The eastern part of India is a densely populated region, particularly the regions of Bengal and its neighbours. It is also a mineral rich region; hence the railways play the most crucial role in the economic prosperity of the said area.
The railways have played an important part in the development and stability of the nation. It has been in existence since the mid-1800s and has since evolved rather well. Earlier the railways were and an amalgamation of various state-owned and operated railways. When India gained its independence, it was agreed upon that the railways should be split up, into various zones as it would mean a smoother functioning. At the start, there were 9 zones, but as India developed and grew; the sheer expansion of the populous forced the IR to split up the 9 zones. Today it is made up of 17 zones.
The South Eastern Zone is a new zone of the IR, with a rather a rich history, which can be dated all the way back to 1887, when the Bengal Nagpur Railway was first incepted, in order to take over the Nagpur Chhattisgarh Railway and to convert the line into Broad Gauge. It continued to expand and amass a great area under its railroads and at one point even had the largest narrow gauge network in the country. It was on the April of 1952 when it was merged with the former Eastern Railways.
The South Eastern Railways first came into existence in 1967, when it was split from the ER. Until April 2003, it consisted of 8 sub-divisions, and currently, only 4 remain after the rest were cut out and added to form other zones. The remaining divisions are Arda, Chakradharpur, Kharagpur and Ranchi Railway divisions. The SER as it is popularly called is currently headquartered in Garden Reach, Kolkata.
Through this region runs nearly 2700 kilometres of track, most of which is broad gauge and is fully electrified. This zone is very important for freight as there are many mining towns and cities in the region, which use the rails to transport cargo. It pulls in annual revenues of more than 1.1 billion dollars due to the huge volume of freight that is moved through this region. Passenger traffic is also quite heavy, as the same towns require a host of workers and employees; nearly 250 million plus people use the SER every year.
Apart from the numerous industries in the area, there are a lot more on offer in the SER such as the world famous Howrah Railway station; which comes under the jurisdiction of this zone. It is one of the oldest and busiest railway stations in the country. One can also visit scenic parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh on their travels through the SER.
The majority of people that use the SER do not live in the bigger cities, but the flexibility of the Indian Railway reservation allows one to book tickets from any station that may come on the way of a major route.