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Coordinates: 13°04′57″N 80°16′37″E / 13.08240°N 80.27705°E / 13.08240; 80.27705

Southern Railway
System map
Southern Railway-7
Southern Railway HQ.jpg
Southern Railway headquarters, Chennai
Locale Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry
Dates of operation 1951–
Predecessor South Indian Railway
Track gauge Mixed
Headquarters Chennai Central Railway Station
Website SR official website

The Southern Railway is the earliest of the 16 zones of the Indian Railways created in independent India. It was created on April 14, 1951 by merging three state railways namely Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway, the South Indian Railway, and the Mysore State Railway. The South Indian Railway was originally created in the British colonial times as Great Southern India Railway Co. founded in Britain in 1853 and registered in 1859. Its original headquarters was in Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) and was registered as a company in London only in 1890.[1]

Southern Railway has its headquarters in Chennai and has the following six divisions: Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Salem, Palakkad, and Thiruvananthapuram. It covers the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and small portions of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. More than 500 million passengers travel on the network every year. This zone of the Indian Railways is different from the other zones of India as its revenue is derived from passengers and not from freight.[2]

The most profit of the Southern Railways comes from Chennai - Tirunelveli - Nagercoil section[3] (via Villupuram, Trichy, Madurai). The next profitable section is Chennai - Coimbatore and Chennai Central - Trivandrum section ranking third.

For better administrative control and improved development and operational reasons, the Railway Board approved the creation of a new Railway Division with Salem as headquarters in 2005 to improve railway infrastructure, facilities (lacking since several decades) and introduce better train services, thus satisfying the long felt needs of railway passengers in and around surrounding areas and thereby providing better conveniences to rail travelers. Coimbatore and Tirupur stations are also included in the Salem division. It is now the fourth largest of all the six divisions of the Southern Railway and was carved out of the Palakkad and Tiruchirapalli divisions. A large section of this railway zone had meter gauge lines, compared to most of Indian Railways having broad gauge lines. The main improvements currently in this railway zone are to convert all lines to broad gauge, improvement of stations, platform covering, better catering stalls and an automated signaling system to avoid accidents. The Chennai Central station handles a million passengers every day. Six stations namely Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram have been scheduled for upgrading. Chennai Central and Trivandrum Central railway stations are being upgraded to world class standards.

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