|Founded||8 May 1845|
Catering and tourism services
Parking lot operations
Other related services
|Revenue||₹196,128 crore (US$25 billion) (2021-2022)|
|₹34,599 crore (US$4.3 billion) (2021-2022)|
|Owner||Ministry of Railways, Government of India|
Number of employees
|12.54 lakh (1.254 million) (2020)|
|Dates of operation||16 January 1838–present|
|Track gauge||1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)|
1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in)
762 mm (2 ft 6 in)
1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in)
|Electrification||52,247 kilometres (32,465 mi) |
as of 1 April 2022
|Length||68,443 kilometres (42,529 mi) (route) |
115,000 kilometres (71,000 mi) (running track)
126,366 kilometres (78,520 mi) (total track)
as of 31 March 2020 
Indian Railways (IR) is a statutory body under the ownership of Ministry of Railways, Government of India that operates India's national railway system. It manages the fourth largest national railway system in the world by size, with a total route length of 67,956 km (42,226 mi) as of 31 March 2022[update]. 52,247 km (32,465 mi) or 83% of all the broad-gauge routes are electrified with 25 kV 50 Hz AC electric traction as of 1 April 2022[update].
In FY20, Indian Railways carried 808.6 crore (8.086 billion) passengers and in FY 22, Railways transported 1418.1 Metric Tonnes of freight. It runs 13,169 passenger trains daily, on both long-distance and suburban routes, covering 7,325 stations across India. Mail or Express trains, the most common types of trains, run at an average speed of 50.6 km/h (31.4 mph). Suburban EMUs run at an average speed of 37.5 km/h (23.3 mph). Ordinary passenger trains (incl. mixed) run at an average speed of 33.5 km/h (20.8 mph). The maximum speed of passenger trains varies, with the Gatimaan Express running at a peak speed of 160 km/h (99 mph).
In the freight segment, IR runs 8,479 trains daily. The average speed of freight trains is around 42.2 km/h (26.2 mph). The maximum speed of freight trains varies from 60–75 km/h (37–47 mph) depending on their axle load with 'container special' trains running at a peak speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).
As of March 2020[update], Indian Railways' rolling stock consisted of 2,93,077 freight wagons, 76,608 passenger coaches and 12,729 locomotives. IR owns locomotive and coach-production facilities at several locations in India. It had 1.254 million employees as of March 2020[update], making it the world's eighth-largest employer. The government has committed to electrifying India's entire rail network by 2023–24, and become a "net zero (carbon emissions) railway" by 2030.
Main article: History of rail transport in India
The first railway proposals for India were made in Madras in 1832. The country's first transport train, Red Hill Railway (built by Arthur Cotton to transport granite for road-building), ran from Red Hills to the Chintadripet bridge in Madras in 1836-1837. In 1845, the Godavari Dam Construction Railway was built by Cotton at Dowleswaram in Rajahmundry, to supply stone for the construction of a dam over the Godavari River. In 1851, the Solani Aqueduct Railway was built by Proby Cautley in Roorkee to transport construction materials for an aqueduct over the Solani River. These railway tracks were dismantled after these projects were completed and no longer exist.
India's first passenger train, operated by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and hauled by three steam locomotives (Sahib, Sindh and Sultan), ran for 34 kilometres (21 mi) with 400 people in 14 carriages on 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge track between Bori Bunder (Mumbai) and Thane on 16 April 1853. The Thane viaducts, India's first railway bridges, were built over the Thane creek when the Mumbai-Thane line was extended to Kalyan in May 1854. Eastern India's first passenger train ran 39 km (24 mi) from Howrah, near Kolkata, to Hoogly on 15 August 1854. The first passenger train in South India ran 97 km (60 mi) from Royapuram-Veyasarapady (Madras) to Wallajaroad (Arcot) on 1 July 1856.
On 24 February 1873, a horse-drawn 3.8 km (2.4 mi) tram opened in Calcutta between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street. On 9 May 1874, a horse-drawn tramway began operation in Bombay between Colaba and Parel. In 1879, the Nizam's Guaranteed State Railway was established which built several railway lines across the then Hyderabad State with Kachiguda Railway Station serving as its headquarters. In 1897, lighting in passenger coaches was introduced by many railway companies. On 3 February 1925, the first electric passenger train in India ran between Victoria Terminus and Kurla.
The organization of Indian railways into regional zones began in 1951, when the Southern (14 April 1951), Central (5 November 1951), and Western (5 November 1951) zones were created. Fans and lights were mandated for all compartments in all passenger classes in 1951, and sleeping accommodations were introduced in coaches. In 1956, the first fully air-conditioned train was introduced between Howrah and Delhi (Presently known as Poorva Express). Ten years later, the first containerised freight service began between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. In 1974, Indian Railways endured a 20 day strike, which damaged the nation's economy.
In 1986, computerized ticketing and reservations were introduced in New Delhi. In 1988, the first Shatabdi Express was introduced between New Delhi and Jhansi; it was later extended to Bhopal. Two years later, the first self-printing ticket machine (SPTM) was introduced in New Delhi. In 1993, air-conditioned three-tier coaches and a sleeper class (separate from second class) were introduced on IR. The CONCERT system of computerized reservations was deployed in New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in September 1996. In 1998, coupon validating machines (CVMs) were introduced at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The nationwide concierge system began operation on 18 April 1999. In February 2000, the Indian Railways website went online. Individuals can book reserved tickets in online through Indian Railways Cattering and Tourism Corporation's(IRCTC) official website (www.irctc.co.in). On 3 August 2002, IR began online train reservations and ticketing. The Railway Budget was usually presented two days before the Union budget every year till 2016. The central government approved merger of the Rail and General budgets from next year, ending a 92-year-old practice of a separate budget for the nation's largest transporter. On 31 March 2017, Indian Railways announced that the country's entire rail network would be electrified by 2022 or 2023, and become a net-zero (carbon emission) railway by 2030.
