Since its inception, Indian Railways has successfully played the role of the prime
carrier of goods and passengers in the Indian subcontinent. As the principal
constituent of the nation’s transport infrastructure, the Railways has an important
role to play.
(a) It helps integrate fragmented markets and thereby stimulate the emergence
of a modern market economy.
(b) It connects industrial production centres with markets as well as sources of
raw material and thereby facilitates industrial development.
(c) It links agricultural production centres with distant markets as well as sources
of essential inputs, thereby promoting rapid agricultural growth.
(d) It provides rapid, reliable, and cost-effective bulk transportation to the energy
sector; for example, to move coal from the coalfield to power plants and
petroleum products from refineries to consumption centres.
(e) It links people with places, enabling large-scale, rapid, and low-cost
movement of people across the length and breadth of the country.
(f) In the process, Indian Railways has become a symbol of national integration
and a strategic instrument for enhancing our defence preparedness
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.
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
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
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
RDSO has also been approved for its quality management system ISO 9001:2000
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
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,
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.
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.