Science Reporter:It was 170 years ago in 1853, that the first train in India made its way from the then Bombay to the town of Thane. Today, India’s rail network is the fourth largest in the world with tracks totalling more than a lakh kilometres. Can you give us a sense of the magnitude of development that the Indian Railways has achieved till date?
Sudhanshu Mani: Indian Railways have indeed come a long way. What was started by the British to govern and control India soon turned into a vehicle for people-to-people interaction over our vast country and Gandhiji made it a means to involve Indians in the freedom struggle. After unity and independence, it has been the engine of India’s growth. Apart from the growth in terms of network route and line kilometres, rising from approx. 77000 track kilometres to nearly 129000 track kilometres, it runs more than 13000 passenger trains daily, on both long-distance and suburban routes, covering more than 7000 stations across India; so much so that statistically every person on earth travels Indian railways once a year. Although its inter-modal share of freight traffic has reduced from 80% to 27% today, yet, all the core commodities like coal, foodgrains and fertilizers are still carried mainly by IR which today transports an originating traffic of nearly 1500 million tonnes. It has a large manufacturing base for rolling stock and supports a large number of industries and employs 1.3 million people…read more on NOPR