No doubt it’s a stupendous journey when we walk through the annals of Indian Railways' 75-year-long journey post-independence.
Indian Railway network continues to be equivalent to arteries in the human body.
But for Indian Railways Churchill's oft-quoted statement that India is not a nation but a geographical expression would have proved true.
IR got partitioned along with the country and consisted of 42 separate Railway systems, including 32 of them belonging to princely states. 40% of the Network went to newly formed Pakistan.
Merging these varied systems into one, I consider to be the biggest achievement of earlier years .
In fact, the responsibility of carrying citizens who overnight became refugees in their country of birth to the country of their choice was the biggest challenge faced by Indian Railways. In an unprecedented feat, IR carried 2.5 million people in 800 passenger trains.
Over the years production units for providing locomotives, coaches and wagons were set up which formed the initial backbone of the system.
Since 1947, The 55K + Rail route comprising of 3 gauges has not only grown to 70 K+ but has been made unit gauge, multi-tracked, Electrified, and largely equipped with the modern signaling system.
Today Indian Railways is a mammoth organization, the fourth largest globally. Unlike many of its peers, it is 100% electrified.
There are 12 lakh employees and 15 lakh pensioners representing the largest such grouping of one organization globally.
In 2021-22, IR carried 1425 million tonnes of cargo and particularly played a pivotal role in keeping the supply of electricity on in homes and factories when global disruptions were being experienced even in advanced economies.
Pre pandemic IR carried 8+ billion passengers annually.
IR’s share in transportation, relative to the road, dropped significantly from independence, but it has increased in absolute terms.
In 2021-22 the trend got reversed for the first time increasing to 28% from 27% in 20-21.
Indian Railway over the 75 years has eliminated wooden bodied plain bearing, four wheelers rolling stock.
The mechanical signalling system has been replaced by an Electronic signaling system.
Track structure has improved from 35 kg to 70 kg Rails per meter.
New bridges over mega rivers like Brahmaputra, Ganga, Yamuna, and Godavari have been built.
Steam locos were replaced by Diesel and electric and now IR has almost achieved the status of 100% electrified Railway.
But the journey of progress has received a real boost in the last few years after the government realising its importance opened fund taps.
There are goals to achieve, from Bullet Trains, and speed upgradation, to increasing the share in traffic to 45%, becoming carbon neutral by 2030 so on and so forth.
As Robert Frost said, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.”