The first railway service ran from Mumbai to Thane in 1853. India has one of the largest and busiest rail networks in the world. India has both long-distance and suburban rail networks. New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai have their own metro networks. Railways in India help not only in the movement of people but also in the transport of goods such as fertilizers, agricultural produce, and iron and steel products.
Kinds of Tracks in Railways
Railways have three kinds of tracks—broad gauge, metre gauge, and narrow gauge.
Broad Gauge: Almost all major rail routes are broad gauge routes. The distance between the rails is 1.676 metres. Broad gauge connects major ports with interior towns and industrial centres. It handles 85% of the total goods traffic in tones-km. It is also called the India gauge. The broad gauge railway line on the west coast is known as the Konkan Railway line which is an engineering feat.
Metre Gauge: The distance between the rails is one metre. It accounts for 11.22% of the total rail route.
Narrow Gauge: The distance between the rails is 0.610–0.762 m. Metre gauge is mainly confined to the hilly regions.
Advantages of Railways in India
- It transports raw materials to production units and finished products to the markets.
- Bulky goods can be easily transported over a long distance.
- Railways have brought villages closer to the cities.
- It facilitates easy movement of people, police and defence equipment.
- Railways help in reducing suffering during natural calamities.
- It provides for a comfortable journey even during the nights.
Disadvantages of Railways in India
- Railway tracks cannot be laid down in hilly and remote forested regions.
- Every industrial town does not have railway tracks.
- Trains cannot cross oceans. They are limited to land travel and cannot transport products from one continent to the other.
- Train travel is long and tedious as compared to air travel.
Also, Read Air Transport in India