Now I guess you know how I work. I come across a data set and then torture it to extract as much information as I can before I let go of it. So continuing with the railway data put out by the EPW, in this post we will look at the track utilization. The metric is simple – how many passenger trains go over a piece of railway track each day?
We have numbers for the total route length and the total number of passenger train kilometers. Dividing the latter by the former gives us the number of trains that pass over the average piece of track in a year. Divide that by365 and you get the number of trains that go over the track per day. In 1992, this number was 16. An average piece of track was run over by 16 trains each day. By 2009, this number had gone to 25!
Note that these are average numbers. They hide the fact that there might be tracks on which no trains run, and other tracks on which maybe 100 trains run each day (even higher if you think of something like the Mumbai local train tracks). Yet, they give us a good indication of how the railways have utilized the infrastructure that is most scarce (tracks are the hardest thing to add, given the complexities involved in laying additional track – taking into account land acquisition, etc.).
Notice that though this is a largely linear growth, there have been times when growth has been faster than in other times. Next, let us look at how much utilization has been added each year. And let us look at it in terms of who the railway minister was in that financial year!
Notice that the outlier years are the first two years of Nitish Kumar’s occupation of the Ministry. During his unbroken 5 year tenure, Lalu Prasad Yadav also consistently added significantly in terms of track utilization. Unfortunately the data for passenger train kilometers ends with 2009, so here we are not able to see how Mamata Banerjee performed in her second stint in the ministry.