Ch08 Transport - Revision Notes

 CBSE Class 12 Geography

Revision Notes
Fundamentals of Human Geography

Chapter-8 Transport and Communication


  • Transport is a service or facility for the carriage of persons and goods from one place to the other using humans, animals and different kinds of vehicles
  • Such movements take place over land,water and air
  • Roads and railways form part of land transport; while shipping and waterways and airways are the other two modes
  • Pipelines carry materials like petroleum, natural gas, and ores in liquidified form
  • Transportation is an organised service industry created to satisfy the basic needs of society
  • It is mainly used to carry people and goods, and to handle loading, unloading and delivery


  • The principal modes of world transportation are land, water, air and pipelines
  • These are used for inter-regional and intra-regional transport, and each one (except pipelines) carries both passengers and freight
  • The significance of a mode depends on the type of goods and services to be transported, costs of transport and the mode available
  • Road transport is cheaper and faster over short distances and for door-to- door services
  • Railways are most suited for large volumes of bulky materials over long distances within a country
  • High-value, light and perishable goods are best moved by airways

Land Transport

  • Most of the movement of goods and services takes place over land
  • In early days, humans themselves were carriers
  • Animals were also used for means of transportation
  • With the invention of the wheel, the use of carts and wagons became important
  • The revolution in transport came about only after the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century
  • The first public railway line was opened in 1825 between Stockton and Darlington in northern England and then onwards
  • Railways became the most popular and fastest form of transport in the 19th century
  • It opened up continental interiors for commercial grain farming, mining and manufacturing in U.S.A.
  • The newer developments in land transportation are pipelines, ropeways and cableways. Liquids like mineral oil, water, sludge and sewers are transported by pipelines
  • The great freight carriers are the railways, ocean vessels, barges, boats and motor trucks and pipelines


  • Road transport is the most economical for short distances compared to railways
  • Freight transport by road is gaining importance because it offers door-to-door service
  • The quality of the roads varies greatly between developed and developing countries because road construction and maintenance require heavy expenditure
  • In developed countries good quality roads are universal and provide long-distance links in the form of motorways, autobahns (Germany), and inter– state highways for speedy movement 
  • The world’s total motorable road length is only about 15 million km, of which North America accounts for 33%
  • The highest road density and the highest number of vehicles are registered in this continent compared to Western Europe

Traffic flows

  • City roads suffer from chronic traffic congestion
  • Peak (high points) and troughs (low points) of traffic flow can be seen on roads at particular times of the day, for example, peaks occurring during the rush hour before and after work
  • Most of the cities in the world have been facing the problem of congestion


  • Highways are metalled roads connecting distant places
  • They are constructed in a manner for unobstructed vehicular movement
  • These are 80 m wide, with separate traffic lanes, bridges, flyovers and dual carriageways to facilitate uninterrupted traffic flow
  • In developed countries, every city and port town is linked through highways
  • In North America, highway density is high, about 0.65 km per sq km
  • Cities located on the Pacific coast (west) are well-connected with those of the Atlantic Coast (east)
  • The cities of Canada in the north are linked with those of Mexico in the south
  • The Trans-Canadian Highway links Vancouver in British Columbia(west coast) to St. John’s City in Newfoundland (east coast) and the Alaskan Highway links Edmonton (Canada) to Anchorage (Alaska)
  • The Pan-American Highway, a large portion of which has been constructed, will connect the countries of South America, Central America and U.S.A.-Canada
  • The Trans- Continental Stuart Highway connects Darwin (north coast) and Melbourne via Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in Australia
  • In Russia, a dense highway network is developed in the industrialised region west of the Urals with Moscow as the hub.The important Moscow-Vladivostok Highway serves the region to the east
  • In China, highways criss-cross the country connecting all major cities such as Tsungtso (near Vietnam boundary), Shanghai (central China), Guangzhou (south) and Beijing (north). A new highway links Chengdu with Lhasa in Tibet
  • In India, there are many highways linking the major towns and cities. For example, National Highway No. 7 (NH 7),connecting Varanasi with Kanya Kumari, is the longest in the country. The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) or Super Expressway is underway to connect the four metropolitan cities i.e.New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad
  • In Africa, a highway joins Algiers in the north to Conakry in Guinea. Similarly, Cairo is also connected to Cape Town Border Roads
  • Roads laid along international boundaries are called border roads
  • They play an important role in integrating people in remote areas with major cities and providing defence
  • Almost all countries have such roads to transport goods to border villages and military camps


  • Railways are a mode of land transport for bulky goods and passengers over long distances
  • The railway gauges vary in different countries and are roughly classified as broad (more than 1.5 m), standard (1.44 m), metre gauge (1 m) and smaller gauges
  • The standard gauge is used in the U.K
  • Commuter trains are very popular in U.K.,.U.S.A, Japan and India
  • These carry millions of passengers daily to and from in the city
  • There are about 13 lakh km of railways open for traffic in the world

