure was increased to 522 lakh by 1881.

The saga of steam locomotives
The railways came to the estates of the Gaekwar of Baroda long before the Steam locomotives did. Before the advent of steam engines, the Gaekwar had his trains hauled by pairs of bullocks. Some historians lovingly referred to these contraptions as 'bullockomotives'.

Some think that steam locomotives were dull and drab black machines with black tenders, with plain, white lettering to boot. Initially, maybe most steam engines were black. Steam locomotives later were made to appear quite colorful. Each region or railway zone had a unique livery applied to the tenders of its steam locomotives. Some had a cream or yellow band running all along on the sides of the running plate (walkways). Apart from zonal liveries, which were standard all over that particular railway zone, often one could also spot odd liveries applied to individual locomotives, purely on the whims of the shed staff, the standard color code for that zone notwithstanding. Smoke boxes were another thing altogether. Even engines bearing the standard region color code on the tender had different colors painted on the center of the smoke box door: red, silver, blue, white, the most common being silver or red. Not to mention the star which almost all engines carried on the smoke box door. Bhusawal division locomotive's boiler lagging were painted black, but the securing strips were scrubbed clean to shine. The smoke box barrels were smeared with graphite. The Tenders below midsection were painted green while the top portions used to be painted black. The green was separated from black with a yellow lining. The same yellow lining ran across the Engine running pathway. The motion parts were jealously scrubbed to shine. A sparkling Bhusawal Shed's WP/WG in green/black livery was a terrific treat for weary eyes.

Bhusawal Steam Loco Shed was one of the biggest Sheds in Asia. It homed nearly 250 Steam locomotives. It had 8 service lines and 8 lines for coaling the locomotives. Coal was loaded by laddermen and with the help of steam cranes. Triangular lines were laid to change the facing of locomotive. Nearly 2000 employees worked round the clock in loco shed. Within the premises, there was a well-equipped machine shop complete with overhead crane, two numbers of wheel tyre turning and various types of machines. Heavy repairs, such as wheel removal, lifting tenders, etc., also could be carried out. There was a Hot water washout plant to wash Locomotive boilers every ten days. This was done to prevent scale formation on internal surfaces. The Boilers were again thoroughly washed with cold water once every month. During cold washing of boiler, it was subjected to an intensive examination. The motion parts were thoroughly examined to detect cracks, wear and tear.
Besides, there were Broad Gauge steam sheds at Itarsi, Harda, Badnera, Chalisgaon, Nandgaon, Manmad, Puntamba, and Igaptpuri. Meter gauge sheds were located at Akola and Khandwa. There were two Narrow gauge sheds: one at Murtazapur for catering to the needs of Achalpur-Murtazapur-Yeotmal section and other at Pachora for Pachora and Jamner section. The Murtazapur-Yawatmal Railway operated by Killicks Nixon Co. is still running, as is the Murtazapur-Achalpur line. The contracts for this British firm were renewed in the 1990s.

The annexation

After formation of south central zone Manmad-Dhond section was annexed to South Central Railway. Khandwa-Akola section too was annexed to S.C. Rly. Similarly after formation of Bhopal division Itarsi-Khandwa section was annexed to Bhopal division. The change had enabled Bhusawal division to cope up with ever increasing traffic demand.

Staff Amenities

Staff quarters were constructed at Dhond, Lonavala, Manmad and Igatpuri in the year 1885-1890. During the period of intensive construction of Railways the workers often died of Cholera. Those entrusted with management of Railways had also recognized that fitness is a state of body that helps develop a more positive and dynamic attitude to life; and is likely to affect most phases of human existence. Railways had built dispensaries. In very early days the doctors used to visit patients on Horsebacks. Today there is a Railway Hospital equipped with modern facilities. There are dispensaries at out stations too. Bhusawal division has a modern Electric loco sheds, a Diesel Trip Shed, carriage and wagon repair depots, Training centers, and schools.
Home Board London took a special degree of interest in general welfare of settlement here in India, especially at Bhusawal. Grass and foliage was cleared. Trees were planted. Gardens were laid. Means of amusement and recreation were provided.

Diesel Locomotive the herald to new era

Until 1990, chugging trains trudging along the track; hauled by laboring steam engines used to be a familiar site. Diesels had already arrived as early as in 1964 to replace steam locomotives because they are more efficient; they cost less money to run. Diesel Electric locomotives develop their rated HP at any speed; but steam develops it at only one speed. A steam locomotive is a constant force machine! That is a very significant fact. It is fundamentally different from the Diesel Electric locomotive, which is a constant HP machine. A continuous output of 5,000-6,000 hp can be obtained from a single diesel-electric locomotive. The diesel locomotive mostly takes the form of a mobile power station, in which the diesel engine drives a generator providing current for electric traction motors. With Diesels, it became possible to eliminate steam on lines with insufficient traffic to repay the high first cost of electrification.

An increased emphasis on efficiency

To run railways efficiently what one needs is a cost-effective use of resources. India ranks among the world leaders in the coal and produces sufficient amount of it. While reserves of oil and gas are expected to last for around 50 years; but coal reserves would last for 200 years. Cost effective use of resources was neither possible with Steam or with Diesel Locomotives. The Powering trains by electricity had become feasible in 1950s after French perfected the electrification system by making direct use of 25 kV alternating current at the industrial frequency. It brought about a marked improvement in electric locomotive's performance. Not only capital cost of electrification could be reduced; but also it became economically feasible for lines with low traffic levels. One advantage of electricity is that it is instantly controllable at the point of use?it takes only a flick of a switch to turn an electrical device on or off. This one factor alone avoids considerable wastage of energy.

Could railway become efficient if it continues to take in less revenue than it spends on its operating cost? While talking about Railway, making a profit the public should not ignore the value of the infrastructure, interest payment, repayment of loans, and of course future renewals. The infrastructure is very expensive, the amounts of money ordinary people are able to pay in fares, and even taxes are not enough to repay the cost of maintenance. Another option would be to operate the system by using fewer persons per kilometer. In public management system, it is simply not possible.

Source : Central Railway / Indian Railways Portal CMS Team Last Reviewed : 01-10-2019  

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