161 years on, history repeated itself in November again this Saturday. As the first railway stretch of the 11.4-km long Mumbai Metro train conducted its first end-to-end trial from Versova-Andheri to Ghatkopar, it gave a sense of déjà vu.
Few know that it was in November 1852 that the trial of the first train of Indian Railways had happened. The trial run between Bombay and Thane carried prominent people of the day and railway engineers. Crowds had gathered to watch the steam contraption in action throughout the line as it was a novel technology and a novel mode of communication back then.
Railway trains are not a novelty anymore in the 21st century, but when the four-coach Mumbai Metro train arrived at Ghatkopar at 6:35pm on Saturday for the first time ever on the much-awaited trial run, whistling all the way, it did gather crowds.
As the train crossed the busy Lal Bahadur Shastri Road near Sarvodaya Hospital blaring whistles, it stopped traffic for a while as crowds clamoured to look up and take photos on mobile phones. The train stopped at the yet-to be-ready Ghatkopar station for a while and returned in just fifteen minutes slowly trundling along the same rail track back to Andheri.
It was almost sundown but the bright window lights and sound attracted many. Local politicians and a few jubilant residents burst fire crackers to welcome the first train and also distributed sweets. The trials would now continue regularly and the section would soon open up in a year or two, but this day of November will remain etched in the history Mumbai Metro forever. More info