Eastern Railway, Howrah Division a synthesis of history, culture and modern technology plays an important role as a spoke in the moving wheel of the Indian Railways.
Railways arrived in India within 30 years of their inauguration in England. Rowland McDonald Stephenson, the first Agent and Managing Director of the East Indian Railway Company submitted the first traffic and Engineering feasibility Report for a line from Calcutta to Mirzapore, to the East India Company. In May 1845, Stephenson established the East Indian Railway Company. On 17th August, 1849 the Court of Directors of East India Company signed an agreement with East Indian Railway Company for construction of a short experimental line from Calcutta to Burdwan, originally proposed by the Company in 1845.
The East Indian Railway Company’s Managing Director Macdonald Stephenson, George Turnbull, the company’s Chief Engineer, and the engineer Slater made on 7 May 1850 an initial survey from Howrah to Burdwan on the route to the Raniganj coalfields.
Accordingly, the first train of East Indian Railway started its historic ‘zero mile’ journey in 15th August 1854 from the very place where the Howrah Station stands now.
When East Indian Railway laid its first railway line, it also laid the first milestone. This milestone is referred to as the Original Zero Mile.
The Zero Mile bears reference to the gradual land acquisition undertaken by the East Indian Railway. This is evident from the Land acquisition Plans surveyed and drawn at that time. The EIR No. 1 map shows that location of the actual Zero Mile. It was the first milestone engraved on a bronze plate and embedded on the wall of the office of the Divisional Superintendent (now Divisional Railway Manager).
Said to have been found near the Howrah Control, it is the first milestone that was set up when EIR laid the first line for the 1854 journey. Subsequent growth and progress of the Railway line gave birth to the land plans of EIR No. 2, EIR No. 3 and so on.
With the gradual evolution from the temporary structure of Howrah station at Zero Mile, the station building is now visible as a mammoth architecture with blending of modernity and ethnicity having a footfall of lakhs of people on daily basis.