East Coast Railway
East Coast Railway (ECoR) was the first of the seven new zones in Indian Railways, inaugurated on August 8, 1996, by the then Prime Minister of India – Shri H. H. Devegowda. One of the seven blue chip zones, ECoR came into existence after the approval of the parliament in 1996, and initially, only single division named Khurda Road was attached to it. This zone became fully operational from 1st April, 2003, and since then, it has been operating flawlessly from Bhubaneswar Railway Station (BBS) – its zonal headquarters. This railway station is one of the busiest in the country.
In order to handle increasing traffic, the construction of a terminal named New Bhubaneswar is planned between Barang and Mancheswar. This satellite passenger terminal will be located in the northern side of the city as the older one is located in the southern side. Currently, more than 15 million passengers benefit from the services of this zone on a regular basis. The jurisdiction of this zone is extended over three neighbouring states and all major parts of Orissa. It includes Dantewada, Bastar, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.
The history of ECoR dates back to 1888, when the East Coast Railway was started. Later, the Bengal-Nagpur zone was added to the South Eastern Railway, followed by separation of Visakhapatnam division in South Eastern Railway zone. This led to the creation of East Coast Railway in the beginning of the 21st century.
The electrification of ECoR in 2005 facilitated smooth travel between Bhubaneswar and Delhi, Kharagpur and other stretches. This zone has around 273 railway stations and broad gauge railway tracks. The total track length of the division is approximately 5214 km while that of the electrified track is around 3371.
East Coast Railway has been divided into three divisions – Waltair, Sambalpur and Khurda Road.
Waltair Railway Division, also called Visakhapatnam Railway Division, covers districts in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Out of all three divisions of ECoR, it is the highest revenue generator. In addition to this, the Diesel Loco Shed is also the largest in the country that can accommodate 234 Diesel Locomotives. Similarly, the Electric Loco Shed currently holds 231 Electric locomotives. There are 127 railway stations as its main lines, divided into seven sections. The total route covered under this division is about 2677 km. It primarily caters to the transportation needs of public sectors such as IOCL, HPCL, RINL and Visakhapatnam Port Trust, due to industrialisation in this era.
The main railway station of this division is Khurda Road junction. An important railway junction in Orissa, Khurda Road Junction also serves Jatani, which is often referred as Khurda Road. It is one of three divisions of East Coast Railway. It was built between 1893 and 1896, and was opened for traffic in 1899. Later, it necessitated construction of bridges across Birpa, Brahmani and Kuakhai.
Serving as the head of the Sambalpur division, Sambalpur Railway Station is one of the well-equipped stations in the region. Around 36 trains pass through this station and four originate from here. The Sambalpur-Titlagarh line was started for people in the year 1963, and the construction of the Sambalpur-Talcher line was done in 1998. Now, most of the lines are electrified and the work for their doubling is under progress.
The Khurda Road Division primarily caters to the triangle of Konark, Bhubaneswar and Puri, which attract millions of tourists every year. In addition to serving leisure travellers, it is also an important link catering to the needs of several steel industries. The Sambalpur and Waltair divisions on the other hand serve industrial set-ups such as Sterlite Energy and Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, respectively.