Southern Railways: The Path to a different India - Ganna Magazine Blog

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Southern Railways: The Path to a different India


When talking about India, we always think about the diversity and the contrasting cultures. From the huge variation in linguistics and ethnicity, to the differences in attitudes and behaviour, North and South India are unique in a multitude of ways. One would think that this massive distinction makes it hard to bridge the gap, and despite all this, India is a success story of multiculturalism and diversity.

The railroads and how it links two parts of India

The Indian Railways is one of the largest public transport networks in the world, it carries over 800 million passengers annually and employs over 1.3 million people. Connecting a country like India, with a multitude of varying terrains and culture can be quite the task. One major organization presiding over the whole country’s railway network would be a disaster. In the post-independence era of the 1950s, the government decided to divide the IR into 9 different regions for better control and smoother operation of the railways. During the 2000s, the 9 regions were further split into 8 more regions, bringing it to a total of 17 railway zones in India.     

South India and its railway network

Southern Railways was one of the first 9 zones to be created. It was established on 14th April 1951, by the merger of three state-owned railways, namely the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, the South Indian Railway Company, and the Mysore State Railway. Its creation can be dated back to the times of the British rule, in 1853 when the Great Southern India Railway Company was founded. Its original headquarters during the British reign was in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) but has since then shifted to Chennai Central. It was the first zone to be formed, as the geographical and economic factors in this region facilitated easy integration. This relatively quick and straightforward amalgamation led to quick streamlining and organizing the working pattern of the Southern Railway.

Under the Southern Railways are six divisions namely, Chennai, Salem, Palakkad, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirapalli and Madurai. It covers the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. An estimated 300 million people travel on this network every year. What separates SR from other zones, is the fact that its revenue is derived from passengers and not from freight. The SR is home to three workshops in Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, and Arakkonam. There are over 6400 kilometres of track in this region, all of which is electrified.

South India is one of the most scenic places in terms of flora and fauna, trains often run curve along the many hills and forests in the region. It is also home to a host of cultural and historic places. The backwaters of Kerala, the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, and the Western Ghats are some of the places through which trains of the Southern Railways pass through. The train schedule of all these can be found on many travel and ticket booking websites, as well as in any station that comes under the jurisdiction of the Southern Railways.

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