The rich legacy of Visakhapatnam Railway Station

Visakhapatnam Railway Station

Which iconic institution came first in Vizag, the Port or the Railway Station?’ Intrigued, especially since the Visakhapatnam Station was officially celebrating its 125th anniversary, we reached out to Edward Paul, an expert who is passionate about Vizag’s history.

According to V Edward Paul, historical pieces of evidence show that during 12th century AD, ‘Vizagapatam’ was a mercantile town with a flourishing port. Trade ships from the Middle East and Rome dropped anchor here; long before the British had set foot on Indian soil. But the Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) is credited with building the Vizagapatnam Port between 1927 and 1933, specifically in the land locked Inner Harbour. The existence and subsequent dependence of the East India Company on the Port and the city’s strategic location along the coast between ‘Madras’ and ‘Calcutta’ resulted in the establishment of the Railways and Waltair station in Vizagapatnam. In 1893, the first goods train chugged out from the Vizagapatnam station, and a year later, in 1894, the first passenger train departed.

Origins

The East India Company, which brought railways to India, first started their rail projects at three major ports – formerly known as Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in the 1850s. Consequently, the British Indian Government planned to connect these three major ports with the rest of the country for easier, quicker and cheaper movement of goods for export and import.

Vizagapatnam was identified as a major junction midway between Calcutta and Madras. A railway line had to be laid in between Tadepalli on the south bank of the Krishna River and Barang near Cuttack. Major bridges spanning the Krishna and Godavari rivers had to be planned and constructed as part of the railway line. A company was formed in 1888, in the name of ‘East Coast State Railway’, which was a government enterprise dedicated for undertaking construction work in this stretch. The company had to connect two existing ‘lines’ – the Cuttack-Khurda Road-Puri line and the junction of the Southern Maratha Railway and Nizam’s Guaranteed State Railway in Vijayawada.

Zones and Divisions

In 1896, Vizagapatnam Railways and Port came under the newly constituted Bengal Nagpur Railway (BNR). Waltair soon became a strategic terminal junction point in handling the cargo in and out of Vizag Port on rail routes to the hinterland. ‘Waltair Railway Division’ continued to be under the management control of BNR till April 1952, after which it became a part of the Eastern Railway. In 1955, the Indian Railways reorganised the zones for administrative convenience. The Waltair Division was added to the South Eastern Railway. The present East Coast Railway zone of the Indian Railways came into existence on 1 April 2003. The geographical jurisdiction of the railway extends over three states encompassing almost all parts of Odisha along with parts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts of North Eastern Andhra Pradesh. It includes the Bastar and Dantewada districts of Chhattisgarh State as well.

Memories of a bygone era

The Waltair Railway Division celebrated the 125th anniversary of the passage of its first train. Back in the day, the Vizagapatnam Town Railway Station was located near Lakshmi Talkies (Old Post Office) in the Old Town area. Trains generally terminated at Waltair (present Visakhapatnam Station) and a shuttle with one or two coaches would ferry passengers further on to the Town Station. The shuttle was colloquially referred to as the ‘Duplicate’. Only goods-trains for the Port and the Raipur Passenger originated and terminated at the old station. The ‘Duplicate’ train was popular not only amongst the out-of-town passengers, but also with locals.

It was a convenient mode of transport for residents near the Waltair Station. In 1973, the Town Railway Station in the Old Town area was abandoned in preference to the more centrally located Waltair Station. It was also renamed as the Visakhapatnam Railway Terminal Station. Even today one can spot the railway lines that snake up to the abandoned Vizagapatnam Town Station. The area was leased to the Container Corporation of India (Concor) till recently. Many of the city’s older generation are keen to see this abandoned station spruced up and given pieces of evidence heritage status.

The money-making division

Waltair Division is headquartered in Visakhapatnam city and is one among the five highest-earning railway divisions in the country. The jurisdiction of the division, which is presently under the East Coast Railway (ECoR) Zone, extends over three States – Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The Duvvada-Visakhapatnam-Palasa main line, Koraput- Rayagada, Rayagada-Vizianagaram, Kothavalasa- Kirandole and Noupada- Gunupur railway lines fall under the Waltair Division. A busy division, it has earned many accolades over the years, and we hope that it will cross many more milestones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading…

0

Comments

comments