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Chapter: Civil : Railway Airport Harbour Engineering : Railway Engineering : History and General Features of Indian Railways

Organization of Indian Railways

Indian Railways (IR) is at present the biggest public undertaking of the Government of India, having a capital-at-charge of about Rs 560,000 million.

Organization of Indian Railways


Indian Railways (IR) is at present the biggest public undertaking of the Government of India, having a capital-at-charge of about Rs 560,000 million. The enactments regulating the construction and operation of railways in India are the Indian Tramway Act of 1816 and the Indian Railway Act of 1890 as amended from time to time. The executive authority in connection with the administration of the railways vests with the Central Government and the same has been delegated to the Railway Board as per the Indian Railway Act referred to above.


1 Railway Board


The responsibility of the administration and management of Indian Railways rests with the Railway Board under the overall supervision of the Minister for Railways. The Railway Board exercises all the powers of the Central Government in respect of the regulation, construction, maintenance, and operation of the Railways.


The Railway Board consists of a chairman, a financial commissioner for railways, and five other functional members. The chairman is the ex-officio principal secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Railways. He reports to the Minister for Railways and is responsible for making decisions on technical and administrative matters and advising the Government of India on matters of railway policy. All policy and other important matters are put up to the Minister through the chairman or other board members.


The financial commissioner for railways is vested with the full powers of the Government of India to sanction railway expenditure and is the ex-officio secretary to the Government of India in financial Ministry of Railways matters. The members of the Railway Board are separately in charge of matters relating to staff, civil engineering, traffic, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. They function as ex-officio secretaries to the Government of India in their respective spheres.


To be able to effectively tackle the additional duties and responsibilities arising from increased tempo of work, the Railway Board is assisted by a number of technical officers designated additional members and executive directors, who are in-charge of different directorates such as civil engineering, mechanical, electrical, stores, traffic and transportation, commercial, and planning and are responsible for carrying out technical functions. These officers, however, do not make major policy decisions.


2 Research Design and Standards Organisation


The Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) is headquartered at Lucknow. It is headed by a director general who has a team of specialists from different fields of railways. RDSO functions as a technical adviser and consultant to the Railway Board, the zonal railways, and production units as well as to public and private sector undertakings with respect to the designs and standardization of railway equipment.


RDSO has also been approved for its quality management system ISO 9001:2000.


3 Zonal Railways


The entire railway system was earlier divided into nine zonal railways. To increase efficiency, the Railway Ministry decided to set up seven new railway zones, namely, North Western Railway at Jaipur, East Central Railway at Hajipur, East Coast Railway at Bhubaneswar, North Central Railway at Allahabad, South Western Railway at Bangalore, West Central Railway at Jabalpur, and South East Central Railway at Bilaspur. All the new railway zones have been fully functional from 1 April 2003.


Presently, Indian Railways is divided into 16 zones, each having different territorial jurisdictions which vary from 2300 to 7000 route km. The route kilometres of various zonal railways are given in Table 1.3.


Table 1.3   Zonewise track length as on 31 March 2004

Route kilometre indicates the length of a route from one point to another point.


                   Running track kilometre is the length of running track on that route; on a double-line section, the running track kilometre is about twice the route kilometre.

                   Total track kilometre indicates the running track kilometre including turnouts, etc., after taking their due weightage into account.


The zonal railways take care of the railway business in their respective areas and are responsible for management and planning of all work. Each zonal railway is administered by a general manager assisted by additional general managers and heads of departments of different disciplines, namely, civil engineering, mechanical, operating, commercial, accounts, security, signals and telecommunications, electrical, personnel, medical, etc. The typical organization of a zonal railway is given in Fig. 1.1. The duties of the various heads of departments are given in Table 1.4.


4 Production Units


Apart from zonal railways, there are six production units. The details given in Table 1.5.


Table 1.5   Production or manufacturing units

Unit   Headquarters        Production


Chittranjan Locomotive Works        Chittaranjan         Electric locomotives

Diesel Locomotive Works       Varanasi     Diesel locomotives

Integral Coach Factory  Chennai      Coaches

Diesel Components Works      Patiala        Diesel components

Rail Coach Factory        Kapurthala Coaches

Wheel and Axle Plant    Bangalore   Wheels and axles





The Central Organisation for Modernization of Workshops (COFMOW) was set up in 1979 as a specialized agency to implement the various workshop modernization programs of Indian Railways. Most of the workshops of IR are over 100 years old and COFMOW is modernizing these workshops in a planned way with the assistance of the World Bank.


COFMOW also provides consultancy and engineering inputs for technology upgradation, productivity improvement, machinery selection, and procurement besides training of personnel in operation and maintenance of manufacturing infrastructure.


COFMOW has been actively involved in the conversion of metre gauge rolling stock repair workshops to broad gauge repair shops by identifying and selecting compatible machinery and plants. At present, COFMOW is actively involved in the upgradation of manufacturing facilities at DLW and CLW to equip them to manufacture state-of-the-art locomotives of General Motors and Alstom design, respectively.


COFMOW has recently assisted Indian Railways in placing an order for 12 locomotive simulators at a total cost of Rs 980 million. These simulators will help the Railways in providing safe and efficient operation of trains to meet the demands of increasing traffic by training the staff under simulated operating conditions.


6 Divisions


Zonal railways work on the divisional system. Each railway is divided into three to six divisions, each division having approximately 700 to 1000 route km in its territory. There are about 67 divisions of Indian Railways. Each division works under the overall control of a divisional railway manager, who is assisted by one or two additional divisional railway managers. There are divisional officers in charge of each discipline either in the junior administrative grade or the senior scale, namely, divisional superintending engineer (DSE) or divisional engineer for civil engineering, senior divisional mechanical engineer or divisional mechanical engineer for mechanical engineering, senior divisional commercial manager or divisional commercial manager for commercial work, etc.


In the case of the engineering branch, the DSE or senior divisional engineer is normally the head of the unit in the division. Under each DSE, there are two to three divisional engineers (DENs), each in charge of approximately a 800 to 1000 integrated track km and assisted by two to three assistant engineers (AENs) in the maintenance of track and works. An AEN has about 400 integrated track km under his charge. The total number of DENs and AENs for maintenance work in Indian Railways is approximately 300 and 600, respectively. The AENs are assisted by permanent way inspectors (PWI) for maintenance of track structure. Each PWI has a jurisdiction of 50-70 route km of the track. The total number of PWIs for normal maintenance work on Indian Railways is roughly 3000.


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