Researching Indian Railway Staff

Information on employees of the Indian Railways can be found in the British Library's Oriental and Indian Office in Blackfriars Road London. The following section is a transcript of A brief Guide to Biographical Sources in the Oriental and Indian Record Office by Baxter on the records available.

The early railways in India were privately owned and managed. Later most came under state ownership and where either managed by the state or leased back to private management, while after 1925 most were both owned and managed by the state.

State Railways in the context means railways owned and managed by the British Indian Government, not railways of Princely States.

Virtually all of the 'agreements with staff' mentioned in this list are in fact contracts of appointment made in the UK. A card index to them is now available.

Railway employment (especially in the lower grades) was largely the preserve of Eurasians.

For appointments to State Railways made in the UK 1855-1946 see IOR: L/F/8/1-20, indexes IOR: Z/L/F/8/1-2

Histories of Service, State Railways 1884-1953, IOR: V/12/51-52, 54-62 & 66-80, employees of privately managed railways are not included

Civil Lists, Public Works Department 1861-1904, IOR: V/13/227-43, officers and workmen of State Railways and officers of privately managed railways

There are lists of State Railways employees 1884-1900 in IOR: L/F/10/229-44 and half-yearly lists of officers of the Burma Railway Company 1922-28 in IOR: L/F/10/250

Annual lists of Covenanted Railways Employees 1927-36 & 1937-47 appears in IOR: L/S & G/6/64 & 860

Lists of railway employees are given in *Bengal, Madras and Bombay directories and in *Thacker's Indian Directory

Bengal Central Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/4/11 List of employees 1886-96

Burma Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/7/17-18 List of employees 1898-1921

Calcutta and South-East Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/4/13 Agreements with staff 1859-66

Eastern Bengal Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/10/35 Agreements with staff 1862-69, and lists of staff 1879-81

East Indian Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/11/133-37 Agreements with staff c1858-1925. IOR: L/AG/46/11/138-41 Half-yearly lists of staff 1861-90 & 1911-22, giving age from 1886

Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/12/86-88 Agreements with employees 1881-1925 and index to appointments made in the UK 1848-80

Sind (Punjab, Delhi) Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/17/12 Lists of staff 1868-1869

South Indian Railway Company IOR: L/AG/46/18/1-4 Agreements with staff 1891-1940

IOR: Z/L/F/8/1-2

These files contain the indexes for all types of contracts (including employment) placed by the East Indian Railway.

IOR: L/AG/46/11/133-37

These files contain the actual signed contracts. They all appear to be a standard pre-printed contract giving very little information..

IOR: L/AG/46/11/138-41

Volumes 138/139 contains books of typed (and in some cases with entries made by hand) lists of employees arranged in alphabetical order. The books were published 6 monthly on the 1st January and 1st July.

They contain the following data:

First date of appointment
Place of Employment

Volumes 140/141 contains bound books of employees sorted by departments and positions. The books were published bi-annually on the 1st January and 1st July. Each book is indexed by name.

The title of the books are:

East Indian Railway Classified List of
Europeans, East Indians and Superior
Native Staff and Distribution Returns
of Supervising Staff of all Dept.


Sample page

July 1911

Classified List.

Locomotive Department. - (Contd.)

Subordinate Establisment - (Contd.)

Name Vernaculars Age on 1st July 1911 Date of appointment to service. Station. Salary per mensem. Remarks.
    Y. M.     Rs.  

Fitters and Assistants. - (Contd.)

Saupin, F   30 8 3 Jan. 08   210



Actg. Asst. Foreman.
Van Hek, E. E.   37 2 1 Jan 01 Jamalpur 200 Trial Engine Fitter.
Wemyss, D, S   49 4 4 May 04 Jamalpur 200  
Cordell. T. C.   30 4 6 Jan 05   200(b) Actg. Asst. Foreman.
(a) Includes charge allowance.
(b) Includes double charge allowance.