Railways and The Raj

Christian Wolmar

RRP: £25.00

2 November 2017

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9780857890641

RRP: £14.99

2 November 2017

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781782397663

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the plans for British Empire expansion knew no bounds and landscapes around the world were forever changed by colonial infrastructure.

In 1842 not a single mile of railway line existed in India: by 1929 41,000 miles of track served the country. Yet this was not intended to modernise India for the sake of its people but was a means for those in power to govern the huge country under their control. Despite the dubious intentions for the construction of the network, the Indian people quickly took to the railways, expanding their horizons and making migration to the cities of India easier than ever before. The Indian Railways network remains one of the largest in the world, serving over 25 million passengers each day.

By building the railways in India, Britain radically changed the nation but also unwittingly created the preconditions of independence. While the railways greatly benefitted India and were the nation’s first modern development, their construction ultimately contributed to a stirring of nationalist opinion.

In this expertly told history, Christian Wolmar traces the evolution of India’s rail network, revealing how it was largely subverted for British economic and military purposes. He also examines the chequered role of the railways in Indian history and the part they played in the creation of today’s modern state.


Christian Wolmar masterfully chronicles the iconic journey of the Indian Railways, deftly navigating his way through the varied complexities of an enterprise that - though it was undertaken solely in the self-serving interests of Empire - would go on to form an integral part of Independent India. Instructive, inspiring and even endearing, Railways & the Raj is a captivating read.Shashi Tharoor, author of INGLORIOUS EMPIRE

Wolmar tells an epic story, at once shocking and inspiring. Stripped of false nostalgia for the Raj and all its deceptions, India's railways emerge greater than ever, and still central to the nation's identity and future.Simon Bradley, author of THE RAILWAYS

Railways & the Raj is brilliant - absorbing, engrossing and definitive.Michael Williams, author of ON THE SLOW TRAIN

Christian Wolmar helps to explain what is special about Indian railways, and why despite being the work of a colonial power, they fit so well with the country... Wolmar entertainingly examines the complicated legacy of the railway, the most palpable element of British imperialism.Michael Portillo

Christian Wolmar brings to life the early days of trains in India and describes with great clarity and wit how railways have spread across the vast country over the years. This is not a dry, stuffy read merely for rail enthusiasts. It's full of energy, enthusiasm and erudition, explaining the role of railways at key moments in the country's history from early mutinies against the colonialists to independence and beyond. Highly recommended.Tom Chesshyre, author of TICKET TO RIDE

This is one up-to-date book on Indian Railways that captures its history, life, stories and status... A must-read for all those keen followers of India's railways and for those who want to know all about it.Rajendra B. Aklekar, author of HALT STATION INDIA

Eschewing the dryness of other books on the subject, Wolmar's historical detail is pumped with colour and life... If we're ever to trust a writer on India's railways, it should be one who isn't afraid to sit in the open doorway of a moving train, chai in hand, watching the country roll past in all its glory.From the foreword by Monisha Rajesh, author of AROUND INDIA IN 80 TRAINS