IR’s Network: Tracks and Electrification


The Indian Railways is a widespread web of tracks and stations, which cover every nook and cranny in this country. They carry over a million passengers daily, from nearly seven thousand stations. Such numbers make the IR the fourth largest railway network in the world and the right largest employer, with a workforce of over one point three million people. To accommodate the sheer volume, the IR runs more than thirteen thousand trains daily. For such operations to function smoothly, the IR has an extensive track network, of which nearly thirty-eight percent of it is electrified.


The IR has over one hundred and twenty thousand kilometres of track and which runs over sixty-seven kilometres of route length. The tracks are rated for speeds ranging from eighty to two-hundred km/hr; however trains in India run at a maximum speed of one-eighty km/hr.

There are varying degrees of gauges used in India, but the widely used one is the broad gauge, which is sixteen-hundred and seventy-six mm gauge and spans nearly ninety-two percent of the total route length. It is the widest gauge in use across the world for passenger movement. Broad gauge tracks generated a hundred percent of all the freight output and more than ninety- nine percent of passenger output in the fiscal year of 2016-17.

There are also various routes with the metre gauge and narrow gauge, all of them except the heritage routes are all being converted to broad gauge. The metre gauge accounts for nearly five percent of the total tracks and the narrow gauge accounts for three percent of all tracks. Most of the mainline broad-gauge tracks are equipped with long-welded rails, pre-stressed concrete (PSC) sleepers and high tensile strength rails.


India is a country which is yet to be fully electrified, but as the IR carries a huge amount of passengers and freight, electrification is extremely important. Economically and environmentally electric loco and lines are far more advantageous than diesel locomotives. As of 2017, twenty-five kilometres of the route and nearly fifty-thousand kilometres of the track is electrified. This is nearly forty percent of the total track length and includes most freight routes and major cities and towns.  India uses twenty- five kV AC traction on all the electrified tracks.

Electrification began as early as 1925 when a Bombay-Kurla line was electrified with a fifteen hundred V DC line. This was installed in various other places, and in 1958 the first three thousand V DC line was introduced in Howrah-Burdan section of the Eastern Railways. Soon enough as IR found out twenty-five kV AC lines are far more efficient, they started trials. The first line was introduced in Raj Kharsawan-Dongarposai line in 1960. A decision was made during the same time; to convert all DC lines to AC lines. This long and tedious process started in 1967 and was finally completed in 2016. IR plans to electrify all rail lines by 2022.

With advances in technology, one can easily check-up stuff like Indian train status, live running status and so much more from the IR and other private tourist websites.