The Indian Railways (IR) is the world's largest railway system under single management and the largest employer in the world with approx. 1.33 million employees. India's as well as Asia's first train steamed off from Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) to Thane on April 16th, 1853 covering a distance of 34 kms. India's railway network grew rapidly to encompass a pan-Indian network of almost 40 000 kms. India and Japan have signed an agreement for the construction of a Shinkansen type highspeed rail corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. This is one of seven corridors currently under consideration for highspeed train service.
IR carried approx. 22.94 million passengers daily (total 2087 million) during Q1/2018-19 out of which ca 45 % was non-suburban passenger traffic. IR's vast rail network (third largest in the world) encompassed 67 368 route kilometers of which 61 680 kms was broad gauge (Mar 2017). 450 kms of new line became operational in 2013-14 and 1 350 kms of existing lines were electrified. The network covers 7 172 stations and is served by over 13 300 daily passenger (incl. 5 125 suburban EMU trains) and 7 400 freight trains. Approx. 29 000 route kilometers of rail had been electrified as of 2018. IR's gross revenues amounted to approx. ₹ 1.65 trillion (ca USD 23½ bn) in 2016-17.
IR's passenger reservation system (PRS) is the largest of its kind in the world. IR's plan outlay for 2017-18 is approx. ₹ 1.31 trillion (ca USD 20 bn).Train tickets can be booked on
Revenue based freight carried amounted to 1 109 million tons in 2016-17. The main commodities handled by IR during 2015-16 include coal (552 million tons), iron ores (117 MT), cement (105 MT), mineral oils (43 MT), foodgrains (46 MT), fertilizers (52 mt) and iron&steel (45 MT).
A new joint-venture plant for the manufacture of upto 5000 EMUs spanning 12 years is planned to be constructed at Kanchrapara, north of Kolkata. Bids of three consortia have been shortlisted and the contract is expected to be awarded in 2018.
A 3 300 hp WDM-3D class diesel locomotive at CSMT, Mumbai and manufactured by IR's DMW (Diesel Loco Modernisation Works) under license from ALCO, USA. IR's DLW (Diesel Locomotive Works) located in Varanasi has been producing the bulk (over 8 000 locomotives till date) of IR's diesel locomotives since 1963/64. The plant has also been producing the WAP-7 electric locomotive since 2017. DLW total production consisted of 321 locomotives in 2017-18.
Average Speed km/h (incl. stops)
|Scheduled Travel Time|
|Howrah (Kolkata)||Mumbai CST||Duronto Express||4xweekly||nonstop||1974||
|Mumbai Central||New Delhi||Rajdhani||Daily||5||1388||
|Howrah (Kolkata)||New Delhi||Rajdhani||6xweekly||6||1463||
|Kolkata Sealdah||New Delhi||Duronto||4xweekly||nonstop||1473||
|Kolkata Sealdah||New Delhi||Rajdhani||Daily||6||1473||
|Howrah (Kolkata)||Chennai Central||Coromandel||Daily||12||1665||
|New Delhi||Agra Cantt.||Bhopal Shatabdi||Daily||1||195||
|New Delhi||Varanasi Jn.||Vande Bharat Express||5xweekly||2||769||96||8h|
|Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin||Agra Cantt.||Gatimaan Express||6xweekly||1||188||
|Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin||Chennai Central||Rajdhani||2xweekly||7||2166||
Indian Railways had till recently faced increased competition from low-cost airlines that were luring mainly first class passengers to shift to air travel. As a countermeasure, AC First fares were substantially lowered. Although Indian passenger trains are relatively slow in general, a few exceptions do exist. India's fastest train at present, the Gatimaan Express, attains a maximum speed of 160 km/h between Delhi and Agra. Rajdhani trains operate upto speeds of upto 130 km/h on certain sections. Gatimaan Express was launched in April 2016 and completes the 195 km journey from New Delhi Nizamudding to Agra Cantonment in 2 hours.
Humasafar Express trains comprise of modernized full 3-tier AC sleeper coaches.
India's longest scheduled single continous train journey can be experienced on the weekly Vivek Express, connecting Kanyakumari (southern tip of India) with Dibrugarh in Assam. The route distance of 4 282 kms is covered in 83 hours including 55 intermediate stops. IR operates fully airconditioned but affordable Garib Rath trains on selected routes medium/long distance routes. Fares on these trains are about 25 per cent lower than comparable AC 3-tier fares.
