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Chinese Railways versus Indian Railways! December 14, 2008

Posted by Ramnath Rangaswamy in Emerging Markets, India, Logistics, Supply Chain.
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irAll of us have repeatedly heard about the “success” of the Indian Railways under the stewardship of the current railway administration. So much so that the “success” of the Indian Railways has become a fashionable case study in Harvard Business School and the subject of lectures in IIM, Ahmedabad , INSEAD and Harvard Business School.

No doubt the Indian Railways has made progress. But the progress is relative- compared to other government agencies and departments in India– which is not to say much!

But how does the progress of the Indian Railways compare on a absolute scale?

To take an objective look at the “success” of the Indian Railways, let us compare the Chinese Railways and Indian Railways. After all, everyone and everyone’s analysts are comparing China and India.

Let us start at the beginning…..

The first Chinese Railway train was operated in 1876, from Shanghai to Woosung (15 miles) nearly a quarter of a century after the first train in India was run in April 1853 between Bori Bunder and Thane (21miles)

In 1945, China had 27,000 km of rail, of track. In 1947, when India got independence, India had 53596 Route kms of track- thanks to the British! Net, net China had just about ½ the route kilometres of India in the mid- 1940s. And that too for a much larger area.

How do they compare today? Chinese Railways today has 78,000 route kilometres, overtaking India sometime in the mid 1990s making only the rail networks in the USA and Russia larger in size. The total track length is 154,600km. By contrast Indian Railways has stagnated at  63,327 route kilometres of network.

The Indian Railways has suffered from the same neglect and apathy towards creating a solid foundation of infrastructure, as our roads, power, irrigation, airports.

As of 2007, Chinese Railway owned about 578,000 freight wagons, 44,000 coaches and 18,300 locomotives. India had 225000 freight wagons, 45000 passenger coaches and 8300 locomotives.

This vast difference in the number of freight wagons and locomotives explains why Indian railways carries less than a quarter, ~22%, of the freight carried by the Chinese Railways.

In 1950 Indian Railways carried 44 billion freight tonne km, against 39 billion in the case of Chinese Railways.

Last year, India moved 750 Million MT of freight last year while China moved 4. 5 times that i.e 3300 Million MT of freight.

On a global basis, China’s rail transport volume is one of the world’s largest, having six percent of the world’s operating railways, and carrying 25 percent of the world’s total railway workload.

China regularly runs heavy-haul freight transportation speed limit to 120 km/h. The highest speed notched up for a freight train, on the Indian Railways is 100 km/h (62 mph) for a 4,700 metric tonne load.

The Chinese Railways plans to spend US$ 292 billion ~ 15 lakh crore [ 1lakh = 0.1million = 100000, 1crore = 10million = 10000000] over 10 years. This translates to Rs 1.5lakh crore per year spent on the Chinese Railways for Capital Expenditure. In contrast the Indian Railways spends just a quarter (1/4) of what the Chinese Railways spends. The proposed investment for the 2008-2009 fiscal year is Rs. 37,500 cr, which in itself 21% more than for the previous fiscal year.

And passengers? Indian railways moved 6.2 billion passengers while China moved 1.4 billion passengers. What is to be noted is that out of the 6.2 billion passengers that Indian railways carried, 1.1 billion are Mumbai suburban passengers which are short lead passengers and can be considered a different subsidiary.

However the quality of passenger travel in the Chinese Railway is far superior. Chinese has express trains with speeds of 300kms/hr. Maximum speed of a passenger train in India is about half of the Chinese Railways at 160kms/ hr. The pictures of the Chinese High-Speed Railway (CHR) will give you an idea of the qualitative difference in passenger rail travel between China and India.

Chinese High Speed Railway Trains

The Chinese Railways depended on steam locomotives till the 21st century while India phased out their steam locomotives ahead of the Chinese in 1990s. In December 2005, the world’s last regular revenue mainline steam train finished its journey on the Jitong Railway marking the end of steam era. Nevertheless, there are still some steam locomotives used in the industrial railways in China.

