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Rail transport is an important mode of transport in India.

Rail transport in India
National railway Indian Railways
Ridership 8.107 billion (2016)[1]
Passenger km 1143.039 billion (2016)[1]
Freight 1.108 billion tonnes (2016)[1]
System length
Total 66,687 kilometres (route)[2]
119,640 kilometres (total track)[2]
Electrified 23,556 kilometres (route)[1]
43,357 kilometres (running track)[1]
Track gauge
1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge 61,037 km[2]
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1/2 in) standard gauge Not Available Yet.
1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in) metre gauge 3,715 km[2]
Two narrow gauges, 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) and 610 mm (2 ft) 1,935 km[2]
Longest tunnel Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel (11.215 km)
No. bridges 133,160 (2011)[3]
Longest bridge Vembanad Rail Bridge (4.62 km)[4]
No. stations 7,216[1]
Highest elevation 2,257 m (7,405 ft)[5]
 at Ghum on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Lowest elevation 4 m (13 ft)
 at Barra Bazar

All main-line rail operations in India are handled by Indian Railways, a state-owned organization of the Ministry of Railways. As on March 31, 2016, the rail network traverses the length and breadth of the country comprising 119,630 km of track[2] over a route of 66,687 km and 7,216 stations.[1] It is the fourth largest railway network in the world (after USA, Russia and China).[6] It is one of the busiest networks in the world, transporting 8.107 billion passengers and over 1.108 billion tonnes of freight annually, as of 2016.[1] Indian Railways is the world's largest commercial or utility employer, with more than 1.4 million employees.[7][8] As to rolling stock, Indian Railway owns over 200,000 (freight) wagons, 50,000 coaches and 8,000 locomotives.[7]

The urban rail transit systems across the country are operated independently of Indian railways. As of September 2016, India has around 324 km of operational urban rail transit lines. The urban transit systems are metro, monorail and tram.



The history of rail transport in India began in the early nineteenth century.

1832–1852: Industrial railwaysEdit

The first proposals for railways in India were made in Madras in 1832.[9] The first train in India ran from Red Hills to Chintadripet bridge in Madras in 1837. It was called Red Hill Railway. It was hauled by a rotary steam engine locomotive manufactured by William Avery. It was built by Sir Arthur Cotton. It was mainly used for transporting granite stones for road building work in Madras.[9] In 1845, a railway was built at Dowleswaram in Rajahmundry. It was called Godavari Dam Construction Railway. It was also built by Arthur Cotton. It was used to supply stones for construction of a dam over Godavari.[9] On May 8, 1845, Madras Railway was incorporated. In the same year East India Railway company was incorporated. On August 1, 1849, Great Indian Peninsular Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. "Guarantee System" providing free land and guaranteed rates of return (5%) to the private English companies willing to work on building railways was finalized on August 17, 1849. In 1851, a railway was built in Roorkee. It was called Solani Aqueduct Railway. It was hauled by steam locomotive called Thomason, named after a British officer. It was used for transporting construction materials for building of aqueduct over Solani river.[9] In 1852, the Madras Guaranteed Railway Company was incorporated.

1853–1924: Passenger railways and expansionEdit

India's first passenger train between Bombay and Thane in 1853

The first passenger train in India ran between Bombay (Bori Bunder) and Thane on April 16, 1853. The 14-carriage train was hauled by three steam locomotives: Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. It ran for about 34 kilometers between these two cities carrying 400 people. The line was built and operated by GIPR.[10][11] This railway line was built in 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge, which became the standard for the railways in the country. The first passenger railway train in eastern India ran from Howrah, near Calcutta to Hoogly, for distance of 24 miles, on August 15, 1854. The line was built and operated by EIR.[12] In May 1854, the Bombay-Thane line was extended to Kalyan by building bridge over "Dapoorie viaduct" over Ulhas river.[13] This was also the first railway bridge in India. In the same year GIPR started its first workshops in Byculla. In 1855, BB&CI Railway was incorporated.[14] In August 1855, EIR 'Express' and Fairy Queen steam locomotives started hauling trains.[15] The first passenger train in South India ran from Royapuram / Veyasarapady (Madras) to Wallajah Road (Arcot) on July 1, 1856, for a distance of 60 miles. It was built and operated by Madras Railway.[16] In the same year, first workshop was set up by the Madras Railway at Perambur, near Madras. The Bombay-Thane line was extended to Khopoli in same year. In 1858, Eastern Bengal Railway was incorporated.[17] On February 24, 1873, the first tramway (a horse-drawn tramway) opened in Calcutta between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street, a distance of 3.8 km.[18] In 1874, GSIR and Carnatic Rly. merged to form the South Indian Railway. On May 9, 1874, horse-drawn tramway began operations in Bombay between Colaba and Parel. In 1880, Calcutta Tramways Company was incorporated.[19] In 1890, East Coast State Railway was incorporated. In 1897, lighting in passenger coaches was introduced by many railway companies. In 1902, the Jodhpur Railway became the first to introduce electric lights as standard fixtures. In 1920, electric lighting of signals was introduced between Dadar and Currey Road in Bombay.

