Transportation technology has been evolving over the years. Rail transport of India is the largest nationalized organization of Asia. It plays a significant role in the development of industry, commerce, and trade of a country. Starting from 22 miles (35.41 km) journey between Mumbai and Thane, it has traveled a long distance. Till March 2020, the total length of the rail route measures to be 42226 miles (67,956.16 km). That makes it stand 4th in the world. Rail transport is an efficient system, but one should analyze its strengths and weakness before availing, the service.
Just like that, the United States has an extensive railroad network that transports a large percentage of the country’s goods. In fact, according to the Association of American Railroads, railroads ship about 40% of all freight traffic in the US There are many reasons why rail transportation is so important in the US as well. First, railroads are much more efficient than other modes of transportation; such as trucks or ships. There are many other reasons why rail transportation is pivotal in every nation. But there are also some negatives. This guide discusses both sides of the coin through the advantages and disadvantages of rail transportation.
Advantages of Rail Transport
The railroad was primarily built to connect places to ship goods, especially coal. Later, it was used to carry passengers due to its main benefits. From economy to public, there are many advantages of rail transportation that you can consider in today’s age. If compared to other modes, there are many advantages of this transport system. Let us discuss some of them. These are the advantages of rail transport.
Compared to other modes of transport, rail transport is cheaper. The reason being, bulk quantities’ of transportation at a time. That reduces the transportation charges per unit. It is cost-effective to send the goods to longer distance. Labor cost is also minimal, as only a driver and guard is enough to do the job.
This makes railways very efficient in terms of shipping goods. This is because trains can carry a large amount of cargo at once and can travel long distances without stopping for rest or refueling. In addition, railroads often have their own dedicated tracks, which allows them to avoid traffic congestion. As a result, rail transportation can save businesses a lot of money in shipping costs.
Secondly, it promises the safety of goods, unlike road transport. Minimum station stoppage is the factor for this assurance. Also, the effect of weather conditions like rain, fog is minimum. However, road transport is most affected by unfavorable weather conditions. Hence, we can rely on rail transport to withstand the adverse cases and safeguard the goods from being spoiled. Other modes of transport are more prone to accidents and break down, but rail transport is not.
There are many reasons why railroads are safer means of transportation than other modes, such as trucks and cars. You will get a better idea reading our article on advantages and disadvantages of road transport. Trains are less likely to be involved in accidents due to their size and weight. Railways have been designed specifically for transportation, making them less likely to experience problems that could lead to accidents. Additionally, railway companies invest heavily in safety measures, such as track maintenance and signal systems, which reduce accident risk. This is because train operators are highly trained professionals who must follow strict safety procedures.
3. Employment and Tourism
In the year 2020 number of employees in Indian Railways was 12.54 lakhs. It infers that this industry provides many opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor. These public servants, along with the other employees of the public undertaking, avail the service of rail transport for the movements. Because it is a big organization, it fabricates many employment opportunities.
The widespread network of rail gives a boost to tourism industries. Besides connecting to various tourist places, the Indian railway provides circular tickets to benefit the tourists with telescopic rates. Compared to point-to-point fare, these rates are comparatively low and time-saving. Also, it saves from the worries of booking.
4. Well formulated and High speed
It is a very well-formulated transport system with its fixed routes and routines. The service ensures uniformity, regularity, and certainty that makes it more reliable. Compared to other modes of transport, it has a higher speed even over long distances. Because it is less interrupted with limited stops, so it runs faster.
5. Spacious for heavy goods
Railways have a large-good carrying capacity. It is flexible also. We can increase the space if we add more wagons to it. It is ideal for the transport of heavy goods over long distances. This mode is more economical than airways or roadways. The efficiency and faster service of rail in moving heavy objects are noteworthy.
6. Intermodal component
When heavy goods move in the same steel-based containers through two or more modes of transport, it is called Intermodal transportation. It involves trucks, ships, and rails. It is an advantage that rail transport is also an intermodal component. Trucks bring the containers to rails from there they travel long distances and, then again, trucks pick them up to reach the destination. Bulky goods may include electronics, timber, equipment, polymers, etc.
7. Environmental Benefits
Rail transportation is also much better for the environment than other modes of transportation, such as trucks or cars. This is because trains produce significantly less pollution than other means of transportations. In addition, railroads use less energy per ton-mile even compared to air transportation. Advantages and disadvantages of air transport will give you a better look at that. As a result, rail transportation can help reduce the negative environmental impact.
8. Social Benefits
There are many advantages of rail transportation to society. One benefit is that railroads help to move large amounts of people and goods long distances quickly and efficiently. Railroads can help to reduce traffic congestion on our highways, making travel safer and more efficient for everyone. Rail transportation can provide an alternative mode of transportation that is environmentally friendly and can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Finally, railroads can create jobs and economic opportunities in communities across the country.