The Chinese Railways are organized in a more modern and business-like manner. Five major railway corporations — one each for rolling stock, railway construction, goods and materials, civil engineering, signalling and telecommunications — have been separated from transport enterprises and made autonomous, although state-owned. A number of passenger and freight transport companies have been created to operate on a competitive basis. These enterprises will finally be regrouped into three to five larger, separate companies.

The government has encouraged local authorities to build and operate their own railways up to 2,000 km. By the end of 1999, there were approximately 75 local railways with a total route-length of 4,800 km. About 20 more such projects, totalling 1,800 km, are under construction. To attract foreign capital, Chinese rail enterprises are encouraged to issue stocks on overseas stock markets. In 2001, their ministry of railways (MoR) also approved foreign participation in rail freight transport.

In contrast, as with most things in this country- education system, justice system, government (IAS, IPS …), we have just taken what the British have given us and using them without Indianizing and modifying it to the changing needs and requirements. We have the Railway Board, under the Ministry of Railways – the same structure that the British setup more than 100 years ago!!

Employees Chinese Railways employs 3.18million people while the Indian Railways has employs 1.6millionemployees. This translates to a productivity of 1308 MT/ employee on the Chinese Railways, double that of the 652MT / employee on the Indian Railways.

The Chinese Railways has already linked itself to the Europe and runs regular container trains. This is an alternative to the sea-route to Europe. This is part of the Pan-Asia rail network plan.

The railway to Tibet makes Chinese logistics and supply lines so accessible in case of a conflict with India. While India is just now built a part of the railway line in Kashmir and is just now planning a railway to Sikkim. A railway to Arunachal Pradesh is nowhere close to planning.

So to summarize, here is a table.

 

Indian Railways

Chinese Railways

Route kms (1945/1947)

Route kms (current)

53396

63327

27000

78000

Freight Carried (Billion MT per year)

750

3300

Passengers carried (billions/year)

6.2 billion

1.4 billion

Investment per year (Rs Cr)

37500

150000

Number of

Locos

Freight Wagons

Passenger Coaches

 

8300

225000

45000

 

18300

578000

44000

Employees

1.7

3.18

Maximum Speed (kms/hr)

Freight Trains

Passenger Trains

 

100

160

 

120

300

Reminds you of the Hare and the Tortoise story! Except that here, the Hare is way ahead of the Tortoise. And the Hare is moving ever faster all the time while the Tortoise is falling behind!!

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Comments»

1. VP - January 7, 2009

Good analysis – Indian Railways certainly has a lot of catching up to do. But we also need to give credit to our government for keeping the massive network in relatively good shape. Pakistan & Bangladesh also have British developed networks but are far less efficient than India Railways (Bangladesh Railways, in particular, is a complete disaster with non-unified rail gauge.)

Having said that of course, our real competition is China & not our other basket case neighbours. I think the Chinese claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Indian passenger trains such as the Rajdhanis & Shatabdis compare reasonably well to most Chinese express trains, except the headline grabbers such as CRH3 (Siemens Velaro). Currently, the CRH3s only run between Beijing & Tianjin which is a very short distance of 110 km.

In my opinion, these trains (along with the other white elephant, the Shanghai Maglev) are just propoganda tools by the Communist Party to show off to the world that China is a truly modern country. The first useful high speed trains (such as Beijing-Shanghai) are several years away.

Indian railways even have a couple of advantages esp. in the computerised booking system. Last time I checked, in China one could not book tickets in a city for travel between two other cities. (for e.g. at Beijing, one can’t even book tickets for travel between Shanghai & Guangzhou!)

