How Electrification is Transforming the Indian Railways

The Indian Railways is one of the biggest railway networks in the world. It has a total of over 1.2 lakh kilometres of track laid over a route that totals up to 68,000 kilometres. With over thirteen thousand passenger trains running daily, across the 700 plus stations in the country, any new implementation or change will take time to reach everywhere.

Almost half the track, 49% to be precise, has been electrified with a 25,000-volt AC. 3% of these are double and multi-tracked.

The goal is to save on fuel costs since it is imported from other countries. AS of March 2018, 60% of the tracks in India have been electrified. It is estimated that the entire network will be fully electrified by 2022. At astonishing INR 35,000 crores has been invested into the Indian Railways with the hope of making significant savings of fuel. It is calculated to save about INR 10,500 crores by this alone, which can be used to modernize other elements of railway infrastructure.


The Central Organisation for Railway Electrification, with its headquarters in Allahabad, is responsible for the electrification project of the Indian Railways. It was founded way back in 1961 and currently had several units in cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, and Bhubaneshwar amongst others.

1500V DC: The first electric train in India ran between The Victoria Terminus in present-day Mumbai and Kurla on the 3rd of February, 1925. The Great Indian Peninsula Railway Harbour Line was used. Electric traction was compulsory for certain lines, such as the Western Ghats, whose steep slopes could not be scaled by fossil fuels alone. The last 1500V DC line in India, from Mumbai’s CST Terminus to Panvel and Thane situated in Vashi, were upgraded to the 25 kV AC in April 2016.

3000V DC: It was proposed as an improvement to the 1500V DC and was first introduced in the Howrah-Burdwan section of the Eastern Railway in 1958. The final 3000V DC was upgraded to 25kV in 1968.

25kV AC: The French Railways had done extensive research and trials on the 25 kV AC system. They had deemed it to be quite economical and as a result the Indian Railways also decided to adopt the 25kV AC system. On the 15th of December, 1959, on the South Eastern Railway, the Raj Kharswan- Dongoaposi section was electrified with the 25 kV system.

Progress of Electrification

At the conclusions of the Second Five Year Plan, only 216 kilometres of the track was electrified. At the end of the 3rd Five Year Plan, another 1678 kilometres was electrified. After that, however, the pace slowed down significantly. During the 1979 energy crisis, the need for complete electrification became apparent and reducing dependence on petroleum-based forms of energy.

By March 2016, almost 28,000 kilometres was electrified. Approximately 50% of the passenger trains and 65% of cargo trains are operated on the electrified sections. Six of the major routes have been fully electrified. Apart from electrification, technology is also being implemented by the IR. It is possible to check the seat availability train with just the click of a button and has made the life of people across the country much simpler.