CHENNAI: The Royapuram railway station celebrated its 166th anniversary on Tuesday.
Trains started chugging out the heritage red brick building on June 28, 1856. The first run was conducted in the Chennai Beach - Arakkonam section.
At present, 40 pairs of local trains and seven pairs of express trains pass through the historic station every day. With a footfall of only 10,500 per month, the oldest remaining railway station in the Indian subcontinent registers a meagre monthly earnings of Rs 1 lakh on an average.
The chosen one
The reconstitution of Madras Railway Company in 1849 revived plans for a new railway line in South India. Royapuram was chosen as location for the new station as it was on the edge of a settlement of British traders near Fort St George.
Work on the southern line began in 1853 and it was extended from Royapuram to Arcot, then titular capital of the Nawab of the Carnatic (the present day Walajapet, near Ranipet). Royapuram railway station was opened as the main terminus on June 28, 1856, by the then Governor Lord Harris and the first railway line in South India was opened for traffic on July 1, 1856.
Royapuram railway station, which is the oldest railway station on #IndianRailways, turns 166 years today. It was opened as the main terminus on 28 June 1856 by the then Governor, Lord Harris and the first railway line in South India was opened for traffic on 1st July, 1856. pic.twitter.com/0FGwUDuGDx— DRM Chennai (@DrmChennai) June 28, 2022
Royapuram imprinted its mark in the annals of railways’ rich history by hosting the first passenger service in South India. On the inaugural day on July 1, 1856, the first passenger train ran from Royapuram to Wallajah Road, for a distance of 60 miles (97 Km).
The first train, manufactured by Simpson and Company, started its journey with Governor Lord Harris and 300 Europeans. On the same day, another train was operated till Tiruvallur. It carried Indian invitees till “Triveloor” (the present day Tiruvallur).
Royapuram railway station also remained the headquarters of the Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway till 1922, when the headquarters was shifted to Egmore. The heritage structure built in classical style of the Renaissance period was designed by William Adelpi Tracey.
In 2005, the isolated building was refurbished at an estimated cost of Rs 35 lakh and reopened to the public on October 2, 2005.