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Western Railways: The gateway to the west

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The west is a region of prosperity, in the city of Mumbai; India has its largest trade centre, the economic and financial capital, and a growing IT hub. Hence this city is one of the busiest destinations in the country. Thus it makes for a great place to establish a railway headquarter and focus on it as the major junction of the region. The Western Railways have done just that and the IR has one of its busiest and most prosperous regions in the WR.

The Western Railways was one of the original nine divisions of the IR and was established on 5th November 1951. It was created after merging the state-owned railways of Bombay, Baroda and Central India. The Western Railways has a log and detailed history and dates back to as early as 1855 when the first line ran from Ankleshwar to Utran in Gujarat. By the end of the 19th century the region was connected by a metre gauge to Delhi via the Agra-Jaipur-Ajmer line, even today Delhi to Mumbai trains remain the busiest and most commonly running trains. The first suburban rail service was introduced in Mumbai on April of 1867. By the 1900s the service had 45 trains running from Mumbai to Churchgate and was frequently carrying over a million passengers a year. Today this suburban network carries well over 7 million passengers daily and operates more than 2000 train services.

Today the Western Railways serve the entire state of Gujarat, parts of Madhya Pradesh and coastal Maharashtra. This is a completely different zone from that of the older zones of the railways, the Indian Railways has since split into 17 divisions and some chunks of the Western Railways have also been split off into other regions or added into an existing region. In 2002 the Jaipur- Ajmer divisions were added to the North Western Railways, and in 2003 the Kota division was added to Western Central Railways.

The west coast of India is home to numerous ports such asPorbandar,Surat, Okha and much more. The western railways serve these ports and carry cargo from these places to all parts of the country. The western railways were also one of the first regions to get Electric Multiple Units (EMU), and these trains have both fast and slow locals. The first electric train in this region was introduced in 1928 and ran from Churchgate to Andheri.

The west coast of India is a busy and chaotic place, but amidst all that hustle and bustle, one can find a peace and indescribable calm. There is beauty in the way how millions of people move around for their work and livelihood, completely immune to the sheer chaos of the system. Apart from the hustle of the west, one can also experience calm seas, vast salt plains, national parks and forests and a very vibrant and different culture that echoes the hallmarks of Indian heritage. It is an experience which one can only experience and words are simply not enough to describe its impact.

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