2021: A Year Of Fortitude For Indian Railways, As Trains Chug Along Despite Covid Challenge


Meeting the Covid challenge head on in 2021, the Railways continued its full freight operation and also gradual passenger service catering to the demand.


As the old year was giving way to the new, the Year 2021 has been a year of major changes for Indian Railways as the national transporter got a new dynamic Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw with major focus on rolling out more and more Vande Bharat trains besides stepping up growth in infrastructure development, capacity expansion of network and freight diversification despite the Covid challenge.

India entered cautiously into the New Year with a lot of hope to tide over the brutal third wave of Coronavirus infection.

Besides, 2022 is the year independent India turns 75, a watershed moment for the country. The year 2021 saw the launching of Kisan Express for the benefit of farmers across the country. There were 806 Kisan Rail services run on 153 routes and carried around 5.9 lakh tonnes of agricultural products in 2021.

While the national transporter has restored the facility of serving cooked meals on board trains, it is yet to restore the bedroll service due to the pandemic.

While freight operations contributed to the national economic recovery, the Railways ensured delivery of medical oxygen to several states through Oxygen Express to face the Covid crisis.

Meeting the Covid challenge head on in 2021, the Railways continued its full freight operation and also gradual passenger service catering to the demand.

In a significant development, the Railways launched a new tourism product in 2021 — Bharat Gaurav — a theme-based tourist circuit train, for private players including tour and travel operators and other interested parties.

The year 2021 saw the completion of redevelopment of Gandhinagar in Gujarat and Rani Kamalapati station previously known as Bhopal station. The story of Indian Railways in 2021 was one of recovery and putting its house in order after a forced hiatus from the tracks for the first time in its history due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Railways which has been completely dependent on its freight revenues for sustenance over the last two years, with the passenger segment running in loss in 2020 and gaining momentum only slowly with the removal of restrictions during the first half of this year.

The Railways also saved money in 2021 by not restoring most concessions including the benefit to senior citizens, it earned through “marginally” raised fares of special trains and hiked prices of platform tickets.

The Railways witnessed total 22 consequential accidents in 2021-22 as compared to 14 during 2020-21 and 48 during 2019-20 in the same period.

The public transporter has loaded 1,029.94 million tonnes (MT) during 2021-22 as against 870.41 MT in 2020-21 during same period.

Till December 18, its revenue from goods traffic has been Rs 98,075.12 crore while its target for the 2021-22 fiscal is Rs 1,37,810 crore. In the passenger segment, the Railways has earned Rs 26,871.23 crore while its projected target is Rs 61,000 crore for the current fiscal.

The year 2021 saw 1,646 Mail/Express, 5,528 suburban and 1,599 passenger trains running, serving the passengers across the country.

On the electrification front, 1,924 route km has been electrified till December end against 1,903, last year, during the same period.

As far as the rail is concerned, the year saw laying of 1,330.41 km lines for Doubling/Gauge Conversion and new lines.

There were construction of 83 Rail overbridges and 338 Rail underbridges in the year.

While 840 stations have CCTVs now 6,089 stations have Wi-Fi commissioned in the year. The Railways has introduced AC Economy service for common passengers in the year.

Hoping for the country to emerge as strong and prosperous, Indian Railways is expected to serve the nation with more care and dedication.