As we all know, the Indian Railways is the fourth largest national railway system in the world by size, with a total route length of 67,956 km (42,226 mi) as of 31 March 2022. Indian Railways carried 8.086 billion passengers alone in FY 2021.
Indian Railways is further planning to increase track length in order to make passenger travel comfortable. In order to make rail travel comfortable, 7,083 railway stations are built in different parts of the country.
There are different factors associated with which the railway stations in India are considered the biggest. Some of them are in terms:
- Size and height of architectural structure and design
- Total number of platforms
- Length of platform
- Junction or number of emerging railway routes
Size and Height of Architectural Structure and Design: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is the biggest railway station in terms of size and height of architectural structure and design.
The station was designed by Frederick William Stevens according to the concept of Victorian Italianate Gothic Revival architecture and was meant to be a similar revival of Indian Goth (classical era) architecture.
The construction of the station began in 1878 in a location south of the old Bori Bunder railway station and was completed in 1887, the year making 50 years of Queen Victoria's rule. In March 1996, the station name was changed from Victoria Terminus to "Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus" (with station code CST), in honour of Emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji founder of the Maratha Empire.
In 2017, the station was again renamed "Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus" (with code CSMT), where the title Maharaj has a literal meaning, "Great king; emperor." At present, both former initials "VT" and the current "CST" are also commonly used.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is a historic railway station listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The station has been the location of filming the "Jai Ho" song in 'Slumdog Millionaire' and 'Ra.One’ (2011 film).
Total Number of Platforms: Howrah Junction
The Howrah Junction railway station is the biggest railway station in terms of the total number of platforms. The total number of platforms at this station is 23.
Howrah Junction railway station is one of the biggest existing railway complexes in India. The station is one of the five intercity railway stations serving the Kolkata Metropolitan city (including Howrah and its twin city of Kolkata). The other stations in Kolkata are Sealdah, Santragachi, Shalimar and Kolkata Chitpur.
About 600 passenger trains pass through the station each day, utilising its 23 platforms, and serving more than one million passengers per day. 1373 stations across India are directly connected to Howrah Railway Station. Hence, Howrah Junction is one of the busiest railway stations in total passenger footfalls.
Tracing its history, the first Rajdhani Express left Howrah for New Delhi on 3 October 1969. In October 2011, the first Double Decker train left Howrah for Dhanbad. Similarly, in February 2017, the first Antyodaya Express left Howrah for Ernakulam.
The book Vibrant Edifice: The Saga of Howrah Station by Eastern Railways was released in 2005.
Length of Platform: SSS Hubballi Junction
The SSS Hubballi Junction railway station is the biggest railway station in terms of the length of the Platform. The total length of Platform No 1 of this station is 1,505 metres, making it the longest railway platform in the world as of March 2021.
Hubballi Junction railway station is Karnataka's second busiest railway station after Bengaluru City. The station has its own railway division and a diesel locomotive shed which holds WDP-4, WDP-4B, WDP-4D passenger locomotives and WAG-9HC goods locomotives.
Hubballi Junction is the centre place for transportation of public and commercials in Karnataka by connecting northwest to Mumbai, west to Goa, South to Bengaluru and east to Hyderabad.
In 2015, the name of Hubballi Junction railway station was changed from ‘Hubli’ to ‘Hubballi’. Later on, the name was changed to Shri Siddharoodha Swamiji. Shri Siddharoodha Swamiji was an Indian Hindu Guru and Philosopher.
Before March 2021, the station with the longest platform was Gorakhpur Junction. The total length of Platform No. 1 is 1,366.33 metres with a ramp and 1,355.40 metres without a ramp.
Junction or Number of Emerging Railway Routes: Mathura Junction
The Mathura Junction railway station is the biggest railway station in terms of the total number of emerging railway routes. There are 7 emerging railway routes from Mathura Junction.
Mathura Junction railway station is one of the important railway stations on the Delhi - Mumbai main line and Delhi - Chennai main line. The junction is important as the routes of trains coming from Delhi are bifurcated towards Mumbai and south Indian cities towards Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai.
The station lies on the Delhi - Chennai main line, Delhi - Mumbai main line, Mathura - Kasganj line, Mathura - Alwar line, Mathura - Achhnera line and Mathura - Vrindavan link MG line. The total number of platforms at this station is 10 Platform 10 is dedicated to the Vrindavan Meter Gauge line.
As per the 2018 report released by the Quality Council of India (QCI), the station was declared the least clean station among the 75 major stations.
In March 2019, Mathura Junction was completely transformed by Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC), which has given the station a new look. This has amazed different pilgrimages and tourists visiting Mathura with new entry and exit gates, amenities for railway passengers, providing new benches on the platforms.