Rules for the Preparation of Railway Projects, 1893

By Julian Rainbow


This article has been abstracted from the Government of India Rules published in 1893, and is intended to give an idea of the responsibilities of the engineer-in-charge, and of the great number of factors governing the construction of a railway. Much of the information contained in the rules has been left out to enable a reasonably concise article to be prepared. All the headings are those contained within the rule book, with the exception of "Other".

Preliminary Rules

The book states that the rules contained within it were to be strictly observed in all respects including the layout, and although only meant for projects submitted to obtain government approval of the immediate construction of a line, suggested that projects submitted for a proposed line should also follow the same layout. It further stated that provisional approval only could be given to a proposed line and that a full report following the correct layout was to be made as soon as possible on completion of the detailed survey to enable full approval to be granted.


The Engineer was entirely responsible for the correctness of the estimates and of the arrangements for the construction and equipping of the line to a standard suitable for the purposed traffic. The government inserted a let out clause to say that the engineering details had not been examined and approved unless definite orders had been given, and that it was to be understood that responsibility in such matters lay entirely with the engineer in charge of the administration of the project.

Classification of Surveys

Reconnaissance Surveys

The engineer was to examine the proposed routes using only barometers, prismatic compass and similar instruments, having gathered such information the report submitted was to contain a rough estimate of the probable cost per mile.

Detailed Survey

The detailed survey was to consist of a theodolite traverse, closely approximating to the final centre line, and permanent marks where to be left to enable the line to be surveyed within the succeeding 5 or 6 years. The engineer was responsible for the amount of detail, but that depended on the country being traversed. however it was empathised that cuttings, river courses and their foundations required a lot of detail. Although this was an approximate estimate it was to be made with sufficient care so as not to greatly differ from the detailed estimates made on final sanction of the work. Particular care was to be taken with important river crossings so the design of the bridge and the extent of the work could be determined. The results of the survey were all that was required by the Govt of India to obtain it's sanction of the project.

Final Location

When the sanction of the Govt of India had been obtained, the line was to be finally located, and a working section prepared.

Detailed Survey - Field Work

The Centre Line

The unit of measurement was the chain of 100 feet in length, with the centre line being marked by pegs every thousand feet. These pegs were to have their number branded on them, and the number was to indicate their distance in thousands of feet from the zero of the chainage, thus the figure 57 would indicate 57,000 feet from the zero of the chainage. Square masonry pillars were to be erected on the centre line at intervals of not less than half a mile.


The springing points of the curve were to be marked by a large peg, to be distinguished from the 1,000 feet peg, and round masonry pillars were to be built at the beginning and end of every curve. The maximum degree of curvature was laid out and was not to be departed from without special sanction of the Govt of India, and these absolute maxima were only to be used in cases where it was impracticable to adopt easier curves, or where it would involve considerable extra expense.

Maximum Permissible Degree of Curvature
5'6" Gauge Metre Gauge
In ordinary country 3 0' 5 0'
In difficult country 6 0' 10 0'


Gradients are defined as the distance in which a rise of one foot occurs, and by their rise in feet per standard chain of 100 feet.

Compensation for Curvature on Curves

Compensation should be calculated for the standard wheel base of goods stock, as a rule such compensation should only be necessary for curves greater than 2o on 5' 6" gauge and 3o on metre gauge.


Bench marks were to be left at a distances of not less than half a mile along the line and on the sites of important bridges. The site chosen for bench marks was to be easily accessible, nor should it interfere with the work in progress. It was also to be constructed in such a manner to prevent it being moved or damaged by mischief or accident. It was to be easily identifiable and it's location was to be recorded.

Datum for Levels

All levels were to be referred to a common datum, this being the mean sea level adopted for the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India. During the survey every opportunity was to be taken to connect the level with the Survey of India level stations, and check any difference.

Scope of Survey Operations


Normally a strip of land 300' either side of the railway was to be surveyed in sufficient detail to allow it to be plotted at a scale of 400' to 1 inch. Additionally the following were to be included if within 1,000' of the centre line, rivers over 40' wide, important roads, canals and large tanks, the outlines of all towns and villages, if the line ran through a large town then the more important streets and thoroughfares were to be included, the boundaries of provinces, local administrations or Native States, hill peaks and Great Trigonometrical Survey stations.

