Indian Railways

Railways are ideally suited for long distance travel and movement of bulk commodities. Regarded better than road transport in terms of energy efficiency, land use, environment impact and safety it is always in forefront during national emergency. Indian Railways, a historical legacy, are a vital force in our economy.

Spanning nearly two centuries Indian Railways has been serving the country with utmost pride. It was only in 1851 when the first train ran in the country for hauling construction material in Roorkee and by 16th April 1853 the first passenger train service became operational running between Bori Bunder, Bombay and Thane. Fourteen railway carriages carried about 400 guests from Bombay to Thane covering a distance of 21 miles, thus marking the formal birth of rail network in India. Since then there has been no looking back. It is interesting to note that though the railways were introduced to facilitate the commercial interest of the British it played an important role in unifying the country.

Some facts

  • Indian Railways is the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest.
  • Indian Railways is the world’s ninth largest commercial or utility employer, by number of employees, with over 1.4 million employees. It is also the India’s largest employer.
  • India comes fourth with approx. 64,000 km of railroad after US, Russia, and China. If the tracks were to be laid out from one point to another around the equator, it would circle it one-and-a-half times.
  • The total distance covered by the 14,300 trains daily on the Indian Railways daily equals three & half times the distance to moon.
  • The Indian Railways (IR) carries over 25 million passengers daily which is perhaps more than the entire population of Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania put together. Annually Indian Railways ferries 7.2 billion passengers (nearly 6 times India’s current population).
  • Indian Railways runs as many as 19,000 trains every day. Some 12,000 trains are for passengers and 7,000 for freight.
  • The whole network has 7,083 stations approximately.
  • The First train on Indian soil ran between Bombay and Thane on the 16th of April 1853.
  • New Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express is the fastest train in India.  The all air-conditioned superfast train clocks a maximum speed of 150km/h on the Faridabad-Agra section. It also has the highest commercial speed – 89.87 km/h- and covers the 704 km New Delhi – Bhopal stretch in 7 hours 50 minutes.
  • Metupalayam Ooty Nilgiri Passenger which runs at a speed of 10kmph, 15 times slower than fastest running train, is the slowest train in India. Since this train runs in hilly region there are speed limits to comply. The one that comes close is Pratapnagar-Jambusar passenger, with a maximum speed of 12km/h and an average speed of 11km/h. It takes 4 hrs for a journey of 44 km.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty

Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Ooty

  • The shortest run by a train is the scheduled services between Nagpur and Ajni stations situated just 3km from each other – primarily meant for crew to travel from Nagpur station to the workshop at Ajni.
  • The longest non-stop travel goes for Trivandrum – Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express which travels the 528km stretch between Vadodara and Kota non-stop. In second place is the Mumbai Rajdhani Express that travels nonstop between New Delhi and Kota.
  • The longest station name is Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta on the Arakkonam-Renigunta  section near Chennai.
  • The shortest station name is Ib, near Jharsuguda in Odisha and Od, near Anand in Gujarat.
  • The record for maximum number of stops by an Express/Mail train is held by Howrah – Amritsar Express 115 halts, followed by Delhi – Howrah Janata Express 109 halts and Jammu Tawi – Sealdah Express 99 halts.
  • Guwahati-Trivandrum Express is said to be the most unreliable long-distance train in the country. The charted journey time is 65 hours and 5 minutes, but the average delay on a trip is about 10-12 hours.
  • Vivek Express from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari travels a distance of 4273 km, making it the longest run in terms of total time and distance in Indian Railways.
Vivek Express

