The day the Northeast Frontier Railway was born - 15 January 1958

By B M S Bisht, ex-GM NFR, IRTS (retd.); 7 March 2008

This article was previously published on the website of the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS).

Indian Railways' eighth zone, North-East Frontier Railway with a mileage (kilometerage was not in use then in India) of 1738 was inaugurated by the Minister for Railways Shri Jagjivan Ram on 15 January, 1958 at a very simple but colourful ceremony at Pandu in Gauhati (now Guwahati).

The Governor of Assam Shri Syed Fazl Ali presided over the function. As the name of the new zone suggested it was to serve the northern portions of Bihar, West Bengal, and the entire Assam area bounded by Bhutan, Tibet, Burma and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The zone was being carved out of the parent North East Railway whose General Manager Shri B. Arora welcomed the guests stating that it was the fulfillment of along cherished dream.

Shri Syed Ali, the Governor stated he was happy that problems of great magnitude which had multiplied of late in the East would now get an appropriate solution so far as Railways were concerned. He further said it would also open new opportunities for the Government and public to interact leading to greater administrative efficiency. He also hoped those in charge of this railway would succeed in making it a model railroad (the Governor used "railroad" not "railway").

Shri K. B. Mathur, Member Transportation, Railway Board (now the designation is "Member Traffic") after a brief account of the recent achievements of the Railways requested the Minister to inaugurate the new zone .

Shri Jagjivan Ram, Minister for Railways did the same by pressing an electric switch at which a large size map of North Eastern Railway placed behind the dais was illuminated with two distinct colours showing thereby the revised jurisdictions of the two Railways. Addressing the gathering the Minister said the only consideration for the bifurcation was the higher operational efficiency of the Railways and the interests of the country. He said in order to facilitate dealings with people from East Bihar and North Bengal a Deputy General Manager was being posted at Katihar under the new zone. Wishing godspeed to both North East and North East Frontier Railways he stressed the railways were a very dynamic national undertaking and could never remain static. Lauding the great role of railway men in nation building he said the prosperity of the railwaymen, therefore, was necessary as it was synonymous with the prosperity of the country.

Finally Shri D. C. Baijal, the General Manager of the new zone first introduced to the distinguished audience four of Railways oldest stalwarts who received mementoes from the Governor for their long faithful and meritorious services. They were: Sarv Shri Kheduah, Nar Bahadur Chetty, Bhola, and Jangbir.

Shri Baijal thanked the distinguished guests and the audience and assured them of better and more efficient service trying to meet the new aspirations of the public.

A playful cultural programme climaxed the ceremony. The gathering of more than 5000 members of public and railway men were all praise for the variety show.