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British Industrial History

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Howrah Railway Station

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1914. W. G. Bagnall Locomotive. Exhibit outside Howrah Railway Station.

Howrah railway station is the oldest station and largest railway complex in India. It is one of the four intercity railway stations serving the city of Calcutta (Kolkata], the others being Sealdah Station, Shalimar Station and Kolkata railway station. The terminal station is located on the west bank of the Hooghly River, linked to Kolkata by Howrah Bridge. With 23 platforms, it has the highest train-handling capacity of any railway station in India; and is one of the busiest railway stations in terms of passenger volume per day.

1851 June 17th. Initial plans for the first Howrah station were submitted by George Turnbull the Chief Engineer of the East Indian Railway Company.

In January 1852, it became clear that the government authorities would not sanction the purchase of sufficient land nor the necessary water-frontage despite remonstrations from Turnbull that the terminus would grow enormously.

In May 1852, the detailed station plans were the major work of him and his team of engineers. In October four tenders for building the station were received varying from 190,000 to 274,526 INR against an estimate of 250,000 INR.

1901 Due to a great increase of traffic, a new station building was proposed and the new station was designed by the British architect Halsey Ricardo. It was brought into service on 1 December 1905. This building is the current Howrah station building. The station had 15 platform tracks.

It was expanded in the 1980s with the addition of 8 platform tracks in an area to the south of the station which previously had a parcels terminal, bringing the track count up to 23. At the same time a new Yatri Niwas (transit passenger facility) was built south of the original head house.

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