Indian Railways operates on three gauges: broad gauge (1.676 m), meter gauge (1.000 m) and narrow gauge (0.762 m and 0.610 m). All major routes are served by broad gauge (58 175 route kms at the end of 2013-14). Rolling stock incl. 5 714 diesel and 5 065 electric locomotives, over 60 000 EMU and conventional coaches and over 254 000 wagons in March 2015.
Train-18 and Train-20
Two semi-highspeed self-hauled train sets are under development, the first of which is undergoing trial runs. The first commercial service for Train-18 should start in 2019. The Train-18 includes 16 coaches and can reach speeds of upto 160 km/h. The Train-18 has a more modern appearance compared to other trains presently in service in India. These new train sets are seen as replacements for the present Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains (a sleeper car version for the former) and initially ca 10 trains are planned to be inducted by 2020. The first train runs between Delhi and Varanasi as the Vande Bharat Express although it will not be able to attain speeds above 130 km/h due to track limitations.
The first Tejas Express train runs between Mumbai and Karmali, Goa 5xweekly (3xweekly during monsoon). This new train type includes automatic doors, personal LCD screens and many other new features and a maximum speed of 160 kph on this stretch. The upgraded and second Tejas train will serve on the Chennai (Egmore) to Madurai route.
Regional Rapid Transit System
Three routes have been identified for implementation connecting Delhi with Alwar, Meerut and Panipat. High-speed regional trains are planned to reduce train travel considerably to the aforementioned destinations. The RRTS network is also planned to have interchange facilities with selected Delhi Metro stations including Aerocity. The project is being implemented by NCRTC.
A high-speed railway corridor has been planned to connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The route will start at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai and terminate at Sabarmati Station in Ahmedabad and will be implemented by NHSRCL. Interim stations to be built along the corridor will include (after BKC) Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand/Nadiad and Sabarmati. The trains to be operated on this route will be similar to the Shinkansen E5 series ("Hayabusa") train sets used in selected high-speed rail corridors in Japan eg Tokyo to Shin-Aomori. 70-75 daily trains are planned to run on the route and could prove to be a faster connection between the terminating cities than by air. The designed maximum and operating speeds are 350 km/h and 320 km/h respectively. The gauge used on the double track corridor will be 1435 mm. Total expenditure for the project is estimated at ₹ 1.1 trillion and the line is estimated to be completed in 2023.
IR runs the 4xweekly Maitree Express train from Kolkata to Dhaka. Kolkata (Kolkata Station) and Khulna are now connected by rail for the first time since the Barisal Express ceased operations in 1965. The weekly Bandhan Express departs from both termini every Thursday.
|Zone||Headquarters||Route Kms (31.3.15)||Freight Carried
in Million Tons (2004-05)
|Central Railway||Mumbai (Chhatrapati Shivaji)||4 042||42.98|
|Eastern Railway||Kolkata||2 666||46.95¹|
|East Central||Hazipur||3 791||58.26|
|South East Central Railway||Bilaspur||2 489||92.52|
|West Central Railway||Jabalpur||2 995||19.97|
|North Central Railway||Allahabad||3 216||5.43|
|East Coast Railway||Bhubaneswar||2 679||70.46|
|Kolkata Metro Railway||Kolkata||27|
|Northern Railway||New Delhi||7 221||41.4|
|North Eastern Railway||Gorakhpur||3 869||2.06|
|North Western Railway||Jaipur||5 554||9.05|
|North East Frontier Railway||Maligaon-Guwahati||3 996||9.94|
|Southern Railway||Chennai||5 079||27.4¹||511¹|
|South Central Railway||Secunderabad||5 922||51|
|South Eastern Railway||Kolkata||2 722||85.86¹||157.6|
|South Western Railway||Hubli||3 322||31.75|
|Western Railway||Mumbai (Churchgate)||6 440||28.35|
Below is a small selection of Indian railway books available at Amazon.co.uk. If you wish to order any of these then just click on the bookcover image to proceed with your online order.
Indian Railway videos are rare but I have collected a few high quality and interesting ones available through Amazon.co.uk. Just click on the product image you wish to order.
