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.
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$ 1.17 billion from April 2000 to March 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.
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.
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.
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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