Land water and air transport
The transport system is considered the lifeline of the country and the development of transport in India is the primary goal of both the state and center.
There are three major means of transport
- Land (Roadways, Pipelines, Railways),
- Water (Inland, Waterways, Ocean Routes),
- Air (Domestic, International).
This article discusses transport in India, development of roads, rail, water, and air routes.
Development of transport in India
India has good transport Infrastructure such as roads, railways, airways, and waterways.
Road Infrastructure in India
An important mode of transport for goods and passengers for short, medium, and long distances. The road is easy, cheap to construct to build, and maintain.
Asia’s largest tunnel is Patnitop Tunnel, It is also India’s longest road tunnel with a length of 9.28 km (5.8 mi), and the country’s first tunnel with a fully integrated tunnel control system.
India has the second-longest road network with a total length of 56,03,293 Km as of 2016. About 85% of passengers and 70% of freight traffic are carried every year.
The road network in India is classified based on the purpose of construction, maintenance, etc into National Highway (NH), State Highway (SH), District Roads, Rural Roads (Village Roads), Border Roads, and International Highways.
1. National Highways (NH)
These highways connect the capital of states, major ports, rail junctions, industrial and tourist centres.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India is responsible for the development and maintenance of the National Highway in India. The total length is 1,01,011 km that is 1.8% of the total road network in 2016.
The longest National highway is NH-7, run from Varanasi in UP to Kanniyakumari in TN covering a distance of 2369 km.
The shortest National Highway in India is NH-47A which runs from Ernakulum to Kochi Port (Willington Island) covering a distance of 6km. The total number of national highways in India is 200.
2. State Highways (SH)
SH are roads that connect important cities, towns, and district headquarters within the state and connect them with National Highway or Highways of neighboring states.
These roads are financed and administered by the State government. State Highway runs to the length of 1,76,166 km as of 2016.
3. District Road
District roads connect the district and taluk headquarters with the state highway and national highways.
District roads are constructed and maintained by the Public Works Department of states and Zila Parishad. The total length of district road is 5,61,940 km (16.81%) in 2016.
4. Rural Road
This connects different villages with neighboring towns. Maintained by Village Panchayats. The total length is 39,35,337 Km as of 2016.
Rural roads consist of Panchayat roads ( Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti, Gram Panchayat); roads of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), and those constructed by the state PWDs.
5. Border Roads
These roads are of strategic importance that is constructed and maintained by Border Road Organization (BRO).
BRO was established in 1960, for the development of roads of strategic importance in Northern and Northeastern Borders areas.
BRO has constructed the world’s highest road joining Chandigarh and Leh in Ladakh. Border road runs at an average altitude of 4270 meters.
Expressways are multi-lane good quality highways for high-speed traffic.
Important expressways are Mumbai-Pune Road, Kolkata-Dumdum Airport Road, Durgapur-Kolkata Road, and Yamuna expressway between Delhi and Agra.
7. International Highway
It links India with neighboring countries for the promotion of harmonious relationships with them.
These highways are constructed with aid from World Bank under an agreement with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (ESCAP).
These highways connect India with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
In India, the densest road network is found in the northern plains where it is relatively easy to construct the road.
In the mountainous area, it is difficult to construct roads.
Road density is highest in Kerala and lowest in Jammu & Kashmir.
The total number of national highways in India is 6, they run from Moreh in Manipur, India, to Maesot in Thailand via Myanmar’s Tamu, Mandalay, and Myawaddy.
Shershah suri built the shahi (Royal) road, from the Indus valley to Sonar Valley in Bengal. This road from Kolkata to Peshawar was renamed as Grand Trunk(GT) road during British era. At present it extends from Amritsar to Kolkata and it is bifurcated into two segments: NH-1 from Delhi to Amritsar and NH-2 from Delhi to Kolkata.Tamil State board books
National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), established in 1995. It is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Surface TransportTamil State board books
Golden Quadrilateral: Also referred to as golden highway of India that extends about 5,846 km long road of 4/6 lanes connecting, India’s four metropolitan cities: Delhi-Kolkata-Chennai-Mumbai-Delhi was launched in 1999.
North-South and East-West Corridors: North-South corridor aims at connecting Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir with Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu (including Kochi-Salem Spur) with a 4,076 km long road.
The East-West corridor has been planned to connect Silchar in Assam with the port town of Porbandar in Gujarat with 3,640km of road length. The two corridors intersect at Jhansi.
Railway Infrastructure in India (Railway infrastructure upsc)
Railways are considered the backbone of the surface transportation system of India. Indian railways network is the largest in Asia and second-largest in the world.
Length is 67,368 km with 7349 railway stations as of 2017. The history of rail transport in India started 160 years before, the first passenger train ran between Bori Bunder (Bombay) and Thane, a distance of 34 km.
The highest speed train in India is Gatimaan Express.
The light rail system in India is a type of city train public transportation that generally has a less seating capacity and lower speed than heavy rail. It is called MRTS or Metro Trains in India or Urban rail transit in India. An example is Chennai Metro, Chennai MRTS, etc.
Importance of rail transport in India
It is considered the cheapest and fastest means of Public Transport for the general public and it is a lifeline for a country like India, where Land is huge, with tough terrains.
Generally, rail transport is considered the safest means of transport.
The development of rail transport in India is done by Indian Railways. For ease of operation and management, the Indian Railways is organized into 16 zones (railway zones in India UPSC).
