Friday, November 18, 2016

An Overview of Indian Railways and its Functions

Indian Railways (IR) is considered to be one of the largest railway networks in the world. In India, railways were first introduced by the Britishers from Bombay to Thane in 1853. Nationalization of these railway systems was done in 1951. The Government of India operates IR through the Ministry of Railways. The network is traversing through the length and breadth of the country covering a distance of 115,000 km, which also includes 7,500 stations.

In a year, approximately 7,500 million passengers are traveling in train. Indian Railways operates sub urban as well as long distance rail systems on narrow, metre and broad gauge networks. Additionally, it runs coach and locomotive production facilities in many parts of the country. Indian train routes cover 24 states and 3 union territories and also limited services are provided to Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

More than 1.4 million people are working in the Indian Railways, which is considered to be the fourth largest utility employer in the world. About 10,000 trains are running across the country and all the trains have five digit numbering system. IR holds passenger coaches, locomotives and freight wagons. Almost 34% of the total rail route was electrified.

IR is divided into number of zones, which are again sub-divided into divisions. Each division has an individual headquarters. Heavy engineering components and rolling stock manufactured at the railway’s six production units located in Trichy, Chennai, Asansol, Patiala, Varanasi, Bangalore, Chhapra, and Kapurthala. Research and design, electrification, training of officers and modernization are some the other independent organizations controlled by the Railway Board.

Nowadays, passenger coaches like electric multiple unit (EMU) are mainly used by people and control suburban traffic in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata. IR earns revenue of approximately 70% from the freight traffic and good wagons.

IR has many types of travel classes with or without air conditioning. Duranto, Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains will only have air conditioned class, whereas slow passenger trains will have unreserved seating class. A pantry car is available in long distance trains.  The number of coaches in the train varies based on the demand and train routes.  A normal standard passenger train has four unreserved compartments, in which one is particularly for ladies, sleeper classes, AC coaches.

A special compartment is present at the train’s rear end, called the guard’s cabin equipped with a transceiver to give clear signals. Still now, the tracks are maintained by manual means and need to be mechanised at the earliest. Only few routes are available with interlocking system. 

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