Indian Railways is the fourth largest railway network in the world; it is also one of the biggest employers. As of fiscal 2012, the Railways had 12,335 passenger trains transporting over 30 million passengers daily. Also, 975.2 million tonnes (mt) of freight were transported through trains in that financial year. The sector, which is largely a public domain, is now opening up to private players as well. Private sector companies are today encouraged to take part in rail projects; this was helped largely by the Cabinet’s approval of a policy in December 2012 which facilitated private ownership of some railway lines.
To keep up with the changing times, Indian Railways have also successfully incorporated mobile ticketing services which enable customers to receive their tickets on their mobile phones. Currently, the system supports bookings of about 2000 tickets per minute; the Railways plans to upgrade this to support bookings of 7200 tickets.
The approximate earnings of Indian Railways on originating basis during the period April 1–Dec 31, 2013 stood at Rs 101,665.95 crore (US$ 16.19 billion) as against Rs 89,701.14 crore ( US$ 14.29 billion) in the corresponding period of 2012, which was an increase of 13.34 per cent.
The total goods earnings during the same period was Rs 68,782.53 crore (US$ 10.96 billion), a 10.91 per cent increase on the Rs 62,016.30 crore (US$ 9.88 billion) accumulated during the corresponding period of 2012.
Indian Railways carried 769.74 mt of revenue earning freight traffic during the period April 1–Dec 31, 2013. This was an increase of 34.52 mt and a hike of 4.70 per cent over the 735.22 mt carried during the corresponding period of 2012.
During December 2013, the revenue earning freight traffic carried by Indian Railways stood at 92.16 mt, which was an increase of 3.94 mt and a hike of 4.47 per cent over the freight traffic in the corresponding period of 2012 (88.22 mt).
Southern Railway introduced several trains and earned an 18.5 per cent hike in revenue in the first nine months of FY 2013–14. “On the freight side, the zone achieved originating loading of 30.990 million tonnes till December 2013 and has comfortably exceeded railway board's target of 28.4 million tonnes," as per Mr Rakesh Misra, General Manager, Southern Railway.
The Union Cabinet has given its approval for setting up an electric locomotive factory and a diesel locomotive factory at Madhepura and Marhowra, respectively. The cost for the electric locomotive factory is estimated to be Rs 1293.57 crore (US$ 206.25 million); the cost for the diesel locomotive factory is projected to be Rs 2052.58 crore (US$ 327.24 million). In the next 10 years, the two factories in Bihar are expected to provide Indian Railways with 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horse power (hp) and 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 and 6,000 hp.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), subsidiary to Indian Railways and which looks after the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations plans to launch a website by April 2014. This website is expected to be easily accessible and consumer-friendly.
Indian Railways received 22 National Energy Conservation awards out of 112 awards on offer during 2013; there were a total of 829 applicants. The number of awards the Railways received is the highest of any organisation. The awards are decided by the 'Award Evaluation Committee' under the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)/Ministry of Power, and are based on approved evaluation criteria.