Project Unigauge

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Comparison of different gauges common in India with standard gauge which is not common in India

Project Unigauge is an ongoing exercise by Indian Railways to standardise most of the rail gauges in India to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge.

Indian Railways currently has significant lengths of four different gauges: the 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge, the 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge, and two narrow gauges 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) and 2 ft (610 mm). The total length of track used by Indian Railways was about 115,000 km (71,000 mi) while the total route length of the network was 65,000 km (40,000 mi) in 2011.[1]

Urban mass rapid transport systems (metro rail) built or being built in six large cities in India use both 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge and 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge. However these metro railways are independent corporations not under the jurisdiction of Indian Railways and therefore Project Unigauge does not apply to them.

A broad-gauge network allows bigger trains, higher speeds, and more stability. However, it costs more than smaller gauge. For India, which has one of the world's highest population densities, broad-gauge allows comfortable travel for high volumes of travellers, and is deemed to be economically feasible in the long term.


It was observed for a long time that towns and cities on the metre gauge (MG) and narrow gauge (NG) lines had a poorer service than equivalent towns on the broad gauge system, the speed of trains was slower and the freight traffic (ton per kilometre) on metre gauge tracks was only a small fraction of the freight traffic on broad gauge tracks. It was decided that conversion of metre and narrow gauge railway lines to broad gauge would make Indian Railways more efficient, avoid the current breaks of gauge, increase the freight-carrying capacity and shorten the routes with many regauged links.

Some sporadic conversion of metre gauge railway tracks to broad gauge such as Bangalore-Gooty and Pune-Miraj had taken place from 1971 to 1990 but metre gauge railway tracks (such as Mangalore-Hassan through the Western Ghats for a Kudremukh iron ore project) continued to be laid in that period because of cost considerations.

Project Unigauge started in 1990–91 in earnest. The first routes taken for conversion of gauge were Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur, Delhi-Rewari, Mahesana-Viramgam and Chhapra-Aunrihar.

Current status[edit]

Gauge Name 2013 
Track km
Route km
Route km
1676 mm Broad gauge 107500 93% 58300 90% 24891 [2] 25258 47.0%
1000 mm Metre gauge 6000 5% 5200 8% 24185 45.0%
762 and 610 mm Narrow gauges 1500 2% 1500 2% 4300 8.0%
Total: 115000 65000 53743

As of 2012, 107,500 km of track length (93% of entire track length of all the gauges) and 58,300 km of route-kilometre (90% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges) was broad gauge; 6,000 km of track length (5% of entire track length of all the gauges) and 5,210 km of route-kilometre (8% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges) was metre gauge and 1,500 route-kilometre (2% of entire route-kilometre of all the gauges) was of the narrow gauges.

As a result of Project Unigauge, the share of broad gauge in the total route-kilometre has been steadily rising, increasing from 47% (25,258 route-km) in 1951 to 89% (58,300 route-km) in 2012 whereas the share of metre gauge has declined from 45% (24,185 route-km) to 8% (5,210 route-km) in the same period. The share of narrow gauges has decreased from 8% in 1951 to 2% (1,500 route-km) in 2012.

India has converted its metre gauge lines into broad gauge up to its border with Nepal. Narrow gauge railway lines that extend for a short length from India into Nepal (Raxaul-Amlekhagunj and Jayanagar-Janakpuur-Bijalpura) need conversion by Nepal Railways to avoid transhipment. India has offered to do the conversion.