 Distribution of Railway in the world

  •  It is one of the most dense rail networks in the world 
  • There are about 4,40,000 km of railways, most of which is double or multiple-tracked
  • Belgium has the highest density of 1 km of railway for every 6.5 sq kms area
  • The industrial regions exhibit some of the highest densities in the world
  • The important rail heads are London, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Berlin and Warsaw
  • Passenger transport is more important than freight in many of these countries
  • Underground railways are important in London and Paris
  • Channel Tunnel, operated by Euro Tunnel Group through England, connects London with Paris


  • Railways account for about 90% of the country’s total transport with a very dense network west of the Urals
  • Moscow is the most important rail head with major lines radiating to different parts of the country’s vast geographical area
  • Underground railways and commuter trains are also important in Moscow

North America

  • North America has one of the most extensive rail networks accounting for nearly 40% of the world’s total
  • In contrast to many European countries, the railways are used more for long-distance bulky freight like ores, grains, timber and machinery than for passengers
  • The most dense rail network is found in the highly industrialised an urbanised region of East Central U.S.A. and adjoining Canada


  • In Canada,  railways are in the public sector and distributed all over the sparsely populated areas
  • The transcontinental railways carry the bulk of wheat and coal tonnage


  • Australia has about 40,000 km of railways, of which 25% are found in New South Wales alone
  • The west-east Australian National Railway line runs across the country from Perth to Sydney
  • New Zealand’s railways are mainly in the North Island to serve the farming areas

 South America

  • In South America,  rail network is the most dense in two regions, namely, the Pampas of Argentina and the coffee growing region of Brazil which together account for 40%  of South America’s total route length
  • Chile, among the remaining countries has a considerable route length linking coastal centres with the mining sites in the interior
  • Peru, Bolivia,Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela have short single-track rail-lines from ports to the interior with no inter-connecting links
  • There is only one trans-continental rail route linking Buenos Aires (Argentina) with Valparaiso (Chile) across the Andes Mountains through the Uspallatta Pass located at a height of 3,900 m


  • In Asia, rail network is the most dense in the thickly populated areas of Japan, China and India
  • Other countries have relatively few rail routes
  • West Asia is the least developed in rail facilities because of vast deserts and sparsely populated regions


  • Africa continent is  the second largest, has only 40,000 km of railways with South Africa alone accounting for 18,000 km due to the concentration of gold, diamond and copper mining activities
  • The important routes of the continent are: (i) the Benguela Railway through Angola to Katanga-Zambia Copper Belt; (ii) the Tanzania Railway from the Zambian Copper Belt to Dar-es-Salaam on the coast; (iii) the Railway through Botswana and Zimbabwe linking the landlocked states to the South African network; and (iv) the Blue Train from Cape Town to Pretoria in the Republic of South

Trans–Continental Railways

  • Trans–continental railways run across the continent and link its two ends
  • They were constructed for economic and political reasons to facilitate long runs in different directions

The following are the most important of these:
1) Trans–Siberian Railway

  • This is a trans–siberian Railways major rail route of Russia runs from St. Petersburg in the west to Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast in the east passing through Moscow, Ufa, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Chita and Khabarovsk
  • It is the most important route in Asia and the longest (9,332 km) double-tracked and electrified trans-continental railway in the world
  • It has helped in opening up its Asian region to West European markets
  • It runs across the Ural Mountains Ob and Yenisei rivers Chita is an important agro- centre and Irkutsk, a fur centre
  • There are connecting links to the south, namely, to Odessa (Ukraine), Baku on the Caspian Coast, Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Ulan Bator (Mongolia), and Shenyang (Mukden) and Beijing in China

2) Trans–Canadian Railways

  • This 7,050 km long rail-line in Canada runs from Halifax in the east to Vancouver on the Pacific Coast passing through Montreal, Ottawa, and Calgary
  • A loop line from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay (Lake Superior) connects this rail-line with one of the important waterways of the world
  • This line is the economic artery of Canada. Wheat and meat are the important exports on this route

3) The Union and Pacific Railway

  • This rail-line connects New York on the Atlantic Coast to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast passing through Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha,Evans, Ogden and Sacramento
  • The most valuable exports on this route are ores, grain, paper, chemicals and machinery

4) The Australian Trans–Continental Railway

  • This rail-line runs west-east across the southern part of the continent from Perth on the west coast, to Sydney on the east coast passing through Kalgoorlie, Broken Hill and Port Augusta 
  • Another major north-south line connects Adelaide and Alice Spring and to be joined further to the Darwin–Birdum line

5) The Orient Express

  • This line runs from Paris to Istanbul passing through Strasbourg, Munich, Vienna,Budapest and Belgrade
  • The journey time from London to Istanbul by this Express is now reduced to 96 hours as against 10 days by the sea-route
  • The chief exports on this rail-route are cheese, bacon, oats, wine, fruits, and machinery


  • Advantages of water transportation:(i)  it does not require route construction. The oceans are linked with each otherand (ii) negotiable with ships of various sizes (iii) It is much cheaper because the friction of water is far less than that of land (iv)The energy cost of water transportation is lower
  • Water transport is divided into sea routes and inland waterways