To what extent was technological choice within colonial countries deter-mined by requirements or expectations that emanated from interests located within the metropolitan powers? The quick answer, supported by a number of case studies, is that the colonial connection played a major role. The same case studies, however, demonstrate how complex and nuanced the determinants of particular technological choices in particular colonies at particular times were. Moreover, in recent scholarship many facets of the colonial experience have been subjected to considerable deconstruction such that colonialism qua colonialism has lost, for some at least, explanatory power: colonialism has become a background condition, a playing field for the contingent interplay of competing forces and interests located within a colony, a metropole and elsewhere. Without going that far but also without denying the benefits of the richer, more complex understanding deconstruction has brought this paper emphasizes the importance of colonial regimes and colonial labour processes to the analysis of technological choice in colonial contexts. The building and operation of the railways of colonial India provides the content for the arguments that follow. Colonialism as a structure of command and control will be seen to have been a powerful determinant of technological choice for the Indian railways although never independent of other considerations which included, this paper will argue, an important role for Indian railway labour.