On 22 March 2020, Indian Railways announced a nationwide shutdown of passenger rail service to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in India. This became part of a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The railway shutdown was initially scheduled to last from 23 to 31 March, but the nationwide lockdown, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 March, was to last 21 days. The national rail network is maintaining its freight operations during the lockdown, to transport essential goods. On 29 March, Indian Railways announced that it would start service for special parcel trains to transport essential goods, in addition to regular freight service. The national rail operator has also announced plans to convert coaches into isolation wards for patients of COVID-19.
The railways have since then opened are currently functioning in 2022
Indian Railways is headed by a Four-member Railway Board whose chairman reports to the Ministry of Railways. The Railway Board also acts as the Ministry of Railways. The officers manning the office of Railway Board are mostly from organised Group A Railway Services and Railway Board Secretariat Service. IR is divided into 18 zones, headed by general managers who report to the Railway Board. The zones are further subdivided into 71 operating divisions, headed by divisional railway managers (DRM). The divisional officers of the engineering, mechanical, electrical, signal and telecommunication, stores, accounts, personnel, operating, commercial, security and safety branches report to their respective DRMs and are tasked with the operation and maintenance of assets. Station masters control individual stations and train movements through their stations' territory. In addition, there are a number of production units, training establishments, public sector enterprises and other offices working under the control of the Railway Board.
Main article: Centralised Training Institutes of the Indian Railways
Staff are classified into gazetted (Groups A and B) and non-gazetted (Groups C and D) employees. Gazetted employees carry out executive / managerial / officer level tasks. As of March 2017, the number of personnel (Groups A & B) constitutes 1.2% of the total strength, while Group C & D account for 92.6% and 6.2% respectively.
There is no direct recruitment of Group B employees in Indian Railways and they are recruited by departmental promotional exams of Group C employees. Recruitment of Group A employees is carried out by the Union Public Service Commission Civil Service exam. Recruitment of Group C junior engineers and depot material superintendents is conducted by the Railway Recruitment Board. Group C employees are recruited by 21 Railway Recruitment Board or RRB, which are controlled by the Railway Recruitment Control Board (RRCB). Group D staffs are recruited by 16 Railway Recruitment Cells or RRCs.
The training of all groups is shared among seven centralized zonal training institutes and 295 training centers all over India.
IR offers housing and runs its own hospitals, schools and sports facilities for the welfare of its staff.
Following is the list of public sector undertakings (PSUs) and other organizations in which Indian Railways has a stake and are related to rail transport in India:
|Braithwaite & Co.||Heavy industry, Foundry||
|Container Corporation of India||Intermodal freight transport||
|Centre for Railway Information Systems||Information technology||
|Bhartiya Rail Bijlee Company Limited||Electric power industry||
|Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India||Rail freight transport||
|Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation||Online reservation, Catering and Tourism||
|Indian Railway Finance Corporation||Financial services||
|Ircon International||Rail infrastructure construction||
|Konkan Railway Corporation||Transport, Rail infrastructure construction||
|Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation||Suburban rail operation & development||
|National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited||High-speed rail construction & operation||
|Pipavav Railway Corporation Limited||Construction, Operation & Maintenance of Rail line between Surendranagar and Pipavav port||
|Rail India Technical and Economic Service||Infrastructure construction & Finance services||
|Rail Vikas Nigam Limited||Rail infrastructure construction & Finance services||
|RailTel Corporation of India Limited||Telecommunications||
|Central Organisation for Modernisation of Workshops||Ministry of Railways|
|Central Organisation for Railway Electrification||Ministry of Railways|
|Central Railside Warehouse Company Limited||Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution|
|Commission of Railway Safety||Ministry of Civil Aviation|
|Indian Railway Health Service||Ministry of Railways|
|Passenger Amenities Committee||Ministry of Railways|
|Rail Land Development Authority||Ministry of Railways|
|Railway Protection Force||Ministry of Railways|
|Railway Recruitment Control Board||Ministry of Railways|
|Railways Sports Promotion Board||Ministry of Railways|
|Research Design and Standards Organisation||Ministry of Railways|
Main article: Locomotives of India
By 1990s, steam locomotives were phased out and electric and diesel locomotives, along with a few CNG (compressed natural gas) locomotives are used. Steam locomotives are used only in heritage trains. Locomotives in India are classified by gauge, motive power, the work they are suited for, and their power or model number. Their four- or five-letter class name includes this information. The first letter denotes the track gauge, the second their motive power (diesel or electric), and the third their suitable traffic (goods, passenger, multi or shunting). The fourth letter denoted the locomotive's chronological model number, but in 2002, a new classification was adopted in which the fourth letter in newer diesel locomotives indicate horsepower range.
A locomotive may have a fifth letter in its name, denoting a technical variant, subclass, or sub-type (a variation in the basic model (or series) or a different motor or manufacturer). In the new diesel-locomotive classification, the fifth letter refines the horsepower in 100-hp increments: A for 100 hp, B for 200 hp, C for 300 hp and so on. In this classification, a WDM-3A is a 3100 hp, a WDM-3D a 3400 hp and a WDM-3F a 3600 hp locomotive.[a] Diesel locomotives are fitted with auxiliary power units, which saves almost 88 percent of fuel during the idle time when a train is not running.
