Established on 14th April 1952, the Northern Railways zone of the Indian Railways covers 6807 km of track and has the largest route of all the railway zones of the country. The headquarters of the Northern Railways is situated in Delhi and the entire zone is divided into five divisions namely Delhi, Lucknow, Ambala, Firozpur and Moradabad.
It also boasts of the first passenger line in North India laid between Allahabad and Kanpur and the largest Route Relay Interlocked System in the world.
The Delhi division is centered in the national capital, New Delhi, and connects the northern part of the country with all other regions and runs 582 trains.
The Lucknow division of the Northern Railways is largely a passenger division and runs 421 trains, which cater to the passengers of the most populous state of the country, Uttar Pradesh. Two stations within the Lucknow Division (Varanasi and Lucknow) have been earmarked to be developed into world-class stations.
The Ambala Division, which is a freight-oriented division, caters to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. The capitals of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh all fall within the Ambala division, making it an important link amongst the states.
The Muradabad division handles passenger and freight traffic for western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It runs a sum total of 160 trains along with heavy freight from the fertilizer and heavy electrical industries in the area.
Firozpur is the northern most division of the Northern Railways and serves as a link to the scenic and beautiful states of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. It runs a total of 316 trains and is the largest 'grain' division of the country.
The Northern Railways is broadly broken into three zones. These are:
North Central Railways - The mainstay of the Indian railways, the North-Central Railway stretches from Mughalsarai to Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh and goes south till Bina in Madhya Pradesh. It covers the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and has divisions in Allahabad, Jhansi and Agra.
North Western Railways - The North-Western Railways was formed by merging the Bikaner and Jodhpur divisions of the Northern Railways and the Jaipur and Ajmer divisions of the Western Railways. It consists of both broad gauge and meter gauge tracks and covers an incredible 6559.546 kilometers in track distance.
North Eastern Railways - Catering to the states of Bihar, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the North-Eastern Railways is a technologically savvy zone of the Northern Railways with computerized reservation facilities available as far back as 1986. Divisions are at Lucknow, Varanasi and Izzatnagar and headquarters are presently at Gorakhpur. The North-Eastern Railways has also laid down optic fiber cables along stretches of its track and this had become their primary tool for communications.
Being equipped with the largest route network in the country, the Northern Railways connects the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. It provides passengers the opportunity to travel towards the northernmost parts of the country such as Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and explore the flat plains of the Northern India from Delhi to Bengal.
Luxury trains such as the Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express along with other trains such as the Mussorie Express, Sadbhavna Express, etc. are operated under the Northern Railways banner to connect some of the more familiar tourist destinations such as Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Shimla, Jammu, Moradabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Delhi, Dehradun, Amritsar and Haridwar
The Northern Railways reservation system was the first to introduce computerized passenger reservation system on 19 February 1986. The organization has constantly attempted to upgrade its infrastructure and provides Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS), Electronic Display Systems, Recorded Coach Guidance Display System, Reservation Availability Position Information Display (RAPID), Self Dial Telephone Reservation Enquiry Booths (I ASK) and more recently, ATMs and Money changing facilities at stations.
All of these are attempted to make travelling more enjoyable and convenient for those who choose to travel by the Northern Railways. Improvements have also been in order to make the journeys of unreserved travelers easier. The Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) of the Northern Railways allows the unreserved passenger to purchase unreserved tickets three days in advance from current booking counters.
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