1925–1950: Electrification and further expansionEdit

On February 3, 1925, first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria terminus and Kurla. It ran on 1500V DC overhead traction.[20] Cammell Laird and Uerdingenwagonfabrik companies provided the locomotives for the same. In the same year VT-Bandra section was also electrified and electric services began there, with an elevated platform at Sandhurst Road.[20] In the same year, the Oudh and Rohilkhund Railway was merged with EIR. The first railway budget was also presented in 1925.[21] East Indian Railway Company and Great Indian Peninsular Railway were taken over by the state in the same year.[22] In 1926, Kurla-Kalyan section was electrified with 1500 V DC. Electrification to Poona and Igatpuri (both 1500V DC) over the Bhore and Thal Ghats was also completed in the same year.[20] Charbagh railway station in Lucknow was built in the same year. In January 1928, Bandra-Virar section was electrified with 1500V DC. In the same year, the Frontier Mail made its inaugural run between Bombay VT and Peshawar.[23] and first automatic colour-light signals became operational in India, on GIPR's lines between Bombay VT and Byculla.[24] In the same year, Kanpur Central and Lucknow stations were inaugurated. In 1929, the Grand Trunk Express began running between Peshawar and Mangalore,[25] Punjab Limited Express began running between Mumbai and Lahore. Automatic colour-light signalling was extended to the Byculla-Kurla section in the same year. On June 1, 1930, the Deccan Queen began running, hauled by a WCP-1 (No. 20024, old number EA/1 4006) and with 7 coaches, on the GIPR's electrified route from Bombay VT to Poona (Pune).[26] In the same year, Hyderabad Godavary Valley Rly. was merged into Nizam's State Rly. In the same year, the route of the Grand Trunk Exp. was changed to Delhi - Madras.

1951–1983: Zonal re-organisation and further developmentsEdit

The re-organisation of railways in India into regional zones began in 1951.[27] On April 14, 1951, Southern Railway was created. On 5 November, Central Railway and Western Railway were created.[28] In the same year,the post of Chief Commissioner of Railways was abolished and the Railway Board adopted the practice of making the seniormost member Chairman of the board.[28] In the same year, the government of West Bengal entered into an agreement with the Calcutta Tramways Co. to take over its administrative functions. On April 14, 1952, Northern Railway, Eastern Railway and North-Eastern Railway were created.[28] In the same year, fans and lights were mandated for all compartments in all classes of passenger accommodation and sleeping accommodation was introduced in coaches. On August 1, 1955, Eastern Railway was split to form new South-Eastern Railway. In 1956, divisional system of administration was set up for the various regional zones. Also in 1956, the first fully air-conditioned train was introduced between Howrah and Delhi.[29] In 1957, after successful trials in France, SNCF proposed 25kV AC electrification for railways. Railways took a decision to adopt 25kV AC electrification and chose SNCF as technical consultant.[30] An organisation, Main Line Electrification Project (which later became the Railway Electrification Project and still later the Central Organization for Railway Electrification) was established in the same year.[31] In 1958, the North-Eastern Railway split to form a new Northeast Frontier Railway.[28] In 1959, the Raj Kharswan - Dongoposi section became the first section to be electrified with 25kV AC traction.[30] The first scheduled train using 25kV AC traction ran on Raj Kharswan - Dongoposi section on August 11, 1960.[30] In 1966, first containerized freight services were started, between Bombay and Ahmedabad. In the same year, electrification of several suburban tracks around Delhi, Madras and Calcutta was completed with the 25 kV AC system. In 1979, Main Line Electrification Project was reconstituted into Central Organization for Railway Electrification (CORE).

1984–present: Rapid transit and later developmentsEdit

Gatiman Express, India's fastest train introduced in 2016

On October 24, 1984, first metro train ran in India between Esplanade to Bhowanipur (now the Netaji Bhawan station) in Calcutta.[32] Thus Calcutta Metro became the first metro in the country.[33] In 1986, computerized ticketing and reservation was introduced in India, for the first time, at New Delhi.[34] In 1988, The first Shatabdi Express was introduced in the country between New Delhi and Jhansi (later extended to Bhopal), and also became the fastest train at the time.[35] In 1990, first Self-Printing Ticket Machine (SPTM) was introduced, at New Delhi. In 1993, AC 3-tier coaches were introduced for the first time in India. In the same year, Sleeper Class was introduced on IR for the first time, separate from Second Class. On January 16, 1995, first regularly scheduled services on trains hauled by locos using the 2*25kV system of traction started on Bina-Katni. In September 1996, CONCERT system of computerized reservations was fully deployed at New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. In 1998, Coupon Validating Machines (CVMs) were introduced at Mumbai CST. The complete networked nationwide CONCERT system became operational on April 18, 1999. In the same year, South East Central was constituted. Credit cards were started being accepted for booking tickets and reservations in some stations also in 1999. In February 2000, Indian Railways web site was deployed.[36] On 6 July 2002, the East Coast, South Western, South East Central, North Central, and West Central zones were created.[37] On 3 August 2002, IR began online train reservations and ticketing over the Internet. On December 1, 2002, internet ticket booking was extended to many cities.[38] On February 5, 2012, WR switched completely to 25kV AC traction, ending its use of 1.5kV DC traction.[39] On 26 September 2013, Tatkal system of ticketing extended to ordinary trains. On 5 April 2016, Gatiman Express, India's fastest train with the maximum speed of 160 km/h, made its maiden journey from Delhi to Agra.[40] On 11 April 2016, CR completely switched to 25 kV AC traction, ending the use of DC traction completely in Mumbai area as well as on entire main-line rail network in the country.[41] On 31 March 2017, IR announced that the entire rail network in the country will be electrified by 2022.[42]

Rolling stockEdit


The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, one of the only few running steam locomotives, in India

Locomotives in India consist of electric and diesel locomotives. The world's first CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) locomotives are also being used.[43] Steam locomotives are no longer used, except in heritage trains. In India, locomotives are classified according to their gauge, motive power, the work they are suited for and their power or model number. The class name includes this information about the locomotive. It comprises 4 or 5 letters. The first letter denotes the track gauge. The second letter denotes their motive power, Diesel or Alternating current (Electric), and the third letter denotes the kind of traffic for which they are suited (goods, passenger, Multi or shunting). The fourth letter used to denote locomotives' chronological model number. However, from 2002 a new classification scheme has been adopted. Under this system, for newer diesel locomotives, the fourth letter will denote their horsepower range. Electric locomotives don't come under this scheme, and even all diesel locos are not covered. For them, this letter denotes their model number as usual.

