Class 10 Geography

Lifelines of National Economy: Railways, Pipelines and Waterways


Rail transport is ideal for carrying a large number of passengers and large number of items to long distances. India has a well developed rail network.

The Indian Railways have a network of 7, 133 stations spread over a route length of 64, 460 km. The Indian Railways use three types of gauge, details of which are given in the following table.

Rail Gauge and Length of Routes in India
Gauge (in m)Route (km)Running track (km)Total track
Broad Gauge1.67655,18877,347102,680
Meter Gauge16,8097,2198,561
Narrow Gauge0.762 & 0.6102,4632,4742,753

Development of Railways:

Problems Faced: Rail transport is facing many problems. There is overload of train traffic on major routes. There is a need for upgradation on these routes. Ticketless travel and unnecessary chain-pulling are the nagging problems faced by the railways.


Traditionally, pipelines have been used to supply drinking water. But later on, pipelines began to be used for supplying crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas as well. So, the much needed fuel and some raw materials can be directly supplied from source to factories through pipelines. From some mines even iron ore is supplied to ports in the form of slurry.

Initial cost of laying pipelines is high but subsequent operational costs are minimal. Pipelines also help in preventing loss and delays during shipment.

Pipelines in India

There are three important networks of pipeline transportation in the country.

  1. Digboi To Kanpur: This pipeline runs from the oilfields in Assam to Kanpur (UP), via Guwahati, Barauni and Allahabad. One branch from this pipeline goes from Guwahati to Siliguri and another branch goes from Barauni to Haldia, via Rajbandh. A third branch from Rajbandh goes to Maurigram.
  2. Salaya to Jalandhar: This pipeline runs from Salaya (Gujarat) to Jalandhar (Punjab), via Viramgam, Mathura, Delhi and Sonipat. Branches from this pipeline go to Koyali, Chakshu and other places.
  3. HVJ Pipeline: This pipeline has been built for transporting gas. It runs from Hazira (Gujarat) to Jagdishpur (UP), via Vijaipur (or Bijapur) in MP. It has branches to Kota in Rajasthan, Shahajahanpur, Babrala and other places in Uttar Pradesh.


Waterways are the cheapest means of transport. They are most suitable for carrying heavy and bulky goods. It is a fuel-efficient and environment friendly mode of transport. India has inland navigation waterways of 14,500 km in length. Out of these only 3,700 km are navigable by mechanised boats.

National Waterways

The following waterways have been declared as the National Waterways by the Government:

  1. NW 1: The Ganga river between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km)
  2. NW 2: The Brahmaputra river between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)
  3. NW 3: The West-Coast Canal in Kerala (Kottapurma-Komman, Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals-205 km)

The other viable inland waterways include the Godavari, Krishna, Barak, Sunderbans, Buckingham Canal, Brahmani, East-west Canal and Damodar Valley Corporation Canal.