Heritage lines that will not be converted[edit]

One metre gauge and four narrow gauge tracks on which heritage trains run in hilly regions will not be converted to broad gauge. These are:

Name of heritage railway line Gauge
from (plains)
to (hills)
Nilgiri Mountain Railway 1,000 mm 46 Tamil Nadu Mettupalayam/MTP Udagamandalam (Ooty)/UAM
Kalka–Shimla Railway 762 mm 94 Himachal Pradesh Kalka/KLK Shimla/SML
Kangra Valley Railway 762 mm 164 Himachal Pradesh Pathankot/PTK Joginder Nagar/JDNX
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 610 mm 79 West Bengal New Jalpaiguri/NJP Darjeeling/DJ
Matheran Hill Railway 610 mm 20 Maharashtra Neral/NRL Matheran/MAE
Total: 395

A demand has been made to convert Pathankot-Dharamshala-Joginder Nagar railway line into broad gauge but no decision has been taken.[3]

Effects on loading gauge and rolling stock[edit]

Undertaking project Unigauge requires more than just changing the spacing between the rails. Existing railway ties may be too short and have to be replaced, even though they may not be life expired. Bogies on rolling stock would have to be replaced to fit the new gauge. Since the width of broad gauge passenger carriages are wider than the previous ones, the gap between the platform and carriage may cause problems. Either the gap may be too large and thus unsafe, or broad gauge rolling stock is likely to hit the old platforms. Narrow tunnels and bridge of the old metre gauge may need to be widened and raised for broad gauge. Also, sharp curves of the old metre gauge may need to be stretched for broad gauge.

However, eliminating breaks of gauge improves rolling stock utilisation and therefore saves on the quantity of rolling stock required, particularly where there is tidal or seasonal traffic. Excess metre gauge rolling stock, much of it modern and in good condition, has a ready second-hand market in many other metre gauge railways around the world. Second-hand stock may also be cascaded to 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge lines such as in Mozambique. On the downside, vacuum brakes may need to be converted to air brakes.

Routes remaining to be converted in 2014[edit]

  1. Ahmedabad-Botad (175 km)
  2. Ahmedabad-Udaipur City (298 km)
  3. Ambliyasan-Vijapur-Kalol (89 km)
  4. Badarpur- Jiribam (74 km)
  5. Baraigram-Dullabchhera (24 km)
  6. Bhuj-Naliya (101 km)
  7. Bihariganj - Purnea Court (64 km)
  8. Chhapra-Thawe (105 km)
  9. Dhasa-Visavadar Broad gauge
  10. Dohrighat-Indara (33 km)
  11. Gonda-Mailani (266 km)
  12. Hanumangarh-Sadulpur (172 km)
  13. Himatnagar-Khedbrahma (55 km)
  14. Jaipur-Churu (198 km)
  15. Jhanjharpur – Laukaha Bazar (43 km)
  16. Junagadh-Visavadar (42 km)
  17. Ahmedabad-Bechraji-Ranuj (136 km)
  18. Kumarghat-Agartala (104 km)
  19. Lucknow (Aishbagh)-Mailani-Pilibhit (239 km)
  20. Mahesana-Taranga Hill (57 km)
  21. MandhanaBrahmavart (10 km)
  22. Mathura Jn.-Vrindavan (12 km)
  23. Marwar-Bari Sadri (233 km)
  24. Mhow-Khandwa-Akola (288 km)
  25. Narkatiaganj-Bikhnathori line (35 km)
  26. Narkatiaganj-Raxaul(41 KM)
  27. Nepalgunj Road-Nanpara (19 km)
  28. Pachora-Jamner (56 km)Under CR in Maharashtra.
  29. Saharsa – Tharbitia – Forbesganj (112 km)
  30. SakriJhanjharpurNirmali (51 km)
  31. Shahjahanpur-Pilibhit (106 km)
  32. Talala-Delvada-Pranchi Road-Kodinar
  33. Thiruthuraipoondi-Agasthiampalli
  34. Veraval-Talala- Visawadar (164 km)


  • Eastern
  1. Ahmedpur – terminus; break-of-gauge
  2. Katwabreak-of-gauge
  3. Balgona – terminus; break-of-gauge
  • South East Central Railway
  1. Raipurbreak-of-gauge
  2. Rajim – terminus
  3. Dhamtari – termin
  • North Central
  1. Pulgaonbreak-of-gauge
  2. Arvi, Wardha – terminus
  • Southern Railway
  1. PollachiPalakkad
  2. PollachiPodanur
  3. ThiruvarurKaraikudi
  4. SengottaiPunalur
  • Western
  1. Surat – large town
  2. Bilimora break-of-gauge
  3. Waghai – terminus
  4. Gandhidam – junction
  5. New Bhuj break-of-gauge
  6. Naliya – branch terminus (may be closed)
  7. Mahesanabreak-of-gauge
  8. Taranga Hill – branch terminus
  • West Central
  1. Gwaliorbreak-of-gauge
  2. Sheopur – terminus