A locomotive may sometimes have the fifth letter in its name which denotes a technical variant or subclass or subtype. This fifth letter indicates some smaller variation in the basic model or series, perhaps different motors, or a different manufacturer. With the new scheme for classifying diesel locomotives (as mentioned above) the fifth item is a letter that further refines the horsepower indication in 100 hp increments: 'A' for 100 hp, 'B' for 200 hp, 'C' for 300 hp, etc. So in this scheme, a WDM-3A refers to a 3100 hp loco, while a WDM-3D would be a 3400 hp loco and WDM-3F would be 3600 hp loco.

Note: This classification system does not apply to steam locomotives in India as they have become non-functional now. They retained their original class names such as M class or WP class.

Diesel locomotives are now fitted with auxiliary power units which saves nearly 88% of fuel during the idle time when train is not running.[44]

Goods wagonsEdit

The number of goods wagons was 205,596 on March 31, 1951, and reached the maximum number 405,183 on March 31, 1980, after which it started declining and was 239,321 on March 31, 2012.[citation needed] The number is far less than the requirement, and the IR keeps losing freight traffic to road. IR carried 93 million tonnes of goods in 1950–51, and it increased to 1010 million tonnes in 2012–13.[45]

However, its share in goods traffic is much lower than road traffic. In 1951, its share was 65%, and the share of the road was 35%. Now the shares have been reversed, and the proportion of railways has declined to 30% and the share of road has increased to 70%.[citation needed]

Since the 1990s, IR has stopped single-wagon consignments and provides only full rake freight trains.[citation needed]

Wagon types include:[46]

  • BCNA
  • BTPN
  • BCCN
  • BRH
  • VVN

Passenger coachesEdit

IR has several types of passenger coaches.

The coaches used in IR are produced at Integral Coach Factory, Rail Coach Factory, Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli; including the new LHB coaches.

Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) coaches are used for suburban traffic in large cities – mainly Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore. These coaches numbered 7,793 on March 31, 2012. They have second class and first class seating accommodation.

Passenger coaches numbered 46,722 on March 31, 2012. Other coaches (luggage coach, parcel van, guard's coach, mail coach, etc.) numbered 6,560 on March 31, 2012.


The Chittaranjan Locomotive Works in Chittaranjan makes electric locomotives. The Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi makes diesel locomotives. The Integral Coach Factory in Perambur, Chennai makes integral coaches. These have a monocoque construction, and the floor is an integral unit with the undercarriage. The Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala also makes coaches. The Rail Wheel Factory at Yelahanka, Bangalore and Rail Wheel Plant, Bela, Chhapra, Bihar manufactures wheels and axles, Diesel-Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala upgrade the WDM-2 Diesel loco from 2600 hp to 3100 hp. Some electric locomotives have been supplied by BHEL, Jhansi and Palakkad, and locomotive components are manufactured in several other plants around the country.[47]



Comparison of different gauges in India with the standard gauge

The total track length of network is 119,640 km (74,340 mi) while the total route length of the network is 66,687 km (41,437 mi). Track sections are rated for speeds ranging from 80 to 220 km/h (50 to 137 mph), though trains don't really clock speeds of 200 km/h. Maximum speed attained by passenger trains is 177 km/h-180 km/h (110 mph).

Indian gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) (a broad gauge) is the predominant gauge used by IR with 108,500 km (67,400 mi) of track length (94% of entire track length of all the gauges) and 59,400 km (36,900 mi) of route-kilometre (91% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges). It is the widest gauge in passenger use in the world. The first railway line in India from Mumbai (Bori Bunder) to Thane in 1853 was built in broad gauge.

Urban rail transit lines which serve the urban areas are in 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge (except suburban rail which is in Indian gauge). These encompass metro and trams. As of 2016, lines in operation are Trams in Kolkata, Delhi Metro, Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon, the Bangalore Metro and the Mumbai Metro. These lines are not operated by IR.[48]

On decreasing routes, the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge and 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) and 610 mm (2 ft) narrow gauges are present. These were initially introduced in hilly regions for cost considerations and simpler engineering. The metre gauge has about 5,000 km (3,100 mi) of track length (4% of entire track length of all the gauges) and 4,100 km (2,500 mi) of route-kilometre (6% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges), while narrow gauges have 1,500 km (930 mi) route-kilometre (2% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges), as of 31 March 2016.

Sleepers (ties) are mostly made up of prestressed concrete. Metal and teak sleepers are still in use on a few lines. These are under conversion to concrete sleepers.


Around 23,555 km (14,636 mi) of the route-kilometre or 43,357 km (26,941 mi) of running track was electrified, as of March 31, 2016. India uses 25 kV AC traction on all of its electrified tracks.[49]

Railway electrification in India began with the inauguration of the first electric train between Bombay Victoria Terminus and Kurla on Harbour Line on February 3, 1925, on the then existing Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) at 1500 V DC. Heavy gradients on the Western Ghats necessitated the introduction of electric traction on the GIPR up to Igatpuri on the North East line and to Pune on the South East line. 1500 V DC traction was introduced on the suburban section of the then existing Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway between Colaba and Borivili on January 5, 1928, and between Madras Beach and Tambaram of the then existing Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway on May 11, 1931. All this was primarily to meet the growing traffic on these metros.

The electrification of the Howrah-Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway was done at 3000 V DC and completed in 1958. The first 3000 V DC EMU services were inaugurated in Howrah-Sheoraphuli section on December 14, 1957.

