The Non-Government Railways of the 1940s

I had earlier summarized information about the 9 non-government railways which were separately listed in the All-India Timetable of 1964. None of them exist in NG now, they have either been converted to BG or closed for many years.

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-non-government-railways-of-india-in-1964-and-what-happened-to-them/

As there is interest in timetables of these and other vanished lines, I am giving some extracts of a 1943 Bradshaw which covers all the lines which were apparently not part of the larger railway systems of that time. Some survived into the 1960s and beyond and others closed much earlier.

Here we see the lines of the Bengal Provincial Railway, which closed in 1956:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_Provincial_Railway

1943-NG-1

Here we have the two McLeod and Co lines known as the Burdwan Katwa Light Railway and the Ahmadpur Katwa Light Railway.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardhaman%E2%80%93Katwa_line

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadpur%E2%80%93Katwa_line

Both these lines were transferred to the Eastern Railway in 1966, where they continue till now after being fully converted to BG and electrified.

Also the Dehri Rohtas Light Railway, initially owned by the Octavius Steel group and then the Sahu Jain group. It closed in 1984 and is not likely to be revived.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dehri_Rohtas_Light_Railway

1943-NG-2

The 4 lines here were all part of the Martin Burn group:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Bukhtiarpur-Bihar_Light_Railway

Was transferred to ER and converted to BG by 1962.

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Futwah-Islampur_Light_Railway

Was closed in 1986, converted to BG and became part of ER (and then East Central Railway).

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Arrah-Sasaram_Light_Railway

Closed in 1978, converted to BG and became part of ER (and then East Central Railway).

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Shahdara-Saharanpur_Light_Railway

Closed in 1970, converted to BG and became part of Northern Railway.

1943-NG-3

Also from the Martin Burn group:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Howrah-Sheakhalla_Light_Railway

This was of 2’0″ gauge. This closed in 1971 and no steps have been taken to reopen it.

1943-NG-4

Next is the Howrah-Amta Light Railway. This was also of 2’0″ gauge.

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Howrah-Amta_Light_Railway

Like its sister line above, it closed in 1971. The Howrah-Amta section was converted to BG and electrified, and is now part of the South Eastern Railway. It is unlikely that the Champadanga branch will be revived.

1943-NG-5

The Rupsa-Bagerhat Light Railway, now in Bangladesh. This was converted to BG in around 1970 but was closed soon afterwards.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khulna%E2%80%93Bagerhat_Railway

1943-NG-6

The Bankura Damodar River Railway (from the McLeod & Co group):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLeod%27s_Light_Railways#Bankura%E2%80%93Damodar_Railway

This was transferred to the South Eastern Railway and converted to broad gauge in the 2000s. It was extended from Rainagar to Gram Masagram (near Masagram on the Howrah-Barddhaman chord).

The Kaligat Falta Railway

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Kalighat-Falta_Railway

This was closed by 1957. A road now runs over the alignment.

1943-NG-7A

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which needs no introduction. The 2’0″ line from NJP and Siliguri continues to run much as it has since the 1880s, except that diesels now haul the regular trains.

1943-NG-7B

The line from Siliguri to Kishanganj was converted to MG as part of the Assam Rail Link in 1948-50, and to BG more recently.

The Teesta Valley branch continued running until 1950. The section between Siliguri and Sevok was converted to mixed NG/MG gauge until the hill section up to Gielle Khola was damaged by floods in 1950. The hill section was closed and the NG line removed from Siliguri to Sevok which continued to be part of the Assam Rail Link. Today it is broad gauge.

The Tezpur Balipara NG line was then privately owned. By the 1950s it became part of the Northeast Frontier Railway and converted to MG. Still later it was converted to BG although the terminus is now Dekargaon, north of Tezpur.

1943-NG-8

And finally the Jagadhri Light Railway, which closed in 1950:

https://wiki.fibis.org/w/Jagadhri_Light_Railway

1943-NG-9

This, then, is the summary of all NG lines which were not part of the major railway companies in 1943. A brief history of the later developments has been given.

The links provide sources of more information from Wikipedia and Fibis.

There were still other NG lines which had closed by 1940, mainly in South India. Most of them never reopened.

 

 

The Non-Government Railways of India in 1964, and what happened to them

Apart from the privately published Indian Bradshaw, there was the All-India Railway Timetable which, until 1976, provided information about all the zones of the Indian railway system. All the 9 zones (which existed from 1966) had individual timetables which were bound into a single volume, along with some other pages of general information.

I used to have a copy of the 1964 edition which had all the 8 zones existing then (as the SCR was yet to be created). There was a small section at the end titled “Non-Government Railways”. These lines were also covered in Bradshaw, but were scattered all over and not segregated into one section.