Important Rivers

For every river that would require provision of a waterway greater than 1,200 sq. ft considerable field work was required. This included a complete survey of the river out to a distance of 1 mile from the centre line, three cross sections at mile intervals, one at the crossing point, the other two were to above and below the crossing point respectively, the position of each cross section was to be shown on the survey and was to include the highest known flood, ordinary flood and ordinary low water.

The average slope of the river was to be determined between the two outer cross sections, giving the slope over a distance of two miles.

Diversion of Rivers

If it was considered necessary to divert a river, then the work required and the diversion was to be shown on the plan.

Station Sites

Sites were to be carefully selected on the ground, and for important stations to be surveyed at a scale of 100' to 1 inch, and was to include everything within the proposed yard. It was made clear that the area chosen should not only be sufficient for immediate requirements, but should also have sufficient space for future development.1 It further stated that where practicable, the line through the yard should be level and straight. In any case a station must not be on a steeper grade than 1 in 500 without special permission from the Govt of India, and if possible, should not be near a curve.

Junctions with other lines

Where it was intended to effect a junction with another railway, the following work was required in addition, a complete survey and section of the existing railway was to be made, extending to a distance of one mile either side of the proposed junction, and was to be 1,000' in width and sufficiently detailed to allow it to be plotted at a scale of 100' to 1 inch.

Notes to be made in the Field

The engineer was to take careful notes during the survey regarding any information likely to be useful in working out details of the project, and in determining it's success as a commercial operation. Some of the things to be noted are included below.


The nature of soils for banks and cuttings, protection works, and precautions against river scour, the waterway provided for small rivers, probable depth and character of bridge foundations, selection of sites for temporary staff quarters, including nearness to the work site and having due regard for their health, and the correct spelling both in English and the vernacular of all towns and villages included in the survey.

Accommodation Works

To incorporate level crossings and bridges, width of roadways for crossings and approach gradients, special facilities for villages owning large amounts of land on the far side of the line, diversion of roads, and provision of water supply.

Facilities for Construction

Availability of building material, ballast and sleepers. Labour, skilled or unskilled available in the district, any special difficulties regarding supply of food and water, prevailing rates and wages, means of transport of building materials either by land and water and any improvement necessary, the use of temporary lines and tramways and a final catch-all any local conditions likely to affect rates or methods of construction.

Important Rivers

Detailed information was required on such rivers, including rainfall in the rivers drainage area, especially any exceptionally heavy fall, the highest flood level, geological and botanical conditions, evidence of scour or the river changing course, any protection works required.


The engineer was to examine the extent of likely traffic and the accommodation required and the possibility of growth in traffic, the site was to be investigated with reference to the nature of the soil, depth of foundations, water supply and ease of access to local towns. The possibility of crossing stations being introduced should traffic increase was to be taken into account on grading the section.

Trade and Statistics

Population of large towns in the area and average population per sq. mile was to be recorded, existing means of transport by land or water and the amount of use, nature and trade of the population, local produce, special sources of traffic, either existing or might be developed such as coal, minerals or pilgrims.

Relations with the Public

Notification in the Local Gazette

Before any survey operations were commenced, a notice in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act was to be published in the local Govt Gazette.

Damage to property and trespass

The general sanction of the Govt of India for a railway survey did not authorise any interference with the rights or property of public bodies or of private individuals. The permission of the Officer Commanding any military post or cantonment was to be obtained before the entry of any survey party, and his wishes must receive due regard, and his permission obtained before any trees were cut or other damage done to station property.

Compensation for damage

Compensation for unavoidable damage was to be paid directly to the owner before the damage was done, in case of dispute the matter was to be referred to the local civil authorities and the resulting claim paid as speedily as possible. Should the owner be willing to clear the line himself, he was to be allowed to do so, and was to be paid for labour in addition to compensation for the damage done.

Religious Edifices

Every effort was to be made to avoid religious edifices.

