The first railway on Indian sub-continent ran over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane.
The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane, Kalyan and with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclines first occurred to Mr. George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government, during a visit to Bhandup in 1843.
The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on 16th April 1853, when 14 railway carriages carrying about 400 guests left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm "amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns."
The Railways in India are the principal mode of transportation for freight and passengers. The railways have played an important role in the development of industries and agriculture. Indian railways consist of a vast network of 7, 031 stations spread over a route length of 63, 221 km with a fleet of 7,817 locomotives, 5,321 passenger service vehicles, 4, 904 other coaching vehicles and 228, 170 wagons as on 31st March 2004.
Indian Railway has the distinction of being one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world carrying more than sixteen million passengers on a daily basis. In terms of headcount again Indian Railway scores as it employs more than 1.6 million employees that is only second to the Chinese Army in terms of people employed.
The Indian Railways network binds the social, cultural and economical fabric of the country and covers the whole of country ranging from north to south and east to west removing the distance barrier for its people. The railway network of India has brought together the whole of country hence creating a feeling of unity among the Indians.