The 25 kV AC system of traction emerged as an economical system of electrification as a result of research and trials in Europe, particularly on French Railways (SNCF). Railways decided in 1957 to adopt the 25 kV AC system of electrification as a standard, with SNCF as their consultant in the initial stages. The first section electrified on the 25 kV AC system was Raj Kharswan – Dongoaposi on the South Eastern Railway in 1960. The first 25 kV AC EMUs which were for Kolkata suburban services were inaugurated in September 1962. With a view to provide continuity of traction system, the Howrah – Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway and Madras Beach – Tambaram section of the Southern Railway were converted to the 25 kV AC system by 1968.

Considering the limitations in the existing DC traction system, a decision was taken to convert to 25 kV AC traction during 1996-97. Conversion from DC traction to AC traction was completed in the year 2012 by Western Railway and in 2016 by Central Railway. With this, the entire electrified mainline rail network in India now uses 25kV AC. Since then, DC traction is used only for metros and trams.

Signaling systemsEdit

The railways mostly use colour signal lights. Earlier the older semaphores and discs-based signalling (depending on the position or colour) were used, but these were replaced by colour signals.[50] Except for some high-traffic sections around large cities and junctions, the network does not use automatic block systems. However, the signals at stations are almost invariably interlocked with the setting of points (routes) and so safety does not depend on the skill of the station masters. With the planned introduction of Cab signalling/Anti collision devices the element of risk on account of drivers overshooting signals will also be eliminated.

Coloured signalling uses multi-coloured lighting, and in many places is automatically controlled. There are three modes:[50]

  • Two aspect signalling, which uses a red (bottom) and green (top) lamp
  • Three aspect signalling, which uses an additional amber lamp in the centre
  • Four (multiple) aspect signalling uses four lamps. The fourth is amber and is placed above the other three.

Multiple aspect signals, by providing several intermediate speed stages between 'clear' and 'on', allow high-speed trains sufficient time to brake safely if required. This becomes very important as train speeds rise. Without multiple-aspect signals, the stop signals must be placed far apart to allow sufficient braking distance and this reduces track utilisation. At the same time, slower trains can also be run closer together on track with multiple aspect signals.

Rail links with adjacent countriesEdit

Rail links between India and neighbouring countries are not well developed. Two trains operate to Pakistan—the Samjhauta Express between Delhi and Lahore, and the Thar Express between Jodhpur and Karachi. Bangladesh is connected by a biweekly train, the Maitree Express, that runs from Kolkata to Dhaka. Two rail links to Nepal exist—passenger services between Jaynagar and Bijalpura, and freight services between Raxaul and Birganj.[51]

Bandhan Express also began running commercial trips between Kolkata, India, and Khulna, Bangladesh, in November 2017.[52][53]

Indian and Bangladeshi governments will start work late by December or early by January 2015 on a new rail link to ease surface transport.[54] India will build a 15-km railway tracks linking Tripura's capital Agartala with Bangladesh's southeastern city of Akhaura, an important railway junction connected to Chittagong port, resource-rich Sylhet and Dhaka.[55] An agreement to implement the railway project was signed between India's former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India in January 2010.[56] Total cost of the proposed project is estimated at Rs.252 crore. The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border. Of the 15 km rail line, five km of tracks fall in the Indian territory.[57][58] The NFR is now laying tracks to connect Tripura's southern most border town Sabroom, 135 km south of here. From Sabroom, the Chittagong international sea port is just 72 km.[59]

No rail link exists with Myanmar but a railway line is to be built through from Jiribam (in Manipur) to Tamu through Imphal and Moreh.[60] The construction of this missing link, as per the feasibility study conducted by the Ministry of External Affairs through RITES Ltd, is estimated to cost 29.41 billion (US$460 million).[61] An 18-km railway link with Bhutan is being constructed from Hashimara in West Bengal to Toribari in Bhutan. No rail link exists with either China or Sri Lanka.[62]


Passenger servicesEdit

Accommodation classesEdit

Interior of a First Class(1A) compartment in the Rajdhani Express
Interior of a 3-tier AC(3AC) compartment of the Dakshin Express
Interior of an air-conditioned Chair Car (CC) coach in a Jan Shatabdi Express.

IR has several classes of travel with or without air conditioning. A train may have just one or many classes of travel. Slow passenger trains have only unreserved seating class whereas Rajdhani, Duronto, Shatabdi, Garib Rath and Yuva trains have only air-conditioned classes. The fares for all classes are different with unreserved seating class being the cheapest. The fare of Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains includes food served in the train, but the fare for other trains does not include food that has to be bought separately. From September 2016, the IR have introduced dynamic fares for all accommodation classes for Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains(except 1AC and EC classes) to shore up revenue.[63] In long-distance trains a pantry car is usually included and the food is served at the berth or seat itself. Luxury trains such as Palace on Wheels have separate dining cars, but these trains cost as much as or more than a five-star hotel room.

A standard passenger rake has four unreserved (also called "general") compartments, two at the front and two at the end, of which one may be exclusively for ladies. The exact number of other coaches varies according to the demand and the route. A luggage compartment can also exist at the front or the back. In some mail trains, a separate mail coach is attached. Lavatories are communal and feature both the Indian style as well as the Western style.

The following table lists the classes in operation. A train may not have all these classes.