Vivek Express

  • Srirampur and Belapur are two different stations in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra which are both at the same location on the railway route but on opposite sides of the track.
  • Electric locomotive WAG-9 used for hauling heavy freight rakes is the most powerful locomotive in Indian Railway’s fleet. The 6,350 horsepower beast is homed at Gomoh, Ajni, Lallaguda, Tughlakabad and Bhilai. Modified version of WAG-9 named WAP 7 is IR’s workhouse for high speed passenger service. It is capable of hauling 24 coach trains at speeds ranging between 140 and 160 km per hour. WAP-7 has similar horsepower as that of WAG-9 but comes with modified gear ratios for faster acceleration.
  • The northernmost railway station is Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir. Westernmost is Naliya near Bhuj in Gujarat. Southernmost railway station is Kanyakumari, while the last station on the east of India is Ledo on branch line from Tinsukia.
  • Mathura junction with 7 routes- Broad Gauge (BG) line to Agra Cantt, BG line to Bharatpur, BG line to Alwar, BG line to Delhi, Metre Gauge (MG) line to Achnera, MG line to Vrindavan and MG line to Hathras, Kasganj is the junction with most number of routes originating from it. Six route junction – Bhatinda. Five route junctions – Lucknow, Guntakal, Katni, Varanasi, Kanpur Central, Villupuram, Dabhoi, and Nagpur.
  • There are seven parallel tracks between  Bandra Terminus and Andheri – 10km. Siliguri station on NFR holds the  distinction of having three  different gauges present.
  • The busiest station is Lucknow station with 64 trains per day.
  • Indian Railways owns the longest railway platform in the world at Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh.
Gorakhpur Junction

Gorakhpur Junction

  • Indian Railways still has the oldest preserved locomotive in working  order, the Fairy Queen which was made way back in 1855. It is the oldest functioning steam engine in the world, which finds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records and got Heritage Award at the International Tourist Bureau, Berlin in March 2000.
  • The first railroad was constructed by two Indians (Jamsetjee  Jeejeebhoy and Jaganath Shunkerseth) and not the British.
  • The manufacture of steam locomotives in the country was stopped in 1972.
  • Toilets on trains were first introduced in 1891 in 1st class and in 1907 in lower classes.
  • Air Cooling was first introduced in 1st class coaches in 1874 in Great Indian Peninsular Railway
  • The country’s longest tunnel is Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel 11.215 km that was completed in December 2012 in Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel is yet to become functional railway route. Karbude on Konkan Railways, which is 6.5 km in length previously held the title for the longest tunnel in India.
  • The first Underground Railway that was opened for public use was Calcutta Metro.
  • The first Reservation through the computer System commenced in New Delhi in the year 1986.
  • First Electric coach ran on the 3rd February 1925 between Bombay VT and Kurla stations
  • Indians were not allowed to board the Palace on Wheels luxury train for quite a while when it was launched on Republic Day of 1982.
  • In the Bihar train disaster on June 6, 1981, a passenger train carrying 800 or more passengers between Mansi and Saharsa, derailed and plunged into the river Bagmati while it was crossing a bridge. After five days, more than 200 bodies were recovered, with hundreds more missing that were feared washed away by the river. Estimates of total deaths range from 500 to 800 or more. It was the worst Indian rail disaster.
  • Even after recent hike, fares on long distance journeys on the IR can be considered cheapest in the world. For instance, 1,500 km journey on Delhi-Kolkata route by Kalka Mail costs around Rs 250. A similar journey would cost 10 times more on any budget train in Europe which boasts of strong rail transport.
  • Mumbai’s local trains are amongst the world’s few to have 15 coaches. Shanghai’s local trains come close with 12 coaches.
Mumbai Suburban Trains

Mumbai Suburban Trains

  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or CST in Mumbai caters to 33 million passengers annually and is the only terminus in the world to be listed as a monument of global heritage by UNESCO.
  • Indian Railways collected Rs.581 Crores in fines + charges on ticketless travel in during the financial year 2011-12.
  • Vembanad Rail Bridge 4.62 km in length in the state of Kerala connecting Edappally and Vallarpadam in Kochi is the longest rail bridge in India and it is dedicated solely for freight.
  • India’s first sea bridge, the Pamban Bridge is a cantilever bridge on the Palk Strait. It connects Rameshwaram on Pamban Island (Tamil Nadu) to mainland India.
  • Saraighat Bridge (1,492 m) is the first rail-cum-road bridge constructed over the Brahmaputra River in Guwahati, Assam. It was opened to passenger traffic in June 1963.
  • Dapoorie Viaduct (1854) on the Mumbai-Thane route is the first railway bridge in India.
  • About 42 Railway companies operated in the country before Independence.
  • The National Rail Museum in Delhi set up in 1977 is a one of the unique museums in Asia. Sprawled over an area of 11 acres the museum has collections like antique steam engines, locomotives, models, carriages, photographs among other things. There are live exhibits as well as working and non-working models. The added attraction is the toy train which runs across the museum.
National Rail Museum

