Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Railways in India cover a wide expanse, the total route mileage of 41, 000 miles being in excess of that in any other country save the United States of America. With a total staff of over 800, 000, the rail-way administrations are the largest employers of organised labour in India, and their working policy as regards wages and other terms of employment reacts to some extent on industrial labour conditions through-out the country. The earliest railways in India were short lines constructed in the vicinity of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras between the years 1853 and 1856 by companies incorporated in England. It was not long, however, before the Government of India definitely adopted the policy of direct construction and ownership, and although a system of construction and management by the agency of companies continue there has been a gradual change-over, until now 72 per cent of the tot route mileage is owned and 45 per cent is directly managed by the State. For statistical purposes, Indian Railway systems are divided in three classes, namely, Class I, where the. gross earnings of the system reach Rs. 50 lakhs in a year; Class II, where they are less than that amount and more than Rs. 10 lakhs, and Class III, where they are not more than Rs. 10 lakhs. Class I systems have a total route mileage of 37, 000, and the others of 3, 000 and 1, 000 miles respectively.
In accordance with our terms of reference, our enquiries have been limited to the lines running through British India only, thereby excluding from our survey two Class I railways with a route mileage of 2, 000 miles and employing about 23, 000 workers. Of the remaining twelve Class I railways, five arc state-owned and state-managed, five are state-owned and company-managed, and two are both owned and managed by companies. We have received written evidence from each and in addition have had the advantage of hearing evidence given on behalf of nine of the administrations and of workers' organisations connect -ed with eight of them. Our arrangements did not permit of oral evidence being taken in connection with the two company-owned railways or the smallest state-owned company-managed line, employing between the three about 50, 000 workers and covering a route mileage of less than 4, 000 miles. There was also submitted to us written and oral evidence from the members of the Railway Board, and we desire to express our appreciation of the assistance rendered us by them and by railwaymen generally, while making detailed enquiries into the working conditions on the different railways.