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Transport System in India – Railways, Roadways, Airways and Waterways

Last Updated : 24 Feb, 2023
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Early humans depended entirely on nature for food, clothing, and shelter. With the development of new skills, humans have gradually modified the environment they live in. Humans are social animals, and the basic nature of humans to be connected to each other has resulted in the development and expansion of Settlements, transport, and communication.

Settlement, Transport, and Communication

Settlements refer to the places where people build their own homes. The settlement of the people can be permanent or temporary.

Transport refers to the medium through which people move from one place to another. Transport is mostly of four types- roadways, railways, waterways, and airways.

Communication refers to the process of conveying any message to others and mass media refers to the process of communication on a large scale and to a large population through newspapers, radio, television, etc.


Settlements refer to those places where people build their homes. In the case of the early humans, they lived in trees and in caves. With the growth of plants and crops, it became necessary to develop permanent homes. River valleys were the first settlements for human habitation, because of fertile lands and also for the availability of water.

With the advancement of trade, commerce, and also manufacturing, the human settlements became bigger and started to flourish and civilizations came to develop near the river valleys. This is when the civilizations of Harappa, Mesopotamian and Egyptian settlements grew around the rivers. Primarily settlements are divided into the following types:

Temporary Settlements

It refers to those settlements which are occupied for a short duration of time. People who live in forests, hot or cold deserts, and mountains; dwell in such temporary settlements. They usually practice shifting cultivation, transhumance, hunting, and gathering.

Temporary Settlement


Permanent Settlements

These are those settlements where the inhabitants make permanent houses and do not keep moving to other places for a dwelling. Permanent settlements are prevalent mostly today and people prefer permanent settlements for various reasons like occupations, trade, and availability of resources. 

Permanent Settlement


Permanent settlements are mostly divided into two categories:

Rural Settlements

Settlements that are located in the village areas are termed rural settlements. In rural areas, people prefer occupations like agriculture, forestry, fishing arts, and that trading. The main occupation of people is however related to agriculture and allied occupations. 

In rural areas, people build houses to suit their requirements and environment. In regions of heavy rainfall, they build houses with slanting roofs and places where water accumulates in the rainy season, houses are built on raised platforms or stilts. In places with hot climates, houses are made of thick mud-walled houses with thatched roofs. Rural settlements are further divided into:

  1. Compact settlements: These refer to those settlements which are closely built, wherever flat land is available.
  2. Scattered settlements: These refer to those settlements which are spaced out in an extensive area and found mostly in hilly areas with thick forests and in areas that have extreme climates.

Urban Settlements

It refers to a concentrated settlement that is part of an urban area and an area that is of a high density of human-created structures. The types of urban settlements include cities, towns, metropolitan cities, and so forth. Based on their purposes, cities are further classified into administrative, industrial, transport, commercial, and so forth.


Traveling used to take months and sometimes years in earlier days. The absence of proper transportation previously made the traveling days very long and arduous work. The invention of wheels made everything easier and with more advancement of humans and technology, the means of transport expanded.

Before the wheels, people used to travel with mules or donkeys, carrying their luggage. In India, Mules, donkeys, bullocks, and camels were used for carrying luggage. In Tibet, people use Yaks and in South America, people used Llamas as a means of transportation. Modern means of transport like the railways, flights, and roadways save both time as well as energy. The 4 major means of transport are as follows:


This type of transport includes cars, buses, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motorized vehicles. It is the most widely used form of transportation in the national economy. In India, it is estimated that around 90 percent of the total freight and passenger traffic is carried by road transport. It includes cars, buses, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, and other motorized vehicles.

Roads are used for carrying goods from factories to markets and for transporting people from one place to another. It is also the most cost-effective mode of transport, as it does not require special infrastructures such as rails or airports. India has one of the largest road networks in the world about 54.7 lakh km.

Roads can also be classified into Metalled and Unmetalled roads:

  1. Metalled Roads: These refer to those constructed with the help of cement, concrete, and bitumen of coal. These are not seasonal roads and can be used in the rainy season as well hence they are known as all-weather roads.
  2. Unmetalled Roads: Unmetalled roads don’t have road metal and are natural pathways or mud roads and are not all seasoned roads.