Military positions and Cantonments

Where the line lay close to a military cantonment, the location was to be decided in conjunction with the military authorities, should however their requirements involve considerable extra expense in construction, great inconvenience to traffic, or would be open to serious engineering objections, the matter was to be referred to the Govt of India for orders. Special attention was drawn to Govt of India Circular No XI Railway of 1892 regarding the acquisition of land under the control of the Military Department.

Assistance from Civil Authorities

The local civil authorities were to be freely consulted during the progress of the survey, and due weight given to their opinions, they were also to be consulted in the collection of data on trade and population. Lastly they were to be asked to exercise their influence to protect bench-marks, pegs and other railway property from damage and removal.

Plans, Sections and Designs for Work

Plans and Sections - General

The set of plans for a project was to consist of the Index Plan and Section, Detailed Plan and Section, Plans and Cross sections of Rivers and plans of Station yards. The Plans and Sections were to be drawn on tracing cloth each 48" by 36" and not paper. Each set of plans was to have the mileage reckoned from the same fixed point which was to be the end of the line in the direction of the nearest seaport, in which the line was in through communication by rail. This was to be clearly defined on the index plan and at least on the first and last sheets of the detailed plans. Each sheet was to be plotted in the direction of the through mileage so that it could be read from left to right. Every sheet was to be marked with a reference number, the name of the railway, the gauge and scale of the plan.

Index Plan and Section

This was to be drawn at a scale of 1" to 1 mile for the horizontal , and 100' to 1" for the vertical, it was to show the centre line of the railway in a red line 1/32" wide

Detailed Plans and Sections

The detailed plans were to be at a scale of 1" to 400' for the horizontal and 1" to 40' for the vertical with three miles of line to be illustrated on each sheet

Plans of Station Yards

Stations were divided into three classes and the plan was to be at a scale of 1" to 100'.


Rough Estimates

A rough estimate was to be made under sub headings of earthworks, Permanent Way and it's probable cost estimated from the ascertained cost per mile of railways already built across similar country under similar conditions.

Approximate Estimates

Approximate estimates using the same headings as the detailed estimates were to be forwarded to the Govt of India for sanction of the project.

Detailed Estimates

As a rule work would have commenced before the detailed estimates could be prepared, and the detailed estimates were not required to be sent to the Govt of India unless the value of the work would exceed 50,000 rupees.

Classification to be Adopted

The classification to be adopted was set out and was to be strictly adhered to, the detailed estimates below show what was to be charged to each heading. Estimates were to show separately the English and Indian expenditure on all imported articles, English expenditure was to include Cost f.o.b. in England and 4/5ths sea freight, Indian expenditure included 1/5th sea freight, Insurance at 1% on f.o.b. cost plus full sea freight, landing charges and Indian carriage charges.

Preliminary Expenses

This heading dealt with all expenses before the construction had commenced or been sanctioned, and had three sub headings: Survey Expenses, Plant, and Establishment.


This dealt with the compensation of land owners whose land was either temporary or permanently occupied.


All expenses concerned with the construction of earthworks less those already mentioned in land. Tunnels were to have separate estimates.


Bridges were divided into two: Major bridges were those having a total waterway of 60 lineal feet or upwards, or having a clear opening of 40 lineal feet or upwards in any one span. All other bridges were regarded as minor bridges. Major bridges were to have a separate estimate supplied for each together with a brief report showing the mileage, size and number of spans, description of foundations and soil. Minor bridges were to form one estimate but each one was to be shown separately.


This was to include the cost of all demarcation fences, walls, ditches, hedges etc., as well as the cost of road crossings and mile and gradient posts.

Electric Telegraph

Any telegraph instrument not obtained through the Govt telegraph Department was to be accounted for, although the telegraph Dept was responsible for the cost of the erection of the telegraph line, the railway company only paying rent and maintenance charges.

Ballast and Permanent Way

Ballast included the cost of provision and laying the ballast and was to be costed as by units of one mile of single line. Permanent Way included the cost of provision and laying of the permanent way complete for both main line and sidings. A detailed abstract was to be prepared showing both the weight and cost of rails, fish-plates, fish-bolts and nuts, bearing plates, sleepers, spikes or other fastenings, the average cost of carriage to site, and the cost of laying and maintaining until the line was opened.