A couple of improvements that I would really like to see in India
1. Passenger safety & comfort – It costs nothing to have more comfortable seats! Get rid of the extra berths added recently to the side of passenger compartments. The safety of trains in Bihar esp. at night needs to be improved.
2. Quality of Rails – Desperately poor in India. If & when they are upgraded, we can start planning for high speed locomotives & even double-decker passenger coaches.

streamlinesupplychain - February 12, 2009

Hello!Thank you for your response. I agree that some of the trains in China are propaganda tools. Nevertheless, creating infrastructure is a must. It has a multiplier effect on GDP growth, which in turn leads to people becoming richer and leading a better quality of life.
By the way, the extra side berths are being removed.
Best regards,
Ramnath

streamlinesupplychain - February 12, 2009

Hello!Thank you for your response. I agree that some of the trains in China are propaganda tools. Nevertheless, creating infrastructure is a must. It has a multiplier effect on GDP growth, which in turn leads to people becoming richer and leading a better quality of life.
By the way, the extra side berths are being removed.
Best regards,
Ramnath

Zhong Yang - May 22, 2010

I would like to give some updates.
As of today, China has a high speed rail network with over 3500km of routes in service. Some of the routes are:
Beijing – Tianjin, 113km, 350km/hr
Wuhan – Guangzhou, 1069km, 350km/hr
Wuhan – Hefei, 351km, 250km/hr
Nanjing – Shanghai, 300km, 250km/hr
Shijiazhuang – Taiyuan, 212km, 250km/hr
Zhengzhou – Xi’an, 455km, 350km/hr

Over 3000km HSR routes will be added to the network by the end of this year, including the 1318km, 350km/hr Beijing-Shanghai route. (not several year away, as you mentioned)

By 2020, the network will be expanded to 50,000km.

You think these trains are just propoganda tools by the Communist Party, I disagree with you. Numbers talk.

2. michael - February 19, 2009

The first useful high speed trains (such as Beijing-Shanghai) will be seen next year

3. michael - February 19, 2009

If you all accept that majority of things in china done are just Propaganda tools. you’re wrong, it’s not that simple

streamlinesupplychain - March 15, 2009

Hello Michael!
I agree, not all things in China are only for propoganda.
Hope this clarifies.
Regards,
Ramnath

4. Pradeep Sonthalia - March 3, 2009

thanks for the beautiful analysis done above. Can you please refer me to the source of the information posted above. thank you

streamlinesupplychain - March 15, 2009

Hello!
Source was wikipedia, Chinese Railway website and Indian Railway websites.
Regards,
Ramnath

5. Deng Tiancheng - March 9, 2009

Just for reference, the high-speed rail between BJ and SH will not be opened until OCT 2011.

streamlinesupplychain - March 15, 2009

Hello Deng!

Thank you for the information!

Regards,

Ramnath

6. Amit choudhary - June 4, 2009

Totally agreed with your analysis, but we should not forget the fact that in 1947 India & pakistan was one country , and post independence 40 % of the total rail route went to pakistan.

7. Maulik Doshi - June 22, 2009

How about the fares comparision, I suppose that will throw some more light on how much each passenger pays there? After all better infrastructure does mean large investments.

8. Neeraj Pahuja - July 7, 2009

Wow! this is an eye-opener. I was under the impression that least railway dept is doing good.. but it is really pathetic in absolute terms. Interesting point of view.
I can’t understand is this a fundamental problem with we Indians, cultural heritage or don’t know what? Why are our people so laid back, so corrupt, so dishonest, so adjustable? People don’t pay taxes, politicians siphon off whatever limited funds are available, courts takes 20 years to make 1 judgment, the world is moving ahead & we r becoming a young nation of losers. Is this ever gonaa change? Will we ever have a better standard of living which is truly world class?

Surojit Ghosh - March 11, 2013

never………. may be in your dreams…. how the hell you can think of comparing yourself with china??????????? not a single person in this country think truly about their motherland…. all are just greedy morons (myself included)…..

9. Bharat Walia - August 1, 2009

Hi
Although India does not have the modern high speed trains but just imagine the volume of traffic it caries and how many trains it runs per 24 hrs including the mumbai suburban section.This cannot be matched by any one forget China.This is done inspite of many shortcomings and other factors.One must salute the employees who run this largest and most congested network successfully.Hats off to Indian railways.

streamlinesupplychain - September 6, 2009

Hello Bharat! Agree with you completely! Hats off to the Indian Railways!

sean - July 20, 2012

guys INDIAN RAILWAYS HAST GOT THE MOST POWER FULL LOCOMOTIVES IN THE WORLD. WAG9 H OF INDIA IS OF 6350 HP. WHERE ELSE IN CHINA A TRAIN IS HAULED BY MOTORS KIND OF (EMU IN MUMBAI) WHICH HAS SET OF MOTOR AFTER EVERY THREE TO 4 COACHES WHICH HELPS IN ACCELARATION. IN INDIA A LOCO HAULS WHOLE 26 COACH TRAIN. IN CHINA ONLY 12 . SHAME ON U CHINA KAM WAJAN UTHA KHUD OF TAKATWAR BOLTA HAI.

