Some Facts about Indian Railways

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Indian Railways have a massive base of assets which it uses to produce the transportation output. The assets owned by Indian Railways include about 10,000 Locomotives, about 58000 coaches with aggregate seating capacity of 50 lakh, about 2.5 lakh wagons with aggregated freight carrying capacity of 13.5 million tones, about 65,000 route kms of Network, (about 90,000 running track kms. And about 1.15 lakh total track kms.), 7172 stations spread across the length and breadth of the country and about 25,000 kilometer of electrified route (38% of total route kilometers). The infrastructure and operations on Indian Railways are managed by about 13 lakh personnel comprising 17 thousand Gazetted cadres, 12 lakh+ Group C staff.

The Salient facts about passenger traffic carried by Indian Railways
53 % of all passengers carried by IR move on Suburban circuits.

The remaining 47 % is Non-suburban traffic which includes about 30% second class ordinary,

15.5% Second class reserved mail/express and

1.5% reserved upper class.
Sub-urban traffic contributes to only 6.5% of passenger earnings.

The remaining 93.5 % earning is contributed by non-suburban traffic which includes 51.5 % contribution from second class reserved mail/express, 13% contribution from second class ordinary and 29% contribution from reserved upper class.


Only 5 % of total passengers travel in reserved classes while 95% travel in unreserved/ ordinary class.

Since 1950-51, originating passengers have increased by 556%.

Total passengers carried have grown at the rate of 5.1 % (CAGR) between 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Between April to December, 2014, however, there is a drop of 1.64 % over last year.
Nearly all classes of passenger traffic are loss making.

The cost per Passenger kilometer (PKM) is less than earnings per PKM only for AC 3 –tier- for the rest of the classes the cost/PKM is higher than earnings/PKM. For Sleeper class the cost is nearly 2 times the earnings and for second class ordinary the cost is about 5 times the earnings.

Questioning the logic of Price subsidies, The Economic Survey 2014-15 (Table 1.2) states that- The total fiscal expenditure in subsidizing passenger fares is Rs. 51,000 crore which is 0.57% of GDP (2011-12).

However it further states that “The bottom 80% of households constitute only 28.1 percent of total passengers”

Passenger traffic utilizes 65 % of network capacity and contributes only 26 % to the total earnings of Indian Railways

More than 55 % of traffic moves on the golden quadrangle and its diagonal, connecting the four metros.

The Salient facts about Freight traffic carried by Indian Railways

Commodity- wise loading figures indicate that:
Coal is the mainstay, of loading by IR followed by iron ore and cement
Coal, iron ore and cement contribute 70% of freight loading.

Freight trains constitute approximately 35 percent of the total 20,000 trains run daily on IR network, but yield more than 65 percent of the revenue

There is a huge imbalance in the patterns of train operations: the trunk routes of the railways, which comprise 16 percent of the network (connecting the four metro cities), carry close to 60 percent of the freight and more than 50 percent of the passenger traffic and are, therefore, oversaturated.

There are about 2200 freight terminals on Indian Railways of which 1130 are good sheds and 1070 are private sidings.

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