Nearly 13 decades ago, in the year of 1888, when the young Mahatma Gandhi left for London, another side of a resurgent country was witnessing history being scripted with the birth of the Vijayawada a.k.a Bejawada Railway junction.
It was only in 1889 that Nizam’s Guaranteed State Railway scheme had ensured a connect between stations at Secunderabad and Vijayawada. With trains from three-directions of the country converging in Vijayawada, it was an ominous fact of it being labelled a junction in an independent India, a few decades later.
Adoloscent Station Enroute Adulthood
With the broad gauge line having been constructed between Vijayawada and Chennai in late 1899, journeys to Chennai, Mumbai, Howrah, New Delhi and Hyderabad were made a re-assuring reality. Vijayawada Railway station, also the headquarters of Vijayawada Division, was assigned to the Southern Railway in 1950.
A young Vijayawada station that was born only with a small shed in its initial days, the old railway station building took shape with the use of Mangalore tiles by 1928. This later gave way to an improvised station-building, which was open to public by 1979
It was in 1969 that the Golconda Express, with an average speed of 58 km/h that the then-fastest steam-hauled train in the country was introduced between Vijayawada and Secunderabad.
With the emergence of a new zone, South Central Railway, in 1966, headquartered at Secunderabad, the Vijayawada Division and Vijayawada Junction were brought together under one roof in 1966. The Route Relay Interlocking Cabin, an attempt to avoid conflicting signals on the same railway line, was introduced here in 1976.
Being Witness to Moments of Absolute ‘Legendariness’
Vijayawada Railway Station’s tryst with cinema was a significant reason to ensure a foundation stone to that of the most legendary filmography that the country would ever witness in the years to come, that of our very own Akkineni Nageswar Rao.
It was an accident that Ghantasala Balaramayya spotted a fourteen year old ANR in a third class compartment, who was then in quest of an actor to play the lead character in Sri Rama Jananam. He was to play the role of Lakshmana, had the director found an actor taller than the former, but it was that golden spell of luck that he ended up playing on-screen Lord Rama.
Mahatma Gandhi ji too made his presence felt at the Vijayawada Railway junction, not once but twice in 1921 and later in 1929.
The ‘Vijayala’ Wada It Is Now!
Vijayawada Railway Station with ten functioning platforms is the only one in the country to have five entrance gates with booking counters. The single-largest railway junction in the country, its presence is crucial to complete the Golden Quadrilateral, connecting South to the North and East of India.
Vijayawada Railway Station, among the 400 A-1 stations in the country, adding to its history of ‘firsts’, will be the first in the present-day Andhra Pradesh to provide 4G (fourth generation) services to its passengers, a facility currently only extended to the likes of Agra Cantonment, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Secunderabad and Varanasi.
One of the busiest stations in the country, there are about 320+ trains and goods carriers passing through Vijayawada on a daily basis with about a 1.5 lakh commuters. The gross earnings of the Vijayawada division during 2014-15 stood at Rs. 4,603.27 crore, of which Rs. 3,710.68 crore was freight revenue, seeing growth from an impressive Rs. 2,509 crore revenue in 2013-14.
Image Credits – Gowtham G K