Rail transport is ideal for carrying a large number of passengers and large number of items to long distances. India has a well developed rail network.
The Indian Railways have a network of 7, 133 stations spread over a route length of 64, 460 km. The Indian Railways use three types of gauge, details of which are given in the following table.
|Rail Gauge and Length of Routes in India|
|Gauge (in m)||Route (km)||Running track (km)||Total track|
|Narrow Gauge||0.762 & 0.610||2,463||2,474||2,753|
Development of Railways:
- The Indian Railways is the largest public sector undertaking in the country, in terms of number of employees. The first train ran from Mumbai to Thane in 1853, covering a distance of 34 km.
- The Indian Railway is now reorganised into 16 zones.
- Geographic, economic and administrative factors have influenced the development of railways in India.
- The rail network is highly dense in the northern plains. This could be possible because of even topography, high population density and rich agricultural resources present in this region. The development of rail has been to a lesser degree in other parts of the country because of presence of plateau, desert and mountains. Development of Konkan Railway along the west coast has immensely helped in economic development in this region.
Problems Faced: Rail transport is facing many problems. There is overload of train traffic on major routes. There is a need for upgradation on these routes. Ticketless travel and unnecessary chain-pulling are the nagging problems faced by the railways.
Traditionally, pipelines have been used to supply drinking water. But later on, pipelines began to be used for supplying crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas as well. So, the much needed fuel and some raw materials can be directly supplied from source to factories through pipelines. From some mines even iron ore is supplied to ports in the form of slurry.
Initial cost of laying pipelines is high but subsequent operational costs are minimal. Pipelines also help in preventing loss and delays during shipment.
There are three important networks of pipeline transportation in the country.
- Digboi To Kanpur: This pipeline runs from the oilfields in Assam to Kanpur (UP), via Guwahati, Barauni and Allahabad. One branch from this pipeline goes from Guwahati to Siliguri and another branch goes from Barauni to Haldia, via Rajbandh. A third branch from Rajbandh goes to Maurigram.
- Salaya to Jalandhar: This pipeline runs from Salaya (Gujarat) to Jalandhar (Punjab), via Viramgam, Mathura, Delhi and Sonipat. Branches from this pipeline go to Koyali, Chakshu and other places.
- HVJ Pipeline: This pipeline has been built for transporting gas. It runs from Hazira (Gujarat) to Jagdishpur (UP), via Vijaipur (or Bijapur) in MP. It has branches to Kota in Rajasthan, Shahajahanpur, Babrala and other places in Uttar Pradesh.
Waterways are the cheapest means of transport. They are most suitable for carrying heavy and bulky goods. It is a fuel-efficient and environment friendly mode of transport. India has inland navigation waterways of 14,500 km in length. Out of these only 3,700 km are navigable by mechanised boats.
The following waterways have been declared as the National Waterways by the Government:
- NW 1: The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)
- NW 2: The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)
- NW 3: The West-Coast Canal in Kerala (Kottapurma-Komman, Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals-205 km)
The other viable inland waterways include the Godavari, Krishna, Barak, Sunderbans, Buckingham Canal, Brahmani, East-west Canal and Damodar Valley Corporation Canal.