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Zones and Divisions of Indian Railways: How is the Transport Giant Managed?

Indian Railways is the fourth-largest rail network of the world. For decades, it ranks itself as a major hub for employment in India. As it is the largest rail network, it covers a large area of about 69,182 km. Such a huge area and its operations are managed by sole management called the “Indian Railways”, but the rising need for more trains, services, utilities forces it to classify itself into sub-categories. In 1951, Indian Railways established its Zones. Later, zones were sub-divided into Divisions. Currently, Indian Railways has 18 Zones. Every zone has its divisions and the head of a particular zone is the General Manager and Divisional Railway Manager. It’s the optimum structure and hierarchy of Indian railways which has made it successful for decades and it is on a race to provide the best facilities to the passengers like booking of online tickets, checking train running status, train schedule and ordering food online in train via apps. It’s the digital era!

Why is the Indian Railways System divided into zones?
There’re two major reasons behind this division:

  • Administrative Convenience: To manage such a huge administration and duties related to railways, it was decided to divide the operations into zones for convenient structural implementation of hierarchy and responsibilities.
  • Better Control measurement: Basically, divisions give better control in a zone as per traffic passing through it.

The other reasons behind dividing the entire railway into zones and divisions are to:

  • Provide safety to the passengers; especially women and children with the help of GRPF and RPF.
  • Maintain sanitation and cleanliness of railway campus
  • Repair tracks to avoid accidents
  • Goods transportations like coal, petrol, etc
  • Providing passenger’s amenities and train charting.
  • Control passengers’ traffic in a zone.

There’re 18 zones of the Indian Railways and each are embedded with their operations, values and duties. Let’s discover all zones along with their helpline numbers.

  1. Central Railway (CR) – It is the oldest railway zones of Indian Railways. It is headquartered in Mumbai CSMT. It covers 3,905 km of railways route with 612 railway stations maintained by 5 divisions – Mumbai, Bhusawal, Pune, Solapur and Nagpur. Helpline number – 139
  2. Northern Railway (NR) – It is the largest railway zones by covering 1,142 railway stations. It is headquartered in New Delhi and divisions are Delhi, Ambala, Firozpur, Lucknow and Moradabad. Helpline number – 06206994064.
  3. North Eastern Railway (NER) – With the help of 3 divisions – Izzatnagar, Lucknow and Varanasi, it maintain its duties and reports to headquarter at Gorakhpur. Helpline number – 1800111139
  4. Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) – It is one of the 18 railway zones with 5 divisions – Alipurduar, Katihar, Rangiya, Lumding, Tinsukia and it is headquartered in Guwahati. Helpline number -182.
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  6. Eastern Railway (ER) – ER is headquartered at Fairley Palace of Kolkata. Eastern Railway compromises four divisions Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol and Malda and contains most A1 and A category stations like Howrah, Sealdah, Asansol, Bhagalpur, and Durgapur etc. Helpline number – 1800-111-321
  7. South Eastern Railway (SER) – It is the second zone established in Kolkata but it is headquartered at Garden Reach and its divisions are Adra, Chakradhrpur, Kharagpur and Ranchi. Helpline numbers
  8. South Central Railway (SCR) – The South Central Railways headquarter is in Secunderabad and divisions are Secunderabad, Hyderabad and Nanded. Its route area is 3,127 km and it covers 883 railway stations. Helpline number – 1800-425-5090, ¬+91-9701370964, 040-27834044
  9. Southern Railway (SR) – It is the earliest and second-largest railway zone created in independent India. It’s headquarter was in Tiruchirappalli and registered in London as a company but later it was shifted to Chennai Central. Its divisions are Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Palakkad, Salem and Thiruvananthapuram. Helpline number – 0755-6610661 (for Hindi) and 0755-4090600 (for English)
  10. Western Railway (WR) – It is one of the busiest railway zones of Indian Railways. It’s headquartered at Churchgate, Mumbai and divisions are Mumbai, Ratlam, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Vadodara. On November 28th, Western Railway is going to celebrate its 150th birth anniversary. So if you’re travelling in train and crossing or boarding your train from any stations of this zone then order food in train to avail the discount offers on your meal. Helpline number – 139 (Security/Railway Enquiry/Catering/ Vigilance/Accident/Complain Status); 182 (All India Helpline number); 58888 or 92000 03232 (Coach Service)
  11. South Western Railway (SWR) – It covers most of the railway lines of Karnataka state. It’s headquarter is in Hubbali and divisions are Hubbali, Mysuru and Bengaluru. The fourth division of this zone is at kalaburgi to be introduced shortly. Helpline number – 1860 210 3333
  12. North Western Railway (NWR) – This zones headquarter is Jaipur and divisions are Jaipur, Ajmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur. Helpline number
  13. West Central Railway (WCR) – This zone of Indian Railways came into existence in 2003 with its headquarter in Jabalpur and divisions are Jabalpur, Bhopal and Kota. Helpline number – 138
  14. North Central Railway (NCR) – It is one of the 18 zones of Indian Railways. It’s headquartered at Prayagraj and divisions are Allahabad, Agra and Jhansi.
  15. Helpline number
    18001805315 (security for women passenger)
    800111321 (Catering related)
    0532-2407977 (Prayagraj)
    0510-2473470 (Jhansi)
    0562-2424026 (Agra)
    0535-2230155 (NCR Headquarter)
    09794835916 (Fire brigade)
    Security Complaint number
    0532-2223050, 2408828 (Prayagraj)
    0510-2371007 (Jhansi)
    0562-2420119 (Agra)
    09794866946, 09919099190, 0522-2288103/04, 05 (GRP)
    011-23387981 (RPF DG Control)

  16. South East Central Railway (SECR) – It’s headquartered in Bilaspur and divisions are Bilaspur, Raipur and Nagpur. It covers 358 railway stations.
  17. Helpline number:
    182 (RPF)
    07752-414025, 97524-75714 (Zonal RPF control room of SECR)
    07752-247016, 97528-76748 (RPF control room, Bilaspur)
    0771-2252252, 97524-44099 (RPF control room, Raipur)
    0712-2565088, 90960-78708 (RPF control room, Nagpur)

  18. East Coast Railway (ECoR) – The east coast railways has 342 railway stations controlled by 3 major divisions Khurda Road, Sambalpura and Rayagada having its headquarter at Bhubaneswar. Helpline Number
  19. East Central Railway (ECR) – East Central Railway is one of the 18 zones whose headquarter is in Hajipur and divisions are Sonpur, Samastipur, Danapur, Pt. Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Dhanbad. It covers 800 railway stations with help of its railway routes. Helpline Number – 1800111321
  20. Metro Railway (MR) –Kolkata is the owner of oldest metro system in India. It’s has only one division, known as Line 1. It covers 31.36 km of area and 26 railway stations. Helpline Numbers
  21. South Coast Railway (SCoR) – It is newly introduced by the Railways whose headquarter is in Visakhapatnam and its divisions are Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal. It covers 3,496 km area of railway routes but its covering railway stations are still not cleared.

That’s how the Indian Railways operates its administrative functions and continues to be one of the eminent transport giants of India.