Indian Railways

The Indian Railway System is the country’s biggest nationalized undertaking. It is the largest in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. It is also the second largest system in the world under a single management.

The first railway line in India was opened on 16 April 1853, when Lord Dalhousie was the Governor-General of India (1848-56). The first train ran between Bombay and Thane.

Railway Zones (with headquarters and date of creation)

  1. Southern Railway, Chennai (14 April 1951).
  2. Central Railway, Mumbai (5 November 1951).
  3. Western Railway, Mumbai (5 November 1951).
  4. Northern Railway, Delhi (4 April 1952).
  5. North Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur (14 April 1952).
  6. Eastern Railway, Kolkata (1 August 1955).
  7. South Eastern Railway, Kolkata (1 August 1955).
  8. North Eastern Frontier Railway, Maligaon (Guwahati) (15 January 1958).
  9. South Central Railway, Secunderabad (2 October 1966).
  10. East Coast railway, Bhubaneshwar (August 2002).
  11. North-Central, Allahabad (August 2002).
  12. South-Western, Hubli (August 2002).
  13. West-Central, Jabalpur (August 2002).
  14. South East Central Railways, Bilaspur, Madhya Pradesh, (August 2002).

Headquarters of the Railway Service Commission: Allahabad.

Railway Staff College: Baroda.

Railway Gauges: Broad Gauge—1.67 metre; Metre Gauge—1 metre; Narrow Gauge— 0.762 and 0.7610 metre.

Production Units: (1) Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, Chittaranjan (2) Integral Coach Factory, Perambur (Chennai) (3) Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi (4) Wheel and Axles Plant, Bengaluru (5) Research Designs and Standards Organisations, Lucknow.

Konkan railway project: The 760-km long Konkan railway project is India’s first ever public funded railway project. It helped to reduce travelling time to the south, from northern and western parts. Travel between Mumbai and Mangalore, that used to take 41 hours, is now covered in 18 hours. The Konkan project is a major engineering feat. More than 10 per cent of the rail lines are laid inside tunnels, the longest tunnel being 6.5 km. Besides, there are 145 major bridges and the highest viaduct is 65 metre above the ground level.

India’s first private cargo train: Indian Railways tied up with the Hyderabad-based multi-model logistics company Gati to launch India’s first private cargo train Millennium Parcel Express. The train caters to companies that manufacture high value goods and want to sell them in eastern and north-eastern States.

Longest railway route: The Dibrugarh-Kanyakumari Vivek Express covers the longest railway route in India, connecting the north-eastern State of Assam to Kanyakumari, the southern-most city in the country.  It is now the eighth longest train route in the world. Covering a distance of 4,286 km, it goes through seven States—Assam, Nagaland, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

India’s Fastest Train: Gatimaan Express is now India’s fastest train. It runs between Delhi and Agra at a maximum speed of 160 km/h.


In 1992 the new open sky policy ended the monopoly of Indian Airlines over the Indian skies. In 1994 six private air taxi operators were recognised as full-fledged airlines. These were: East West Airlines, Jet Airways, Damania Airways, Modiluft, NEPC and Archana Airways. The air taxis began to operate when the restrictions over the Indian skies were withdrawn in 1992. Through a notification the government of India converted Indian Airlines and Air India, India’s major domestic and international carriers, respectively, into two public limited companies with effect from 1 March 1994. Indian Airlines and Air India had been established under the Air Corporation Act, which was passed in May 1953.

Pawan Hans Limited: The Pawan Hans Ltd was incorporated on 15 October 1985 as a Government company to provide helicopter based air transport services to meet the requirement of the petroleum sector, to operate services in inaccessible areas and hilly terrains, to operate tourist charters and to provide intra-city transport service. The headquarters are located at Delhi.

Hansa takes to the skies: A new landmark was set in the Indian aviation history when, on 23 November 1993, Hansa, the new light aircraft developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), undertook its inaugural flight. The aircraft is the first to be developed by a government laboratory with the help of private funding. It is also the first Indian aircraft to be made from composites and the first to be entirely conceptualised, designed and manufactured within the country.

National Airports Authority: The NAA was formed under the National Airports Authority Act, 1985 and started functioning with effect from 1 June 1986. The main functions and responsibilities of NAA are:

  • management of civil aerodromes, civil enclaves and aeronautical communication stations;
  • planning, development, construction and maintenance of runways, associated aircraft movement areas and passenger-handling buildings;
  • planning, procurement, installation and maintenance of radio navigational aids, communication system, safety services etc; and (iv) provision of air traffic control and radar services.

The headquarters of NAA are at Delhi.

International Airports Authority: The International Airports Authority of India was set up with effect from 1 February 1972 under the provisions of International Airports Authority Act, 1971. The Authority is responsible for the management of International airports of India and for providing various services and facilities at these airports except those pertaining to air traffic control, aeronautical communication and navigational facilities, which are provided by the Civil Aviation Department.

In August 1994, however, the Parliament approved a bill for the merger of NAA and IAAI.

