Indian Railways: The Rise of a behemoth

In the vast tapestry of India’s transportation landscape, Airlines and Railways have always carved out distinct niches for themselves, each catering to a unique set of travelers.

In this article I would like to reflect upon how the Regional Connectivity Scheme(RCS) of Ministry of Civil Aviation has lost its steam mid way, after getting launched with much fanfare in 2016. In contrary to criticism, Indian Railways despite being cursed by a few for its slow moving bureaucratic set up and colonial legacy, is steadily delivering on the promises.

The aspiration of honourable Prime Minister that ‘Every Hawai Chappal wearing citizen must board Hawai Jahaz’ by making air travel affordable and widespread is noble. RCS plans to connect underserved airports to key airports through flights that will cost Rs 2,500 per hour flight. But the agility with which Indian Railway is transforming presents it as a formidable competitor for RCS(UDAN)

The Indian Railways, an institution that has been intricately woven into the fabric of the nation’s history, was founded with the ambitious mission of connecting the farthest reaches of the country. Over the years, it has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving into a behemoth that stands as a testament to progress and innovation.

While the aspirational UDAN scheme has undeniably played a pivotal role in connecting the rugged terrains of the Northeast, its progress has been somewhat sluggish, particularly in the Eastern part of the country.

Places like Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Dhanbad, and Purnia have long yearned for the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) to materialize and unlock their full potential.

Amidst this backdrop, the Indian Railways has risen to the occasion, unveiling a game-changing offering – the Vande Bharat Express.

This meticulously crafted train is poised to not only retain its existing passenger base but also lure away travelers who might have otherwise opted for short-haul flights, such as the Patna-Varanasi or Ranchi-Gaya-Patna routes.

The Vande Bharat Express boasts an array of features that promise an exceptional journey:

1. Spacious and Comfortable Seating: Passengers can revel in the luxury of ample legroom and ergonomic seats, ensuring a relaxed and enjoyable ride.

2. Impeccable Service: The train’s staff is smartly dressed and exudes courtesy, ensuring that the passengers are treated with the utmost respect and care.

3. Gourmet Dining: The onboard culinary experience is a highlight, with top-quality meals that include a hot beverage, biscuits, a liter of water, and even a delightful chocolate to savor.

4. Thoughtfully Designed Restrooms: The ergonomically designed toilets are a far cry from the cramped facilities often encountered on trains, ensuring passenger comfort.

5. Enhanced Safety: Passengers can travel with peace of mind as the train features closed doors, an important safety measure.

6. Security Vigilance: Central forces and CCTV surveillance are in place to ensure the safety and security of all travelers.

7. Informative Announcements: Public announcements keep passengers informed and entertained throughout the journey.

8. Entertainment Displays: Two monitors on board provide entertainment options, ensuring a pleasant ride.

9. Agility: The Vande Bharat Express is agile, efficiently navigating the railway network.

10. Hygiene and Connectivity: The train maintains high levels of cleanliness and offers robust network connectivity, allowing passengers to stay connected throughout the journey, with charging facilities for mobiles and laptops.

This train does not merely whisk passengers from one destination to another; it immerses them in the scenic beauty of India, ensuring they remain connected with the lush greenery that blankets the country. Moreover, it saves precious time while seamlessly integrating with the existing infrastructure. The Vande Bharat Express represents the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, offering passengers a taste of India’s rich heritage while pampering them with contemporary amenities and hospitality.

In India’s transportation landscape, the Vande Bharat Express emerges as a formidable competitor to short-haul flights, a symbol of Indian Railways’ dedication to providing world-class travel experiences and connecting the nation’s diverse corners like never before. With its launch, the journey ahead promises to be an exhilarating one, where travelers can traverse the length and breadth of the country with comfort, style, and unmatched convenience.

The competition is healthy for people and country. However, the policymakers in Air transport sector need to have a close look on the rise of this formidable competitor.

Product, pricing and service will remain the three key elements of success as Indian Railways and Air transport compete in new India.

Image credit: Author


Satish Mishra,
Aviation Manager (Airworthiness),
Tata Steel