Class[64] Description[65][66]
1A AC first class: This is the most expensive class, where the fares are almost at par with air fare. There are eight cabins (including two coupes) in the full AC First Class coach and three cabins (including one coupe) in the half AC First Class coach. The coach has an attendant to help the passengers. Bedding is included with the fare. This air conditioned coach is present only on popular routes and can carry 18 passengers (full coach) or 10 passengers (half coach). The sleeper berths are extremely wide and spacious. The coaches are carpeted, have sleeping accommodation and have privacy features like personal coupes.
2A AC two tier: These air-conditioned coaches have sleeping berths across eight bays. Berths are usually arranged in two tiers in bays of six, four across the width of the coach and two berths longways on the other side of the corridor, with curtains along the gangway or corridor. Bedding is included with the fare. A coach can carry 48 passengers (full coach) or 20 passengers (half coach).
FC First class: Similar as 1AC, but without air conditioning. No bedding is available in this class. The berths are not as wide and spacious as in 1AC . There is a coach attendant to help the passengers. This class has been phased out completely. However heritage trains still have this class.
3A AC three tier: Air conditioned coaches with 64 sleeping berths. Berths are usually arranged as in 2AC but with three tiers across the width and two longways as before giving eight bays of eight. They are slightly less well-appointed, usually no reading lights or curtained off gangways. Bedding is included with fare. It carries 64 passengers per coach.
3E AC three tier (economy): Air conditioned coaches with sleeping berths, present in Garib Rath Express trains. Berths are usually arranged as in 3A but with three tiers across the width and three longways. They are slightly less well-appointed, usually no reading lights or curtained off gangways. Bedding is not included with fare.
EC Executive chair car: An air-conditioned coach with large spacious seats and legroom. It has a total of four seats in a row used for day travel between cities. This class of travel is available on Tejas Express and Shatabdi Express trains.
CC AC chair car: An air-conditioned seater coach with a total of five seats in a row used for day travel between cities. AC Double Deck sitter coaches are used in Double Decker Express.
SL Sleeper class: The sleeper class is the most common coach on IR, and usually ten or more coaches of SL could be attached to a train rake. These are regular sleeping coaches with three berths across the width and two longways, without air conditioning. It carries 72 passengers per coach.
2S Second seater: similar as CC, without the air-conditioning. Non-AC Double Deck sitter were introduced to few Mumbai-Pune trains and the Flying Ranee. However Flying Ranee is the only train that uses Non-AC Double Decker sitter coaches.
UR/GEN Unreserved/General: This is the cheapest accommodation. These coaches are usually over-crowded and a seat is not guaranteed. Tickets issued are valid on any train on the same route if boarded within 24 hours of buying the ticket.

At the rear of the train is a special compartment known as the guard's cabin. It is fitted with a transceiver and is where the guard usually gives the all clear signal before the train departs.

Types of passenger trainsEdit

Gatiman Express. A semi high speed train
Mumbai Rajdhani Express. Rajdhanis are long-distance high-speed and high-priority trains connecting major state capitals with New Delhi
Secunderabad Yeshwanthpur Garib-Rath Express. Garib-Raths are low cost A/C trains

Trains are sorted into various categories that dictate the number of stops along their route, the priority they enjoy on the network, and the fare structure. Each express train is identified by a five-digit number, the first digit as 1 and 2 for long-distance Express trains. If the first digit is 0, then the train is a Special. The first digit as 5 denotes a passenger train. The second digit indicates the zone that operates the train, the third the division within the zone that controls the train and is responsible for its regular maintenance and cleanliness, and the last two digits are the train's serial number.[67] The system was changed from four digits from December 20, 2010,[68] to accommodate an increasing number of trains.

For super-fast trains, the second digit is always 2 (the first remains 1 or 2),[67] the third digit is the zone, the fourth is the division and only the last digit is the serial number within the division. Trains travelling in opposite directions along the same route are usually labelled with consecutive numbers.[67] However, there is considerable variation in train numbers and some zones, such as Central Railway, has a less systematic method for numbering trains.[67] Most express trains also have a unique name that is usually exotic and taken from landmarks, famous people, rivers and so on.[69][70]

Trains are classified by their average speed.[71] A faster train has fewer stops ("halts") than a slower one and usually caters to long-distance travel.

Order of the trains as per priority (1 indicates highest priority and 9 indicates lowest priority)

1.Gatiman Express

2.Rajdhani Express

3.Shatabdi/Janshatabdi Express

4.Duranto Express

5.Yuva /Garibrath Express

6.AC Express

7.Superfast (includes all the special category trains like Mahamana Exp etc.)