Stations and Buildings

These could be divided into four groups, firstly Stations and Offices and were to include all buildings connected with the passenger and goods traffic of the railway, excepting those classified under Workshops, Staff Quarters or Station Machinery. Workshops and stores buildings were all buildings intended for the construction, erection and repair of rolling stock and included all permanent foundations in such buildings and all associated offices. Staff Quarters included accommodation and welfare buildings. Station Machinery dealt with all the buildings necessary for watering, fuelling, and turning of engines, and therefore included Engine sheds, wells, water tanks and weigh bridges.


This also came under four headings, Engineering:-Tools, machinery, Instruments, Livestock and appliances of all kinds required for the Engineering Dept Locomotive:- all tools and machinery required for the Locomotive Workshops, Carriage and Wagon:- the same rules as for Locomotive works, station and Office furniture:- all furniture required for the stations and permanent offices on the line.


All ferries intended to convey the public, this included pontoon bridges, each ferry or pontoon bridge was to be the subject of a separate estimate. Ferries that were intended only for the general purpose of the railway and not for public conveyance were to classed as Plant.

Rolling Stock

This took in all Locomotives, Coaching and Goods Stock required for revenue bearing traffic, as well as rolling stock for the engineering and Locomotive departments on the open line, such as Ballast wagons, Rail-carriers, break-down trains and travelling cranes.

General Charges

General charges were those incidental to the construction of the line as a whole as distinguished from expenses incurred in connection with particular works. They were to be classed under the following sub heads, according to department or purpose for which the expenditure is required:-

  1. Direction or General
  2. Engineering
  3. Stores
  4. Audit and Account
  5. Medical and Sanitation
  6. Locomotive
  7. Traffic

It was further required that for each of these sub-heads that expenditure be allocated according to subject as follows:-

  1. Salaries & Allowances
  2. Quarters
  3. Office Accommodation
  4. Instruments
  5. Office Expenses

If any of these was specially required for a particular piece of work, then it was chargeable to the work concerned.

Abstracts only Required

The Estimates were to submitted in abstract only, although the details must have been properly worked out and available if needed. They were to be in print and 36 copies were to be supplied. The estimates for each branch line or section of main line were to be separate, and arranged so that the cost of each part could easily be ascertained, and any modification of that part would not affecting the estimates for other sections.

Note on Estimates

The notes were to explain briefly how the rates had been arrived at, the class of masonry used in different structures, the type of permanent way and reason for adoption.

Indirect Charges

Direct charges were to be submitted only, the indirect charges:- Capitalisation of abatement of Land Revenues and leave and Pension allowances would be entered by the Govt of India when necessary.

General Instructions

It clearly stated that the estimates for the construction of the railway must provide for the proper making and equipment of the line before it could be opened to the public.

Material from England

Where material had to be imported from England the estimate was required to show separately the cost under English and Indian expenditure, and required the cost in Sterling, Rupees and the Exchange Rate.

Quantities and Rates

The rules specified the quantities and rates that were to be taken as standard, the rates being in Rupees and decimals.

  • Land-In acres and decimals. Rate per acre
  • Earthwork, Excavation or Filling-In cubic Feet. Rate per 1,000 cubic feet.
  • Masonry, brickwork, concrete and materials for the same-In cubic feet. Rate per 100 cubic feet.
  • Pitching, Turfing- in square feet. Rate per 100 square feet.
  • Flooring, roofing- In square feet. Rate per 100 square feet
  • Plastering, painting- In square feet. rate per 100 square feet.
  • Doors and windows- In square feet and decimals. Rate per square foot.
  • Timber- In cubic feet and decimals. Rate per cubic foot.
  • Ironwork- In tons and decimals. Rate per ton.
  • Transport by land- Weight in tons, distance in miles. Rate per ton-mile.

Units of Measurement

The rules also specified the units of measurement to be adopted, and were in all cases Imperial Measure for the main unit and decimals, e.g. miles and decimals, tons and decimals, feet and decimals for the velocity of rivers and either feet and decimals or feet and inches for linear measurement.

Provision was made for commercially sensitive information to be left out of the abstracts that would be used in the Govt offices, but this information had to be forwarded separately in a sealed cover marked "Confidential".

