HL Deb 09 July 1883 vol 281 cc729-30

asked the Secretary of State for India, What steps have been taken by the Government of India towards reducing the grain rates on the railways from Rajputana to Bombay; and also for improving the accommodation for third and fourth class passengers? The noble Lord said, that he believed that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for India (the Earl of Kimberley) would be able to announce that the rates for grain had been reduced on the Rapjutana Malwa Railway; but the Bombay Chamber of Commerce had not been able to obtain a reduction from the Great Indian Peninsula Railway; and, last winter, there were great complaints as to the quantity of wheat that was blocked up in the interior of India. As the Great Indian Peninsula Railway was one of the lines the interest of which was guaranteed, the Government had a Representative on the Board of Directors, and could bring pressure to bear upon that Company, and prevent its throwing away a large amount of traffic, and, at the same time, checking the development of wheat cultivation in Rajputana, and also in the Deccan. With regard to the very defective accommodation for third and fourth-class passengers, he had seen it stated, since he brought the subject before the House last year, that one Railway Company—the Great Indian Peninsula, he believed—had increased the allowance of luggage for these passengers; but the chief complaint was respecting the bad accommodation at the stations, and he hoped that the Secretary of State would be willing to inform the House that he would invite the attention of the Indian Government to this matter.


, in reply, said, that both the Government at home and the Indian Government were sensible of the great importance of the question of facilitating the increase of commerce on the Indian Railways by a reasonable reduction of the grain rates, leaving only a justifiable margin in the way of profit. With regard to the Question, he was glad to be able to inform his noble Friend (Lord Stanley of Alderley) that the rate for wheat between Delhi and Bombay by the Rajputana and Bombay and Baroda Railways was reduced, in May last, from about ½d. per ton per mile to ⅖d., reducing the charge per ton for the whole distance from £1 18s. 3¼d. to £1 11s. 2d. The action of the Indian Government in this direction would be extended to other railways. He could also state that the Government had considered, and were considering, the rates charged for third and fourth-class passengers, with a view to reduce them to the lowest amount possible, and orders had been issued with the view of increasing their comfort and convenience, though he was, as yet, unable to afford any specific information on the subject.