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South India’s oldest railway station Royapuram in Chennai celebrates 166th anniversary

Illustration that appeared on July 1, 1856 when the first train of Madras Railway Company was flagged off from Royapuram to Walajah Road (Pics. Courtesy Twitter/@DrmChennai)

Royapuram located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu enjoys the singular distinction of being the first railway station in South India. It was on July 1, 1856, according to a tweet posted by Divisional Railway Manager, Chennai that the city then known as Madras was first connected by rail with the first train of Madras Railway Company flagged off from Royapuram to Walajah Road.

This year, the station celebrates its 166th anniversary making it the second oldest railway station currently operational in India after Howrah in West Bengal.

This station now has 40 pairs of local trains and seven pairs of express trains passing through it every day.

The history

When the Madras Railway Company was reconstituted in 1849 plans for a new railway line in South India were revived. It was then Royapuram was chosen as the location for the new station. The reason was that it was on the edge of a settlement of British traders near Fort St George.

In 1853 work on the southern line was commenced and it was extended from Royapuram to Arcot which was then the capital of Nawab of the Carnatic. The station was formally inaugurated by the Governor Lord Harris on June 28, 1856 while the first line was opened for traffic on July 1.

Royapuram hosting the first passenger service in South India had the train running from Royapuram to Walajah Road – a distance of 97 kilometres. The train had 300 Europeans on board including Governor Lord Harris.

The station was refurbished in 2005.

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