National Rail Museum

  • The world’s highest rail bridge being constructed over Chenab river in Jammu & Kashmir’s Reasi district (Chenab Bridge) will be ready by December, 2015. Coming up at Kauri, it will be 359 meters (1,180 feet) above the riverbed (five times the height of  Qutub Minar and 35 metres taller than Eiffel Tower). Also Anjikhad Railway Bridge to be completed in 2015 in Katra, Jammu-Kashmir is going to be the 4th highest in the world at 186 meters (610 feet). Stretching across a length of 424 metres, the bridge on the Panval River in Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra is currently the tallest bridge in India.
  • Parsik Tunnel (1865) near Thaane is India’s first rail tunnel.
  • Delhi station entered Guinness book of world records for having the world’s largest route relay interlocking system.
  • Indian Railways have approximately 10.65 lakh acre of land. About 90 per cent of this land is under Railway’s operational and allied usages. The total vacant land, at present is about 1.13 lakh acre.
  • The Mumbai–Pune Deccan Queen has the oldest running dining car in Indian Railways.
  • Electric Locomotives are manufactured at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan.
  • Coaches are manufactured at ICF/Chennai, RCF/Kapurthala and BEML/Bangaluru.
  • Classes of travel on Indian Railway: Ist AC, 2nd AC, 3rd AC, AC Chair Car, IInd sleeper & IInd ordinary.
  • The first Ghats covered by the rail lines are Thal and Bhore Ghats.
  • The train with maximum number of halts is the Howrah-Amritsar Express (115 halts).
  • Mughalsarai Junction railway station contains the largest railway marshaling yard in Asia.
  • The Rajdhani Express trains get the highest priority on the Indian railway network.
  • The Fairy Queen between New Delhi and Alwar in Rajasthan is the oldest functioning steam engine in the world.
  • Nilgiri Mountain Railway a single track and only rack and pinion rail system operates in India.
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is considered to be the most beautiful train station in India.
  • The Maharaja Express is the most expensive luxury train in India.
  • Ghum Railway station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the highest railway station in India.
  • Chenab Bridge will be world’s tallest railway bridge under construction in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Konkan Railway Train Route is the most beautiful train route of Indian Railways.
  • The Kashmir Railway is the most difficult railway line project of Indian Railways.
  • Mumbai Suburban railway is the oldest railway system of Asia.
  • The Delhi Metro is India’s first modern metro and facilities with most advanced technologies.
  • The Rail Museum in Delhi is the largest in Asia.
  • Loco-pilots are paid more than an average software engineer in India.
  • If the tracks of Indian railways were to be laid out, they would circle the earth almost 1.5 times.
  • The Diamond crossing in Nagpur is one-of-its-kind in India, from where trains go East, West, North and South.
  • The IRCTC (Indian Railways Catering & Tourism Corporation) website gets close to 12 lakh hits per minute.
  • The Railway station of Navapur is built in 2 states; one half of it is in Maharashtra and the other half is in Gujarat.
  • Indian Railways has a mascot – Bholu, the Guard Elephant.

Bholu, The Indian Railways Mascot

  • Indian Railways launched an awareness campaign train on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2007, called the Red Ribbon Express.
  • The Famed Darjeeling toy train, which is still running on its indigenous steam engine, was built by India’s British colonial master in 1881.
  • World Heritage sites 4 Indian Railways sites and 5 Mountain Railways.
  • Samjhuata Express was first international border train in India.
  • Ahmedabad Mumbai Central Double Decker Express is India’s first double Decker train.

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