10. nishu - October 11, 2009

tell me the track length of india and china

Mateus Mahumane - November 10, 2012

Blind nationalism can be detrimental to the believer. Let us face it, Indian railways can not compare with Chinese railways by any stretch. The Chinese have the advantage because from inception to implementation of a project takes a fraction of the time an Indian project will do. The land in India is private; there must be thousands of negotiations with the owners, and large sums of land compensation must be paid, environmental assessments must be done, thousands of holy places and trees must be taken into account etc.- things which in China do not exist because the land belongs to the state, not to mention the work ethics. Building similar infrastructure in India would be several times more expensive than in China. The only viable option is to upgrade the existing infrastructure.

11. BSW - November 19, 2009

The lower number of passengers carried by the Chinese railway system was probably due to more traveling options available by the Chinese. Besides having a world class railway system, China also have an excellent highway system and air transportation network. Also, major Chinese cities all have subway systems and do not have to depend on the railway to travel within metropolitan areas.

12. terry - December 9, 2009

As a Chinese, I think China railway developed very fast. Before long, There will be a high-speed railway to operate. the speed will be almost 400 Km/h. China, Congratulations.

Ramnath Rangaswamy - January 14, 2010

Hello! Yes, The Chinese Railway has certainly developed very fast. Indeed congratulations! Regards, Ramnath

13. raja - February 19, 2010

But please analyse as to where the Indian Railways go wrong? Is it due to corruption, nepotism, partisan between states, or the non-performing employees?

Ramnath Rangaswamy - February 21, 2010

Dear Raja,
Thanks for your comment and very good question. My analysis is as below;
1. The railway’s organization and processes are focussed on train operations, i.e. running trains. In fact, they micro-manage operations. The railway organization is not focussed on creating rail infrastructure to support the growth of the country’s economy or GDP.

2.When the railways in India have to create good rail infrastructure they have to do it “outside the system” i.e. Konkan Railway Corporation or the Delhi Metro.

3.The railways does not have a robust PPP policy (Ports have a good solid PPP policy and the result is that there is an expansion in Port capacity). Companies are willing and ready to invest in laying railway lines and creating the infrastructure. But in the absence of a clear policy, companies are wary of investing. Pipavav Railroad Corporation is a SPV which has created railway infrastructure in Western India.
You can add your views and analysis.
Regards,
Ramnath

zhe wang mei - March 8, 2010

Both India and china are huge population and energy resource lack countries, so they should develop railway as their first option for transportation.During end 1980′s to beginning of 2000′s, by the idea
of following America, china developed 50,000km highway networks.
and now they realize high speed railway are more energy saving, environment friendly and high efficient. india and china should
control automobile and develop subway and railway.

Ramnath Rangaswamy - April 4, 2010

Dear Mr Zhe, I agree with you.

14. Shiladitya Datta - March 29, 2010

I think, in the Indian trains, the side berths should be removed, the number of compartments should be increased from 24 to 30, the average speed of trains should be increased to about 100kph. A train should go from Kolkata to Delhi via Patna in about 16 hours.

15. S. VENKATARAMAN - July 24, 2010

I agree with the analysis and also that Chinese Rlys are coming much faster. But please remember that our system is a democratic set up and not a totalirian. Unions are more influential in the Rlys and the Ministry cannot afford to antagonise the unions backed by several political parties.
I feel Indian Rlys is the best .

Ramnath Rangaswamy - July 25, 2010

I am glad that as an Indian you feel that Indian Railways is the best!
The Indian Railways can certainly do much better. The 1st priority should be to create infrastructrure and increase line capacity at a much faster rate. Most trunk lines run at full capacity. Port connectivity by rail has to be improved.

16. Deeps - August 7, 2010

well and here in India the politicians have been making a fool of Indian public & surely lacks professional attitude.

17. vimal kumar - August 8, 2010

please depict about g.m. power and under their working units…

18. Pankaj Saraswat - August 24, 2010

i read all messages.one thing i like to say that india should laydown tracks between major metropolitan cities and delhi on which train can run up to maximum speed of 250kms/hr especilly on delhi-bangalore,delhi-mumbai,delhi-kolkata,delhi-chennai,delhi-hyderabad,delhi-pune,delhi-ahmedabad,delhi-indore,delhi-surat,delhi-jaipur,delhi-guwahati,delhi-bhubneshwar,delhi-tiruvnanthpuram,delhi-chandigarh,delhi-lucknow,delhi-jammu.then india development will be fast and india will become global power.

19. prem - January 16, 2011

hi,
A good analysis indeed !! I agree with what has been proposed by Mr Ramnath.when I wonder what plagues Indian railways, I find so many reasons..but to the core its us who need to be blamed.Every year when the budget is announced we clap if our region gets a new train and get disappointed when we dont..the sole purpose seems to be a star studded release of new trains..when I see people travelling in general compartments I am compelled to believe that Indian railway desparately needs a complete overhaul for its infrastructure.Allowing slow and controlled participation from private enterprises and implementing good features from foreign railway networks will ensure that not only the infrastructure develops but people also get better opportunities.

We can do better only if we want to..

Ramnath Rangaswamy - January 24, 2011

Thank you!

20. S K Gopalkaje - May 30, 2011

Thanks for a thought provoking analysis.

I hope we don’t make wrong decisions trying to compete with China or the rest of the world. What are these wrong decisions that I am talking about?
1. Going for high speed trains.
Going for high speed train would be a big mistake. We would be wasting money for not much returns. That is inexcusable as we have to make every paisa pay as we don’t have a lot of money. We can achieve a comfortably high speed with existing tracks if we avoid unnecessary delays. The most delay happens due to single train tracks. Even the tracks between important, big cities and towns are single tracked in India and that needs to change to double tracks for bi-directional movement without having to wait for the trains to pass. This would increase the frequency of trains between stations. The journey time would drop drastically without any need for high speed trains.
High speed train would be a joke if the trains have to wait at signals as I have seen travelling on the Eurostar between London and Paris.
It is like the hare and tortoise race, slow but steady without stops will be as quick. It is possible to achieve in Indian railways more easily than achieve high speed trains. It is really a shame that we didn’t achieve double tracks in all routes while changing all the tracks to broad gauge.
2. Going for improving the seats.
While I have nothing against improving seats, I would really hate to see this before installing aircraft style toilets in the trains. The railway platforms, tracks and train compartments would be so much cleaner, hygienic and pleasanter if the train toilets did not empty directly on to the tracks. This is one of the most simple but priority things that can enhance the experience of train travel in India.
The current seats of trains are not all that luxurious but definitely comfortable, easy to clean which is important in dusty Indian climate, washable, dry quickly. They are simple but definitely comfortable. Why should we spend a lot of money trying to change that and get very little in return?

What developments would I like to see in Indian Railways?

1. double tracks to allow bi-directionalp travel of trains, through out the railways.
2. Airplane style toilets on the trains in all compartments.
3. Railways operated buses running between railway stations and the city bus stands/understanding or contract with bus service providers for regular and frequent bus service to railway stations to cover all trains stopping at the station.
4. Internet/wifi availability in the trains.
5. elevators/lifts for changing platforms in all train stations.
6. Locker facilities plus showers and baths in all train stations.
7. Fully reclinable chairs(that can be used for sleeping) for resting in all train stations.

I think all these can be achieved in a single year’s railway budget.

pankaj - March 26, 2012

I agree with you S K G. your suggestion about , airplane style toilets is the best…

regards
pankaj joshi

21. S. S. Mathur - June 1, 2011

The number of employees mentioned is not correct. It should be 13.9 lakh (plase refer to the latest Annual Report).

Being smaller than China, India’s track density is higher than China’s. India’s priority should be more capacity on the existing routes, bith passenger and freight.

22. S. S. Mathur - June 1, 2011

Sorry for the typos, should be “please” and “both” instead of “Plase” and “bith”.

23. Ramnath Rangaswamy - June 11, 2011

Dear SSM,
Thank you for your inputs. Agree to both points.
Unfortunately, we do not seem to be adding capacity on the existing routes at the rate and pace that is required to support the economy.
Regards,
Ramnath

24. @sidileak.com @sidileak.us #SiteStats | News, Views and Reviews: Sid Harth - June 19, 2011

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25. narasinga rao - June 29, 2011

The political influence in every aspect like
1) The profits earned in all these years by indian railways are not in turn utilized for rlys only for its infrastructure or for other development.

2)The frieght & fare was not increased in all these years in general and not even a single pie in last 7 years in paticular except Tatkal.

3)More over cut the fare by RS1 per ticket by our the then hon MR Sri Lalloo which incurred an additional burden of 1.6 crores/day as our indian railway tickets window sales is 1.6Cr/day. A total loss for 3 yrs in his tenure is 1.6*365*3 =1752 crores

4)In the next tenure of present MR Mamata : She has cut hte surcharge of A/C and Sleeper Class by Rs 20 &10 respectively. which burdened railways by an amount by 10 times per year ie for her two years tenure an amount of 1.6*(20+10)/2*365*2=11,680crores.
The above are samples only if we analyse freight charges etc in every issue lack of political motivation & determination to develop Indian Railways homogeneously and usefully throughout the country will be seen.we are becoming scapegoats for the whims and fancies of our political leaders.
“HAMARA RAJANEETHI MAHAN” -Narasinga Rao

26. ashish gupta - October 21, 2011

Comparison is good with china, but the numbers should be in perspective. China bieng a bigger country will naturally have larger kms of track then india. China’s economy is mainly manufacturing driven hence the there is definately going to be more frieght.As in some comments I think we should not overly criticize indian government and public sector units. I think they are doing a better job.

I always think a better comparison is to compare with ones past and how it benefits us. whats the big deal of having maglev/bullet trains in india when people still travel on roof on mumbai suburban trains as well hang to every space available in crowded trains going to bihar during the festival season.

Nevertheless the rate of innovation and progress should increase in indian railways

27. ramesh - March 14, 2012

First we need to create separate corporations to run freight and Passenger traffic. Cross subsidization should be stopped and bus and train fares should be almost equal. Consider the fares in India; presently 15 paise/KM in passenger & 25 paise/KM in express. Ministers have made our great people understand that the Indian Railways can make profit even with such low fares. The main aim of these people is to fool people and gain cheap publicity and spoil the nation further.

rc purohit - April 11, 2012

Instead of comparing India and China pl. just see one point i.e. railway network added in India after 1947 and the state of ticket availibility and passenger-comfort in a general compartment.

Guideyoungs.

28. amitkumarblog - April 20, 2012

good analysis of facts .. indians have taken short route by just building highways which can be used only by trucks , buses and cars using diesel and hence India has to keep on importing high priced oil forever in future. I was shocked to see that only 10000 km around has been added since independence… After not building any rails prime and finance ministers complain that Indians buying gold is bad for economy because it increases trade deficit . What they wont tell is that since for last 60 years we have not increased rail network which can be run by using electricity produced by coal and hence we import billions of crude oil to move goods around . Pathetic …people who run country .

29. Pankaj Kumar Saraswat - July 17, 2012

The Problem with India is corruption everywhere.If we end corruption from India and full money put in infrastructure India can become China .Regarding Indian Railways I want to say that first employee number should be reduced by mimimum 50%.So huge cash going in salary should end.

30. 989894 - December 12, 2012

hello, i agree that chines railway is modrate compare to indian railway but indian railway already plan to run bultet train between a’bad and mumbai. thay also plan to increes speed fo existing train like rajdhani,shatabdi and offcourse duranto up to 200 k.m.h. we not forget that our mumbai local run about 150k.m.h. it’s not easy. and finaly we are far ahed from our other neighbour country like pakistan and bangladesh.in pakistan nowdays the conition of pakistan railway is very poor, thay force to stop 20 train per day due to shortage of diesal.presenty thay has no one single locomotive in pakistan.it is very sad.

31. Kailash - February 26, 2013

Great Information abt Railways.

Ramnath Rangaswamy - May 13, 2013

Thank you!

32. Rajesh - February 27, 2013

Indian Railways please give priority to electrification of maximum routes by providing more funds for electrification projects,link fares and freight with road rates,run all mail/express trains of 24 coaches. For Govt. of India suggestion to relax conditions for realising more land belonging to Forest and all Govt. agencies to Railways new line and guage conversion projects. Rajesh Jabalpur

33. Prranjal Shrivaastav - April 24, 2013

isn’t it a taunting difference that Chinese have hi speed trains for propaganda purposes where as Indian railways is hardly even meeting it’s necessities. i don’t know what dolt would term 160 kmph as hi speed coz most cars do 175+ on open stretches like Indore-Bhopal highway. the current railways budget & those that appeared before it are all ill planned. Indians, be it govt officials, citizens or the politicians hardly ever bother about developments. politicians want to woo the voting citizens so train fares are always intentionally kept low, in fact fares are so low that the railways suffer massive losses in terms of revenue earned. this translates into low upkeep of railway assets. while it seems as if railways have now become the face saver for the employment ministry too. they have simply overpopulated the railways. a very little earnings and too much expenditure has been keeping the Indian railways from developing and providing the best of services. similarly Indian citizens want the govt to keep the fares as low as possible, so inspite of the well known fact that railways is suffering big losses for a long time, hardly does anyone bother to support it’s cause instead at times when certain wise railway planners tried to bring the railways out of misery by increasing the fares marginally, the brainless, senseless Indians hard pressed the govt against these brilliant efforts. leading to many of these wise planners out of their jobs. i personally believe that democracy isn’t the right wing for Asians and it’s especially not for Indian zombies. China has taken up the correct path and the west-aping Indian herd needs the insane caning of communism to make our malfunctioning brains usable.

Ramnath Rangaswamy - May 13, 2013

Dear Prranjal,

Yes, populist measures by government have kept fares so low that tracks cannot be maintained let alone expanded. Railways needs to at least recover operating costs. The cost of not having the railways is very high. So, government and state governments can fund the capital cost, while railways can operate the trains efficiently.

Regards,

Ramnath

Prabhat Chanchal - October 13, 2013

Sir..
please provide the references of the number of employees at china railways..

34. amit - August 1, 2013

A very nice article and almost a prophetical one. Today china indeed has met up with the target they lay, before time.

35. ashutosh - August 24, 2013

Good comparision and collection of reviews. Comgrts Mr Ramnath.

36. Prabhat Chanchal - October 13, 2013

sir,
can you please tell me where did you found the number of employees in china railways?
it would be really helpfull..
if you can provide the reference..

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Thank you very much for your kind words.

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40. Vikram - April 1, 2014

This is an interesting and pertinent comparison. Although the PRC has a much larger area than in India, most of the population lives in the eastern region of the country, an area of similar size to India. So the comparison is valid from both a population and area perspective.

Clearly the Chinese have a more modern rail network, with higher average speeds and superior passenger comfort. The Indian network has also expanded, with an average Indian travelling 1200 km by rail every year today, as opposed to 185 km in 1951.

Based on anecdotal evidence, the only area where I feel the Indian Railways might have outdone their Chinese counterparts is connectivity. I have often heard people attribute bringing a train or railway station to their town as the primary achievement of their MP/MLA. It is worth thinking whether, apart from China not having suburban rails, democracy is the reason why India has a higher passenger km per person and total number of passengers than China does.

I might be completely wrong here, but I feel that having a separate rail budget day, and general presence of rails in media/art makes Indians more conscious of their railway than the Chinese.


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