A puffing steam train climbs into the Himalaya, a rolling rumble echoes over the holy waters of the Ganges, an astonishing five million commuters rush daily through the Bombay Victoria Terminus - join National Geographic as we journey on one of the world's largest railways. Since 1853, Indian railway has been a unifying force. Not only did it physically link distant regions, it also connected the myriad of castes, languages, and religions that comprise India. It's a rich history, riding the sumptuous Palace on Wheels through Rajasthan or the "toy train" to Darjiing, but sadly, the age of steam is dying. At the Black Beauty contest, the beloved steam engines are admired for the last time. From the driver in the steaming locomotive to the station master in the sleepy village, from the family traveling to a wedding to the commuters in the large cities, this great institution reflects the country itself. Many are the faces, and varied are the stories, on THE GREAT INDIAN RAILWAY.

The British Empire's legacy to India is the subcontinent's railway system. Indian Railways is the state-owned railway company of India. Indian Railways owns and operates most of the country's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India.

Indian Railways has one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world, transporting over 18 million passengers and more than 2 million tonnes of freight daily. Indian Railways is one of the world's largest commercial or utility employers, with more than 1.6 million employees.

Indian Railways traverse the length and breadth of the country, covering 6,909 stations over a total route length of more than 63,327 kilometres (39,350 mi). As to rolling stock, Indian Railways owns over 200,000 (freight) wagons, 50,000 coaches and 8,000 locomotives. Railways were first introduced to India in 1853. By 1947, the year of India's independence, there were forty-two rail systems. In 1951 the systems were nationalised as one unit, becoming one of the largest networks in the world. Indian Railways operates both long distance and suburban rail systems on a multi-gauge network of broad, metre and narrow gauges. It also owns locomotive and coach production facilities.

Steam trains and other locomotives are nostalgic reminders of a time gone by. This video, released in 1995, is in widescreen format and has a feature-film feel to it, with re-created scenes in sepia contributing to its extremely atmospheric mood. Though not a profound presentation, the video is an introduction to a fascinating railway system in a complex country

Many cities have their own dedicated suburban networks to cater to commuters. Currently, suburban networks operate in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Lucknow-Kanpur. Hyderabad, Pune and Lucknow-Kanpur do not have dedicated suburban tracks but share the tracks with long distance trains. New Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai have their own metro networks, namely the New Delhi Metro, the Kolkata Metro,and the Chennai MRTS, with dedicated tracks mostly laid on a flyover.