The trains were extended to Pundooah from 1st September 1854. that is just a fortnight after the first commercial run. The construction up to Raniganj was completed in the early part of 1855. The line was opened on Saturday, the 3rd February, 1855 as originally planned.
Inauguration at Burdwan
Burdwan was chosen as the
center of festivities to celebrate the opening of Railways in Eastern India.
Lord Dalhousie, the then Governor General could
not undertake the journey for the official opening “on account of indisposition”
but attended the service in
this connection at Howrah station in which the Bishop of Calcutta offered a
prayer and gave a benediction. The party invited for the occasion consisted of
nearly a thousand guests who after the inaugural ceremony by the Governor
General left in two trains for Burdwan.
In the absence of Lord Dalhousie, R. M. Stephenson, the Agent of EIR and the pioneer of the architecture of Railway network in India, presided over the function, although the Lt. Governor of Bengal, J P Grant was also present. His speech on the occasion was characterized by modesty in respect of his own achievements and appreciation of the good work done by the staff of the East Indian Railway.
The Impact ………
Barrackpur Railway Station
Mangal Pandey fired the first
shot, in what the British termed “the great mutiny” on 29thMarch,
1857 in Barrackpore Cantonment. 23 Kms from Calcutta. In the conflagration that
followed, the construction of EIR’s lines was delayed by 2 to 3 years and new
projects had to be held back
In fact the mutineers and their civilian supporters targeted the railways, which they realised was a powerful tool in the hands of the rulers, and caused extensive damage, cutting telegraph wires, smashing bridges and attempting to derail trains. The railway announced an award for apprehending the culprits but without success.
Babu Kunwar Singh
Mutineers under Babu Kunwarsingh
of Jagdishpur, Bihar, raided the bridge works over the Sone at Arrah and damaged
it completely. The bridge at Karamnasa was also damaged. The work force ran
away, and storehouses and workshops were plundered and burnt.
Much has been written about the ‘defense of Arrah’, in which six British officials and three railway engineers, one of whom was Vicars Boyle, lodged themselves in a two storied annexe to Boyle’s railway bungalow to successfully block the advance of an invading party of mutineers for seven days.
EIR lost several officers and men in the mutiny. A memorial tablet in Kanpur Church lists 16 officers and 3 subordinates. J. Hodgson, EIR’s first Locomotive Superintendent, who had rigged up coaches for the first run locally died in Allahabad on 21st June.
When the British reinforcements arrived in Calcutta to quell the rebellion, the troops made use of the short stretch of the rail line to Raniganj. With his troops on board, the CO ordered the train to start but the stationmaster would not allow it, as he was a stickler for punctuality. The CO arrested the SM in his own waiting room, gave the stokers and guard to understand that he had constituted himself traffic manager for the time being and ordered the driver to run the train at his behest.
EIR estimated the loss due to the mutiny as 42,000 sterling, but the total loss due to delays, and escalation of costs was about 3 million sterling.