8.Mail /Express


Below is the list of all trains run by Indian Railways : Train Description
1 Gatimaan Express It is a semi high speed train that runs between Delhi and Agra in India. It operates at a speed of 160 km/h (99 mph) and is the fastest train in India. The train takes a travel time of 100 minutes to cover 188 km (117 mi) journey from Hazrat Nizamuddin to Agra Cantonment railway stations.
2 Shatabdi Express The Shatabdi trains are air-conditioned, intercity trains for travel during daytime. Unlike the Rajdhani or Duronto Expresses, all Shatabdi expresses, it makes a round trip on same day. The Bhopal Shatabdi Express (Train no: 12001/12002) is second fastest train in India, between New Delhi and Agra cantonment, this train travels at an average speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) and touches top speed of 150 kilometres per hour (93 mph). They have seats and executive class seats, Some also have 3-tier AC berth. They have limited stops. It has on board Wi-fi facility.[72]
3 Rajdhani Express These are air-conditioned trains linking major cities to New Delhi. They have high priority and are one of the fastest trains in India, travelling at a maximum speed of around 130–140 km/h (81–87 mph). They have limited stops. In the Railway budget of 2014, it was proposed that the speed of Rajdhani express, and Shatabdi Expresses would be increased up 180 km/h (110 mph).
4 Duronto Express These are the non-stop (except for technical halts) point to point rail services introduced for the first time in 2009. They connect the metros and major state capitals of India and were introduced to travel as fast or faster than the Rajdhani Express. They provide first AC, two-tier AC and three-tier AC accommodation. Some of them provide non air-conditioned Sleeper Class accommodation.
5 AC Express These are fully air-conditioned trains linking major cities in the country. They have high priority and are one of the fastest trains in India, travelling at about 130 km/h (81 mph). They have limited stops.
6 Tejas Express Same as Shatabdi Express, these are fully air-conditioned single floor express trains. They have high priority and have limited stops. But unlike the Shatabdi Express these trains are sleeper trains used for long distance hauling.
7 Double Decker Express Same as Shatabdi Express, these are fully air-conditioned two floor express trains. They have high priority and are among fast trains in India. They have limited stops. These trains are used for daytime travel.
8 Uday Express Same as Double Decker Express, these are fully air-conditioned two floor express trains. They have high priority and have limited stops. These trains have berth facility and are used for night travel.
9 Humsafar Express These are fully AC 3 tier coaches trains. It is also called semi-luxury train. These train provide so many facilities like LED screen display to show information about stations and train speed, Speakers for announcement system, Vending machines for tea and coffee, Charging ports for charging electronic devices such as mobiles and laptops, Bio toilets in compartments, Safety measures in compartments such as introduction of smoke alarms and CCTV cameras, Heating chamber as well as a refrigerating box for keeping food, curtains to maintain privacy, Providing with new khadi bed rolls etc.
10 Garib Rath Air-conditioned no-frills trains with seats and 3-tier Economy AC berths. The maximum speed is 130 km/h (81 mph). Some of them have AC Chair cars also.
11 Yuva Express These trains were started along with Duronto Express trains to provide air conditioned travel to youth of the country. Sixty percent of the seats of these trains were reserved for passengers between 18 – 45 years of age. These trains did not enjoy much success. Today these trains only operate on the Delhi - Howrah and Delhi - Mumbai routes.
12 Jan Shatabdi Express Jan Shatabdi Express are more affordable variety of the Shatabdi Express, which have both AC and non-AC classes. The maximum speed is 110 km/h (68 mph). They have fewer stops.
13 Sampark Kranti Express These are a series of trains which provide super fast Express-like connectivity to the national capital Delhi. Currently many pairs of these trains operate on the network.
14 Kavi Guru Express These trains were introduced in honor of Rabindranath Tagore. Currently four pairs of these trains operate on the network.
15 Vivek Express These trains were introduced to commemorate the 150th birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in 2013. Currently four pairs of Vivek Express run in the country.
16 Rajya Rani Express These trains were introduced to connect state capitals to important cities in that state.
17 Mahamana Express It is the new version of coaches with modern benefits and facilities. The livery of the train is also different from other train. It is a tri-weekly superfast train service which runs between the city of Varanasi and New Delhi via Jaunpur, Sultanpur, Lucknow and Moradabad.
18 Intercity Express These trains were introduced to connect important cities for short routes. These appear in both Superfast Express speed and Express speed category. Some of the famous legendary Intercity Express are Deccan Queen and Flying Ranee.
19 Antyodaya Express These are fully non reserved SUPERFAST TRAINS. Antyodaya Express operates on peak routes. These trains are run to reduce the pressure on other trains on that route.
20 Jan Sadharan Express These are fully non reserved EXPRESS TRAINS. Jan Sadharan Express operates on peak routes. These trains are run to reduce the pressure on other trains on that route.
21 Superfast Express/Mail These trains travel at a speed greater than 100–110 km/h (62–68 mph). Tickets for these trains have an additional superfast surcharge.
22 Express/Mails These are the most common kind of trains in India. They have more stops than their super-fast counterparts, but they stop only at relatively important intermediate stations.
23 Fast Passenger and Passenger These are slow trains that stop at most or every station along the route and are the cheapest trains. The trains generally have unreserved seating accommodation but some night trains have sleeper and 3-tier AC compartments. These trains travel at about 40–80 km/h (25–50 mph).
24 Suburban trains These trains operate in the urban areas of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune and between Kanpur and Lucknow, usually stop at every stations and have unreserved seating accommodation.
25 Metro These trains are designed for city transport. The first metro constructed was Kolkata Metro for the city of Kolkata. Now metro railway services are found in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Jaipur and Gurgaon.
26 Luxury Trains IR also operate luxurious trains like Palace on Wheels, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, Maharaja Express, Deccan Odyssey, The Golden Chariot, Mahaparinirvan Express. Fairy Queen has also gained tourist attraction because it is the oldest steam engine in the world in operation, also hauling a luxurious train from Delhi to Alwar.
27 Mountain railways of India These are railways that run in hilly regions in India. Three of these lines were combined declared a World Heritage site as "Mountain Railways of India" by UNESCO.[73]

Luxury trainsEdit


An Indian Railway Ticket from Salem to Vijayawada by Howrah Mail.

India has some of the lowest train fares in the world, and passenger traffic is heavily subsidised by more expensive higher class fares.[81] Until the late 1980s, Indian Railway ticket reservations were done manually. In late 1987, the Railways started using a computerised ticketing system. The entire ticketing system went online in 1995 to provide up to date information on status and availability. Today the ticketing network is computerised to a large extent, with the exception of some remote places. Computerized tickets can be booked for any two points in the country. Tickets can also be booked through the internet and via mobile phones, though this method carries an additional surcharge.

Discounted tickets are available for senior citizens (above sixty years) and some other categories of passengers including the disabled, students, sports persons, persons affected by serious diseases, or persons appearing for competitive examinations. One compartment of the lowest class of accommodation is earmarked for ladies in every passenger carrying train. Some berths or seats in sleeper class and second class are also earmarked for ladies.[82] Season tickets permitting unlimited travel on specific sections or specific trains for a specific time period may also be available. Foreign tourists can buy an Indrail Pass,[83] which is modelled on the Eurail Pass, permitting unlimited travel in India for a specific time period.

For long-distance travel, reservation of a berth can be done for comfortable travel up to 120 days before the date of intended travel.[82] Details such as the name, age and concession (if eligible) are required and are recorded on the ticket. The ticket price usually includes the base fare, which depends on the classification of the train (example: super-fast surcharge if the train is classified as a super-fast), the class in which one wishes to travel and the reservation charge for overnight journeys.