Plains have a dense network of roads and also build in terrains of deserts, forests, and even mountains. Manali-Leh highway is one of the highest roadways in the world. Underground roadways is known as subways and flyovers are built on raised structures.



Rail Transport

Rail transport is the use of railroads to move goods and passengers. Rail transport is a major form of transportation in many countries. In India, it is the second most important mode of transport. Railways are used for both passenger and freight traffic. They are used to transport goods from one part of the country to another, as well as to transport people from one point to another. Railways are used to connect major cities and towns, as well as small towns and villages.

The invention of the steam engine and the Industrial Revolution helped in the much more speedy development of railways. Superfast trains have been introduced to make journeys faster. Advancements in technological skills have also enabled to lay of railroads in mountain terrains as well. Indian railways are also one of the largest in Asia.

The trans-Siberian railway is the longest railway system that connects St. Peterburg in Western Russia to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast.



Air Transport

This type of transport includes airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft. It is used for long-distance travel and to move cargo quickly. In India, air transport is used both for passenger and cargo flights. Airports are used to transport passengers and cargo between cities, states, and countries. Airlines also provide emergency services and special flights for medical emergencies. 

Air transport is the most expensive mode of transportation, but it is also the fastest. It is the only mode of transport to reach the most remote and also distant areas where roadways and railways couldn’t reach. Some important airports like Delhi, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Londo, Frankfurt, and Cairo.

Pawanhans Helicopters Limited provides helicopter services to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in its off-shore operations, in inaccessible areas.



Water Transport

Waterways are one of the cheapest modes of transport for carrying heavy and also bulky goods over a long distance. They include two types- inland waterways and sea routes.

The use of navigable rivers and also lakes were used as inland waterways and important inland waterways include the Ganga- Brahmaputra river system, Great Lakes in North America, and the river Nile in Africa. Some of the most important ports in the world include Singapore and Mumbai in Asia, New York, and Los Angeles in North America, and so forth.

In India, it is mainly used to transport goods and passengers across waterways. It includes ships, boats, and other vessels. It is used to transport goods and passengers between ports, as well as to transport goods from one part of the country to another. It is one of the oldest forms of transportation and is still used to move goods along India’s rivers and coastal areas. 




Communication refers to the process of conveying messages to others. It is through the development of technology humans devised fast and new modes of communication. The information revolution has been possible because of the developments in the fields of communication. Communication and its different modes are both informative, educate as well entertaining. Some important aspects of Communication are:

Mass Media

Through the medium of newspapers, radio, and television communication takes place with a large number of people. This is known as mass media. It is a form of communication that can be written, broadcast, or spoken to reach a larger audience.


Satellites have made communication even faster and helped in oil exploration, a survey of forests, underground water, mineral wealth, and disaster warning.


The Internet not only provides us with worldwide information and interaction but also made our lives more comfortable. From reserving tickets for railways, airways or cinema to hotel booking, cinema booking, everything can be done by sitting at home through the internet. Electronic mail and mobile phones, everything has made life easier with the help of the internet. A global society could be formed through the interconnectivity of people, services, and institutions.

FAQs on Settlement, Transport, and Communication

Question 1: What are the four means of transport?


Air, road, sea, and rail are the four main means of transport.

Question 2: What do you understand about the term “settlement”?


The act or state of being settled is known as settlement. The organization of self and our living spaces in a place is called a settlement.

Question 3: What are the activities practiced by rural people?


Some activities actively practiced by the rural people include agriculture, fishing, forestry, craftwork, and trading.

Question 4: Mention any 2 merits of railways.


  1. Railways carry a large number of passengers and goods.
  2. They reduce the time of travel to a few hours between two places.

Question 5: What do you understand by communication?


Communication refers to a two-way process of sharing information. It is a process that involves sending and receiving messages through verbal and non-verbal methods.

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