India has the world's third-largest rail network under single management. As of 2018-19, the Indian Railways had 13,523 passenger trains and 9,146 freight trains. As of 2017-18, it had a total route network of ~67,415 kms and operated >22,669 trains daily. A total of 1,106 RKM (Route kilometre) has been electrified across the entire Indian Railways network. By 2024, Indian railways will be run completely on electricity.
Revenue growth has been strong over the years. Indian Railways’ gross revenue stood at US$ 24.78 billion in FY20.
Freight earnings in FY20 stood at US$ 16.24 billion. Passenger earnings for Indian Railways was estimated at US$ 7.25 billion in FY20. Freight remains the major revenue earning segment for the Railways and accounted for 64% of its total revenue in FY20, followed by the passenger segment. On July 27, 2020, the average speed of freight trains was 46.16 kmph, which is more than double as compared to last year on the same date (22.52 kmph), and total loading stood at 3.13 million tonnes.
In October 2020, Indian Railways freight loading stood at 108.16 million tonnes, compared with 93.75 million tonnes in the same month last year. The Indian Railways earned Rs. 10,405.12 crore (US$ 1.40 billion) from freight loading in October; this is higher by Rs. 868.90 crore (US$ 117.41 million) or 9% compared with Rs. 9,536.22 crore (US$ 1.28 billion) in the same month last year. In November 2020, India Railways announced that 40% of dedicated freight corridor (DFC) will be opened for traffic by end-FY21, while the entire 2,800 km route will be completed by June 2022.
Passenger traffic was valued at 8.10 billion and freight traffic at 1,208.34 million tonnes in FY20.
The punctuality performance of Indian Railways for mail and express trains increased to 75.67% during April-December 2019 compared to 68.19% during the same period last year.
As per Union Budget 2020-21, the Ministry of Railways has been allocated Rs 72,216 crore (US$ 10.33 billion). FDI Inflow in railway-related components stood at US$ 1.12 billion from April 2000 to June 2020.
In Union Budget 2019-20, the Government planned to enhance metro connectivity by encouraging more public-private partnership (PPP) and ensuring completion of sanctioned works, while supporting Transit Oriented Development (TOD) to ensure commercial activity around transit hubs. Purchasing Power Parities projects investment is estimated to be at Rs 50 lakh crore (US$ 715 billion) for railways by 2030. In 2019, Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express became the first train to be operated by private players.
With increasing participation expected from private players, domestic and foreign, due to favourable policy measures, both passenger and freight traffic is expected to grow rapidly over the medium to long term. The Government of India’s focus on infrastructure is a major factor which will accelerate growth of railways. Railways infrastructure plans to invest Rs 50 lakh crore (US$ 715.41 billion) by 2030.
The Indian Railways and AltPro, a Croatian company, signed a deal worth Rs. 450 million to upgrade the safety and signaling equipment for rolling stock and infrastructure.
In FY20, 15 critical projects of around 562 kms track length worth Rs 5,622 crore (US$ 797.56 million) were completed, out of which, 13 were commissioned by railways. Railways completed electrification on a total of 5,782 route kms during the same year.
Indian Railways completed eight major capacity enhancement projects by taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown. These projects included three super critical projects with a combined length of 68km, three critical projects with a combined length of 45km, upgradation of the entire 389km railway line from Jhajha in Bihar to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya junction in Uttar Pradesh and a new 82km port connectivity line to Paradip.
As a part of the Railways’ plans to upgrade its network, the Ministry announced that all non-AC sleeper coaches will be replaced by AC coaches for trains running >130 kmph. This move has been taken as a technical necessity for high-speed trains with the bonus of improving passenger experience.
In June 2020, Railways created a new world benchmark by commissioning first high rise Over Head Equipment (OHE) with a contact wire height of 7.57 metre and successfully running double stack containers in electrified territory on Western Railway.
In September 2020, the Indian Railways planned to run more special trains as the government further relaxed COVID-19 related restrictions to revive the economy. Indian Railways is scheduled to run 392 additional festival trains to and from Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna and Varanasi starting mid-October 2020 until end-November 2020 to cater to the growing demand during Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali and Chhatt Puja festivities. These special trains will have 10-30% higher ticket prices including a special surcharge to further revenue maximisation.
In November 2020, Indian Railway launched a completely digitised online Human Resource Management System (HRMS)—a high thrust project for Indian Railways to leverage improved productivity and employee satisfaction
Railways is leading India’s fight against climate challenge and is taking significant steps towards meeting its ambitious goal of being a net zero carbon emissions organisation by 2030 and meeting India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) targets.
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