Indian Railways abbreviated as IR, is the state-owned railway company of India, which owns and operates most of the country's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India.
Indian Railways has one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting over 18 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight daily. It is the world's largest commercial or utility employer, with more than 1.4 million employees. The railways traverse the length and breadth of the country, covering 6,909 stations over a total route length of more than 63,327 kilometers (39,350 mi). As to rolling stock IR owns over 200,000 (freight) wagons, 50,000 coaches and 8,000 locomotives.
Railways were first introduced to India in 1853. By 1947, the year of India’s Independence there were forty-two rail systems. In 1951 the systems were nationalized as one unit, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. IR operates long distance and suburban rail systems on a multi gauge network of broad, meter and narrow gauges. It also owns locomotive and coach production facilities.
Indian Railways is a department owned and controlled by the government of India, via the Ministry of Railways. As of June 2009, the Railway Ministry is headed by Mamtha Benerjee, the Union Minister for Railways and assisted by two ministers of State for Railways. Indian Railways is administered by the apex management organization, Railway Board , also called the Ministry of Railways. The board is headed by a Chairman who reports to the Minister of Railways. The board has five other members in addition to the chairman.
The General Managers of the zonal railways and the production units report to the board.
A Schematic map of the Indian Railways network showing various zones.
The headquarters of the Indian Railways in New Delhi