Like clockwork orange, each time we have approached a railroad crossing there has almost always been a near-approaching train. After the JAR bus comes to a halt, I found myself always in awe of how developed the rail infrastructure seems to be. Earlier today, I asked Hari (our tour guide) to share his knowledge about the Indian Railways. Hari: “It’s huge!”
Indeed, it is. As an employer to 1.4M people, the Indian Railways is the 8th largest employer in the world (and largest employer in India). The Railway also transports over 9 Bn passengers and 1 Bn tons of freight in a calendar year, utilizing a system of over 7,500 stations across 70,000 miles of track.
Who is largely responsible for the creation of such a vast railroad enterprise that transformed India? The British monarchy, who continued to rule over India in the mid 1800s. At the time, the British government encouraged private UK investors to join them in developing the Indian rail system. The government promised these investors a guaranteed annual return of 5% to build a railroad system. After the rails were built, there would be a transfer of ownership to the British government and the private company would retain operational control. This was an amazing deal for the UK investors, and naturally led to an acceleration of railway development in India.