Initially, to exercise effective control over the construction and operation of the railways in India, which were entrusted to private companies, consulting engineers were appointed under the Government of India. Later, when the Government undertook the construction of the Railways, the consulting engineers were designated Government inspectors. In 1883, their position was statutorily recognized. Later, the Railway Inspectorate was placed under the Railway Board, which was established in 1905.
The Railway Inspectorate was subsequently placed under the Ministry of Transport and Communication in the year 1940. In an attempt to give it a better status, the Railway Inspectorate was re-designated the Commission of Railway Safety in the year 1961.
Presently the Commission of Railway Safety is headed by a chief commissioner; the commission headquartered at Lucknow under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Under the administrative control of the chief commissioner of Railway Safety, who looks after the safety aspects and other statutory functions of the various zonal railways, nine commissioners of railway safety are stationed at various locations such as Lucknow, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, and Secunderabad.
The responsibility for safety in the working and operation of the railways rests solely with the Railway Board and the zonal railway administrations. The main task of the Commission of Railway Safety, however, is to direct, advise, and caution
railway executives with a view to ensure that all reasonable precautions are taken with regard to the soundness of rail construction and safety of train operation.