Rail transportation is also much more reliable than other modes of transportation. This is because trains are less likely to be delayed by weather or traffic conditions. In addition, railroads have their own dedicated tracks, which allows them to avoid delays caused by other vehicles. Railways are still one of the dependable ways to ship goods or travel.
Disadvantages of Rail Transport
It is not that this system has only advantages. There are also certain disadvantages which we should consider before availing of the service.
1. Large capital investment
Railway infrastructure requires huge investment. If we compare to other modes, the construction, maintenance, fixed, and flexible overheads together amount to be too high. That leads to monopoly and, therefore, the public interest is at stake. The investment does not vary if the traffic is less because it remains fixed. That means the organization has to bear the loss. Railway transport imposes a large amount of movement on the intermodal containers. Damages may occur in absence of proper block and brace methods. Later, if they are not as per the standard of railways, it may reject the claims.
2. Inflexible and no door to door service
As said, the railway has fixed routes and routines. But it becomes a disadvantage when, according to the need of an individual, it does not vary. In remote areas, the limited time availability of rail transport is difficult to catch up. Other services give door to door and pick and drop options, while rail transport fails to do so. Intermediary pickups cost too much, along with more time and sometimes damage also.
3. Absence of rural service and many booking formalities
No railway services are available in rural areas. That is because of huge capital outlay which, does not permit economic operation in such areas. That causes inconvenience to the public residing there. Transporting smaller quantities of goods for shorter distances is not suitable through rail transport. Compared to road transport, too many booking formalities of rail transport wastes time and labor. Rather than wasting energy on formalities, people prefer to pay more. Smaller consignments tend to be uneconomic in this transport. It turns to be a big financial loss if they do not use the total capacity of rail.
4. Stringent rules
One has to follow the strict rules of railways to prevent the issues related to rail transport. Federal law bans or limits the transportation of certain goods. The prohibited goods include raw animal skin, carbon black, and components of old vehicles that leak. Few lanes permit the transport of certain goods but, the price may vary.
5. Infrastructure Costs
Railroads infrastructure costs can negatively impact an economy by discouraging private investment, limiting economic growth, and causing job losses. Private investment is essential for the development and maintenance of railroads. When infrastructure costs are too high, it limits the amount of money invested in railroads, which can lead to a decrease in the quality of service and an overall decline in the railroad industry. High infrastructure costs can also limit economic growth by preventing new businesses from getting started and making it difficult for existing businesses to expand. High infrastructure costs can cause job losses by making it uneconomical for companies to maintain their current level of operations.
Compared to the water transport where no tracks are required for the transportation to work, rail-roads can be costly. You might want to go through the advantages and disadvantages of water transport to understand the ups and downs the water transportation methods have compared to the railway system.
6. Weather Conditions
Railroads are often impacted by weather conditions, which can cause delays or cancellations. Snow and ice can make trains’ operation difficult, while flooding can damage track infrastructure. Extreme heat can also lead to slower speeds and reduced capacity on some rail lines. While weather conditions are often out of our control, there are some things that railroad companies can do to help mitigate the impacts. For example, they can invest in technology that allows for real-time monitoring of track conditions so that they can make adjustments as needed. They can also develop contingency plans for dealing with disruptions, such as rerouting trains or providing alternative transportation options.
Accidents impact railroads in a few ways. First, an accident on the railroad tracks can cause delays for trains that are trying to use those tracks. Additionally, an accident involving a train derailment can cause serious damage to the tracks, which can take a long time and a lot of money to repair. Finally, accidents can also result in injuries or even deaths, which can majorly impact the families of those involved and the railroad company itself. All these factors can add up to make accidents very costly and disruptive for railroads.
Security is a big concern for rail transport, as it is for any other mode of transportation. The potential for damage and disruption from attacks is significant, and the threat is always present. In addition, there are concerns about the safety of passengers and staff and the infrastructure itself. Rail transport security has become a high priority for governments and transport operators worldwide. Several measures can be taken to improve security in rail transport. These include physical security measures such as CCTV and access control, as well as operational measures such as risk management and intelligence-led policing. In addition, new technologies are being developed all the time that can help to improve security, such as passenger screening systems and trackside threat detection.
One of the biggest concerns for rail transportation is capacity. Rail transport capacity can be limited by several factors, including the number of tracks available, the number of trains that can be run on a particular stretch of track, and the length and weight of the trains themselves. In addition, capacity can also be limited by the rail system’s infrastructure, such as the number of loading docks and unloading facilities. Although railroads have been able to increase capacity in recent years by adding more tracks and upgrading their infrastructure, they are still facing significant challenges in meeting the growing demand for rail service. To meet this demand, railroads will need to continue to invest in capacity-enhancing initiatives.