Civil aircraft marking on Indian planes: VT—

International Air Ports of India:

  • Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi,
  • Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata,
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai,
  • Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport, Nagpur,
  • Coimbatore Airport,
  • Chennai International Airport,
  • Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, Amritsar,
  • Jaipur International Airport,
  • Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad,
  • Goa International Airport,
  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad,
  • Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, Guwahati,
  • Bengaluru International Airport,
  • Mangalore International Airport,
  • Kannur International Airport,
  • Aranmula International Airport,
  • Cochin International Airport,
  • Calicut International Airport,
  • Trivandrum International Airport,
  • Raja Bhoj Airport, Bhopal,
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport, Lucknow,
  • Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Varanasi,
  • Srinagar Airport and
  • Veer Savarkar International Airport, Port Blair.
  • Chandigarh Airport.

No-frills airports: Union government has decided to build five no-frills airports at Tezu (Arunachal Pradesh), Kishangarh (Rajasthan), Jharsuguda (Odisha), Hubli and Belgaum (Karnataka). A draft policy on remote and regional connectivity has also been evolved, which will aim at granting various concessions and incentives to airlines to fly to such areas.

Important World Airlines: Singapore Airlines; Lufthansa (Germany); Cathay-Pacific (Hong Kong based); British Airways; Delta Airlines (USA); Malaysian Airlines; KLM (Dutch Airlines); Air France; Quantas (Australia); Emirates (Dubai); Qatar Airways; Gulf Air (UAE); Air China; Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot (Russia); Virgin Atlantic (USA); Swiss Air; Air Canada,

Major Airlines of India: Jet Airways, Indigo, Air India, Spicejet, GoAir, Air Asia, Vistara.


Road transport plays an important role in the economy of the country. It is particularly suitable for short and medium distances. It offers flexibility, reliability, speed and door to door service. Over the years the share of overall traffic has been continuously increasing. There has been a substantial shift from rail to road.

The private sector runs almost the entire trucking industry and 60 per cent of passenger services.

Solatium Fund Authority: In 1982 the Motor Vehicles Act 1939 was amended and a Solatium Fund was established for giving Solatium (Compensation) to the victims of hit and run motor vehicle accidents. The compensation payable is ` 5000 in case of death and ` 1000 in case of grievous hurt.

The Fund is being implemented through the State Governments. The claims have to be submitted to the Tehsildar/Sub Divisional Officer.

National Highways: The Indian road network is one of the largest in the world. National Highways are the main arteries running through the length and breadth of the country connecting State capitals, ports and important towns. Roads of strategic importance are also included in national highways. The total length of National Highways as on November 2017 was 10,00,87.08 km. National Highways constitute only about 1.7% of the road network but carry about 40% of the total road traffic. There are more than 250 roads classified as National Highways.

Highways Authority: The main task of the authority is to takeover, in a phased manner, the construction, maintenance and operation of the national highways. Before the constitution of the authority the maintenance of the roads was done by the State PWDs.

Twelve of the principal highways are:

  • Delhi-Amritsar
  • Delhi-Calcutta
  • Agra-Mumbai
  • Jalandhar-Srinagar-Uri
  • Delhi-Ahmedabad-Mumbai
  • Chandigarh-Manali
  • Ambala-Shimla-Tibet
  • Jorhat-Shillong-Bangladesh
  • Manali-Leh
  • Pathankot-Mandi
  • Cochin-Madurai
  • Beawar-Sirohi-Kandla

Project to link all villages: On 15 August 2000, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee announced an ambitious road project— The Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sarak Pariyojna.—to connect all villages of India.


India has the largest merchant shipping fleet among the developing countries and ranks 15th in the world in shipping tonnage. There are 84 shipping companies of which 48 are engaged exclusively in coastal trade, 21 in overseas trade and remaining in both. The only government shipping company—Shipping Corporation of India—carries on both. The Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) is one of the biggest shipping lines in the world.

Shipyards: There are four major and three medium size shipyards in India in the public sector. Of the major ones Hindustan Shipyard Ltd., Vishakhapatnam and Cochin Shipyard Ltd and Goa Shipyard are under the control of the Ministry of Surface Transport.

Mazagon Dock Ltd., Mumbai and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Calcutta are under the Ministry of Defence.

There are 35 small shipyards in the private sector.

Besides, there are 17 dry docks out of which 13 are available for commercial ship repair activity.

Major Ports: There are twelve major ports in India. These are: West Coast: Kandla, Mumbai, Mormugao, Mangalore, Cochin, and Nhava Sheva (off Mumbai). East Coast: Tuticorin, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam, Paradip, Calcutta-Haldia and Ennore.

Waterways Authority of India: The Union government has constituted an inland Waterways Authority of India to facilitate development of inland water transport in the country. The authority, as the apex body, will be responsible for the planned development, maintenance and regulation of the national waterways for inland water transport.

India has got 14,500 km of navigable waterways comprising of rivers, canals, creeks, etc. Presently only 2000 km of navigable rivers are being used out of 3700 km available. There are three natural waterways systems functional. These are: Allahabad-Haldia (National Waterway No. 1), SadiyaDhubri (Bangladesh border) (Waterway No. 2) and Kollam-KottapuramChampakara Canal-Udyog Mandal Canal (Waterway No. 3). Three more systems are being developed. These are: Sunderbans, from Sagar to Roimandal; between Chirla and Rajahmundry; and on Mondovi river in Goa.


There are 11 major ports in India, apart from 139 minor working ports along the coastline of 5,560 km.

Alleppey: is the chief port of Kerala, situated about 48 km from Cochin.

Bedi: is situated a few miles from the city of Jamnagar.

Bhatkal: is a prominent port to meet the needs of Karnataka.

Bhavnagar: is situated on the creek several miles from the open waters of Gulf of Cambay.

Kolkata: situated on the Hooghly river—144 km from the Bay of Bengal is the largest port of India and a terminal station in south Asia. It is the capital of West Bengal and biggest trading centre of India. It is also called the city of Palaces.

Calicut: (Kerala) is situated about 64 km from Tellicherry and 144 km from Cochin. Now named as Kozhikode. It has small timber trade.

Chennai: is the third largest port of India. The harbour is artificial. It is centre of cotton manufacture, leather and cigarette industries.

Cochin: (Kerala) is the finest natural harbour on the west coast situated 928 km south of Mumbai.

Coconada: is an important port of Andhra Pradesh. It has a small but rich hinterland. It is situated north of Godavari River on the Coconada Bay.

Cuddalore: is a port of Tamil Nadu famous for pearl fisheries.

Dhamra—first private port: India’s first private port is located at Dhamra, 170 km from Bhubaneshwar (Odisha). The project is a joint venture of Larsen & Tubro, India, SSA International of USA and Precious Shipping of Bangkok, Thailand.

Dhanushkodi: is situated on the south-east extermity of the Rameshwaram Island and is the terminus of the Southern Railway.

Ennore: India’s brand new man-made port, 24 km North of Chennai. It has been built with the help of Dutch expertise.

Kandla: in Gujarat; new port developed in the Gulf of Kutch meant principally for handling all the traffic formerly passing through Karachi.

Karaikal: Previously a French settlement and now an important Indian port situated on the Coromandel Coast, 166 km south of Chennai.

Malpi: situated midway between the ports of Goa and Cochin. It has a natural harbour and is a fishing centre.

Mangalore: (Karnataka) is a tidal port served by back-waters communication with hinterland. It is the north-west terminus of the Southern Railway.

Marmagoa: It is one of the recognised major ports of India and one of the finest ports in Asia.

Mumbai: called the Gateway of India is the capital of Maharashtra State and the best natural harbour in India for trade with the West. It has a vast rich hinterland and is centre of cotton industry.

Mundra: On the western coast of India, it is an all-weather, round-theyear port. It has a state-of-the-art fully mechanised, efficient cargo handling system.

Nagapatam: is the chief port of Tanjore district and is situated about 21 km south of Karaikal.

Nhava Sheva: The first major investment by the Port Authority of India on the West coast, this port is one of the major and modern ports of India on the western coast.

Okha: is situated in a detached portion of Baroda on the West Coast.

Pudducherry: previously French settlement and now a Union Territory, an important Indian port situated on the Coromandel coast.

Paradeep: is in Odisha, about 96 km from Cuttack. It is India’s deepest all-weather seaport. It was declared open on 12 March 1966. It is specially designed for export of iron ore. Iron ore from the Bailadilla mines is exported through this port.

Quilon: (Kerala) is connected by backwaters with Alleppey. The chief industries are cotton spinning and tile manufacture.

Surat: one of the earliest and the most important of the factories of East India Company was established here. Its trade has since declined due to rise of the port of Mumbai.

Tuticorin: is situated at the extreme southern point of Chennai peninsula. The harbour is shallow and the steamers anchor about 8 km from the shore. It has been developed as a Major Port, renamed as New Tuticorin. It is being developed as a “hub port” with a total investment of ` 4,000 crore entirely from private sector.

Vishakhapatnam: in Andhra Pradesh, is situated midway between Kolkata and Chennai; it is the only land-locked and protected port in India. It is a natural harbour and centre of ship-building industry. An oil refinery has also been set up here by Caltex Oil Company.

Major private ports of India: (1) Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal; (2) Mundra; (3) Pipavav; (4) Tuticorin; (5) Visakha Container Terminal, Vishakhapatnam; (6) Kochi; (7) Kandla.

What is a major port: Technically speaking, a major port is one which is capable of taking oceangoing steamers with a registered tonnage of 4,000 or more and berth them along harbour and further that such steamers carry a minimum of the requisite trade of 5,000,000 tons per annum. The sheltered nature of the port, well laid-out approach channels, provision of docks, jetties and moorings, well laid-out transit sheds, effective rail connections, the ability to serve a very large portion of the hinterland (lying behind the port), facilities for meeting the requirements of defence and strategy, comparatively large volume of traffic and the possibilities of work for shipping all the year round are some of the qualifications of a major port.