The first train on the Indian sub-continent was flagged off on April 16, 1853. It ran over a stretch of 34 km from Mumbai
. Today, Indian Railways stands as the world’s second largest rail network under one management, and the largest rail network in Asia. Also, Indian Railways is the largest transport organisation in the country.
Indian Railways runs about 11,000 trains everyday and serves 13 million passengers. It is a multi-gauge, multi-traction system covering 86,526 km of Broad Gauge, 18,529 km of Metre Gauge, and 3,651 km of Narrow Gauge tracks. 16,001 route kilometres is electrified.
This massive railway organization has 7,566 locomotives, 37,840 coaching vehicles, 222,147 freight wagons, 6,853 stations, 300 Yards, 2,300 goodsheds and 700 repair shops. It employs an impressive figure of 1.54 million work force.
The railways is divided into sixteen zones:
South East Central Railways
East Coast Railways
North Eastern Railways
North Central Railways
North East Frontier Railways
North Western Railways
South Western Railways
South Central Railways
West Central Railways
South Eastern Railways
East Central Railways
Besides zonal railways, Indian Railways has five Mountain/Hill Railways - Darjeeling Himalayan Railways, Nilgiri Railways, Kalka-Shimla Railways, Matheran Light Railways and Kangra Valley Railways, which is famous for its scenic beauty. Mumbai Suburban Railways, offering reliable and comfortable passenger services, is an important component of Indian Railways.
The railways offers luxury tourist trains, superfast trains, express trains and passenger trains. Palace on Wheels, Royal Orient, Deccan Odyssey, Himsagar Express, Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express are a few among them. Toy trains such as Darjeeling Toy Train, Matheran Toy Train and Ooty Toy Train offer unforgettable travel experiences to tourists.
Special facilities are provided for foreign tourists. The Indrail Pass helps the tourist to travel without any route restrictions. Computerized reservations are provided at major railway stations.
In short, this largest employer in the world plays a significant role in the social, political and economic growth of India.