If a seat is not available, then the ticket is given a wait listed number; else the ticket is confirmed, and a berth number is printed on the ticket. A person receiving a wait listed ticket must wait until there are enough cancellations to enable him to move up the list and obtain a confirmed ticket.[82][83] If his ticket is not confirmed on the day of departure, he may not board the train. Some of the tickets are assigned to the RAC or Reservation against Cancellation, which is between the waiting list and the confirmed list.[82][83] These allow the ticket holder to board the train and obtain an allotted seat decided by a ticket collector, after the ticket collector has ascertained that there is a vacant (absentee) seat.

Reserved Railway Tickets can be booked through the website of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd.[84] and also through mobile Phones and SMS. Tickets booked through this site are categorised into iTickets and eTickets. iTickets are booked by a passenger and then printed and delivered to the passenger for carrying during journey. eTickets are printed by the passenger and carried while travelling. While travelling on an eTicket, one must carry one of the authorised valid Photo Identity Cards. Cancellation of eTickets are also done online, without the requirement for the passenger to go to any counter. Unreserved tickets are available for purchase on the platform at any time before departure. An unreserved ticket holder may only board the general compartment class. All suburban networks issue unreserved tickets valid for a limited time period. For frequent commuters, a season pass (monthly or quarterly) guarantees unlimited travel between two stops.

Freight servicesEdit

In 1999, the Konkan Railway Corporation introduced the Roll on Roll off (RORO) service, a unique road-rail synergy system, on the section between Kolad in Maharashtra and Verna in Goa,[85] which was extended up to Surathkal in Karnataka in 2004.[86][87] The RORO service, the first of its kind in India, allowed trucks to be transported on flatbed trailers. It was highly popular,[88] carrying about 110,000 trucks and bringing in about 740 million worth of earnings to the corporation till 2007.[89]

Urban railEdit

Suburban railEdit

The Mumbai Suburban Railway is the first rail system in India which began services in Mumbai in 1853, transports 6.3 million passengers daily and has the highest passenger density in the world.[90] The Kolkata Suburban Railway, was established in Kolkata in 1854.[91]

The operational suburban rail systems in India are in Mumbai Suburban Railway, Kolkata Suburban Railway, Lucknow-Kanpur Suburban Railway, Chennai Suburban Railway, Delhi Suburban Railway, Pune Suburban Railway, Hyderabad Multi-Modal Transport System, Barabanki-Lucknow Suburban Railway and Pernem-Karwar Suburban Railway.[92]

Other planned systems are Bengaluru Commuter Rail, Ahmedabad Suburban Railway and Coimbatore Suburban Railway.


The first modern rapid transit in India is the Kolkata Metro and started its operations in 1984, this is also the 17th Zone of the IR.[93] The Delhi Metro in New Delhi is India's second conventional metro and began operations in 2002. The Namma Metro in Bangalore is India's third operational rapid transit and began operations in 2011.

The operational systems are Kolkata Metro, Delhi Metro, Namma Metro, Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon, Mumbai Metro, Jaipur Metro, Chennai Metro, Kochi Metro, Hyderabad Metro and Lucknow Metro.

The planned systems are Noida Metro, Ghaziabad Metro, Navi Mumbai Metro, Nagpur Metro, Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, Varanasi Metro, Kanpur Metro, Pune Metro, Vijayawada Metro, Patna Metro, Meerut Metro, Guwahati Metro, Chandigarh Metro, Bhopal Metro, Kozhikode Light Metro, Indore Metro, Thiruvananthapuram Light Metro, Agra Metro, Coimbatore Metro, Visakhapatnam Metro, Dehradun Metro, Surat Metro, Srinagar Metro, Greater Gwalior Metro, Jabalpur Metro and Greater Nashik Metro.

Currently, rapid transit are under construction or in planning in several major cities of India and will be opened shortly.


A monorail in Mumbai

Monorail is generally considered as feeder system for the Metro trains in India. The Mumbai Monorail, which started in 2014, is the first operational monorail network in India[94] (excluding the Skybus Metro) since the Patiala State Monorail Trainways closed in 1927.

Other planned systems are Chennai Monorail, Kolkata Monorail, Allahabad Monorail, Bengaluru Monorail, Delhi Monorail, Indore Monorail, Kanpur Monorail, Navi Mumbai Monorail, Patna Monorail, Pune Monorail, Ahmedabad Monorail, Aizawl Monorail, Bhubaneswar Monorail, Jodhpur Monorail, Kota Monorail, Nagpur Monorail and Nashik Monorail.

Light railEdit

Like monorail, light rail is also considered as a feeder system for the Metro systems. The planned systems are Kolkata Light Rail Transit and Delhi Light Rail Transit.


A tram in Kolkata

The British rule in India saw trams in addition to trains, being introduced in many cities. The trams in Kolkata is currently the only tram system in the country and provides an emission-free means of transport in Kolkata while the other tram systems in India were phased out. The nationalised Calcutta Tramways Company is in the process of upgrading the existing tramway network at a cost of 240 million (US$3.7 million).[95]

Private railwaysEdit

Though state-owned companies like the IR and the various metro companies enjoy a near monopoly in India, a few private railways do exist. All of these railway lines are used to carry only freight and not for passenger traffic.

