The Indian Railways has been called the lifeline of the country and rightly so since it provides affordable transport to millions of people, besides employing about 1.3 million people. It also provides services to 2 percent of India's population on a daily basis. For the first time, there won't be a separate budget for railways, breaking a 92-year-old tradition. The provisions for the state-run rail network will be part of the union budget.
However, there is more that the government can do to improve their services, which has largely improved in customer redressal. But, given the recent major railway accidents rail safety has also become a major concern, for which the ministry is expected to get at least Rs 20,000 crore during Budget 2017, which will be presented on Wednesday.
In 2016-17, the operating ratio was 94 percent, meaning it spent Rs 94 to earn Rs 100.
Here are 10 things to know about the Indian Railways (with inputs from Axis Capital report)
1. It transports at least 23 million passengers daily, which is 2 percent of India's population and equivalent of Australia's population.
2. It employs one third of Union government employees except defence. In addition to 1.3 million employees, it also has about 1.4 million pensioners.
3. It is the world's fourth-largest railway network.
4. The longest railway platform in the world is in Gorakhpur railway station. It is 4,483 feet long.
5. The Indian Railways has the oldest operating steam locomotive, the Fairy Queen. which hauls a luxury train between New Delhi and Alwar. It was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.
6. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
7. Delhi Main station made its way to the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's largest route relay interlocking system.
8. Indian Railways has successfully installed WiFi in 100 railway stations in partnership with Google.
9. The longest journey taken by a train in India is by the Vivek Express, which runs 4273 km from Dibrugarh to Kanyakumari.
10. From using only coal to power locomotives, by 2014-15 the railways was using 1 thousand tonnes of coal, 2,856.185 kilo litre diesel and 15,742.89 million KWH electricity. In 1950-51, the railways used 9,504 thousand tonnes of coal only.