November 5 has special significance for both railways headquartered in Mumbai– the pioneering Central Railway and the Western Railway and its been since 70 years now. Here’s why. This was just after India’s independence. It was the April 1949 railway convention that stressed the need of consolidation of smaller rail units for better administrative reorganization, avoid duplication of works and optimal utilization of rolling stock and assets. The committee said that it would not only improve operational efficiency, but also improve the economic condition. The government worked out a plan in 1950 to regroup the government owned/managed, private railway into six zones.

The following were the key principles:
(a) Each zone should be such as to enable the headquarters to introduce technical improvement; it should have workshops, research institutes and institutes for training in railway statistics.

(b) Regrouping should be done in such a way as to cause the least dislocation in the then existing arrangements and to cause no deterioration in the operational standard or in the efficiency of service, and to keep staff movements to the minimum.

(c) Each zone should as far as possible be well demarcated.

The next year, the railways were regrouped into six zones, starting with the Southern Zone on 14th April 1951 and ending with the Eastern Zone on 14th April 1952.

Central Railway formed on 5 November 1951, by merging the following railway systems into a unified one:
(a) The Great Indian Peninsula Railway
(b) The Nizam’s State Railway
(c) The Dholpur State Railway
(d) The Scindia State Railway.

Eastern Railway came into existence on 14th April 1952, by integrating the following railways:
(a) The Sealdah, Howrah, Asansol. Dahlpore, Dmisns and Dhanbad Transportation Of the East India Railway.
(b) The Nagpur Railway,

Northern Railway zone was formed on 14th April 1952 by amalgamating the following railway systems:
(a) The East Punjab Railway,
(b) The Jodhpur Railway (Excepting Marwar-Phulad section which was merged with the Western Railways).
(c) The Bikaner Railway.
(d) The Lucknow, Moradabad, and Allahabad Divisions of the East Indian Railway.
(e) The Delhi-Rewari-Fazilka Section.

North Eastern Railway zone was formed on 14 April 1952 by regrouping into a single unified system the following railways:
(a) The Oudh Tirhut Railway.
(b) The Assam Railway (including the Cooch Bihar State Railway) and the Katakhal-Lala Bazar which were being worked by the Assam Railway.
(c) The Fatehgarh District. i.e., Kanpur-Anwar Ganj Achnera section Of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway.

Southern Railway was formed on 14 April 1951, by merging the following railway systems:
(a) The Madras and Southern Maharatta Railway.
(b) The South Indian Railway.
(c) The Mysore State Railway.

Western Railway was formed on 5th November 1951 by regrouping the following railways into a single unified system:
(a) The Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway.
(b) The Rajasthan State Railway.
(c) The Saurashtra Railway.
(d) The Jaipur State Railway.
(e) The Cutch State.

Soon after the regrouping of six zones, it was found that there were inadequacies, heavy workload and it would be better to split them further for operational efficiency. The further bifurcations were studied carefully and three more zones came into existence up to the year 1966.

Three more zones

South Eastern Railway: It was felt that the Eastern Railway was so unwieldy and had such a heavy work-load that its management as a single unit was not feasible. It was eventually decided to divide this Railway into two zones. The former Bengal-Nagpur Railway was formed on 1st August 1956, into the present South Eastern Zone and the residual portion of the Eastern Railway merged into the present Eastern Zone.

South Central Railway: The workload of the Central and Southern Railways had also become very heavy. Therefore, it was decided to reorganise these two Railways into three Railways. South Central Railway was formed on 2nd October 1966 by taking out Secunderabad and Solapur Divisions from the Central Railway and merging them into separate zone. In August 1967, the Daund-Pune section of the Central Railway was also transferred to this Railway. Subsequently in October 1977, the Solapur Division excluding Wadi-Raichur section was transferred back to Central Railway.

North East Frontier Railway: This Railway zone was divided into two separate Zones on 1st January 1958 partly on administrative and partly on strategic considerations. The former Assam Railway (including the Cooch Bihar State Railway) and the Katakal-Lalabazar and Champarmukh•Silghat Railways, together with the Tezpur- Balipara light Railways were formed into the present North-East Frontier Railway. The residual portion Of the Old North Eastern Railway was constituted into present North-Eastern Railway.

For internal management and control of these Railway Zones, each Zone is divided into various Divisions headed by a Divisional Superintendent. now redesignated Divisional Railway Manager. The Divisional Superintendent provided coordination among the different functional officer of the Division and was responsible for the overall performance This process of dividing the divisions was completed in 1969.

Reference- Management of Indian Railways, By Imamul Haque,1989.

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