Today in Transportation History – 1932: India’s “Metro Man” is Born

Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, who has played a key role in the development of public transportation in India, was born in the town of Pattambi in South India’s present-day state of Kerala. Sreedharan studied civil engineering at the Government Engineering College (now called Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University) in Kakinada, and eventually secured a position with the Indian Engineering Service (IES).

Sreedharan’s accomplishments during his time at IES included quickly repairing the Pamban Bridge, which links the town of Rameswaram on Pamban Island to mainland India, after a cyclone damaged portions of the structure in 1964; and helping to initiate plans for the design and construction of the Kolkata (also known as Calcutta) Metro rapid transit system, which became the first metro railway in India.

After retiring from IES in 1990, Sreedharan became chairman and managing director of the Konkan Railway in India’s western region. He oversaw much of the construction of the 461-mile railway, which was among the most formidable engineering projects ever undertaken in India due to the mountainous terrain and a large number of rivers along the route.

Sreedharan also made important contributions as managing director of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. In this capacity, he coordinated construction of the Delhi Metro rapid transit system serving Delhi and the nearby cities of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad in India’s National Capital Region. Delhi Metro, which began operations in 2002, is the world’s 12th largest metro network. Sreedharan’s leadership and success in carrying out the completion of the Delhi Metro earned him both nationwide acclaim and the sobriquet of “Metro Man.” He retired from service with this transit system in 2011.

Sreedharan has been the recipient of such honors as the Indian government’s Padma Vibhushan award. In addition, TIME magazine named him as one of Asia’s heroes in 2003.

Photo courtesy of TopYaps “7 Facts About Metro Man E Sreedharan, The Man We Want As Railways Minister“, 5/27/14

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