India alone of the countries with great railway networks is unindustrialized. In the other leading railway powers—particularly the United States, Russia, Germany, though to a lesser extent in sparsely settled areas like Canada and Australia—the railway was the veritable dynamo of the Industrial Revolution. It has had no such effect in India, even though the country's network by 1947 was 40,500 miles long, counting only first-line main track, or 57,000 miles long, counting just about everything. I propose to sketch the setting in which railways were brought to India and then to review the 75 years of argument and experiment as to which form of enterprise (public, private, or some combination of the two) was best suited to India's railway development. I shall attempt to give a picture of the absolute and comparative magnitude of the Indian railway system as of 1947, and to discuss its economic and historical significance for Britain and for India.

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