Presently Indian Railways rolling stock (bogies) are being manufactured by ICF, MCF and RCF. Where as Locomotives are manufactured by Chittaranjan Locomotives, Varanasi Locomotives, Patiala Locomotives. All these are owned and operated by Railways Department. But Indian Railways also procure rolling stocks from BEML and BHEL which are other government organizations.
See also: Wagon numbering system in India
A new wagon numbering system was adopted in Indian Railways in 2003. Wagons are allocated 11 digits, making it easy for identification and computerization of a wagon's information. The first two digits indicate Type of Wagon, the third and fourth digits indicate Owning Railway, the fifth and sixth digits indicate Year of Manufacture, the seventh to tenth digits indicate Individual Wagon Number, and the last digit is a Check digit.
IR's bulk requirement of wagons is met by wagon manufacturing units both in public and private sectors as well as other Public Sector Units under the administrative control of Ministry of Railways.
See also: Indian Railways coaching stock
On long-distance routes and also on some shorter routes, IR uses two primary types of coach design types. ICF coaches, in production from 1955 until Jan 2018, constitute the bulk of the current stock. These coaches, considered to be having inadequate safety features, are slowly being phased out. As of September 2017, around 40,000 coaches are still in operation. These coaches are being replaced with LHB coaches. Introduced in mid '90s, these coaches are lighter, safer and are capable of speeds up to 160 km/h (99 mph).
IR has introduced new electric multiple unit (EMU) train sets for long-distance routes. One such, Train-18 is under operation and another, Train-20 is expected to run from 2020. These train sets are expected to replace locomotive-hauled trains on long-distance routes.
On regional short-distance routes, IR runs Mainline electrical multiple unit (MEMU) or Diesel electrical multiple unit (DEMU) trains, depending on the traction available. These train sets are self-propelled with capability for faster acceleration or deceleration and are expected to reduce congestion on dense routes. Passenger locomotive-hauled trains, having frequent stops, are slowly being replaced with train sets across India.
On suburban commuter routes around the large urban centers, IR runs trains with normal electric multiple unit (EMU) coaches. These are popularly called as "local trains" or simply "locals".
Indian Railways is a vertically integrated organization that produces majority of its locomotives & rolling stock at in-house production units, with a few recent exceptions.
Wheel & Axle:
The repair and maintenance of this vast fleet of rolling stock is carried out at 44 loco sheds, 212 carriage & wagon repair units and 45 periodic overhaul workshops across various zones of IR.
See also: Project Unigauge
As of 31 March 2020, IR network spans 126,366 km (78,520 mi) of track length, while the route length is 67,956 km (42,226 mi). Track sections are rated for speeds ranging from 80 to 200 km/h (50 to 124 mph), though the maximum speed attained by passenger trains is 180 km/h (110 mph) during trial runs. Almost all the broad-gauge network is equipped with long-welded, high-tensile strength 52kg/60kg 90 UTS rails and pre-stressed concrete (PSC) sleepers with elastic fastenings.
1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge is the predominant gauge used by IR and spans 63,950 km (39,740 mi) of route (94.10% of total route network), as of 31 March 2020.[update] It is the broadest gauge in use across the world for regular passenger movement. Broad gauge generated 100% of the freight output (net tonne-kilometres) and more than 99% of the passenger output (passenger kilometres) in the fiscal year 2019–20.
The 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) metre gauge tracks and 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) and 610 mm (2 ft) narrow gauge tracks are present on fewer routes. All of these routes, except the heritage routes, are being converted to broad gauge. The metre gauge tracks were 2,402 kilometres (1,493 mi) (3.53% of total route network) and narrow gauges tracks were 1,604 km (997 mi) (2.36% of total route network) as of 31 March 2020.[update]
Main article: Central Organisation for Railway Electrification
As of 1 April 2022, IR has electrified 80% or 52,247 km (32,465 mi) of the total broad-gauge route kilometers. Indian Railway uses 25 kV 50 Hz AC traction on all its electrified tracks.
Railway electrification in India began with the first electric train, between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Kurla on the Harbour Line, on 3 February 1925 on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) at 1500 V DC. Heavy gradients in the Western Ghats necessitated the introduction of electric traction on the GIPR to Igatpuri on the North East line and Pune on the South East line. On 5 January 1928 1500 V DC traction was introduced on the suburban section of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway between Colaba and Borivili, and between Madras Beach and Tambaram of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway on 11 May 1931, to meet growing traffic needs. The 3000 V DC electrification of the Howrah-Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway was completed in 1958. The first 3000 V DC EMU service began on the Howrah-Sheoraphuli section on 14 December 1957.
Research and trials in Europe, particularly on French Railways (SNCF), indicated that 25 kV AC was an economical electrification system. Indian Railways decided in 1957 to adopt 25 kV AC as its standard, with SNCF their consultant in the early stages. The first 25 kV AC section was Raj Kharswan–Dongoaposi on the South Eastern Railway in 1960. The first 25 kV AC EMUs, for Kolkata suburban service, began service in September 1962. For continuity, the Howrah–Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway and the Madras Beach–Tambaram section of the Southern Railway were converted to 25 kV AC by 1968. Because of limitations in the DC traction system, a decision was made to convert the electric traction system of the Mumbai suburban rail network of WR and CR from 1.5kV DC to 25 kV AC in 1996–97. The conversion from DC to AC traction was completed in 2012 by Western Railway, and in 2016 by Central Railway. Since then, the entire electrified mainline rail network in India uses 25 kV AC, and DC traction is used only for metros and trams.
