Established in the year 1952, Northern Railways is the largest zone (out of the 16) in terms of kilometres covered (approximately 6807) in India. The headquarters of the Northern Railways zone is at Baroda House, Delhi and New Delhi Railway Station. This zone was created by merging Bikaner, Jodhpur, Eastern Punjab and 3 divisions of East Indian Railways.
In 1986, it became the first zone to launch the computerised passenger reservation system in the country. It also holds the record (certified by the Guinness World Records) for the largest route relay interlocking (RRI) system in the world. RRI is a modern-day signalling system for improved safety and efficiency in operations. The first electric and diesel locomotive simulators in the country, at Kanpur and Tughlaqabad locomotive sheds, were introduced by Northern Railways.
Northern Railways has been divided into 5 divisions: Ambala, Delhi, Mordabad, Lucknow and Firozpur.
This division was created in 1987, and it became operational the following year. There are 141 stations under it, with 5 major ones, including Bathinda, Chandigarh, Kalka, Saharanpur and Ambala Cantonment. The division also has the distinction of featuring the Kalka-Shimla railway line, which has been acknowledged as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Delhi division serves Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Punjab and has 213 stations under it. More than 582 passenger and approximately 213 freight trains are handled by this division, on a daily basis. Delhi Junction (Old Delhi railway station) came into existence in 1864. Prior to 1994, it handled both metre and broad gauge trains; however, today, it only handles broad gauge; the meter gauge trains have been diverted to Delhi Sarai Rohilla Station.
The operations of this division are spread over Uttarakhand and 26 civil districts in the western part of Uttar Pradesh. On a daily basis, it handled 53 pairs of passenger and 107 pairs of Express/Mail trains. There are 204 stations under this division, which also caters to the transport requirements of a number of industries including sugar, sponsored food grains, fertilisers and BHEL.
Lucknow division caters to 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, and there are 194 stations under it. Its headquarters is the Lucknow Charbagh Railway Station, which until 1867, was a huge orchard. It is one of the busiest stations in the country, with 85 passenger trains originating from here and more than 300 trains passing it, every day.
This division caters to Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and a part of Himachal Pradesh, and there are 235 stations under it. Jammu Tawi is an important station of this division as it serves a gateway for pilgrims and tourists to visit Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and the Kashmir Valley. Besides passenger service Firozpur also handles freight traffic for commodities, such as fertilisers, cement, coal, petroleum products, food grains and cotton.
Northern Railways has 4 sub zones:
This sub zone came into existence in 2003, with headquarters at Allahabad. It has 3 divisions, namely Allahabad, Agra and Jhansi.
Formed in the year 1952, this sub zone has Gorakhpur as its headquarters. It also has 3 divisions: Varanasi, Lucknow and Izzatnagar.
This sub zone was formed in the year 2002, with Jaipur as its headquarters. There are 4 divisions in this zone, namely Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner and Jaipur.
Headquartered at Maligaon, Guwahati, this sub zone has 5 divisions: Tinsukhia, Alipurduar, Katihar, Lumding and Rangiya.
Northern Railways serves the states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the union territories of Chandigarh and Delhi. It also operates the Delhi Suburban Railway, covering Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and some adjoining places in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Some notable trains running in this zone are Mahaparinirvana Express, Palace on Wheels, Shatabdi Express and Rajdhani Express. Besides these some important passenger trains of this zone are Prayagraj Express, Jammu Mail, Golden Temple Mail, Himsagar Express and Kashi Vishwanath Express.