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Due to saturation in Howrah and Sealdah regarding Suburban services by steam traction, the only way out was to switchover to electric traction. Unlike Bombay and Madras, where 1500 volt DC traction was used, Eastern Railway chose the more modern 3000 volts DC traction.

Even as work was being planned, French Railways had proved the advantages of 25KV AC traction and commenced using it from 1955 on the Valenciennes-Thionville line. British and Japanese railways adopted the new, more economical system in 1956.

IR quickly revised its plans and switched to 25KV AC traction for its remaining works on Eastern and South Eastern railways. Moreover, in sections on which electrification work was in progress, installations were redesigned to be suitable for 25KV AC.

It was also decided to convert the entire section to 25KV AC in phases. As the electrification of some suburban sections had already been completed, or was in hand, in 3KV DC, several measures had to be taken to avoid costly change of traction en route.

Calcuttans had to wait for another 27 years before they could enjoy a ride on an electric train. A combination of factors, like the great depression of 1930s, and two world wars forced postponement of plans for electric traction drawn up from time to time.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru inaugurated the first electric train from Howrah to Sheoraphuli on 12th December 1957.

Nehru arrives at Seoraphuli after inauguration

Nehru energising
 Electrification

Dr. B C Roy Chief Minister of West Bengal in the driver's cab of the first EMU from Howrah

Howrah station was decked up like a bride for the occasion. To Nehru it looked ‘better than the best marriage pandal I have ever seen.’

There was a mad rush of passengers wanting to ride the train. The crowd spilled over on to the foot-boards and around the locomotive ‘appearing worse than a thick swarm of flies’, slowing down the train.

13 year old Rajiv Gandhi accompanied Nehru on the trip. He got separated from grandfather when the PM was mobbed by the crowd. 3 persons were killed and 25 injured in the melee at Liluah and beyond.

The first section to be electrified on 25KV AC was from Asansol to Mughalsarai via GC in 1964, but through running between Calcutta and Mughalsarai became possible only when the work from Durgapur to Sealdah via HB Chord and CC Link was completed in 1966.

Eastern Railway was the first railway in India to develop dual traction EMU stock, suitable for both 3KV DC and 25KV AC traction, for use in the Howrah-Burdwan suburban services.

Pathankot Express from Sealdah was the first express train to run on electric traction throughout its run in Eastern Railway (from 1st January 1966).

Kalka mail which had also been electrified was hauled up to Asansol by diesel locomotives until the section between Howrah and Bandel was converted to AC.

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