East Coast Railway – one of the blue chip zones of Indian Railways came into existence in its present form with effect from 1st April 2003. Since then, the new zonal railway headquarter has been functioning at Bhubaneswar, the capital city in the state of Orissa. The geographical jurisdiction of the railway is however extended over three states encompassing almost all parts of Orissa alongwith parts of Srikakulam, Vizainagaram & Visakhapatnam districts of North Eastern Andhra Pradesh, and Bastar & Dantewada districts of Chhatisgarh State. As such, these regions with a long coastal line are rich in mineral and other natural resources, and are on the threshold of an industrial upsurge.
East Coast Railway is poised to take the lead role in meeting the increased transport demand of this region which is coming up with several mineral based industries, mega steel plants and chemical & & fertilizer plants. Ambitious plans are on the cards to augment and increase rail capacity to major ports like, Paradeep, Gopalpur & Visakhapatnam while enhancing their cargo handling facilities. To match with the anticipated growth of the industrial activity, various projects for development of rail infrastructure are currently under execution.
Consequent upon the parliament’s approval , East Coast Railway was first out of the seven new zones to be inaugurated by the then Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sri H.H. Devegowda on 08.08.1996. The Officer-on-Special Duty took over charge of the newly declared Zone on 16th September,1996. Initially, only one division namely Khurda Road was attached to this railway. Subsequently, however, when the zone became fully operational with effect from 01.04.2003, this railway was carved out of the erstwhile South Eastern Railway, comprising of three divisions viz. Khurda Road, Waltair, & Sambalpur.
In the process, the history repeated itself. The present East Coast Railway is a truncated version of the earlier East Coast Railway that was opened to traffic more than a century back i.e. on 1st November 1888. Long after i.e. on 01.08.1955, the Bengal Nagpur Railway (B.N.R) was separated from the combined East Zone to constitute the South Eastern Railway with the administrative jurisdiction extending over six divisions namely, Nagpur, Bilaspur, Chakradharpur, Kharagpur, Adra, Khurda Road. Thereafter, Waltair division came under its fold in October, 1962 with Palasa-Visakhapatnam(ML- single Line), Raipur-Vizainagaram(RV) single line and Bolangir-Titlagarh (Single line). After formation of Sambalpur division in April, 1994, the jurisdiction of Raipur-Vizainagaram (RV) line in Waltair division was curtailed and left with ex-Titlagarh-Vizainagaram .Subsequently, the newly constructed Sambalpur-Talcher line with a track length 154 Kms. was opened to traffic on 15.08.1998.