India - Transportation

The railway system is highly developed and is the major means of long-distance internal transport. In 2002, the railways spanned some 63,963 km (39,747 mi), forming the largest system in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. Also in 2002, a total of 13,771 km (8,557 mi) of track was electrified. Virtually all railways are state owned. The state-owned railways are the nation's largest public enterprise. In October 1984, India's first subway began operation in Calcutta over 3 km (1.9 mi) of track.

The national and state road network in 2002 consisted of about 3,319,644 km (2,062,827 mi), of which 1,517,077 km (942,712 mi) were paved. In 2000, there were 7,557,753 motor vehicles, including 3,640,919 automobiles and 3,916,834 commercial vehicles.

India has about 16,180 km (10,054 mi) of inland waterways, with 3,631 km (2,256 mi) navigable by large vessels. Most important are the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari, and Krishna rivers and the coastal plain canals of Kerala, Madras, Andhra Pradesh, and Orissa. Canals span some 4,300 km (2,700 mi), but only 331 km (206 mi) are used by motorized vessels.

In 2002, India's merchant fleet totaled 319 vessels, with a combined GRT of 6,325,284, sufficient to handle almost all of the country's coastal trade and much of its trade with adjacent countries; the rest of India's trade is handled by foreign ships. Eleven major ports handle the bulk of the import-export traffic; the leading ports are Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Mormugao. There are 140 smaller ports along the Indian coastline.

In 2001, there were 335 airports, of which 232 had paved runways. International airports are at Mumbai, formerly Bombay (Santa Cruz); Calcutta (Dum Dum); Delhi (Indira Gandhi); Madras (Meenambakkam); and Trivandrum. The Indian Airlines Corp., a nationalized industry, operates all internal flights and services to neighboring countries with daily flights to 60 cities. Air-India, also government owned, operates long-distance services to foreign countries on five continents. A new national airline, Vayudoot, was established in 1981 to provide service to otherwise inaccessible areas in the northeast. Private airlines are growing in importance as well. In 2001, 17,272,100 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.

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