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October 7, 2021

The Evolution of Indian Railways: 7 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know


Indian Railways, often referred to as the "lifeline of the nation," has a rich history that spans over 150 years. From its humble beginnings to becoming one of the world's largest railway networks, Indian Railways has undergone a remarkable evolution. In this quirky article, we will unearth seven surprising facts about the journey of Indian Railways that are sure to leave you amazed and entertained.

1. The First Passenger Train and the "Thief" Locomotive

Did you know that the first passenger train in India ran on 16th April 1853 from Mumbai to Thane? But here's the quirky part – the locomotive that pulled the train was affectionately called the "Thief"! Legend has it that the locomotive was acquired by the British from a "thief," hence the amusing nickname.

2. The Matheran Hill Railway: A Toy Train Adventure

Hidden amidst the scenic hills of Maharashtra, the Matheran Hill Railway holds a delightful surprise. It is a narrow-gauge heritage railway that uses small "toy-like" trains to transport passengers up the steep slopes. So, hop aboard and experience the whimsical charm of this miniature railway.

3. The Longest Railway Platform in the World

Imagine a railway platform that stretches as far as the eye can see! Kharagpur Junction in West Bengal boasts the longest railway platform globally, spanning a staggering 2.2 kilometers. With its incredible length, it can accommodate multiple trains simultaneously, making it a true marvel of engineering.

4. The "Toilet in the Air" Innovation

In a quirky attempt to prevent waste disposal on the tracks, Indian Railways introduced a unique invention known as the "Toilet in the Air." These bio-toilets use bacteria to convert human waste into water and gases, ensuring a cleaner and more hygienic railway system. Next time you use the train restroom, appreciate this unconventional innovation!

5. The Spectacular Konkan Railway Route

Prepare to be mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty of the Konkan Railway route. Spanning over 738 kilometers along the western coastline of India, this picturesque railway line showcases stunning landscapes, including lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking sea views. It's a train journey you won't forget!

6. The Mountain Railway of Darjeeling: A UNESCO World Heritage Experience

Did you know that the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the "Toy Train," is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This narrow-gauge railway, with its vintage steam engines and charming hillside route, offers a nostalgic journey through the scenic tea gardens and mist-covered mountains of Darjeeling.

7. The Indian Railways Art Collection

Indian Railways is not just about transportation; it's also a hub for art enthusiasts! The Railways' art collection features a wide range of paintings, sculptures, and installations displayed in stations and railway buildings across the country. So, next time you're waiting for your train, take a moment to appreciate the artistic side of Indian Railways.


Indian Railways is more than just a mode of transportation; it's a vibrant tapestry of history, innovation, and quirky surprises. From the "Thief" locomotive to the "Toilet in the Air" invention, and the enchanting toy trains of Matheran and Darjeeling, these surprising facts add an extra layer of charm and fascination to the evolution of Indian Railways. So, hop aboard, embrace the quirkiness, and enjoy the journey through India's remarkable railway network. All aboard the quirky express!