Different Modes of Transport
Our environment consists of land, air, and water. These media have provided scope for three modes of transport-land transport, air transport and water transport. Rail transport and road transport are the two components of land transport. Each mode of transport, depending upon its various characteristics, has intrinsic strengths and weaknesses and can be best used for a particular type of traffic as given below.
Rail transport Owing to the heavy expenditure on the basic infrastructure required, rail transport is best suited for carrying bulk commodities and a large number of passengers over long distances.
Road transport Owing to flexibility of operation and the ability to provide door-to-door service, road transport is ideally suited for carrying light commodities and a small number of passengers over short distances.
Air transport Owing to the heavy expenditure on the sophisticated equipment required and the high fuel costs, air transport is better suited for carrying passengers or goods that have to reach their destinations in a very short period of time.
Water transport Owing to low cost of infrastructure and relatively slow speeds, water transport is best suited for carrying heavy and bulky goods over long distances, provided there is no consideration of the time factor.
1 Railway as a Mode of Land Transport
There are two modes of land transport, railways and roads, and each has its relative advantages and disadvantages. These have been summarized in Table 1.2.
2 Role of Indian Railways
Since its inception, Indian Railways has successfully played the role of the prime carrier of goods and passengers in the Indian subcontinent. As the principal constituent of the nation's transport infrastructure, the Railways has an important role to play.
(a) It helps integrate fragmented markets and thereby stimulate the emergence of a modern market economy.
(b) It connects industrial production centres with markets as well as sources of raw material and thereby facilitates industrial development.
(c) It links agricultural production centres with distant markets as well as sources of essential inputs, thereby promoting rapid agricultural growth.
(d) It provides rapid, reliable, and cost-effective bulk transportation to the energy sector; for example, to move coal from the coalfield to power plants and petroleum products from refineries to consumption centres.
(e) It links people with places, enabling large-scale, rapid, and low-cost movement of people across the length and breadth of the country.
(f) In the process, Indian Railways has become a symbol of national integration and a strategic instrument for enhancing our defence preparedness.