Indian Railways announced on 31 March 2017 that the country's entire rail network would be electrified by 2022. Though not a nascent concept, the electrification in India now has been committed with a fresh investment of ₹35,000 crore (US$4.4 billion) to electrify the entire network and eliminate the cost of fuel under transportation which will amount to a massive savings of ₹10,500 crore (US$1.3 billion) overall. This will be a boon for savings for the Government to channelize the investments in modernization of the railway infrastructure. Close to 30 billion units of electricity will be required for railway electrification on an annual basis by 2022, leading to excellent opportunities for IPPs of conventional power.
IR uses a range of signalling technologies and methods to manage its train operations based on traffic density and safety requirements.
As of March 2020, around 3,309 km (2,056 mi) of the route uses automatic block signalling for train operations – concentrated in high density routes, large cities and junctions. Remaining routes are based on absolute block signalling with trains manually controlled by signal men from the signal boxes typically located at stations. Few low density routes still use manual block signalling methods with communication on track clearance based on physical exchange of tokens. In a few sections, intermediate block signalling is provided to further enhance line capacity with minimal investment. As of March 2020, 602 block sections have intermediate block signals on IR.
IR primarily uses coloured signal lights, which replaced semaphores and disc-based signalling (dependent on position or colour). IR uses two-aspect, three-aspect and four (or multiple) aspect color signalling across its network.
Signals at most stations are interlocked using panel interlocking, route-relay interlocking or electronic interlocking methods that eliminate scope for human signalling errors. IR uses track circuiting, and block proving axle counters for train detection. As of March 2017, 6,018 stations across IR have interlocked stations and multi-aspect signalling. Around 99% of key routes (A, B, C and D) have track circuitry or block proving axle counters for automated train detection. Also, IR has about 59,105 route kilometers of optical fiber cable network across India, that is used for train control, voice and data communication. Around 3,445 km (2,141 mi) of the route is covered by GSM-R based Mobile Train Radio Communication.
In December 2017, IR announced that it will implement ETCS Level 2 system for signalling and control on key routes with an investment of ₹12,000 crore (US$1.5 billion). Currently IR uses Centralised Traffic Control (CTC) on the busy Ghaziabad – Kanpur route and real-time train monitoring systems on Mumbai and Kolkata suburban routes.
Bangladesh is connected by the four times a week Maitree Express that runs from Kolkata to Dhaka, weekly Bandhan Express which began running commercial trips between Kolkata and Khulna in November 2017 and biweekly Mitali Express which runs between New Jalpaiguri Junction and Dhaka.
Indian and Bangladeshi governments has started work on a new rail link to ease surface transport. India will build a 13 km (8.1 mi) railway 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. An agreement to implement the railway project was signed between the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina during the latter's visit to India in January 2010. Total cost of the proposed project is estimated at ₹252 crore (US$32 million). The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) is constructing the new railway tracks on both sides of the border. Of the 13 km (8.1 mi) rail line, 5 km (3.1 mi) of tracks fall in Indian territory. The Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) is laying the connecting tracks for the new rail link on the Indian side, up to Tripura's southernmost border town, Sabroom – 135 km (84 mi) south of Agartala. From Sabroom, the Chittagong international sea port is 72 km (45 mi) away.
No rail link currently exists with Bhutan as of 2021. An 18 km (11 mi) long railway line from Hasimara on the New Jalpaiguri–Alipurduar line in West Bengal to Toribari near Pasakha town of Bhutan was planned to be built via Satali, Bharna Bari and Dalsingpara. However this project was scrapped due to opposition from locals. In 2020, a new line survey was conducted by the IR for a 37.5 km (23.3 mi) long line from Mujnai on the New Jalpaiguri–Alipurduar line to Neyopaling village under Phuentshopelri Gewog in Samtse.
No rail link currently exist with Myanmar as of 2021. The Jiribam–Imphal railway line, currently under construction is planned to be extended up to the Indo-Myanmar border at Moreh and to be connected to Tamu on the Myanmar side. Then a missing link needs to be built from Tamu to the existing railhead at Kalay of the Kalay–Pakokku–Chaung U–Myouhaung (Mandalay) line. 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$370 million).
Two rail links to Nepal exist as of 2021, with a third under construction. A 6 km-long (3.7 mi) line from Raxaul to Sirsiya (near Birgunj) was opened for freight traffic in 2005 as per an agreement made between the Indian and Nepali government on 2004. In 2018 an MoU was signed between the Indian and Nepali government to extend the Raxaul–Birgunj line to the Nepali capital of Kathmandu.
The Jaynagar to Janakpur line was opened on 2020 till Kurtha after which the section was handed over to the Nepal Railways in 2021. Services on the section are yet to begin on the line owing to staffing problems of Nepal Railways. The Kurtha–Bijalpura construction is underway and it has been proposed to extend the line to Bardibas.
Construction of the 18.6 km-long (11.6 mi) Jogbani to Biratnagar railway line is underway as of 2021. The first phase consisting of 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) railway line is already completed from Bathnaha to Nepal Customs point and the remaining portion of the project from Nepal Customs point to Biratnagar is under construction.
Two trains operate to Pakistan: the Samjhauta Express between Delhi and Lahore and the Thar Express between Jodhpur and Karachi. However, as of August 2019, they have been cancelled due to the tension over Kashmir.
No rail links currently exist with Sri Lanka. However The Boat Mail or Indo-Ceylon Express, Initially Connected Madras (#Chennai_Egmore) to #Thothookudi Via Train & Thothookudi to Colombo via streamer later 1) Madras (#Chennai_Egmore) to Dhanushkodi Pier through Boat Mail or Indo-Ceylon Express 2) Dhanushkodi Pier to Talaimannar via Boat 3) Talaimannar to Colombo.Yalzhpannam (Jaffna) During 1900's it was a combined train and steamer ferry service between India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Connecting Chennai and Colombo, the system initially utilised a rail-to-sea operation, but changed to a rail-to-sea-to-rail operation. Passengers could buy a single ticket for the journey. Now at present, it runs from Chennai Egmore to Rameswaram via Villuppuram, Kumbakonam, Trichy, Karaikkudi, Devakottai, Manamadurai, Paramakkudi, Ramanathapuram, Mandapam and Pamban.
