State-owned Indian Railways (IR) is the second largest rail network system in the world covering a distance of 65,000-km comprising 1,15,000-km of track and over 7,000 stations. Further, in 2014-15, the IR carried 8.397 billion passengers or more than 23 million passengers a day and 1050.18 million tonnes of freight in the year.
Acting as a lifeline to diverse people of India across the social and economic spectrum, the Railways is the cheapest and reliable mode of transport for long distances as its vast network covers the length and breadth of the country.
Knitting the Indian subcontinent with its services, the Indian Railways are the real sinews of the economy which depends on trains and wagon for exchange of people and goods within the country.
Besides regular trains connecting different parts of India, the IR operates special services with modern facilities like the Palace on Wheels, Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express and Fairy Queen to specific population for an enriched travel experience.
One of the largest commercial unity employers with nearly 1.3 million people on its payroll, the IR offers quality edge for transporting freight over other competitors from the road, sea and air. The IR are 5-6 times more energy efficient, four times more efficient in land use and are much above other modes of transport when it comes to offering a safe environment for men and materials.
The IR is ideally suited for transport of bulk commodities like coal, cement, steel and foodgrains over long distances. In the recent Railway budget, the focus has been on increasing the support infrastructure for the safe running of trains and upgrading the signals and communication devices to prevent accidents.
What has become a worrisome feature is that a number of projects like gauge conversion, construction of rail bridges and laying new tracks in rural pockets could not be completed on time due to funds shortage.
As a result there are still sizeable population in Indian villages unable to enjoy the benefits of the Indian Railways which had ushered in tremendous growth over the decades.
On 23 April 2014, Indian Railways introduced a mobile app system to track train schedules. A number of web-based initiatives have led to easy booking of tickets by passengers for travelling from any point-to-point destinations with just a click of the mouse.
Despite its vast network and indispensable role, the passenger services have to be cross-subsidised from the revenue earning freight services with the ticket fares having been deliberately kept low as a social obligation of the government to extend an efficient mode of transport to the public as a catalyst of speedy growth.
|Railway Minister||Suresh Prabhu|
|Foundation||1853 - present|
|Track gauges||Broad, Metre, Narrow|
|Revenue||INR 467.85 billion|