MUMBAI: Exactly 150 years ago, Mumbai-Kolkata rail connectivity via Jabalpur was started on March 8.
“It was in 1870, March 8; the rail connectivity from Mumbai to Kolkata via Jabalpur was started amid a huge gathering. The inauguration was attended by the who’s who of those days — The Duke of Edinburgh, the British Viceroy Lord Mayo, Governor of Bombay, and the Maharajahs,” said Central Railway chief spokesperson Shivaji Sutar.
“A special silver key was cast and kept ready to be hammered into the rail, signalling the line was finally ready. The viceroy struck the silver key with the silver-plated hammer connecting the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) with the East Indian Railway (EIR). The Duke gave it an extra royal tap. With this Bombay (now Mumbai) had finally been connected to Calcutta,” he stated.
In 1926, the Imperial Indian Mail, later well known for its dining car, commenced operations as the premier mail train between Bombay and Calcutta. Coming to present day the Tawa Bridge and the Bagra Tawa tunnel are still on the same eight-kilometre stretch of single track between Sontalai and Bagra Tawa stations. The Sontalai – Bagra Tawa section is now being doubled and the Imperial Indian Mail is now 12321 /12322 Howrah-Mumbai Mail via Allahabad Chheoki.
“The second line will follow a different alignment in patch doubling plan. The line will have no tunnel as it will skirt the hillside from the northern side,” Sutar added.