There are railway lines owned and operated by companies for their own purposes, by plantations, sugar mills, collieries, mines, dams, harbours and ports, etc. The Mumbai Port Trust runs a BG railway of its own, as does the Madras Port Trust.[96] The Calcutta Port Commission Railway of Calcutta Port Trust is a BG railway. The Visakhapatnam Port Trust has BG railway. The Bhilai Steel Plant has a BG railway network.[96] The Tatas (a private concern) operate funicular railways at Bhira and at Bhivpuri Road (as well as the Kamshet–Shirawta Dam railway line). The Pipavav Rail Corporation holds a 33-year concession for building and operating a railway line from Pipavav to Surendranagar.[96] The Kutch Railway Company, a joint venture of the Gujarat state government and private parties, is involved (along with the Kandla Port Trust and the Gujarat Adani Port) to build a GandhidhamPalanpur railway line.[96]


The IR receive rail subsidies of around Rs 260 billion ($3.8 billion), of which around 60% of which goes to commuter rail and short-haul trips.[97]

IR earns about 70% of its revenues from freight traffic (₹686.2 billion from freight and ₹304.6 billion from passengers in 2011–12). Most of its profits come from transporting freight, and this makes up for losses on passenger traffic. It deliberately keeps its passenger fares low and cross-subsidises the loss-making passenger traffic with the profit-making freight traffic.

According to the Report of High Level Safety Review Committee of 2012, from 2007–08 to October 2011 casualties in train accidents accounted for 1,019 deaths and 2,118 injuries. In the same period, 1,600 railway staff were killed and 8,700 injured. The committee estimates as well that almost 15,000 persons get killed each year by what is called unlawful trespassing.[98] A Daily Telegraph article[99] says that Indian railway officials believe that a large proportion of bodies found dead on railways died elsewhere and were put on the railway in dishonest attempts to get compensation from the railway authorities and companies.

IR announced that by 2022 all trains would be electric trains so as to reduce carbon footprint.[100]

UNESCO world heritage sitesEdit

There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on IR, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus[101] and the Mountain Railways of India.[102] The latter consists of three separate railway lines located in different parts of India, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a 610 mm (2 ft) narrow gauge railway in Lesser Himalayas in West Bengal, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge rack railway in the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow gauge railway in the Siwalik Hills in Himachal Pradesh.[102]


IR has a full-fledged organisation known as Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), located at Lucknow for all research, designs and standardisation tasks.

In August 2013, IR entered into a partnership with Indian Institute of Technology (Madras) to develop technology to trap solar energy for lighting and air-conditioning in the coaches. This would significantly reduce the fossil fuel dependency for IR.[103]

Recently it developed and tested the Improved Automated Fire Alarm System in Rajdhani Express Trains. It is intended that the system be applied to AC coaches of all regular trains.[104]

In recent years, IR has undertaken several initiatives to upgrade its ageing infrastructure and enhance its quality of service. The Indian government plans to invest 9.05 trillion (US$140 billion) to upgrade the railways by 2020.[105] IR is refurbishing 12–15 year old coaches at Carriage Rehabilitation Workshop in Bhopal to enhance passenger amenities and fire safety measures.[106][107] Selected passengers with confirmed tickets will now be allowed to transfer them to someone else, but only once.IRCTC is now offering a pay-on-delivery option for train tickets on its website and app, where the customers can book the tickets and pay when it is delivered.

High-speed railEdit

India does not have any railways classified as high-speed rail (HSR), which have operational speeds in excess of 200 km/h (120 mph).[108] The fastest train in India is the Gatimaan Express with a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph),[109][110] which runs between Delhi and Agra.[111]

Prior to the 2014 general election, the two major national parties (Bharatiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress(INC)) pledged to introduce high-speed rail. The INC pledged to connect all of India's million-plus cities by high-speed rail,[112] whereas BJP, which won the election, promised to build the Diamond Quadrilateral project, which would connect the cities of Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai via high-speed rail.[113] This project was approved as a priority for the new government in the incoming president's speech.[114] Construction of one kilometer of high speed railway track will cost 100 crore (US$16 million) – 140 crore (US$22 million) which is 10–14 times higher than the construction of standard railway.[115]

India's prime minister Narendra Modi approved the choice of Japan to build India's first high-speed railway. The planned rail would run some 500 km (310 mi) between Mumbai and the western city of Ahmedabad, at a top speed of 320 km/h (200 mph).[116][117] Under the proposal, construction is expected to begin in 2017 and be completed in 2023. It would cost about 980 billion (US$15 billion) and be financed by a low-interest loan from Japan.[118] India will use the wheel-based 300 km/hr HSR technology, instead of new maglev 600 km/hr technology of the Japan used in Chūō Shinkansen. India is expected to have its HSR line operational from 2025 onwards, once the safety checks are completed.

Locomotive factoriesEdit

In 2015, plans were disclosed for building two locomotive factories in the state of Bihar, at Madhepura (electric locomotive) and at Marhaura (Diesel Locomotive).[119] Both factories involve foreign partnerships. The diesel locomotive works will be jointly operated in a partnership with General Electric, which has invested 20.52 billion (US$320 million) for its construction, and the electric locomotive works with Alstom, which has invested 12.935 billion (US$200 million). The factories will provide IR with 800 electric locomotives of 12,000 horse power each, and a mix of 1,000 diesel locomotives of 4,500 and 6,000 horsepower each.[120] In November 2015, further details of the 146.56 billion (US$2.3 billion) partnership with GE were announced: IR and GE would engage in an 11-year joint venture in which GE would hold a majority stake of 74%. Under the terms of the joint venture, IR would purchase 100 goods locomotives a year for 10 years beginning in 2017; the locomotives would be modified versions of the GE Evolution series.[121] The diesel locomotive works will be built by 2018; GE will import the first 100 locomotives and manufacture the remaining 900 in India from 2019, also assuming responsibility for their maintenance over a 13-year period.[122] In the same month, a 200 billion (US$3.1 billion) partnership with Alstom to supply 800 electric locomotives from 2018 to 2028 was announced.[105]

See alsoEdit



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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit