RQ | Strain on Indian Railways

In my last post I looked at some railways data that was put out by the Economic and Political Weekly to show that the total addition in route length over the last 20 years is not much to talk about. The same data set also gives data on “passenger kilometers” and “passenger train kilometers” for each year. The latter gives the  total distance all passenger trains in India have run, while the former gives the total distance traveled by (ticketed) train passengers in India each year.

Now, the ratio of these two numbers gives us the number of passengers per train. It is interesting to note how this has moved in the last 20 years.

Data source: Economic and Political Weekly May 18, 2013 vol xlviII no 20

Data source: Economic and Political Weekly May 18, 2013 vol xlviII no 20

In 1990 the average train used to carry about 800 passengers. That number has almost doubled to 1400 in 2009 (data on passenger train kilometers not available after that).

While some people might see this as a measure of higher efficiency by the railways, I see it more as an inability by the railway infrastructure to keep up with passenger demand. With little track length having been added, there is no surprise in that.