A Short History of Indian Railways


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From the Publisher



A Conversation with Rajendra Aklekar

Why are you calling the book A Short History of Indian Railways?

It’s a short history of Indian Railways because it is a collation of anecdotes from the 1830s to the Bullet Train and Train 18. History woven through anecdotes on how the railways came to be and flourished and the responses it generated in the society. An uncommon experiment of telling history only through anecdotes with a thin narrative!



You seem to have a special connection with rails and railways. Could you take us through your journey of railways?

Trains and railways have been a strong fascination since childhood. Every time, I feel low, I go to the nearest railway line to watch trains to get cheered up. It powers me for the rest of the day. My journey started since my school days and later as I learnt that the trains and the railways that I travel in everyday is a part of India’s first railway, it fascinated me further and I took up their research and that journey has not ended yet. Across India, every station is a mine of history and information. There are stories waiting to be told at every junction.

You are regarded as country’s foremost chronicler of stories of Indian Railways. How does it feel to have such a tag?

Just following the passion is all I end up do. But such tags add to a sense of responsibility and pressure to remain authentic and factual.



In this age of bullet trains and speed you are taking the readers back to coal and diesel engine? Do you think the current generation will be able to connect?

It is always important to know the humble beginnings and how far we have jumped from those days of steam and diesel. They show us how deep are the foundations of the railways that is now leaping ahead to take the jump of High Speed Rail. The connect needs to be made to reveal the glorious, sepia-toned era of steam and heritage in a presentable form.

India has a number of UNESCO World Heritage railway listings in their final and tentative list,a matter to be proud of.



What is your favourite anecdote from the book and why?

My favorite anecdotes remain the two across two centuries and the striking similarities that they still resemble. When the first engine arrived in Bombay, it was pulled by about 200 men on the road from the steam ship to the railway line, generating stories of how the Rakshasa had arrived which could lead to destruction of life and similar rumours going around the bullet train villages of how the whizzing past super speed bullet trains will lead to radiation and spoil agriculture and crops, leading to barren land. The stories continue as the technology and centuries change.

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Rupa Publications India (24 May 2019)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9353332877
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-9353332877
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 160 g
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.85 x 1.45 x 19.84 cm