A new regulatory metro rail policy announced in August 2017 includes a list of points as base requirements for any future metro projects to be approved. Besides Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, most of the other presently operating metro systems such as Jaipur, Lucknow and Chennai have low ridership. Ridership on the Hyderabad Metro has improved recently. A boost in ridership figures can be expected once the metro systems are augmented in length and more public transport integration is put in place. Affordable ticket pricing is also a crucial factor in attracting more commuters. Less capital intensive modes of urban rail modes such as lightrail, tram, monorail or BRTS (bus rapid transit) are unfortunately still a rarity among Indian cities. A few cities have initiated BRTS usage incl. Bhopal, Surat, Rajkot, Indore, Raipur/Naya Raipur, Ahmedabad and the upcoming BRTS in Hubbali-Dharwad. A single monorail line is operating in Mumbai and Kolkata is the sole city in India having a tram network albeit dated. Extensive and heavily used commuter rail (EMU/DEMU) systems operate in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and on a smaller scale in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
|City||Lines||System Length (kms)||Daily Passengers (thousands)|
|Buenos Aires||6||61||1 230|
|New York City||27||394||4 730|
|City||Lines||System Length (kms)||Daily Passengers (thousands)|
The last section (Green Line from Majestic to Yelachenahalli with 11 stations) of the first phase of the ₹ 64 bn (original cost estimate which has increased to ₹ 138 bn) Bengaluru metro system was commissioned in June 2017. The phase 1 network comprises of of two lines totalling 42.3 kms (Purple Line 18.1 kms / 17 stations out of which four are underground and Green Line 24.2 kms / 24 stations out of which three are underground and 21 are elevated. The Majestic (Kempegowda) is the only interchange station. 8.8 route kms is underground and the remaining 33.5 kms runs on elevated track. The first reach (eastern section of the East-West line) was opened in Oct '11 connecting Byappanahalli with M.G. Road and 31.5 kms of line had been commissioned on both lines by May 2016. Average weekday metro ridership has increased to over 400 000 in Oct '18 (346 000 daily average during Q1/18). Buses are nevertheless by far more used with around 4.5 million daily passengers commuting onBengaluru city buses (gross fleet ca 6000 buses). The second phase comprises of 89 route kms (incl. extensions to existing Lines 1 and 2, Line 3, Line 4 and the Outer Ring Road Metro) of which 13.8 km is underground. Over 70 new stations are planned to be added to the 40 stations included in the phase I network. If the set deadline of 2023 is adhered to, Bengaluru will have an extensive metro rail network extending over 140 kms.
A metro corridor to the KIAL airport is also planned routed through Jakkur and Yelahanka. To augment capacity six coach trains are gradually being inducted into service (two are in service as of Oct '18). All trains are planned to have six cars by end-2019.
The first phase (10.2 km route length with seven stations from Koyambedu to Alandur) of the Chennai Central - St. Thomas Mount Green line began commercial operations in June '15. The line intersects with the Green Line at Alandur station. Another section (8 kms) extending from Koyambedu to Nehru Park was commissioned in May '17 while the extension upto Egmore Station and Central Station (connection to Chennai Park suburban rail station served by the South Line) was opened to the public in May '18. A single ticket for a trip from Central to the airport covering a distance of 25 kms is ₹ 70.
As for the Blue Line a 8.6 km long segment connecting the airport with five stations upto Little Mount was opened in Sep '16 and in May '18 the Blue line extension upto AG-DMS was commisioned. The remaining 10 km stretch (Blue Line) extending from AG-DMS to Washermanpet located in North Chennai was opened in Feb '19. In addition to the 42 trains (4 cars each) that will run on the phase I lines, an additional 10 trains have been ordered for the North Chennai line 9 km extension upto Wimco Nagar (estimated completion by Jun '20).
The planned second phase with a total a revised cost of ₹ 690 bn will comprise of new routes extending 108 kms and 116 stations. In the first phase two stretches will be constructed, both starting at Madhavaram in North Chennai. One stretch (15.4 km of which 9.7 km will be underground and 5.7 km elevated) will terminate at CMBT (Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus) while the other stretch will extend 34.9 kms (26 km underground and 9 km elevated) upto Sholinganallur, south of Chennai. The Phase II plan is awaiting Govt. approval.
Chennai Metro presently operates ca 45 route kms on two lines. The number of daily passengers has increased slightly to around 55 000 following the opening of the Central and Egmore stations, ie over a dozen times less than Kolkata Metro which operates a less extensive metro network (28 kms).
Rapid Metro operates a 12 km elevated metro loop line connecting six stations in Gurugram and an extension toward the southern reaches of the city at Sector-55-56. The line includes 11 stations. Rolling stock includes 12 train sets which operate from 6 AM till 12:36 AM. The line has connectivity with Delhi Metro's Yellow Line at Sikandarpur station. Weekday ridership is approx. 50 000.
