The Indian Railways - An Overview
The history of Indian Railways dates back to the British RAJ - The idea of establishing a rail network in India was first mooted by the British authority in consideration of the huge size of the country, mixed with political, strategic and economic expediencies. Britain needed a fast and reliable transport system for troop movement (to counter armed rebellion) and for exploitation of the vast resources of India.
Thus the first railways in the sub-continent came into being on 16th April, 1853. It ran over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane "amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and the salute of 21 guns". Shortly after , the first passenger train steamed out of Howrah station destined for Hooghly, a distance of 24 miles on 15th August 1854. Since then the Indian railways has not looked back and made impressive strides in shouldering a major share of transportation needs in the country. In a short period , the Indian Railways has earned the distinction of being the largest railway network in the world . Operating on more than 1,07,000 track kilometers, it carries more than 11 million passengers in a day and transport 40% of the freight . It consists of 63,030 route kms., comprising of 44,780 kms of broad gauge, 14,990 kms of meter gauge and 3,260 kms of narrow gauge. Electrified route kms is 14,856. There are 6853 stations and 15.45 lakhs employees. IR operates 11000 trains daily of which 7500 are passenger trains.
The suburban railway system in Bombay carries roughly 40% of the daily commuters. Two divisions of the Indian Railways serve the city. The Central Railways (CR) link the eastern suburbs to the city centre, and the Western Railways (WR) provide service to the western suburbs.
Indian Railways is divided for administrative convenience into several zonal railways each headed by General Manager. Until recently there were 9 zones, and this structure had not changed much for four decades. In July 2002, 7 new zones were created (and 8 new divisions). Various zones and their head offices are as below :
Northern Railway à New Delhi East Coast à Bhubaneswar
North Eastern à Gorakhpur North Central à Allahabad
North Forntier à Maligaon (Guwahati) South Western à Hubli
Eastern à Fairly place (Calcutta) West Central à Jabalpur
Sourth Eastern à Garden Reach (Calcutta) South East Centralà Bilaspur
South Central à Secunderabad
Southern à Chennai
Central à CST – Mumbai
Western à Church Gate –Mumbai
East Central à Hajipur
North Western à Jaipur
In addition, each zonal railway has a certain number of divisions, each having a divisional headquarter. There are currently 61 divisions in Indian Railways.
There are six major production units namely CLW-Chittaranjan, DLW – Varanasi, ICF-Chennai, WAP-Bangalore, DCW-Patiala & RCF-Kapurthala
Konkan Railway (KR) is constituted as a separately incorporated railway, with its headquarters at Belapur CBD (Navi Mumbai). At present it consists of a single 760 km route from Roha to Mangalore along the western coast of India (the Konkan region). The route is a single-line track and currently not electrified. It has been designed for high-speed traffic (160 km/h). It is now open to goods and passenger traffic. KR does not have divisions like the other IR zones, but it has two regionswith headquarters at Ratnagiri and Karwar. The Ratnagiri region extends from Roha to Sawantwadi, while the Karwar region extends from Pernem to Thokur (the latter being where SR territory begins, a few stations north of Mangalore).
The Calcutta Metro is owned and operated by IR, but does not belong to any of the zones; it is administratively considered to have the status of a zonal railway.
In Indian Railways, complete control on the materials is vested in the Stores Department. The field of Materials Management covers the following functions:
Formulation of the policy of the railways is vested with the Railway Board at New Delhi comprising of the Chairman , Financial Commissioner and five functional members. The material management department is headed by Additional Member / Railway Stores.
In order to ensure uninterrupted supply of materials to the Zonal Railway and production units, there are more than 215 stocking depots spread all over the country and are stocking more than 2.8 lakhs components.
Material need for operations, maintenance and production etc., (excluding cost of ballast/materials supplied by contractor for Civil Engineering works) was Rs.9,398 cr. and Rs.10,835 Cr. during 1999-00 and 2000-01 respectively.
Total purchase consists of 34% on account of stores operations, repair and maintenance, 2% on stores for construction, 23% on fuel and balance 41% on stores required for manufacturing of rolling stock.
It is further seen that 48 % of purchases are done by Zonal Railways and PU’s, 47% by Railway Board and balance 5% by DGS&D.
The value of Indigenous purchase of Stores in 2000-01 constituted 95.7% of the totral purchases. However, IR has to depend on imports for certain components of its diesel and electric loco fleet, as also for sophisticated signal and telecom equipment and taw materials not manufactured or in short supply within the country.
Main problems faced by Railways in sourcing of materials are:
Railway is live to the problems faced by the vendors and there is a continuous effort to improve systems. However, for the information of prospective vendors it is clarified that: