Sunday, March 7, 2010

Challenge to Indian Railway - Expansion and HSR is the requirement of time

[Janshadabdi Express]

For every loss we have a reason. When China showed remarkable progress in the nineties and later; we satisfied ourselves by saying that China opened their economy some two decades before us. So they have an advantage over us. When Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong etc achieved remarkable success even after a moderate beginning, we said they are small countries and India is huge and have to support a huge population. When the regions in and around Gulf of Persia progressed we said that we don’t have enough black gold (Petroleum).

For everything we have reasons. But what reasons we have for the remarkable expansion of railways in China as compared to that of India? The numbers shows that, at the time of independence India had 54,000 km of rail route, but China only had 21,800 km rails in 1950. China reached 78,000 km in 2007 and 86,000 km in 2009. Now they had a target of 1, 20,000 km for 2020. In the same time, that is until 2004 we added an average of 161km/year to our existing network; from 2004-05 to 2008-09 we added 220 km/year (from 2004-05 to 2008-09 China added 1000km/year).

[Shanghai North Railway Station]

Now what is our excuse for these numbers? Of course we may invent many new theories from the lack of capital to the procedural delay. According to the IIFL study, China saw her first experimental HSR (High Speed Rail) in 2003, and they are planning to expand it to 28,000 km by 2014. But we are still in the planning stage to bring the HSR to our country.

Who are responsible for this? Now railway is talking about building hospitals, schools etc, but what is or what should be the primary aim of Railway? Building hospitals and other complexes are good, but that is not railways job; leave it to government and private enterprises. Even now there are a numerous places and even states in India which doesn’t have even one route km.

Instead of focusing more on popular budgets we have to invest heavily on building the infrastructure. If railway doesn’t have the enough capital to do this, go for private partnership, it is not an untouchable thing. But if we are not ready to invest - not merely investing but rapid expansion and the introduction of High Speed Rail Networks, we will leave behind in the new wave of pan Asian Rail Network. The rail track to Bangladesh is a good start in this direction, but for the expansion of it to ASEAN and other East-Asian countries it’s not enough. Railway is one of the rare pan Indian institutions in India but still it doesn’t spread enough.



  1. China has 3 times the land area of India and has a larger population. Logic dictates that Chinese rail network be proportionally larger than India's by this magnitude - but it isn't. In 2009, the Indian railways system moved the equivalent of the entire world's population. China's rail system barely moved its own populace.

  2. Yes they have, but we had a mammoth rail network even before the independence, which China didnt have. Yet they made s ignificant progress in expanding it in lightning speed and introduced HRL too.

    Their too the annual migration migration of workers with in the country (this is considered as one of the biggest sail of humans) - from the sea side to inner region and vice versa is handled by railways.

    The countries which have very small population as compared to India like many east asian countries and western European countries and Northern America is moving very fast in advancing their rail system including the introduction of HSR.

    So this is the time we have make massive investment in rail sector, this infrastructure development will do miracles in the already congested areas, where further widening of the roads are not possible and highly costly