Two sections on two lines (Line 1: Miyapur to Ameerpet - 11.9 kms and Line 3: Nagole to Ameerpet - 17.4 kms) with a combined length of 29.3 kms (longest inaugurated stretch among all metro systems in India) were commissioned in Nov '17. The remaining section of the Line 1 (Ameerpet to LB Nagar) was inaugurated in Sep '18 making Line 1 (27 kms and 27 stations) the first of the three lines to become fully operational. Hyderabad Metro comprises of 46 kms of route track served by 40 stations, the second most extensive among India's metro networks. The metro operates daily from 6:30 AM (7 AM on Sun) till 10:30 PM. Hyundai has supplied 57 three coach trains for Hyderabad Metro. The peak hour frequency is 3¼ m to 6½ m and 9 m during off-peak hours on Line 1 and 6½ m and 9 m during peak and off-peak hours respectively on Line 2. Single ride fares range from ₹ 10 upto ₹ 60. Daily ridership has increased to approx. 175 000 on weekdays.
The remaining 40 odd kms of the three line 72 km metro rail network (phase I) is under construction and is estimated to be completed by 2022. Line 2 (Green) will run from Parade Ground/Jubilee Bus Station to Falaknuma over a distance of 15 kms with 14 stations. The section from JBS to MGBS is estimated to be commissioned by mid-2019. Construction of the 5½ km MGBS to Falaknuma section in the Old City is scheduled to begin in 2019 and is planned to be completed in three years. The 10 km and 8 station Ameerpet to Hitec City section of Line 3 can be expected to open in Q1/19. Trial runs began end-Nov.
The first phase (9.6 km route length) of the Pink line began commercial operations in June '15 with terminating stations at Mansarovar and Chandpole (7 stations in between). A two station (2.3 km) extension terminating at Badi Chaupar is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018. Jaipur Metro had originally planned for two lines (Pink and Orange) with 29 stations and a total length of 35.2 kms.
Average daily ridership has fallen to just under 20 000 during 2016-17 dropping further to under 18 000 in Sep '17. As a result Jaipur Metro is making a huge loss and the denizens of the city must bear the brunt of levied cess on various services. Ridership is expected to rise only after both lines of the first and second phase are completed.
Kochi Metro's first section extending over a 13.4 km stretch with 11 stations (Aluva to Palarivattom) was commissioned in June 2017. A 5 km stretch from Palarivottam to Maharaja's College was inaugurated in Oct '17 extending the line to 18.4 kms in route length. The remaining roughly seven km section terminating at Pettah is estimated to be fully completed in 2020 though the section upto Thykoodam (ca 5 kms from Maharaja's College station) is expected to be completed by Jun '19. A two kilometer extension from Pettah to Tripunithura is also on the anvil. An 11 km branch line starting from the J N International Stadium is also being planned. Average daily ridership remains low at approx. 45 000 against the original project report estimation of 380 000 daily commuters for the complete 25 km phase I route from Aluva to Pettah.
India's first underground urban rail system became operational on Oct 24 1984 with the opening of a 3.4 km section. The line was gradually extended to its present length of 27.2 kms in July 2013. The underground section of the first metro line was constructed using the cut and cover method. The north-south line extends from Noapara to Kavi Subhash (New Garia) located in southern Kolkata served by 22 stations. The line ridership averages at over 650 000 passengers on weekdays (total ridership during Apr-Oct '18 amounted to 126.1 m, with a daily average of 590 000). Total earnings amounted to ₹ 1.2 bn during the same period. A record 0.91 m passengers rode the metro on Oct 15 '18. The 4.4 km long northern extension upto Dakshineswar is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Construction of the long-awaited second line with a total length of 16.6 kms connecting Howrah Maidan and Bidhannagar Sector V (a hub for IT/technology companies) began in 2009. The revised cost of Line 2 is ₹ 86 bn. Plans are to interconnect the East-West Corridor line with the existing north-south line at the Esplanade metro station. The line would also facilitate a convenient link connecting Kolkata's two busy rail terminals, Howrah and Sealdah. Tunnelling work of the last remaining section between Esplanade and Sealdah is underway.
Six of the proposed 12 stations will be underground while the other six would be elevated stations. The first phase of the line (Salt Lake Sector V to Salt Lake Stadium with a route length of 5.2 kms) is estimated to become operational during H1/19 and the remaining section of the line (the Phoolbagan - Sealdah section could become operational before the Sealdah - Howrah Maidan section is completed) has been announced to be operational in 2021. 10.8 kms of the line would be underground. The three line (implementation of the third line originating from Joka is uncertain and has not been finalized) underground intersection station at Esplanade is planned to feature a bus terminus and parking garage. BEML will supply 14 standard gauge rakes for Line 2, each rake consisting of 6 coaches.
