Railway Branch - PWD

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Public Works Department - Railway Branch

The Railway Branch of the Public Works Department (PWD) was created in 1866-68 with the decision to divide the PWD into three branches:- the Civil Branch, the Military Works Branch and the Railway Branch.

The background to the restructuring is given on the page Public Works Department. The basic features were :-

  • The Control of PWD was removed from under the Military Board and placed under the Chief Engineers.
  • The PWD came under the control of respective provincial Government
  • Chief Engineers to be assisted by the Superintending Engineer & Executive Engineer.

The ownership of the Railways, progressively from 1868 onwards, was acquired by the Government of India (GoI). The management and organisation of these acquired Railways was delegated to the Public Works Department - Railway Branch.

In 1901, on the recommendations of the Sir Thomas Robertson Committee regarding the administration and working of the railways, an early version of the Railway Board was constituted, with three members serving on it at first.

In 1905 the Railway Board was created taking over from the PWD Railway Branch. Its powers were formalised by the Goverment of India (GoI) and of consisted a Government Railway official, who was the Chairman of the Board, a Railway Manager from England and an Agent of a Company Railway [1].

Personnel Records - Railway Branch

Personnel recruited to the Public Works Department (PWD) became Civil Servents (eligible for pension etc).

NB, in this context, a record that contains "PWD" in the note or description, does not refer to "Permanent Way Department" (as it would in a UK railway context) but to the Public Works Department!

As railways were acquired by the GoI from 1868 onwards they were classified as a State RailwayState Railway the Europeans employed were usually on the strength of the PWD - Railway Branch.

Civil Lists of the Government of India and of the provincial governments were issued at varying intervals, but the predominant pattern is a system of quarterly issues.

The Civil List is indexed and 'PWD Railway Branch' and 'State Railways' are relevent.

Each entry gives 'Name', 'Rank and Grade' and 'Remarks' - which in most cases is where the individual was posted at that time on; or 'On furlough' (leave).

  • The page Indian Civil Service is a starting point and provides sources of information
  • FIBIS Fact File No 7 "Some major sources for Ancestors in the Indian Public Services" by Lawrie Butler with a contribution by Tim Thomas, published 2012, 48 pages. It comprises a list of Abbreviations; Introduction to the L/F/10 Series at the British Library; Case study of research using the L/F/10s; an Index of the L/F/10 series; Availability of Microfilms at both the British Library and the LDS; an article about the Indian Civil Service Records held at the British Library by Tim Thomas :Available to buy online from the "FIBIS Shop"
  • 1890 Civil List - Railways Branch has been listed by Fibis see "Fibis Database"


  1. Wikipedia "Railway Board”; Retrieved on 22 Jun2016