Tuticorin–Colombo, in the late 19th century, the railway portion of the route within India was from Madras (Chennai) to Tuticorin. At Tuticorin, passengers embarked on the boat mail steamer to Colombo in Ceylon. The train took 21 hours and 50 minutes for the journey from Madras to Tuticorin. The Boat Mail was one of the early trains to be given vestibuled carriages, in 1898.
Dhanushkodi–Talaimannar, in 1914 after the Pamban bridge was built, the train's route changed and it went from Madras to Dhanushkodi. A much shorter ferry service then took the passengers to Talaimannar in Ceylon, from where another train went to Colombo. The 35 kilometres (22 mi) long ferry journey was considerably shorter than the 270 kilometres (170 mi) long Tuticorin-Colombo route.
IR categorizes its railway stations by commercial importance into three different categories namely Non Suburban Group (NSG), Suburban Group (SG) and Halt Group (HG). These are further subdivided into subcategories based on their commercial importance (namely from NSG 1 to NSG 6, SG 1 to SG 3 and from HG 1 to HG 3). The commercial importance of a station is determined by taking into account its passenger footfall, earnings and strategic importance. These categories are used by IR to decide on and provide the minimum essential amenities required by each station.
Prior to December 2017, the commercial importance of a station was determined only on the basis of its earnings and as such the stations were categorized into seven categories based on it, namely A1, A, B, C, D, E, and F categories.
Main article: Indian Railways coaching stock
IR has several classes of travel, with or without air-conditioning. A train may have one or several classes. Slow passenger trains have only unreserved seating, and the Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express, Garib Rath Express, Double Decker Express, Tejas Express, Humsafar Express, Duronto Express, Yuva Express, and Vande Bharat Express have only air-conditioned classes. Fares for all classes differ, and unreserved seating is the least expensive. Fares for the Rajdhani, Duronto Shatabdi and Vande Bharat Express trains include food. In September 2016, IR introduced dynamic fares for the Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains (except 1AC and EC classes) to increase revenue. Long-distance trains usually include a pantry car, and food is served at the passengers' berth or seat. 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 (general) compartments, two at the front and two at the rear (one of which may be for women). The number of other coaches varies by demand and route. A luggage compartment may be at the front or the rear. On some mail trains, a separate mail coach is attached. Lavatories are communal, and Indian- and Western-style. The classes in operation are (although a train may not have all these classes):
|Saloon||IR has started to operate saloon coaches to give hotel ambience on trains. These coaches operate on charter basis i.e. booking is required. These have a master bedroom, one normal bedroom, one kitchen and window trailing. Four to six extra beds are given to accommodate more people. First of these coach was attached to Jammu Mail.|
|AC First Tier (1A)||H||The most luxurious and expensive class of Indian Railways, with fares almost at par with airfares. There are eight cabins (including two coupes) in a full AC first tier coach and three cabins (including one coupe) in a half AC first tier coach. The coach has a dedicated attendant and bedding is included in the fare. This air-conditioned coach, present only on popular routes, can carry 18 (full coach) or 10 passengers (half coach).|
|AC Two Tier (2A)||A||These air-conditioned coaches have sleeping berths across eight bays (full coach). Berths are usually arranged in two tiers in bays of six: four across the width of the coach and two lengthwise across the corridor, with curtains along the corridor. Bedding is included in the fare. A coach can carry 48 (full coach) or 20 passengers (half coach).|
|AC Three Tier (3A)||B||Air-conditioned coaches with 64 sleeping berths. Berths are similar to 2A, but with three tiers across the width and two lengthwise for eight bays of eight. They are slightly less well-appointed, usually with no reading lights or curtains. Bedding is included in the fare.|
|AC Three Economy (3E)||G/M||Air-conditioned coaches with 81 sleeping berths on the Garib Rath Express. Berths are usually arranged as in 3A, but with three tiers across the width and three lengthwise. Appointments are similar to 3A, but bedding is not included. These coaches are also present in some Duronto Express trains as well.|
|Sleeper Class (SL)||S||The sleeper class is the most common coach on IR, with ten or more SL coaches attached to a train rake. They are sleeping coaches with three berths across the width and two lengthwise, without air-conditioning. They carry 72 passengers per coach.|
|Second Class (2S)||D||It is similar to CC, but without air-conditioning. Double-deck second seaters are used on the Flying Ranee. These coaches have three doors on either sides.|
|General Class (II)||UR/GN/GS||The least-expensive accommodation, with a seat not guaranteed. Tickets are valid on any train on a route if used within 24 hours of purchase.|
|Vistadome Class||EV||IR operates Vistadome glass roof coaches on some tourist routes. These include Araku Valley, Konkan Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway, Mangaluru-Hassan Line, Kashmir Valley, Kangra Valley and Neral-Matheran Route. These coaches' fares are equivalent to AC Executive Chair Car. IR also has plans to start Vistadome on Nilgiri Mountain Railway.|
|Anubhuti Class (EA)||K||Air-conditioned top-end class of Shatabdi Express. These coaches were introduced in January 2018. The first train to get these coaches was the Chennai Central–Mysuru Shatabdi Express.|
|Executive Chair Car (EC)||E||An air-conditioned coach with spacious seats and legroom. With four seats in a row, it is used for intercity day travel and is available on the Tejas, Shatabdi Express and Vande Bharat Express. Also known as First AC Chair Car.|
|AC Chair Car (CC)||C||An air-conditioned coach with five seats in a row, used for intercity day travel. Air-conditioned double-deck coaches are used on the Double Decker Express, Shatabdi Express, Vande Bharat Express, and Intercity services.|
|AC Chair Car Economy (GC)||J||Similar to the AC Chair Car but have three rows of seats on either side of the aisle and three doors on either side of the coach. Usually found in Yuva Express and Garib Rath Express.|
|Phased out or Partially In Service|
|First Class (FC)||F/FC||Similar to 1A, but without air conditioning. No bedding is available in this class. The berths are not as wide and spacious as in 1A. However, heritage trains still have this class.|
At the rear of the train is the guard's cabin. It contains a transceiver, and is where the guard usually gives the all-clear signal before the train departs. The guard's cabin is also called SLR.
