The Railway age in Eastern India started on August 15, 1854, exactly ninety-three years before Independence. A locomotive, carriage and wagon workshop was set up in Howrah to put to commission imported rolling stock of EIR and also to render economic repairs to them. The railways spread very fast, perhaps faster than the anticipation of EIR. Within a short span of eight years, it became necessary to shift the site of shop, as there was hardly any scope for expansion at Howrah.
The British chose Jamalpur as the new site of this workshop due to ready availability of skilled workers who were descendants of acclaimed gun makers and fabricators of weapons of steel for the Nawabs of Bengal and Orissa. Jamalpur is also geographically well located, on the western side of a hill range while the Ganges flow 7 KMs north of it.
The workshop has a number of FIRSTS to its credit, a few of which are: -
The FIRST to manufacture a steam locomotive and a locomotive boiler- 216 of which were manufactured between 1899 and 1923.
The FIRST to have set up a rolling mill not only on the railways, but probably in the country in 1870.
The FIRST to establish a railway foundry in the year 1863.
The FIRST to manufacture a rail crane in the country with indigenous know-how in 1961.
The FIRST to manufacture high capacity electrical lifting jacks and ticket printing, ticket chopping, ticket slitting and ticket counting machines.
The FIRST and the only railway workshop to manufacture electrical arc furnaces of ½ tonne in 1961 for production of steel castings.
This is the only workshop in the country manufacturing 140 T ART cranes for Railways to-day.
The gradual eclipse of steam traction on Indian Railways, steam locomotive activities, which had peaked at 600 Standard units per month in 1962-63, started declining in the late 60’s and finally the steam activities came to a complete end in August ’92. The closure of steam activities was to some extent overcome with the switching over to the repair of Diesel Locomotives, repair of unloadable wagons and manufacture of Diesel Hydraulic B.D. Cranes and Tower Cars.