Indian Railways is one of the largest rail networks in the world. It is owned and managed by Government of India under the care and direction of Ministry of Railways. It is a full-fledged and well established network with millions of people depending on it. Spreading over 114,500 kilometers with 7500 stations, Indian Railways has become a part and parcel of modern India.
Being a country of different seasons, India has a variety of landscapes. The best and economical way to perceive India’s picturesque beauty is to experience it on a train journey. That is where the Indian Railways comes in. It was first introduced on the 16th of April 1853 connecting Mumbai and Thane. Now, it has grown up to be a massive network connecting different parts of India. About 30 million passengers travel daily by trains. The headquarters of Indian Railways is located at New Delhi.
The rail system in India uses four gauges such as broad, standard, meter and narrow gauges. The broad gauge is the most extensively used rail gauge. In regions of less traffic, the meter gauge is used. The narrow gauge is usually used in hilly areas and private railways.
There are presently seventeen railway zones in India, each having its own sub-divisions. Both long distance and suburban rail systems are operated by IR. The long-distance trains have fewer stops and generally have sleeper coaches, which maybe AC class, first class or second class. The AC class and first class – standard, AC 2 tier and AC Chaircar are of the highest category in trains. The second class is non-AC and offers comfortable and cheap transport. Several luxury trains are also run to promote tourism in India like Palace on Wheels, Deccan Odyssey, and Royal Orient Express. These trains mainly attract foreign tourists. For domestic tourists, there are trains to tourist and holy places. The Indian rail also transports a large variety of goods to different places.
Government of India has done a lot for the up gradation of Indian Railways. Steam engines are now replaced by electric and diesel engines, except in the Nilgiri Mountains where steam engines are still in use. The latest technology is now slowly replacing the outdated safety and signaling system. There is tough competition from low-cost airlines and the railway is trying to overcome this by introducing high-speed trains. The metro rail system is another initiative taken by the government whereby Kolkata, Bangalore and Delhi have this system to start with. On the 19th October 2011, Real-Time Train Information System (RTIS) was introduced to give real-time information to the travelers.
At present, it provides information of only a few trains, but it is expected to cover the entire network in the coming years. Another very useful facility is that of online booking and status checking. In the modern era of computers and the Internet, one can book tickets sitting at home with a few clicks of a mouse. Gone are the days when people stood in long queues with filled-in forms at the booking counters. Today, we can even check seat availability and status of our tickets on the website. The same facilities are also available via SMS through mobile phones.
So, book your tickets now, Indian Railways can help you travel anyplace safely and comfortably.
The Indian Railways network is the largest rail network in Asia and the second largest in the world under one management. On Indian railways seat availability can be ensured by planning and booking your tickets early especially in the vacation seasons.