The epic story of the British construction of the railways in India, as told by Britain's bestselling transport historian.
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 writes regularly for a wide variety of publications including the Independent, Evening Standard and Rail magazine, and appears frequently on TV and radio as a commentator on transport issues. His previous books include the widely-acclaimed The Subterranean Railway; Fire and Steam; Blood, Iron and Gold; Engines of War; The Great Railway Revolution and To the Edge of the World.