Under Conversion[edit]

  1. North Lakhimpur-Murkongselek (154 km) in Assam
  2. BodinayakkanurMadurai (88 km) in Tamil Nadu
  3. Sikar-Loharu (122 km) in Rajasthan
  4. RatangarhSardarshahar (46 km) in Rajasthan
  5. Gainsari-Jarwa (15 km) in Uttar Pradesh
  6. Balipara North-Bhalukpong (34 km)
  7. GondaBarhni (107 km) in Uttar Pradesh
  8. SilcharJiribam (50 km) in Assam/Manipur
  9. BadarpurKumarghat (118 km)
  10. KatakhalBhairabi (84 km)
  11. Bareilly CityKasganj (109 km) in Uttar Pradesh
  12. Indore - Mhow (21 km) in Madhya Pradesh
  13. Pollachi - Podanur (40 km) in Tamil Nadu
  14. Bhojipura - Pilibhit - Tanakpur(101 km) in Uttar Pradesh



  1. LumdingSilchar (210 km) in Assam [1]
  2. Pollachi - Palakkad (55 km) in Tamil Nadu/Kerala [2]


  1. Raxaul-Chauradano (24 km) in Bihar
  2. Palani-Pollachi (63 km) in Tamil Nadu [3]
  3. Fatehabad-Indore Junction MG (35 km) in Madhya Pradesh [4]
  4. Ankleshwar-Rajpipla (63 km) in Gujrat [5]
  5. Rangapara North-Tezpur (27 km) in Assam
  6. Dauram Madhepura - Banmankhi (42 km) in Bihar
  7. Rangiya - Rangapara North (122 km) in Assam
  8. Rangapara North - Harumati (143 km) in Assam


  1. RatlamFatehabad (85.74 km) in Madhya Pradesh [6]
  2. VirudhunagarManamadurai (66 km) in Tamil Nadu [7]
  3. Kolar – Chikbalapur (85 km) in Karnataka [8]


  1. Bareilly City-Lalkua in Uttar Pradesh
  2. MayiladuturaiTiruvarur in Tamil Nadu


  1. KrishnanagarShantipur in West Bengal
  2. SitamarhiBairgania in Bihar
  3. KaptanganjThawe in Uttar Pradesh
  4. KatiharTejnarayanpur in Bihar
  5. MavliNathdwara in Rajasthan
  6. Anandapuram – Talguppa in Karnataka
  7. DindigulPalani in Tamilnadu
  8. TirunelveliTenkasi in Tamilnadu
  9. Bodeli- Chottaudepur in Gujarat
  10. BardhmanBalgona in West Bengal
  11. AunriharJaunpur in Uttar Pradesh
  12. Aluabari RoadSiliguri in west Bengal
  13. RatangarhBikaner in Rajasthan
  14. Bharuch-Samni-Dahej in Gujarat
  15. Parlakimidi-Gunupur in Odisha
  16. Mathura-Achhnera in Uttar Pradesh
  17. Katihar-Manihari in Bihar
  18. ShimogaAnandapuramin Karnataka
  19. NanjangudChamarajanagar in Karnataka
  20. BagalkotGadag in Karnataka
  21. MysoreNanjangud in Karnataka
  22. BijapurBagalkot in Karnataka
  23. Sakleshpur – Subramanya Rd in Karnataka


  1. Kollam - Punalur (44 km) in Kerala


See also[edit]


  1. ^ compiled and edited by Research, Reference and Training Division. (2011). "Table 19.1". India Yearbook 2011. Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India. ISBN 978-81-230-1674-0. 
  2. ^,294,302,535
  3. ^

External links[edit]