Monday, June 24, 2024

Railways: Lifeline of India

Written By Ananya Agarwal (Grade 10)

Transportation is of paramount importance in India due to its vast geographical expanse and diverse population. It plays a crucial role in connecting people, goods, and services across the country, fostering economic growth, and promoting social integration. Efficient transportation networks, including roadways, railways, airways, and waterways, facilitate trade, tourism, and employment opportunities. In rural areas, transportation enables access to essential services like healthcare and education. Additionally, it contributes to reducing environmental pollution and congestion by promoting the use of public transport and sustainable modes of travel.

The history of transportation in India dates back to thousands of years ago. The Indus Valley civilisation had well-established road trade routes. Even the Mauryan and Gupta Empires maintained postal systems for efficient governance and trade.

Although during the British colonial era, the British did introduce transportation systems like the railways, they only thought of their own needs. These were meant for establishing trade routes for their own administrative purposes, which resulted in poor connected roads and inefficient transportation systems.

However, post-independence, the Indian government laid a lot of emphasis on improving the overall infrastructure, making it more efficient and available for the public. In due course, the government started allowing the private sector to get involved in these fields, and liberalisation took place, which really boosted the development of roads, railways, aviation sectors, and waterways.

Out of all the modes of transportation available in the country, the development of the railways has been very fascinating. The British introduced it for their own advantage, knowing little it would be the biggest stepping stone for the country to rise up from the ruins of the Independence struggle.

Railways Pre-Independence

The British envisioned, planned, and brought the railways to India. To successfully rule this vast, disconnected, and diverse region, they needed to move things around fast, such as the Empire’s mail, materials, officials, labourers, and armies. During that time, England’s groundbreaking new “railway technology” accelerated the Kingdom’s industrialization and development.

The British realised that an extensive railway network was exactly what they needed in India to consolidate their power, control the local population, reach into the hinterlands, and exploit the country to the maximum. And this is what prompted the establishment of the Indian Railways. The first passenger train ran from Bori Bunder (Bombay) to Thane, a 34-kilometre journey, on April 16, 1853.

Railways Post-Independence

After gaining independence in 1947, the railways in India went through a considerable amount of development and expansion. New lines were laid, and existing lines were upgraded. Connectivity was improved, and bridges, tunnels, and stations were built to support the growing demands of the railways. Several iconic train services were introduced during this time, such as the Rajdhani Express (1969), connecting major cities with high-speed services, and the Shatabdi Express (1988), offering premium day-travel options.

Electrification of railway tracks began during this period, initially focused on busy and strategic routes. This electrification drive aimed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and improve operational efficiency. Indian Railways played a crucial role in the country’s economic development by facilitating the movement of goods, raw materials, and passengers. It became an essential lifeline for industries and trade across the nation.

Railways in recent times

Railways are a vital economic factor in India. They provide India’s large masses with an affordable way to travel across the nation. Indian Railways will be the third-largest in the world in five years, accounting for 10% of the global market. It is also one of the largest employers in the country, creating almost one million jobs.

Railways have played a significant role in agricultural development. Agriculture was only able to become commercialised with the assistance of the railway. Farmers can now sell their agricultural products to distant regions, as well as sell them for a profit on the global market. Indian Railways also play a crucial role in freight transportation, moving a significant volume of goods across the country. Efforts are being made to improve freight services, including dedicated freight corridors to reduce transit times and boost efficiency.

One of the challenges faced by the railways is the safety of the passengers, and the government has implemented certain measures to reduce accidents, such as the installation of train protection and warning systems (TPWS), automatic train control (ATC), and CCTV surveillance.

Nowadays, trains also provide exclusive and upscale experiences, attracting people from around the world to enjoy their luxury. The Maharajas’ Express, being one of the iconic coaches, is regarded as one of the most luxurious trains globally. It offers several itineraries covering destinations like Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi, and more, providing opulent cabins, gourmet dining, personalised services, and excursions to heritage sites, palaces, and cultural attractions.

Featured Image Courtesy – Economic Times

Ananya Agarwal
Ananya Agarwal
I am Ananya Agarwal from Kolkata. I study in The Heritage School in grade 8 and I enjoy writing different stories and articles.


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