Indian Railways Information

The Indian Railways (Bhāratīya Rel) is a government run department, overseen by the Ministry of Railways. At present, the minister in charge is Laloo Prasad Yadav, who has made his mark by making the previously loss incurring rail transport system into one that now generates more profits with each year. The department has its headquarters in New Delhi; and has been functional since 1853. Indian Railways employs over 1.6 million persons in various capacities, making it one of the biggest employers in the world

The Indian Railways routes cover over 104,000 km across 28 states and three union territories. The daily transport figures are at 17 million passengers using approximately 9000 trains. Freight is over two million tones; transported via almost 9,400 trains. The North East is the only part that is not as well connected.

Railway Board

Indian Railways Inormation has an administrative board comprising of six members – for financial, traffic, mechanical, engineering, electrical and staff matters – and a chairperson. Policy determination and overall control rests with the board. The present chairperson is Kalyan C.Jena.

Rail budget

The Rail budget is presented differently, about two days before the country’s General budget, and needs a simple majority pass in the Lok Sabha. Though is it thus presented, the figures of exchange between Indian railways and the government appear in the General Budget as well.
Indian Railways pays a dividend to the Central Government in lieu of the capital invested.

Railway zones

According to Indian Railways Inormation, Railways in India are divided into 17 zones. Each of these zones comprises of a number of divisions (out of the total 67).

Although the Calcutta Metro is part of the Indian Railways, instead of being part of any of the zones, it has the administrative status of a zonal railway.

Passenger trains

Most passenger trains have between 18 to 24 coaches, each with a seating capacity that ranges from 18 to 72 individuals. Most coaches connect to each other through vestibules. Some trains are targeted at tourists and travelers specifically. Most trains tend to be over crowded during the holiday seasons. Thus, to address this need, there are plans to introduce the high-speed bullet trains in around five corridors.

Commuter Trains

Electric Multiple Units (EMU’s) that consist of a power car and two coaches are mostly used in commuter trains. Most suburban trains have 9 to 12 coaches (Hyderabad has six). Each coach can seat 96 persons, though the actual number present in any coach is much larger due to the prevalence of ‘standees’.

The Indian Railways has suburban networks in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad. Except for Pune and Hydrabad, which share tracks with long distance trains, each has dedicated suburban tracks.
The Mumbai network has three branches – Central, Western and Harbour. It is considered the longest suburban network in the world, and the busiest (6 million people use it per day).


70% of the revenue and a large part of he profits of the Indian Railways come from freight. Important freight locations have dedicated freight lines and platforms. Post 1990, the use of larger containers has standardized the transport process. Specialty services under freight include “Green van” that transports vegetables, and CONRAJ that transports high priority goods.

Recently, the load limits have been increased by 11%, and an 11,000 km freight corridor has been approved.

Facts of Interest

  • A hospital train, the Lifeline Express provides health-care in rural areas. Kharagpur station is the world’s longest platform (1072 m).
  • Ghum station is the world’s second highest station for a steam locomotive.
  • The Kalka Shimla Railway had the steepest rise in the world until recently.
  • The fastest train in India is the Bhopal Shatabdi Express that has a maximum speed of 150 km/h.


As per the Indian Railways Inormation, By one estimate, an investment of US$200 billion is needed to bring the Indian Railways to international standards. Of the work underway, the most salient points are:

  • Meter gauge lines are being converted to broad gauge.
  • More than 50 stations are being upgraded; some by private contractors.
  • Building of new stations is underway.
  • Bridges are being strengthened.
  • Stainless steel coaches are being manufactured
  • New lines are being laid.
  • New, more effective signaling and communication technology is being put into use.
  • The Green toilets designed by IIT Kanpur are in the pipeline.
  • Environment friendly AC systems have been installed.
  • Fire detection systems are being installed.
  • Booking via ATM’s and SMS is being implemented.