On April 2 1931, Sir George Fredrick Stanely, then Governor of Madras, inaugurated the electric suburban railway service between Madras Beach and Tambaram. The Hindu carried an extensive report of the event, then.This major transport facility, the Governor remarked during the inauguration, would convert desolate land south of Madras into garden cities, as reported in The Hindu.
This railway line was ahead of its times. Till 1931, only a single line that was shared by passenger and goods trains served the Madras area. In order to meet the transportation needs of a growing city and provide impetus for the expansion of south Madras, electric lines were planned as early as 1923.
Explaining the reasons for this project, Sir Percy Rothera, the then agent of South Indian Railway Company, remarked that areas such as Saidapet, St. Thomas Mount and Tambaram, which were agricultural areas till 1920's, had developed into residential areas. The Railways felt that it was necessary to improve the service to the suburbs and help people move conveniently between their homes and place of work in the city. Railway lines between Beach and Chengalpattu were proposed in two phases. In the first phase, a new line between Beach and Egmore and two lines between Egmore and Tambaram were proposed. These lines were to be powered by electricity since it was found better for acceleration and considered clean. The existing line was kept for steam operation till it could be stopped. The power for running the trains was supplied from the power station at Basin Bridge. Train services were planned every 10 minutes during the morning and evening rush hour and the distance between the Beach and Tambaram was to be covered in less than one hour. The construction work began in 1926 and ended in 1931.
After inaugurating the railway line, the Governor and his party boarded the train and took a trip to Tambaram. ‘Light refreshments' were served to the party at Tambaram. On the way back, the train stopped at Guindy station and the Governor alighted to reach the government house nearby.
Keywords: suburban railway service