Indian Railways has one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world. The British rulers introduced rail services in India in 1851 and since then, the Indian Railways (IR) have significantly increased its rail network. The IR has established railway stations in almost every corner of the country and has been working relentlessly for connecting all the remote places of India to the major cities. The total number of Indian Railways stations is thought to be near about 8,000.
The Indian Railways has already completed 150 years of its glorious journey and is increasing its reach day by day. The Indian Railways inaugurated its passenger train service in 1853, when a train was run between Bori Bunder Bombay and Thane. The first passenger train in the Eastern region of India was run between Howrah and Hooghly in West Bengal, on 15th August, 1854. After that, Indian Railways started to spread its network throughout the country and several stations were also established. There were 42 different rail systems in India till 1947 and all the systems were nationalised as one unit in 1951. At present, Indian Railways has divided its operations in 16 zones.
The Indian Railways stations are well organised and designed to provide all the necessary facilities to the passengers. The Indian Railways always strive for ensuring maximum passenger satisfaction. A majority of all the Indian railways stations have recently been brought under a centralised computerised system. There are waiting rooms for the passengers in the stations and there are also adequate numbers of lavatories. The large Indian railway stations have snacks or food stalls on the platforms. There is also arrangement for drinking water at the Indian Railways stations. An electronic announcement system has been introduced in all the Indian Railways stations by which the passengers are informed about the arrival and departure of the trains. The announcement is made in English, Hindi and the native language of the station`s location. The ticket counters and reservation centres in the stations remain open round the clock as well. The Indian Railways is also revamping a few selected stations throughout the country to upgrade them to world class level, with the most advanced facilities.
There are many Indian Railways stations established only for passing local trains and the long-distance trains usually do not pass through these stations. There are separate stations for the long distance trains as well. Apart from the stations, there are some halts in remote places where only a few trains stop. About 14,000 trains run through the Indian Railways stations regularly. Among all the Indian Railways stations, the IR station in Orissa has the shortest name and the Sri Venkatanarasimharajuvariapeta station in Tamil Nadu has the longest name.
The Lucknow station is considered the busiest of all the Indian Railways stations. 64 trains pass through this station every day. Lucknow is the busiest station for passenger trains. However, the Dadar station in Mumbai is considered the busiest station among all the suburban stations. The Sealdah station in Kolkata is also considered one of the busiest stations in India as thousands of people avail this station every day. The Kharagpur station located in West Bengal has the longest railways platform not only in India, but also in the world. The length of platform in this station is 2,733 ft. Though most of the Indian Railways stations have either broad gauge or narrow gauge lines, there are a few stations that have meter gauge railway tracks. However, the Siliguri Railways Station in West Bengal is the only station in India that has all the three gauges.
The other important Indian Railways stations include the Tatanagar Railway Station, Trivandrum Central Railway Station, Rajkot Railway Station, Ahmedabad Railway Station, Varanasi Cantonment Railway Station, Bhayandar Railway Station, Borivali Railway Station, Byculla Railway Station, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Marine Lines, Masjid Bunder, Mumbai Central, Vikhroli Railway Station, New Delhi Railway Station, Chennai Central Railway Station, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Howrah Station, Kharagpur Railway Station, Sealdah Station, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Nahur, Sion, etc.
The Indian Railways stations are run and managed by different zonal headquarters of Indian Railways. The stations are quite similar to each other and play an all important role in the lives of rural people in India. There are many places in India that have Railways as the only means of transport to the major cities and towns. The stations also play a crucial role in terms of providing employment, as thousands of people earn their livelihoods by running different businesses within the station areas.