The Bihar and Jharkhand region of India is a very rich and populated area. It is also sadly an area filled with conflict and civil unrest. This makes it a very dangerous zone. But despite all this life has to move on and it does so at an extremely fast pace. It happens to be one of the most densely populated places in the country with a whopping eleven-hundred people per sq/km
The IR has been running since the mid-1800s and has completed more than a hundred and fifty years of service. Before independence, it used to be a cluster of state-owned railways and shortly merged into one organization. The IR soon realised that it is extremely hard to operate and function the entire railways of the country from one centre. So they decided to form zones, merging state-owned railways in a sector. Initially, there were 9 zones, but as population rose, it was decided to be further split into the 17 existing zones that we know today.
The East Central Railways, as we know today is one of the more recently formed zones. It was first set-up in 1996 but became operational only on October 1st, 2002. It was carved out from the Eastern Railways and the North Eastern Railways. It consists of six sub-divisions namely Sonpur, Samastipur, Danapur, Hajipur, Mughalsarai and Dhanbad. It is headquartered in Hajipur.
The region has been a challenging one and despite lack of infrastructure and workforce, it has dealt with the problems fairly well. Through this region runs nearly fifty-four hundred kilometres of track on a route of thirty-seven hundred kilometres. All the tracks in this region are the broad gauge ones. Exactly half the route has been electrified and the electrification of the remaining zones is already in progress. It carries over two hundred million passengers annually, from over eight hundred stations spread throughout the region. Despite its drawbacks, the region manages to pull in nearly nine hundred million dollars annually.
The ECR has been nothing short of a lifeline to people in this region, providing them with jobs, and an affordable means to commute and conduct businesses. Construction of new lines, doubling, gauge conversion, construction of bridges and much more have given rise to employment in the sector. There is also a perceivable improvement in safety, cleanliness and catering in passenger trains. The unique quality of this region is the equal focus given to both passenger traffic and freight. The densely populated state of Bihar and the coal-bearing region of Dhanbad in Jharkhand carry a huge significance to the ECR.
It also acts as a gateway to Nepal, with international traffic as the ECR caters to the movement of export traffic and travellers to Nepal and vice versa. This zone is a very busy one and one may find it hard to find train ticket booking. It is advised that one book it weeks prior to the date of travel and use travel and the IR website to do so. Additional features such as PNR status, train location and much more can be accessed on such websites.