Trains are sorted into categories which dictate the number of stops on a route, their priority on the network, and their fare structure. Each express train is identified by a five-digit number. If the first digit in the train number is 1 or 2, they are long-distance express trains. If the first digit is 0, the train is a special train which will operate for a limited period of time with a different fare structure. A first digit of 5 denotes a passenger train.
The second digit indicates the zone operating the train. However, for high-speed trains, the second digit is either 0 or 2 (the first remains 1 or 2). The third digit denotes the division within the zone which is responsible for maintenance and cleanliness, and the last two digits are the train's serial number. The train numbering system was changed from four digits from December 2010, to accommodate the increasing number of trains.
Trains traveling in opposite directions along the same route are usually labelled with consecutive numbers. However, there is considerable variation in train numbers; some zones, such as Central Railway, have a less-systematic method of numbering trains.
Trains are classified by average speed. A faster train has fewer stops (halts) than a slower one, and is usually used for long-distance travel. Most express trains have special names to identify them easily. The names of the trains usually denote the regions they connect, the routes they traverse, or a famous person or tourist spot connected with the train.
|Vande Bharat Express||A semi-high-speed, air-conditioned day time journey train with facilities such as Wi-Fi, snack tables, CCTV cameras, hydraulic-pressure doors, and a fire and smoke detection and extinguishing system. It can run at a speed of 200 km/h (120 mph). It is the first semi-high speed (EMU) (locomotive-less) train set made in India. It was flagged off on 15 February 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The model number for this particular train set is Train 18.|
|Gatimaan Express||The first semi-high-speed, air-conditioned train running between Delhi and Jhansi with a top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph)|
|Tejas Express||A semi-high-speed, air-conditioned train which had its inaugural run on 24 May 2017, covering 551.7 km (342.8 mi) in 8 hours 30 minutes. Coaches have bio-vacuum toilets, water-level indicators, tap sensors, hand dryers, integrated Braille displays, an LED TV for each passenger with a phone jack, local cuisine, Wi-Fi, tea and coffee vending machines, magazines, snack tables, CCTV cameras, and a fire and smoke detection and extinguishing system. It can run at a speed of 200 km/h (120 mph) but it is restricted to 130 km/h (81 mph) due to some technical reasons.|
|Rajdhani Express||Limited-stop, air-conditioned trains linking state capitals to the national capital, New Delhi, with a top speed of 130–140 km/h (81–87 mph). The 2014 railway budget proposed increasing the numbers of Rajdhani and Shatabdi Expresses to 180 km/h (110 mph). Indian Railways upgraded rakes on some routes to Tejas coaches thereby being called as Tejas-Rajdhani Express.|
|Shatabdi Express||Air-conditioned, intercity trains for daytime travel. Unlike the Rajdhani or Duronto Expresses, the Shatabdi expresses make a round trip on the same day. The Bhopal Shatabdi Express (train number 12001/12002) is India's second-fastest train between New Delhi and Agra, with an average speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) and a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph). The limited-stop trains have Wi-Fi.|
|Duronto Express||Non-stop (except for technical halts) service introduced in 2009. In January 2016, it became possible to book tickets from those technical stops. They connect India's metros and major state capitals, and were introduced to equal (or exceed) the speed of the Rajdhani Express. With air-conditioned one-, two-, or three-tier seating, some have non-air-conditioned sleeper-class accommodations.|
|Humsafar Express||Air-conditioned, three-tier coach trains with LED screens displaying information about stations and train speed, a PA system, vending machines for tea and coffee, charging ports for electronic devices, bio-toilets, smoke alarms, CCTV cameras, curtains, and heating and refrigeration facilities for food. Its inaugural run was between Gorakhpur to Anand Vihar Terminal.|
|Double Decker Express||Air-conditioned, limited-stop, two-tier express trains for daytime travel|
|Uday Express||Air-conditioned double decker train for overnight travel.|
|Jan Shatabdi Express||A more-economical version of the Shatabdi Express, with air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned classes and a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph)|
|Intercity Express||Introduced to connect major cities on short routes with high and semi-high speeds. They start their journey from its origin point and reach its destination and once again return to its origin point in a single day. Some of the trains include the Deccan Queen, Flying Ranee, Pallavan Superfast Express, Vaigai Superfast Express, Coimbatore Intercity Express and Bilaspur Nagpur Intercity Express.|
|AC Express||Air-conditioned, limited-stop trains linking major cities, with a speed of about 130 km/h (81 mph).|
|Garib Rath Express||Air-conditioned, economy, three-tier trains with a top speed of 130 km/h (81 mph).|
|Yuva Express||Introduced with the Duronto Express to provide air-conditioned travel to young Indians, 60 percent of its seats were reserved for passengers between 18 and 45 years of age. The trains were unsuccessful, and operate only on the Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes.|
|Sampark Kranti Express||Express service to New Delhi.|
|Kavi Guru Express||Introduced in honor of Rabindranath Tagore, four pairs of the trains operate on the network.|
|Vivek Express||Introduced to commemorate the 150th birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in 2013, four pairs of Vivek Expresses run in the country.|
