This paper makes an attempt to provide a broad overview of the salient aspects of the growth story of Indian Railways (IR) since independence. More specifically, the study aims to analyse the trends of output and employment for the period 1981-82 through 2007-08. The entire study period is divided into three sub-periods – Period I (1981-82 to1991-92);PeriodII(1992-93-2002-03);PeriodIII(2003-04to2007-08). Inaddition, the study also looks at the ‘turnaround’ story of IR.
The output of IR is categorised as freight (NTKM) and passenger (PKM) outputs. Labour is divided into three categories – skilled management personnel (group A&B), semi-skilled employees (group C) and unskilled employees (group D). The data on freight output reveal that while the average annual growth rates of NTKM declined in the second period over the first period, high average annual growth rates of freight output were registered in the third period. The rate of growth of PKMs increased over the study period across IR.
The employment scenario across IR shows that the percentage share of the skilled management personnel (group A&B) remained more or less the same over the entire study period, while the percentage share of the semi-skilled labour (group C) increased from around 51 percent in the first period to nearly 63 percent in the third period. The percentage share of the unskilled labour (group D) registered a decline from the first period to the third period (from nearly 49 percent to 36 percent respectively). The rate of growth of labour productivity registered an increase in all the three periods over IR. The contribution made by the skilled management personnel to output is more when compared to the semi-skilled labour. The turnaround story tells us that the high growth rates of output and earnings on IR were made possible through the implementation of various strategies already in place.