Ministry of Railways
Government of India
Ministry of Railways

Rail Bhavan in New Delhi, the seat of the Ministry of Railways
Ministry overview
FormedMarch 1905 (1905-03)
JurisdictionGovernment of India
HeadquartersRail Bhavan
1, Raisina Road, New Delhi, India
Employees1,212,882 (2022)[1]
Annual budget264,600 crore (US$33 billion) (2023–24)
Minister responsible
Deputy Ministers responsible
Ministry executive
Child agencies

The Ministry of Railways is a ministry in the Government of India, responsible for the country's rail transport. Indian Railways is a statutory body managed by the railway board under the ownership of the ministry that operates the national railway system. The ministry along with the railway board is housed inside Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. With more than 1.2 million employees, it is one of the world's largest employers.


The first railway track was operational in Madras in 1837 and the first passenger train ran in Bombay in 1853.[2][3] But the earlier railways were operated by private companies with the earliest being the Madras Railway established in 1845 and the Great Indian Peninsular Railway incorporated in 1849.[4] In October 1901, the Secretary of State for India in Council appointed Thomas Robertson as a special commissioner for Indian Railways to prepare a report on the administration of Indian Railways.[5] In his report in 1903, Thomas recommended setting up of a three-member Railway Board headed by a chief commissioner.[5] In March 1905, the railway branch of the Public Works Department was transferred to the newly established railway board under the department of commerce and industry by the Indian Railway Board Act.[6] In 1908, the set up was re-organized on the recommendations of the Railway Finance Committee (1908) by constituting the railway board headed by a president as a separate department.[5] Pursuant to the Acworth committee's recommendations in 1921, the railway board was expanded to four members with the addition of a financial commissioner in 1924 apart from the chief commissioner, one commissioners responsible for ways and works, projects and stores and the other responsible for general administration, staff and traffic.[5]

In 1929, an additional member was added to the board and was assigned the responsibility for staff, so that the member in charge of traffic could focus solely on transport and commercial matters.[7] In 1944, all the railway companies were taken over by the Government.[8] In December 1950, the Central Advisory Committee for Railways approved the plan for re-organising Indian Railways into six regional zones and re-constituting the railway board to four members with the senior-most functional member appointed the chairman of the board with no absolute over riding power.[9][10] In October 1954, the chairman of the board was made responsible for decisions on technical and policy matters, with the status of a principal secretary to the Government of India with an additional member added.[10] The board was expanded with an additional member responsible for electrical engineering in 1972 and a further member responsible for health in 1976.[11] In 2004, the board is expanded by the introduction of two new members responsible for signalling & telecom and for stores respectively.[12] In December 2019, the Union Cabinet decided to reduce the size of the board from eight to five.[13]


Administrative officials
Title Name
Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw[14]
Minister of State, Railways Raosaheb Danve, Darshana Jardosh[15]
Chairman and CEO of Railway Board Jaya Varma Sinha[16]

The ministry has a union minister and one or more ministers of state.[17] The railway board reports to the union ministry with the directorates of traction, engineering, traffic, rolling stock, signalling, materials, personnel, RPF, finance, health and safety reporting to the board.[18] Indian Railways is a statutory body that reports to parliament and is under the ownership of ministry of railways.[19] Indian Railways is further divided into 18 administrative zones (17 operational), headed by general managers who report to the board along with the heads of other institutions and undertakings owned by the Indian Railways.[18] The railway board consists of a chairman, four members responsible for operations, business development, human resources, infrastructure and finance respectively.[20] Also part of the board are four director generals responsible for human resources, health, RPF and safety respectively.[20]

Railway Budget

Main article: Railway budget of India

The first railway budget was presented in 1924.[4] Since then, Railway budget was presented as a standalone budget every year before the union budget till 2016.[21] The last Railway Budget was presented on 25 February 2016 and on 21 September 2016, Government of India approved merger of the rail and general budgets from 2017.[22] The railway budget is estimated to be 264,600 crore (US$33 billion) for the financial year 2023–24.[23]

Railway ministers

Criticism and controversies

On 14 February 2008, Westinghouse Air Brake, admitted to a US federal court of violating Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) regulations by making improper payments from its subsidiary Pioneer Friction based in Kolkata, to government officials of the Indian railway board to obtain and retain business with the Railway Board and curb taxes.[26]

On 3 May 2013, the CBI arrested then minister of railways Pawan Kumar Bansal's nephew, Vijay Singla for accepting an alleged bribe of 9 million (US$110,000) from a middleman for the appointment of a particular person to the railway board.[27] The railway board clarified that no rules had been broken during the appointment and suspended Mahesh, the person concerned.[28]


  1. ^ Indian Railways Year Book 2021–22 (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  2. ^ "When India's first train blew steam". The Times of India. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  3. ^ "Chennai: The track record". New Indian Express. 16 April 2018. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  4. ^ a b Understanding Indian Railway Heritage (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. p. 6. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d IRFC (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  6. ^ The Indian Railway Board Act, 1905 (PDF). Parliament of India. 1905.
  7. ^ "History of Indian Railways". IRFCA. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  8. ^ Evolution of Indian Railways-Historical Background (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  9. ^ Overview of Indian Railways (PDF) (Report). National Academy of Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  10. ^ a b "History of Indian Railways". IRFCA. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  11. ^ "History of Indian Railways". IRFCA. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  12. ^ "History of Indian Railways". IRFCA. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Cabinet approves restructuring of Railway Board". Livemint. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  14. ^ "Ashwini Vaishnaw, ex-IITian and MBA graduate from Wharton, takes charge as IT, Railway Minister". Zee news. 8 July 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Raosaheb Dadarao Danve take charge as MoS for Railways". ANI. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  16. ^ "Govt appoints Jaya Verma Sinha as first woman CEO, chairperson of Railway Board". Livemint. 31 August 2023. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  17. ^ Organization Chart (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  18. ^ a b Organization Chart (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  19. ^ Roy, Debasish (27 February 2019). "Why isn't the Railways a PSU?". The Economic Times. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  20. ^ a b Railway Board (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  21. ^ "After 92 years, Rail Budget is history". Business Standard. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Railway budget to be merged with General budget from 2017". The Hindu. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  23. ^ Railway Receipts and Expenditure (PDF) (Report). Indian Railways. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  24. ^ "Full List of Railway Ministers of India". Notes Press. 25 August 2023. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  25. ^ IRFCA link of railways ministers. IRFCA (Report). Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  26. ^ Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation Agrees to Pay $300,000 Penalty to Resolve Foreign Bribery Violations in India (Report). Department of Justice, Government of United States. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  27. ^ "Railway Minister Pawan Bansal's nephew arrested by CBI for allegedly accepting bribe". NDTV. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  28. ^ "Mahesh suspended, nephew arrested; What about Pawan Kumar Bansal?". Dainik Bhaskar. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.