Pune: In 70 long years of Independent India, the Railways in Pune too have traced quite a long journey. From just two mails passing from the city, today the station hosts 150 trains in a day.
From the cardboard tickets of the 1950s, the railways have come to the day when passengers can book their tickets through the Internet. While the passage of time has thrown new challenges of security and constant threat, facilities of the Pune railway station seem to never satisfy Puneites who keep wanting more.
In January 1996, then railway minister Nitish Kumar announced that Pune will become Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) office, in addition to the formation of two new railway zones. While it took seven years before the division finally became operational, railway passengers have seen a combination of change and inertia.
While the number of trains and average daily footfall has seen an exponential rise, the infrastructural development has been relatively slower. Use of technology has revolutionised some aspects, while the rise of terror threat has posed new challenges.
The Pune Railway Station, pre-independence, has only a few trains from Mumbai. Passengers used this station to go to South India.
The Mumbai-Pune railway line was completed in 1856 and Pune railway station was opened. This was the time when the first train departed from Pune railway station. The Pune-Miraj line was completed by 1886.
Initially, Pune-Miraj line was metre-gauge track. The first express train ran in 1928 between Mumbai and Pune. After Independence, till 1975 the steam engine train was running from Pune-Daund-Ahmednagar-Manmad and another one from Pune-Miraj-Kolhapur. When the diesel engine was introduced the railway started operation from Pune to Daund route and Pune to Miraj route. The electrification of Pune and Daund route happened this year.
New trains, new lines
The Pune-Mumbai Shatabdi Express was started in 1996, and it had a good run till 2004 before it was converted to an ‘intercity express’. Over the years, Pune got several new trains, including those going to Howrah, Varanasi, Darbhanga, Indore, Patna, Gorakhpur, Amravati and Hyderabad among other cities. The number of Pune-Lonavla locals has increased considerably. By 1997, there were about 30 local services, and today there are 44.
Timeline of Cardboard to Computerised Tickets
1986: The Ministry of Railways established CRIS, an umbrella organisation for all information technology-related activities on Indian Railways merging COFOIS.
1990: SPTM was introduced at New Delhi. In 1990, CONCERT developed by CRIS is total networking solution to Indian Railways Passenger Reservation Sys.
1998: Coupon Validating Machines (CVMs) were introduced at Mumbai CST.
1999: Credit cards accepted for booking tickets and reservations in some stations (including CST).
2000: Indian Railways website was developed.
2001: IVRS (‘Interactive Voice Response System’) for telephonic enquiries about trains introduced in some stations.
2002: Internet ticket booking extended to more cities.
2005: IRCTC introduces e-ticketing. Ticketing by SMS begins.