|Rajya Rani Express||Introduced to connect state capitals to major cities in that state.|
|Mahamana Express||Superfast train with Indian Railways' model rake coaches.|
|Antyodaya Express||Non-reserved, high-speed LHB coaches on peak routes to ease congestion.|
|Jan Sadharan Express||Non-reserved express trains on peak routes to ease congestion.|
|Suvidha Express||High priority trains with dynamic pricing on high demand routes.|
|Janata Express||These are series of express trains runs on various routes of Indian Railways. It has only non-air-conditioned coaches. Janata means "common people" in Devanagari.|
|Superfast Express||Trains with a max speed greater than 100–110 km/h (62–68 mph) and an average speed greater than 55 km/h (34 mph). With stops at very few stations, the tickets for these trains have a superfast surcharge.|
|Express||Trains with a max speed greater than 100 km/h (62 mph) and an average speed greater than 36 km/h (22 mph), with stops at few stations.|
|These trains earlier had separate mail coaches. Nowadays, mail is carried in the luggage coach like all other trains and the historical mail trains run as Express train by retaining the "Mail" branding.|
|Passenger||Slow, economical trains which stop at every (or almost every) station on a route. With generally-unreserved seating, these trains travel at about 40–80 km/h (25–50 mph).|
|Link/Slip Express/Passenger||This is a train that gets attached to another train at a particular station and runs together as a single train till destination point or runs together from originating point and gets detached at a particular station. When running together, it is called Link Express/Passenger and when running separately, it is called Slip Express/Passenger.|
|Suburban/Commuter||These trains operate in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Bengaluru, Pune and between Kanpur and Lucknow, usually stop at every station, and have unreserved seating.|
|Metro||Designed for urban transport, the first metro was the Kolkata Metro in 1984.|
|Mountain Railways||Three of the lines were declared a World Heritage Site as "Mountain Railways of India" by UNESCO.|
|Cross Border Railways||International express or passenger train service connecting India and other neighboring countries.|
Indian Railway operates tourist train or coach services on popular tourist circuits in different regions of the country. The service offers tour packages inclusive of rail travel, local transportation, accommodation, food and guided tours. IR offers various tourist services in this segment including Luxury tourist trains, Semi luxury trains, Buddhist special trains, Bharat Darshan trains, Aastha Circuit trains, and Steam trains.
The Palace on Wheels is a luxury-train service, frequently hauled by a steam locomotive, to promote tourism in Rajasthan. The train has a seven-night, eight-day itinerary on a round trip from New Delhi via Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur and Chittaurgarh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Agra.
Royal Rajasthan on Wheels covers a number of tourist destinations in Rajasthan. The seven-day, eight-night tour is a round trip from New Delhi's Safdarjung station via Jodhpur, Udaipur and Chittaurgarh, Ranthambore National Park and Jaipur, Khajuraho, Varanasi and Sarnath, and Agra.
Maharajas' Express, a luxury train operated by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), runs on five routes to about 12 destinations across northwest and central India (centered around Rajasthan) from October to April.
The Deccan Odyssey covers tourist destinations in Maharashtra and Goa. Its seven-night, eight-day tour begins in Mumbai and stops at Jaigad Fort, Ganapatipule and Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Tarkarli and Sawantwadi, Goa, Kolhapur and Pune (Day 5), Aurangabad and Ellora Caves, and Ajanta Caves and Nashik.
The Golden Chariot is a luxury train service running on two tours: Pride of the South and Splendor of the South.
The Mahaparinirvan Express, an air-conditioned service also known as the Buddhist Circuit Train, is run by the IRCTC for Buddhist pilgrims. Its seven-night, eight-day tour begins in New Delhi and visits Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Nalanda, Varanasi and Sarnath, Kushinagar and Lumbini, Sravasti, and the Taj Mahal.
The Fairy Queen, a tourist attraction also known as the world's oldest operating steam engine, hauls a luxury train from Delhi to Alwar.
See also: Tatkal scheme
Until the late 1980s, Indian Railways ticket reservations were made manually. In late 1987, IR began using a computerized ticketing system. The system went online in 1995 to provide current information on status and availability. The ticketing network at stations is computerized with the exception of remote areas. IR now provides multiple channels for passengers to book tickets between any two train stations in the country.
Reserved tickets may be booked up to 120 days in advance on the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation website, smartphone apps, SMS, rail reservation counters at train stations, or through private ticket booking counters. A Tatkal train ticket can be booked by passengers who want to travel at short notice with a reserved seat or berth, but such tickets are sold at higher fares than regular advance reservation tickets.
Confirmed reservation tickets will show the passenger and fare details along with berth or seat number(s) allocated to them on the ticket. If the reservation is not available on a particular train, the ticket has a wait-list number. A person with a wait-listed ticket must wait for enough cancellations to obtain a confirmed ticket. If their ticket is not confirmed on the day of departure, they cannot board the train. Reservation against cancellation tickets, between the waiting and confirmed lists, allow a ticket holder to board the train and obtain a seat chosen by a ticket collector after the collector has found a vacant seat.