Three other lines are under various stages of construction although some of the sections are on hold. These lines include Line 3 from Joka to Majerhat (ca 9 kms) which is expected to become operational by 2021, Line 6 from NSCB Airport to New Garia (32 kms), Line 4 from Jessore Rd to Noapara (5.3 kms - completion sometime in 2019 and the Airport extension is estimated to be completed in 2021). Regarding Line 6, an initial 5 km stretch extending from Kavi Subhas to Hemendra Mukherjee (Ruby), is expected to be completed by 2021. Completion of the remaining two sections, the first extending some 10 kms upto Bidhannagar Sector V and the remaining section upto the NSCBI airport would follow. The estimated year of completion of this line is unknown.
Four of the new ICF made AC rakes have been delivered and are pending safety clearance. A total of 16 ICF rakes have been ordered for Line 1 in addition to 14 new AC rakes ordered from Dalian and another 10 rakes to be sourced from CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive. The first rake from China (arrival in Kolkata est. Mar) is expected to be inducted into service sometime in 2019. Kolkata Metro has 25 rakes out of which 13 are 8-coach AC rakes. The aging non-AC rakes are scheduled to be phased out by 2020. Some of the old rakes have been or are undergoing refurbising. 14 BEML manufactured rakes will be inducted into service for Line 2 of which 5 rakes have been delivered.
Archive photos and article of Calcutta Metro, including some from the inauguration day in 1984.
The first (in a north-south direction) corridor of two planned is under construction. The two lines will comprise of 33 stations spanning 34 kms in route length. The first 8 km long section from Transport Nagar to Charbagh of the north-south line (Red Line) was inaugurated in Sep '17. The remaining segments of the line are planned to commissioned in Q1/19. The Red Line has a total length of 22.9 kms with 22 stations. Daily ridership is approx. 10 000.
Phase I of the Mumbai metro project originally included the construction of three lines. The 11.4 km elevated Line 1 featuring 12 stations incl. one close to CSIA airport terminals began commercial operation in June 2014. Line 1 average daily ridership exceeds 350 000. Peak hour headway is 3½ minutes. The line was contracted to Reliance Energy and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and is routed from Versova to Ghatkopar via Andheri. A Chinese company, namely Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Works supplied the rolling stock. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Oct '16 for Line 3 (contract value ₹ 231 bn) which, once completed, would extend from Colaba in South Mumbai upto SEEPZ in North Mumbai via the burgeoning BKC commercial area. The line will span over 33½ kms and 27 stations (incl. 26 underground) connecting among others the financial district of South Mumbai, CST, Churchgate and Mumbai Central railway stations, BKC, Worli, CSIA airport (domestic terminal) and SEEPZ. Line 3 is estimated to be completed by the end of 2021. A total of 17 tunnel boring machines (TBM) are presently in operation and some 20 kms (total tunnel length is ca 52 kms excl. station boxes) of tunnelling work has been completed by Feb '19. An estimated 80 % of tunnelling is expected to be completed by end-2019. Line 3 will feature 31 driver-less 8-coach rakes.
Another metro line under construction is Line 7 extending from Andheri (E) to Dahisar (E) with a total length of 16½ kms. The line will be fully elevated and include 14 stations. Line 7 is estimated to be ready in 2020.
Line 2A, the third line under construction and once completed would extend 18½ kms connecting 17 stations between Dahisar (E) and D.N. Nagar. The line is expected to be completed by 2020. The total cost for this line is approx. ₹ 62 bn.
Line 6, with a route length of 14.5 kms, will extend from Swami Samarth Nagar to Vikhroli with a total of 13 stations. The ₹ 67 bn corridor is being implemented by DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corp.). Some civil work is underway.
Line 4, with a route length of 32.3 kms, would extend from Wadala to Kasarvadalli (northern reach of Thane) served by 32 stations. The project is valued at ₹ 145 bn and the contract has been awarded. Line 4 is planned to be operational by 2022. Some civil work is underway.
Line 2B (23½ kms with 22 stations) routed from D.N. Nagar to Mankhurd - contract has been awarded and Line 2B is expected to be completed by 2022. Some civil work is underway.
This extensive plan for metro rail expansion includes a total of over 270 kms of route length which once commissioned would certainly alleviate public transport constraints in the Greater Mumbai area by providing high-capacity passenger transit corridors to and from growing satellite CBD's and residential districts of Mumbai and the neighbouring cities and municipalities.
The 29.7 km long metro line (Aqua line) connecting Noida (Sector 52) with Greater Noida (Depot Station) with 21 stations is partly elevated while the rest of the line is at ground level. The completed line was inaugurated in Jan '19. China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) supplied 76 coaches, each train consisting of 4 coaches.