The city of Chennai is the birthplace of the railway system in India. In 1831-33, Madras Parliament first came up with the idea. In 1832, the first proposal of railway under the British administration was made in Madras, 21 years before the first operational railway line in India. Later in 1836 A. P. Cotton, a civil engineer in Madras, advocated the construction of a railroad in India.
Meanwhile, in 1835, a short railway line intended to carry granite stones was laid at Chintadripet on an experimental basis, which later became to known as Red Hill Railroad line. Construction on this line began in 1836 and the line was opened in 1837. Despite a few troubles, the line became operational in the same year, with a written report of its functioning since January 1838, thus marking the first rail transport in the country 16 years prior to the running of the first commercial passenger service in India, the Bori Bunder–Thane train with 14 carriages hauled by three locomotives on 16 April 1853. Although the Chintadripet line was primarily intended for wagons hauled by animals, steam locomotives were also operated on the line, one of which is believed to be built in India.