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Launch of the book
By Breejan Burran

Launch of the book
Le train renaît de ses cendres au pays du dodo – l’histoire du train à l’île Maurice
by Breejan Burran
25 September 2019

High Commissioner Tanmaya Lal

Hon. Minister of Public Infrastructure and Inland Transport and Foreign Affairs,

Mr. Nandcoomar Bodha,

Deputy Lord Mayor Mr. Daniel Augustin,

Shri Breejan Burrun,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to join you for this important event.

2019 is an exciting year for Mauritius as the Metro Express arrives on the Island. This will be a landmark in the story of public transportation in this country.

I am aware of the continuous close attention with which Hon. Minister Bodha is supervising the project. All of us are now waiting excitedly for the much anticipated launch of the Metro.

The efforts of Shri Breejan Burran to compile the history of a little over 150 years of railway transport in Mauritius in this book is, therefore, both commendable and timely.

The advent of railways coincided with the development of modern technology and use of steam energy by burning coal as the industrial revolution began, and in the 19th century transformed the transportation of cargo and people alike over large distances.

Railway networks rapidly connected distant farms and mines to markets and shores and helped integration of economies and urbanization. Alongside these positive benefits, railways were also deployed to serve colonial and military interests through history.

Here in Mauritius, Railways were introduced primarily in the context of sugarcane plantations. In India, the Railways initially connected the three major ports of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, with interior cotton fields for instance.

In Kenya, where I served some years back, the story of Railways is intimately linked to that of the nation. The Railways there were largely built to connect the East African port of Mombasa with the fertile interior highlands. Most of the work was done by the Indian diaspora brought there by the British.

Railways also brought people living in distant lands within a country closer. In India Gandhiji traveled in railways across India inspiring millions in the struggle for independence.

Coal powered steam engines soon gave way to electrification.

Since then technologically, railways have come a long way. Today we have much more efficient and environment friendlier forms of railways. The Metro Express arriving in Mauritius shortly is an example of such efficient modes of urban transport. In India Metros in various cities are transforming the urban mobility landscape.

India is proud to be a partner in the economic and sustainable development story of Mauritius, of which the return of the railways, a large infrastructure project, perhaps even the largest, is another fine chapter.

I am also personally pleased to be associated with these developments as two generations in my family have worked with the Indian Railways, which has a long and distinguished history and continues to serve millions of Indians daily. It is a lifeline of our country.

It is estimated that the Indian railways transport 8 billion passengers and 1 billion tonnes of cargo every year through its 11,000 trains. The Indian Railways employ 1.65 million people.

In the urban context, 10 Indian cities are now served by Metros. Work is on in five more cities to build Metros.


Railways have always captured popular imagination and provided fascinating settings and backdrop for legendary thrillers and movies. They remain very popular with Bollywood and provide dramatic backdrops both in urban and non-urban landscapes. I am sure once the Metro arrives in Mauritius, it would open up further such possibilities.


In conclusion, I am confident that this book by Shri Breejan Burrun will be an important and unique contribution in telling the story of railways in Mauritius, an ongoing project on this beautiful Island.

I look forward to reading this to gain a better perspective and context to this latest development of Metro’s arrival in Mauritius.

Thank you.

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