Indian Railways : Running Off-Track

Business is always about profit & loss; revenue & expenditures. At the end of the day, all you need is breaking even. If this is not met, then the business is in a bad shape. If this further persists for a long period, then the business must be shut down. This is a well-known scenario. But, what if this is the case for a nearly 150 year old industry operated by over 1.3 million employees. Will you shut it down as such ? This industry is nothing but the Indian Railways.

I will briefly introduce you to the Indian Railways first, before analyzing the primary goal of the study. Forgot to mention the primary objective of this post. I just wanted to know why this is happening ? How it is happening ? What can be done to help it bring it on-track. You can easily say poor governance, inefficient staffs, technically backward, neglected maintenance and so on. We can even say much more too, I guess. But my aim is to bring this big picture (from 1951 to 2013) into a simplified cocoon sized post, without just penning down the faults alone that I/we experience in the railways of India. So, Welcome to The Indian Railways. Regret the inconvenience to be caused.

Touted to be as the Asia’s second largest railway network; categorized into 17 administrative zones and over 15000 trains travelling across 8000 railway stations. This network at one point of time was more profitable than the giants ONGC & Reliance Industries. But, currently it is in the worst shape once could ever imagine. Indian Railways is on running on loss, not on wheels.


Indian Railways primary revenue comes from the cargo/goods sector (68.42%), followed by 25.87% through passenger travel and the rest is covered in the rental/advertisements area (I am clueless about what this is).  In the passenger revenue collections, one-fourth comes from the AC Coaches ans the rest from the lower classes. This is how it has been so far.

In general, Indian Railways growth has been 2% higher than India’s economy growth all these decades. Well this has been an unsaid rule and this is how the figures were before it ran into derailment.

Addressing these issues for over many decades:

Open Discharge Toilets:

  • Indian Railways is one of the many railway networks in the world to have open-discharge toilets (Link:
  • Due to this,  apart from sanitary hazards, the problem of replacing tracks and associated fittings are on a rise over the years. Life span of tracks is 30 years, but replacement becomes necessary before the actual life span (Link:
  • 10% extra expenditures occurs for the replacement of the tracks every years which can be easily averted
  •  Controlled discharge, Biodegradable and vacuum-retention toilets and lot other models are very well ON-PAPER and not ON-TRACK. The research continues, so does the faecal matter

Track Kilometrage:

  • The passenger traffic has increased from 1.28 billion in 1950-51 to 7.65 billion in 2010-11; corresponding rise can be seen in freight traffic as the figures were 73 million tonnes in 1950-51 to 922 million tonnes in 2010-11. But subsequent rise in track length has not been done or is insufficient as per the demand. Th track length has increased from 70000 km to 115000 km, which is not a healthy sign
  • Added to this, conversion of metre gauge (1 m) to broad gauge (1.676 m) is consuming more time than the time required for laying a new track. This leads to increased costs and valuable revenues be wasted

(The Journey continues…..)


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