India Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

In India you drive on the left.

Due to its high population density, India has a very large road network, one of the densest road networks in the world, just ahead of that of the United States and much larger than that of China or Brazil. There is almost 3.3 million kilometers of road, half of which is paved. India hardly has any real highways, in 2020 about 1,650 kilometers of highway were in use. Some 58,500 kilometers of main road have been developed into multi-lane roads, but these do not always have grade-separated intersections. However, there are regular toll roads. Most of the real highways are around Mumbai and more recently around Delhi. The state of Uttar Pradesh also has a fast-growing network of highways. New highways often have 6 to 8 lanes and are toll roads. Concrete pavements were traditionally used by the British, but then temporarily became less popular because cement and concrete were not available in desired quantities. As a result, most of the road network is paved with asphalt. More recently, concrete is making a comeback, such as on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

According to wholevehicles, many main roads, both in the cities and outside the cities, have poor traffic flows due to large amounts of slow traffic. Traveling by road is therefore a time-consuming matter. On non-motorways an average speed of 40 km/h is common over longer distances, although this has been improved more recently with the doubling of thousands of kilometers of road allowing average speeds of 70 – 80 km/h on some stretches, sometimes towards 100 km/h. In the cities this drops to below 10 km/h. Level crossings are sometimes very cramped, especially on the older expressways that are not built to modern highway standards.

One of the biggest tasks for the Indian government is to provide infrastructural support for urbanization. The major cities have a particularly undeveloped road network consisting mainly of a mesh of narrow streets. Large-scale highway construction is necessary for this. The Indian government had planned to spend some $1,700 billion on infrastructure projects between 2010 and 2020 to sustain economic growth. The Indian government has earmarked $70 billion for highway projects for the 2010-2013 period. The intention was to expand the current motorway network by 2022 to a small 16,000 kilometers of motorway. Due to bureaucracy and corruption, these targets were far from being achieved, in 2020 only 10% of the target until 2022 had been achieved. In addition to urban highways, there is a desire to build long-distance highways. More than 80% of passenger traffic and 65% of freight traffic is by road.

Expressways

Expressways in India
Cross country routes:Agra – Lucknow Expressway • Ahmedabad – Vadodara Expressway • Bundelkhand Expressway • Delhi – Dehradun Expressway • Delhi – Jaipur Expressway • Delhi – Meerut Expressway • Delhi – Mumbai Expressway • Durgapur Expressway • Ganga Expressway • Jaipur – Kishangarh Expressway • Lucknow – Kanpur Expressway • Nagpur – Mumbai Expressway • Pathankot – Ajmer Expressway • Purvanchal Expressway • Surat – Chennai Expressway • Trans-Haryana Expressway• Upper Ganga Canal Expressway • Yamuna Expressway

Metropolitan routes:

Airport Expressway (Mumbai) • Allahabad Bypass Expressway • Ambala – Chandigarh Expressway • Bamroli – Althan Expressway • Bangalore Airport Expressway • Bangalore Elevated Tollway • Bangalore – Mysore Expressway • Bangalore Ring Road • Chennai Bypass Expressway • Chennai Outer Ring Road • Chennai Port – Maduravoyal Expressway • Delhi – Gurgaon Expressway • Delhi – Noida Direct Flyway • Dwarka Expressway • Eastern Expressway (Mumbai) •Eastern Freeway (Mumbai) • Eastern Peripheral Expressway (Delhi) • Hyderabad Elevated Expressway • Hyderabad Outer Ring Road • Kona Expressway • Mumbai – Nashik Expressway • Mumbai – Pune Expressway • Noida – Greater Noida Expressway • Western Expressway • Western Freeway Mumbai • Western Peripheral Expressway (Delhi)

In 2015, the Bharatmala Plan was launched, an ambitious road program by the Modi government to build Rs 10 trillion ($155 billion) around 51,000 kilometers of expressway. In the first phase, 29,000 kilometers of expressway must be built. At the start of the program, India had no more than 1,200 kilometers of expressway.

The Bharatmala Plan is the successor to the National Highways Development Project launched in 1998. The main purpose of this plan was to widen existing national highways to 4 to 6 lanes and included few expressways. Of the 45,000 kilometers of road constructed under the National Highways Development Project, only 1,000 kilometers of expressway and 700 kilometers of ring road fell. The National Highways Development Project was largely completed in 2014-2015.

The state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India has 200 million inhabitants and has opened a large number of motorways in the period 2016-2021. In 2021, this state had 37% of all highways in India.

Length of the motorways

It is unclear exactly how many kilometers of highway India has. In addition to the so-called ‘greenfield expressways’, which have been constructed over a completely new route, many national highways have been widened to 2×2 or 2×3 lanes. Part has the character of a motorway, without access to property, with parallel roads for slow traffic, grade separated intersections and often also toll stations. Presumably, the number of national highways with highway characteristics is greater than the number of greenfield expressways.

National Highways

The main road network of India is formed by the National Highways. As of March 31, 2019, this network consisted of 132,500 kilometers.

National Highways in India
1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 • 19 • 20 • 21 • 22 • 24 • 25 • 26 • 27 • 28 • 29 •30 • 31 • 32 • 33 • 34 • 35 • 36 • 37 • 38 • 39 • 40 • 41 • 42 • 43 • 44 • 45 • 46 • 47 • 48 • 49 • 50 • 51 • 52 • 53 • 54 • 55 • 56 • 57• 58 • 59 • 60 • 61 • 62 • 63 • 64 • 65 • 66 • 67 • 68 • 69 • 70 • 71 • 72 • 73 • 74 • 75 • 76 • 77 • 78 • 79 • 80 • 81 • 82 • 83 • 84 •85 • 86 • 87 • 88 • 89 • 90 • 91 • 92 • 93 • 94 • 95 • 96 • 97 • 98 • 99

Toll roads

Many roads in India have to pay tolls, both on expressways and many national highways. Tolls are often used to modernize roads and in many cases widen them to 2×2 lanes, even if they are not real highways. Since October 27, 2014, it is possible to pay tolls in India through electronic toll collection (ETC). The system is called ‘FASTag’.

Asian Highways

Asian Highways in India
AH1 • AH2 • AH42 • AH43 • AH45 • AH46 • AH47 • AH48

Road numbering

The main class in India is the National Highway network (NH), which can also be expanded as a National Expressway (NE). These have one, two or three digits. The numbers 1 to 9 connect the major cities, 2-digit roads are partly clustered. National Highway 7 is the longest road with 2,369 kilometers in length.

The second class is the State Highway network (SH) which are numbered per state.

Signage

The signage is usually in English, but Hindi (using the Devanagari alphabet) and Sanskrit are also available. English is usually written in capital letters on signposts. Both blue and green signs are used. Road numbers are indicated, National Highways in a yellow rectangular shield with black letters. Portals are regularly used, also for distance signs, especially when sometimes 3 notebooks are indicated.

Road signs

A mix of American and European road signs are used in India.

Road markings

Both all-white marking and yellow edge markings are used. There doesn’t seem to be any consistency. Curbs along many roads are painted with black and white reflective paint.

Maximum speed

The speed limit in India is determined by state. On national highways a maximum of 120 km/h applies on motorways, 100 km/h on double-lane roads and 70 km/h on other roads (inside and outside built-up areas).

For trucks, a maximum speed of 80 km/h applies on motorways, dual carriageways and 60 km/h on all other roads that are part of a national highway.

India Road Network