The Western Railway is one of the 17 zones of Indian Railways, and is among the busiest railway networks in India. The major railway routes of Indian Railways which come under Western Railways are: Mumbai Central - Ratlam, Mumbai Central - Ahmedabad and Palanpur - Ahmedabad. The railway system is divided into six operating divisions: Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Ratlam and Mumbai. Vadodara railway station, being the junction point for the Ahmedabad - Mumbai route and the Mumbai - Ratlam route towards New Delhi, is the busiest junction Station in Western Railways and one of the busiest junctions of Indian Railways too, while Ahmedabad Division earns highest revenue followed by Mumbai Division and Vadodara Division. Surat railway station is one of the busiest railway station in Western Railway in non-junction category where more than 160 trains passes per day.
Western Railway General Manager's official bungalow 'Bombarci' (abbreviation of- BOMbay,BARoda and Central India) is located on Altamont road in Cumbala hill, Mumbai.
The Western Railway was created on 5 November 1951 by the merger of several state-owned railways, including the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway (BB&CI), and the Saurashtra Railway, Rajputana Railway and Jaipur State Railway. The narrow gauge lines of Cutch State Railway was also merged into it in 1951.
The BB&CI Railway was itself inaugurated in 1855, starting with the construction of a 29-mile (47-km) broad gauge track from Ankleshwar to Utran in Gujarat state on the west coast. In 1864, the railway was extended to Mumbai.
Subsequently, the project was further extended beyond Vadodara in a north easterly direction towards Godhra, Ratlam, Nagda and thereafter northwards towards Kota and Mathura, to eventually link with the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, now the Central Railway, which had already started operating in Mumbai in 1853. In 1860 Surat railway station was built and it was first railway station in Asia which is having platform on first floor(above ground level). In 1883, a metre gauge railway system, initially linking Delhi with Agra, Jaipur and Ajmer, was established.
The first suburban service in Mumbai with steam traction was introduced in April 1867. It was extended to Churchgate in 1870. By 1900 45 trains in each direction were carrying over one million passengers annually.
The railways of several princely states were also integrated into the Western Railway. The Gaekwars of Baroda built the Gaekwar's Baroda State Railway (GBSR), which was merged into the BB&CI in 1949. Several railways of western Gujarat, including the Bhavnagar, Kathiawar, Jamnagar & Dwarka, Gondal, and Morvi railways were merged into the Saurashtra Railway in 1948. The Jodhpur and Bikaner Railway was taken over by Rajasthan state in 1949, after the western portion was ceded to the government of Pakistan.
In 2002, the Jaipur and Ajmer divisions of the Western Railway became part of the newly created North Western Railway, and in April 2003 the Kota division of the Western Railway became part of the newly created West Central Railway.
On 28 November 1864 BB&CI Railway, the precursor of Western Railway, touched the soil of Mumbai. On this day BB&CI railway's first train from Mumbai was flagged off from Grant Road station. Since then the city of Mumbai has grown with Western Railway and so has Western Railway evolved as lifeline of the city.
Western Railway has planned several celebrations to mark the occasion. These include Exhibitions, A compendium of BB&CI Magazine, Brochures, Renovation of Heritage Gallery, Curio Shop etc.
Western Railway headquarters is in Mumbai's Churchgate station and serves the entire state of Gujarat, some portions of Western Madhya Pradesh, and coastal Maharashtra. The Western coast of India served by Western Railway has a number of ports, most important among them being Kandla, Hajira, Surat, Okha, Porbandar, Bhavnagar in Gujarat state and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) ply between Churchgate and Virar (60 km) and is projected to extend the service till Dahanu Road (Services actually started on 16 April 2013), while Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMUs) service the section beyond Virar till Dahanu Road (60 km). EMUs are of 9 car, 12 car or 15 car rakes and are differentiated as slow and fast locals. Slow trains halt at all stations, while fast ones halt at important stations only and are preferable over longer distances. The first electric train on this section was introduced in 1928 between Churchgate and Andheri.
The gauge-wise kilometrage of Western Railways at present, is as under:
Conserving Heritage, Western Railway has opened Heritage Gallery at its Headquarters Building at Churchgate, Mumbai. The Gallery has recently been renovated. It is a collection of various models of BB&CI era, the precursor of Western Railway. Many notes of agents of BB&CI dating back to 1860s have also been displayed. Suburban timetable of 1948, steam engine model, signalling equipments, Model of 1928 EMUs, working model of Auxiliary Warning System, etc. have been beautifully displayed.
The gallery is a journey into the past of Western Railway. It gives an insight about the development of lines on Western Region of India. The BB&CI map dating back to 1930s shows us that the Western line started from Mumbai via Vadodara, Ratlam connected GIP Railway at Mathura to reach Delhi and further Peshawar. The Frontier Mail (Golden Temple Mail) used to once run up to Peshawar.The Gallery is open for public free of cost during working hours and on special occasions.
A steam roller of 1948 used by Railways to construct roads alongside tracks has been conserved by Western Railway and put on display at Bandra Terminus. This is one of the first steam rollers manufactured by Tatas for Western Railway. It was last used until 20 years ago after which it was lying unused in railway yard in Valsad. This 10 tonne machine has been transported to Mumbai and repaired and beautified using sand blasting technique.
Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad Junction, Bandra Terminus, Vadodara Junction, Surat, Bhavnagar Termius, Ratlam Junction, Indore Junction, Ujjain Junction, Rajkot Junction, Gandhidham Junction, Borivali, Dadar railway station, Vasai Road.