Unreserved tickets for short distance or unplanned travels may be purchased at stations at any time before departure. Holders of such tickets may only board the general compartments. Suburban networks issue unreserved tickets valid for a limited time or season passes with unlimited travel between two stops for a period of time. Commuters can purchase tickets and season passes at stations or through UTS mobile apps. A valid proof for the purchase of ticket along with photo identification is required to board the train.
India has some of the lowest train fares in the world, and passenger traffic is subsidised by higher-class fares. Discounted tickets are available for senior citizens (over age 60), the differently-abled, students, athletes, and those taking competitive examinations. One compartment of the lowest class of accommodation is earmarked for women on every passenger train. Some berths or seats are also reserved for women or senior citizens.
In the freight segment, IR ferries various commodities and fuels in industrial, consumer, and agricultural segments across the length and breadth of India. IR has historically subsidised the passenger segment with income from the freight business. As a result, freight services are unable to compete with other modes of transport on both cost and speed of delivery, leading to continuous erosion of market share. To counter this downward trend, IR has started new initiatives in freight segments including upgrading of existing goods sheds, attracting private capital to build multi-commodity multi-modal logistics terminals, changing container sizes, operating time-tabled freight trains, and tweaking with the freight pricing/product mix. Also, end-to-end integrated transport solutions such as roll-on, roll-off (RORO) service, a road-rail system pioneered by Konkan Railway Corporation in 1999 to carry trucks on flatbed trailers, is now being extended to other routes across India.
Perhaps the game changer for IR in the freight segment are the new dedicated freight corridors that are expected to be completed by 2020. When fully implemented, the new corridors, spanning around 3300 km, could support hauling of trains up to 1.5 km in length with 32.5 ton axle-load at speeds of 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph). Also, they will free-up capacity on dense passenger routes and will allow IR to run more trains at higher speeds. Additional corridors are being planned to augment the freight infrastructure in the country.
IR maintains two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Mumbai, and the "Mountain Railways of India". The latter are three rail lines in different parts of India: the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a 610 mm (2 ft) narrow-gauge railway in the Lesser Himalayas of West Bengal; the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) metre gauge rack railway in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, a 762 mm (2 ft 6 in) narrow-gauge railway in the Siwalik Hills of Himachal Pradesh.
In 2019, to tackle and resolve the problems of passengers of Indian Railways, the Ministry launched a portal named RailMadad. According to Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha in 2021, all complaints have been resolved within 72 hours and people gave a satisfactory feedback.
Main article: Future of rail transport in India
The Indian government plans to invest ₹9.05 trillion (US$110 billion) to upgrade IR by 2020.
Infrastructure modernisation projects include high-speed rail, with the first Ahmedabad-Mumbai train in operation in 2022; redevelopment of 400 stations by monetizing 2,700 acres (11 km2) of spare railway land under a ₹1,070,000 crore (US$134 billion) plan; doubling tracks to reduce congestion and delays while improving safety; the refurbishing of 12- to 15-year-old coaches at the Carriage Rehabilitation Workshop in Bhopal to enhance passenger amenities and fire safety; Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled tracking of trains to improve safety and service; Digital India-driven ₹3,500,000 million (equivalent to ₹4.2 trillion or US$52 billion in 2020) digitalisation of the railway to improve efficiency and reduce cost; rainwater harvesting, with 1885 systems installed by December 2016; and reforestation of railway land and along the tracks.
All routes will be electrified to save on imported fuel costs. Off-the-grid solar-powered trains are planned with the installation of one gigawatt of solar and 130 megawatts of wind power between 2017 and 2022; India introduced the world's first solar-powered train and 50 coaches with rooftop solar farms in June 2017. Initial assessments of this experiment have been positive. Rooftop solar electricity is planned at stations to reduce long-term fuel costs and protect the environment, and sustainable LED lighting at all the stations was completed by March 2018 which saves Rs 500 million per annum in electricity bills. Locomotive factories have been modernised, including two new factories in Bihar: an electric locomotive factory in Madhepura and a diesel locomotive factory in Marhaura, and 2,285 bio-toilets were introduced from April to July 2014. A ₹200 billion (US$2.5 billion) partnership with Alstom to supply 800 electric locomotives from 2018 to 2028 was announced.
All the unstaffed level crossings had been eliminated by Jan 2019, and staffed level crossings are being progressively replaced by overbridges and underbridges. Other safety projects include the extension of an automated fire alarm system, first introduced on Rajdhani Express trains in 2013, to all air-conditioned coaches; and 6,095 GPS-enabled Fog Pilot Assistance System railway signalling devices (replacing the practice of placing firecrackers on tracks to alert train drivers) installed in 2017 in four zones: Northern, North Central, North Eastern and North Western; and replacing ICF coaches with LHB coaches.
In an unprecedented move, the railways had suspended the services of all passenger trains for 48 days after the lockdown was announced by the PM on 24 March 2020. Its freight trains however continued to run during this period. This was the first time in its entire history that lifeline of the nation was stopped. On 12 May 2020, in first phase, Railways started the Rajdhani Express for 15 cities and began the reservation for the same via IRCTC website an evening before.
Indian Railways is planning to seek investments from private firms to operate passenger trains for the first time. Ministry of Railways identified 109 origin-destination routes via 151 trains asked private companies to submit their interest. Private companies may operate trains by April 2023. This will incorporate modern trains with technological advancements like less maintenance, reduce travel time and create employment. 151 trains will be operated by the by private entities. Each train shall have minimum 16 coaches.
Government of India is building the world's highest rail bridge over the river Chenab, which will connect the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of India. It is set to be completed in 2022. According to the media, per a local government official: "This is the tallest railway bridge in the world and the maximum designed wind speed for the bridge is 266 kmph".
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