Report and Statistics

The Report

The report was to clearly and concisely state the gauge of the line, the main characteristics, the main advantages both administrative and commercial, the principal engineering difficulties and the methods of overcoming these, drawing attention to any points thought to be of particular interest. The report was to be preceded by an Index, with a list of plans and table of distances, also an Index Map to a scale of 32 miles to 1 inch, taken from the Survey of India Map showing the location of the railway, the report was to be in print and of foolscap size, sixty copies were required of the report.


This section was to include references to Govt orders and previous correspondence, with a brief statement of the special object of the railway or reasons for it's construction. Reference was also to be made to previous reports or other sources of information, giving where practicable the substance of such documents, so that the report could be read as a complete document. This section was also to include a general description of the country, with it's leading physical, geological and botanical features, in so far as these would affect the construction and operation of the railway. The gauge and reason for adopting it, the definition of the fixed point, and the total length of the line in each Province, Local Administration or Native State.


A general description of the location adopted for the railway, with any important points noted.

Alternative Routes

The leading features of alternative routes, with the advantages and disadvantages of each, and the reason for preferring the final route.

Gradients and Curves

The ruling gradient, any adjustment for engine power, maximum curvature and compensation applied.

Construction and Engineering

This was to include a general description of the work, an account of the waterways, the Permanent Way to be adopted including the weight of rail to be used, a description of the water supply and any difficulties expected and how they might be overcome.

Labour and Materials

The report was to include whether contractors where to be used, or Military units, or convict labour. There was also to be a report on the availability of material and transport to the site, as well as local wages and if the construction of the railway would affect them.

Arrangement of Staff

This was to report on the administrative arrangements for the construction of the line, and was to include the availability of quarters.

Relations with Public and Government Departments

Where the railway would interfere with existing military installations, this was to be reported and what the military authorities objections where, and how bridges could be adopted for military traffic, also any interference with religious edifices, what compensation had been paid and what the civil authorities opinion was.6


A report on the cost of the land to be purchased, including any special circumstances that would either increase or decrease the cost.

Traffic and Statistics

The report was to note the existing trade patterns in the area and alteration to be expected once the railway was opened and any new traffic that might be developed.

Tabulated Details

A number of tabulated details were to be included:-

  • Curve Abstract
  • Gradient Abstract
  • Bridge Abstract
  • Important Bridges
  • List of Stations, station Buildings
  • Station Machinery

Sixty copies of these details were to be supplied.


The appendix was to include tables of statistics, copies of correspondence and in general any document or information that would be an essential part of the report but would not be convenient to place in the main body of the report.


Also included in the rules were a number of examples from the building of the Gonda - Azimgarh Railway, a diagram allowing easy calculation of compensation for curvature, orders for the notification of survey, special points requiring attention in the construction of a railway for public traffic, rules relating to the acquisition of land

  1. For ordinary third class stations it was recommended that the plot of ground for the station yard should not be less than 2,500' for 5' 6" gauge, or 2,000' for metre gauge. Such stations should be about 300' wide, of which about two thirds should be on the side of the line on which the station building was to be situated.
  2. Stations were roughly classed 'First' 'Second' or 'Third' according to size and extend of accommodation provided, thus:-third class are ordinary roadside stations at which arrangements were generally limited to the means for crossing trains, and the provision of limited accommodation for local third class passengers, Second class stations are on a larger scale with more siding accommodation, provision for goods traffic, and engine sheds if required. First class stations are those of considerable size and importance for which special designs are necessary, as for example in Delhi and Lahore.
  3. Statements showing the costs of railways already built could be obtained from the Consulting Engineer for State Railways.
  4. The exchange rate given in the examples was 1s 23/4d = 16.712 Rupees.
  5. The report specifically stated that local rates and measures were not to be used in the report, and that the cubic foot was to be used as a measure of capacity for water storage rather than gallons. A possible explanation of the differing amounts of copies demanded is that 60 has been written in by hand and whoever did the amendments missed one or more of the entries.
  6. It is interesting to note the amount of influence the military authorities could bring to bear on the location of a railway, this was a result of the Indian Mutiny and of the constant campaigning on the North West Frontier where troop reinforcements were often needed at short notice.