- Northern Railway – Delhi,
- North-Western Railway – Jaipur,
- North-Central Railway- Allahabad,
- North-Eastern Railway – Gorakhpur,
- North-East Frontier Railway – Guwahati,
- Eastern Railway – Kolkatta,
- East Coast Railway – Bhubaneswar,
- East-Central Railway – Hazipur
- West-Central Railway – Jabalpur
- Central Railway – Mumbai (VT)
- Western Railway-Mumbai (Churchgate)
- Southern Railway – Chennai
- South- Central Railway – Secunderabad
- South- Eastern Railway – Kolkatta
- South – Western Railway – Hubball
- South East Central Railway – Bilaspur
The northern railway accounts for the longest route length followed by the Western Railway.
On the basis of the track, the Indian railway’s categories are Broad Gauge with a width of 1.676 meters, Meter Gauge with a width of 1 meter, and Narrow gauge with a width of 0.762 meters, and light gauge with 0.610 meters.
The arrival of Konkan Railways Corporation (KRC), Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS), Metro, and Sub-Urban railways give easy means of transport.
a) Konkan Railway
The construction of Konkan Railways was completed in 1998. It connects Roha in Maharashtra to Mangaluru in Karnataka on a length of 760km.
On its routes railway crosses 146 rivers, and streams, nearly 2000 bridges, and 73 tunnels. Asia’s longest tunnel is nearly 6.44 km long in this route.
The states of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka are partners in this undertaking The rail link between Banihal in the Jammu region and Qazigund in Kashmir valley was opened in 2013, this rail passes under the Pir Panjal Range through an 11.2 km long tunnel.
b) Metro Railway in India
- 8 cities with Metro rail in India.
- Kolkatta, Chennai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Jaipur, and Kochi.
- Kolkatta is the first city in India to have metro rail, it is also called as Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS).
- As of September 2018, India has 507 km of operational metro lines and 381 stations.
“The state of Meghalaya has no railway network“
“The first train in India is from Mumbai to Thane in 1853 covering a distance of 34 km. In 1951, the railway was nationalized as one unit “
“The Indian Railways headquartered at New Delhi.”
“the first suburban railway started in 1925 in Mumbai.”
“Chennai becomes the 6th Indian city with the metro railway.”
“Gatiman express is the fastest operational train in India, that connects New Delhi and Agra and touches 160 km/h. This train takes a travel time of 105 minutes to cover a 200 km journey.”
Pipeline Transport in India
The pipeline is a convenient mode of transport to oil and natural gas fields, refineries, and to markets. Also used to transport water.
The initial cost of laying pipeline is high but the maintenance cost is less. Its advantages are a steady supply of goods and reduce the transshipment losses and delays.
Important networks of pipeline transportation in India are:
Oil field in upper Assam to Kanpur, From Salaya in Gujarat to Jalandhar in Punjab, and Gas pipeline from the Hazira in Gujarat to Jagadispur in Uttar Pradesh
Water Transport system in India
It is a fuel-efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport. The oldest and cheapest mode of transport.
Two types of waterways are Inland Waterways, and Ocean Waterways (see routes)
History of water transport in India
Although India is using water transport for thousands of years, officially Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) came into existence on 27th October 1986 to improve and develop Inland water transport.
Inland Waterways in India
India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, lakes, and backwaters.
The total navigable length in India is 14,500 km, out of which 5200km length of rivers and 4000 km length of canals used by mechanized crafts.
The total cargo carried by inland waterways is just about 0.1% of the total inland traffic of India. The Inland Waterways Authority was set up in 1986.
The Major national waterways are :
National Waterway 1: Between Haldia and Allahabad measures 1620 km and includes stretches of the Ganga-Bhagirathi- Hooghly river system. It is the longest national waterway in India.
National Waterway 2: a stretch of the Brahmaputra river between Dhubri and Sadiya a distance of 891 km.
National Waterway 3: extends between Kollam and Kottapuram in Kerala, it is the first national waterway in the country with 24-hour navigation facilities along its entire stretch of 205 km.
About 95% of India’s foreign trade by volume and 70% by value moves by ocean routes. There are 13 major and 200 minor or intermediate ports in India.
The major ports are administered by the central government and minor ports are managed by various state governments.
The major ports on the east coast are Kolkata (including Haldia Dock), Paradip, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Ennore, and Tuticorin.
The major ports on the west coast are Kandla, Mumbai, Nhava Seva (Jawaharlal Nehru Port), New Mangalore, Marmagao, and Kochi.
India has four major shipyards, the Hindustan shipyard in Vishakhapatnam, the Garden Reach workshop in Kolkatta, Mazagaon Dock in Mumbai, Kochi Shipyard in Kochi.
India is the second-largest ship-owning country in Asia and 16th in the world.
Air Transport in India
Air transport in India started on 18th February 1918, when Henry Piquet carried mail from Allahabad to Naini. In 1953, eight different airlines operating in India were nationalized.
Domestic airways fly within the country and international airways connect major cities of the world. Indian Air Lines and Air India are the two airline services run by the Indian Government.
Indian Air Lines provides domestic air services and Air India provides international air services. At present, there are 19 designated international airports.
These airports are managed by the Airport Authority of India,
Example Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata, Chennai International Airport, Chennai, Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai, etc
There are 80 domestic airports and 25 civil enclaves at defense airfields.
Pavan-Hans Helicopter Ltd
Pavan-Hans Helicopter Ltd provides Helicopter support to the petroleum sector, such as ONGC and Oil India Ltd.
It is a public sector company based in New Delhi. Its operation is based at the Juhu Aerodrome in Vile Parle (West) Mumbai.
Pavan-Hans is a Mini Ratna-I category public sector undertaking. It also provides services to state governments in India particularly North East India, Inter-Island, Ferry Services in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, services to Lakshadweep Island, etc.
Airport Authority of India (AAI)
Constituted in 1995
It provides security to Indian Airports.
AAI under the Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining, and managing civil aviation infrastructure in India.