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Rail transport is also one of the fastest modes of land transport in the world. It provides rapid, reliable, cost-effective bulk transportation to the energy sector. And it also links people with places, enabling large-scale, rapid, and low-cost movement.
In India, the concept of railway transportation emerges during British colonialism. British felt that the introduction of railways, which helps them to transport goods and raw materials will be faster and also bring economic development to the country. The rapid growth of Railway networks brought new changes to society. It played a key role in increasing trade and market services and also gave a sense of freedom to common people across the country.
On 16, April 1853, the British rulers introduced the first passenger train from Mumbai to Thane, which is considered a most remarkable contribution of the British to India. As a result, by the end of the 19th century, India has become a chief export market for British goods including textiles, iron and steel goods, and other products reﬂecting Britain’s industrial strength.
Railway zones in India
Now, India is the world’s fourth largest rail network and also among the largest employers. Indian Railways are mainly divided into zones and divisions. Each zone comes under the control of the General Manager who is responsible for its operation and maintenance. Divisions are the basic unit of operation; it comes under each zone. It is headed by Divisional Railway Manager.
In 2019, the Southern Coast Railway was declared as the 18th Indian Zone and is headquartered at Vishakapatnam. Currently, there are 18 Railway zones and 70 divisions in India.
List of Railway zones and their headquarters in India
|Indian Railway Zone||Headquarters|
|East Central Railway||Hajipur|
|East Coast Railway||Bhubaneswar|
|North Central Railway||Prayagraj|
|North Eastern Railway||Gorakhpur|
|North Western Railway||Jaipur|
|Northeast Frontier Railway||Guwahati|
|South Central Railway||Secunderabad|
|South East Central Railway||Bilaspur|
|South Eastern Railway||Kolkata|
|South Western Railway||Hubbali|
|West Central Railway||Jabalpur|
|Southern Coast Railway||Vishakhapatnam|
- It is also known as the oldest railway zone in India. Established on 5th November 1951 and its headquarters is located in Mumbai.
- Central Railway Zone has 5 divisions under its authority.
- This zone covers the state of Maharashtra, the North-Eastern Part of Karnataka, and the southern part of Madhya Pradesh.
East Central Railway
- East Central Railway with its headquarters is located at Hajipur in Bihar.
- The divisions come under ECR Zone:-Danapur,Sonpur, Samstipur,Dhanbad and Mughalasarai.
- East Central Railway Zone was established on 8th September 1996.
- Lalit Chandra Trivedi, who is the current GM of East-Central Railway Zone.
East Coast Railway
- Established on 1st April 2003 and headquarters is located at Bhubaneswar in Odissa.
- Inaugurated by Former Prime Minister of India H.D.Deve Gowda on 8 August 1996. Initially, only the Khudra division was attached to this zone. Later, it became successfully operational on 1st April 2003.
- Currently, East Coast Railways has covered 342 railway stations controlled by three major division Khurda Road, Sambalpur, and Rayagada.
- Established on 14th April 1952 and its headquarters is located in Kolkata.
- Eastern Railway has four divisions that include Malda, Howrah, Sealdah, and Asansol.
- Suneet Sharma is the current General Manager of Eastern Railway Zone.
North Central Railway
- Established on 1st April 2003.
- Its headquarters is located at Prayagraj also known as “Allahabad” in Uttar Pradesh.
- Major divisions under NCR Zone:-Jhansi,Agra, and Prayagraj.
North Eastern Railway
- The headquarters of the North Eastern Railway is located at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
- The divisions that come under North Eastern Railway include Izzatnagar, Varanasi, and Lucknow.
- Major junctions:- Lucknow, Chhapra, Gorakhpur.
North Western Railway
- Set up in 2002, the headquarters of the North Western Railway is located at Jaipur in Rajasthan.
- The zone comprises divisions include: -Jodhpur,Bikaner,Jaipur and Ajmer.
- It also operated Thar Link Express which connects Jodhpur in India to Karachi in Pakistan.
Northeast Frontier Railway
- Established on 14th April 1958.
- Its headquarters is located in Maligaon, Guwahati.
- The five divisions include Alipurdur,Lumding,Rangiya,Tinsukia and Katihar.
- Sanjive Roy, who is the current General Manager of Northeast Frontier Railway.
- It is one of the oldest and largest railway zones in India.
- The headquarters of the Northern Railway Zone is located at Baroda House in New Delhi.
- The five divisions under Northern Railway include Delhi, Firozpur, Ambala, Lucknow, and Moradabad.
- The zone also provides services in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, and a few parts of Uttar Pradesh.
South Central Railway
- First railway zone in India to have 100% LED lighting at the railway stations.
- In 2018, South Central Railway has declared the second cleanest Railway Zone in the country.
- Established on 2nd October 1966 and comprises three divisions(Hyderabad,Nanded and Secunderabad)
- The current General Manager of the South Central Railway zone is Gajanan Mallya.
South East Central Railway
- It comprises three divisions (Raipur,Nagpur and Bilaspur).
- South East Central Railway Zone was inaugurated on 20th September 1998.
- The Zone was opened to the public and started its operations on 1st April 2003.
South Eastern Railway
- It was set up in 1995.
- The headquarters is located at Garden Reach in Kolkata and comprises four divisions: Adra, Ranchi, Kharagpur, and Chakradharpur.
- Initially, South Eastern Railway Zone was called Bengal Nagpur Railway.
- This zone also offers services to the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
South Western Railway
- Established in 2003 and the headquarters is located at Hubli in the State of Karnataka.
- It was set up by combining the Hubli division (South Central Railway Zone) with Banglore and Mysore divisions(Southern Railway Zone).
- It covers major state railway networks that include Karnataka,Maharashtra,Goa,Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.
- Southern Railway Zone was established on 14 April 1951.
- The headquarter is located at Chennai, Tamilnadu.
- The major divisions come under the Southern Railway Zone which includes Madurai, Chennai, Salem, Thiruchirappalli and two districts of Kerala ie; Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram.
- The zone also offers services to Karnataka,Kerala,Puducherry,Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.
- Western Railway Zone was established in 1951 and is headquartered at Churchgate, Mumbai and Maharashtra.
- A total of four divisions come under this zone:-Ratlam, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar and Mumbai.
West Central Railway
- It was established in 2003 by combining the Jabalpur and Bhopal divisions (Central Railway Zone) and the Kota division (Western Railway Zone).
- The headquarters of the West Central Railway Zone is located at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
- It is the oldest metro rail service in India.
- The Metro Rail operations were started in Kolkata on 24th October 1984.
- It is also known as the fifth-longest metro rail network in India after Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Karnataka Metro.
Southern Coast Railway
- The newest and 18th railway zone in India.
- Southern Coast Railway(SCoR) was set -up in 2019.
- Its headquarter is located at Vishakhapatnam
- The divisions that come under this zone include Guntakal, Vijayawada, and Guntur.