These were the non-government railways mentioned in 1964:

1) Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway

The Martin Burn lines:

2) Howrah-Amta Light Railway
3) Howrah-Sheakhala Light Railway
4) Arrah-Sasaram Light Railway
5) Futwah-Islampur Light Railway
6) Shahdara-Saharanpur Light Railway

The McLeod & Co lines

7) Burdwan-Katwa Light Railway
8) Ahmadpur-Katwa Light Railway
9) Bankura-Damodar River Railway

The Amta and Sheakhala lines were 2’0”, and all the others were 2’6”

Here is some information from a talk I had given in 2007. Some further developments have occurred since then which I have updated, but this information may not be fully accurate.

1) The Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway ran south from Dehri-on-Sone to Rohtas and later Tiura Pipardih; the last extension was in 1958. It was built by Octavius Steel, and later became part of the Sahu Jain group which also owned Rohtas Industries in Dehri-on-Sone.

It had considerable passenger and goods traffic, mainly stone and marble.

It closed in 1984 due to problems with the parent company, which went into liquidation. There is no apparent plan for revival or conversion.

Tail piece: In 2007, the Railways acquired the land of Rohtas Industries at Dehri-on-Sone which would be used for the Eastern Freight Corridor.

The Martin Burn Light Railways

2) & 3) The Howrah-Amta and Howrah-Sheakhala Light Railways were amongst the very few 2’0” lines in the plains. They carried an extensive suburban traffic for commuters into Calcutta-and may well have been the most heavily used narrow gauge lines in the world.

These lines originally ran from Telkul Ghat, but were running from Howrah Maidan in 1964. They were closed due to losses (and labour trouble) on 01-06-71.

The Howrah-Amta line was gradually converted to an electrified BG line over the years. It remains a single-track section. It can now be found in the SE suburban timetable, with several pairs of trains daily. It also included the branch from Bargachia to Champadanga which remains closed.

The Howrah-Sheakhala line was supposed to be converted, but there is not much progress even though the Railway Ministry was controlled by the Trinamul Congress for several years. This also includes a short branch from Chanditala to Janai, near Janai Road on the Howrah-Barddhaman chord.

4) The Arrah-Sasaram Light Railway, like the Dehri-Rohtas line, passed through rather backward areas. It connected the Patna main line with the Grand Chord.

It was closed on 15-02-78. Conversion to BG was started and has been completed by the late 2000s. It is now on the East Central Railway. Local services run between Ara (formerly Arrah) and Sasaram, including an intercity express between Patna and Bhabua Road.

5) The Futwah-Islampur Light Railway ran south from a point near Patna on the main line. It was closed on 01-02-86, and was converted to BG around 2000. It now sees a few passenger trains and even the superfast Magadh Express from New Delhi. This is also part of the East Central Railway. Futwah is now known as Fatuha.

6) The Shahdara-Saharanpur Light Railway was the only such line in North India. It had considerable commuter traffic into Delhi as well as goods traffic. It had a separate station at Shahdara which could be seen till the mid-80s.

This also fell victim to losses and closed on 01-09-70. However it was converted to BG in the late 1970s, probably due to the influence of one-time PM Charan Singh whose constituency Baghpat was on the route. It now forms part of the Northern Railway. After this the trains terminated at Delhi Jn rather than Shahdara. A small diversion was made at the northern end where the line now branches off at Tapri rather than Saharanpur itself.

It now carries several crowded passenger trains including DMUs and a Saharanpur-Delhi express (since extended to Farukhnagar off Garhi Harsaru). There is also a tri-weekly express between Haridwar and Ajmer. Although the line is not suitable for high speeds, it has sometimes been used as an emergency backup for trains like the Kalka Shatabdi.

The McLeod & Co Light Railways

7), 8) The Burdwan-Katwa and Ahmadpur-Katwa Light Railways continue to run as part of the ER. They were transferred on 01-07-67 and 01-04-66 respectively.

Ahmadpur features in the famous “jackfruit letter”.

NG services with railcars and diesels continued until recently, The former line had 5 pairs of trains daily. The entire line is now electrified and now sees 6 pairs of EMU trains in a day.

The Ahmadpur-Katwa line was closed for conversion to BG in the past year. BG conversion was completed by early 2018, although full services have not been restored. There is one pair of MEMU trains running between Ahmadpur and Katwa.

9) The Bankura Damodar River Railway ran from Bankura to Rainagar. It was handed over to the SER on 01-07-67.Conversion to BG was completed in the late 2000s and extended to Gram Masagram, adjacent to Masagram on the Howrah-Barddhaman section. DEMUs are running on this route.

Other “Non-Government lines” which existed after 1947:

The Port Trust BG lines in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Visakhapatnam were extensive but not part of the IR network. They never appeared in the timetables as they had no passenger traffic.

The NG lines around Murtazapur and Pulgaon are still owned by the Central Provinces Railway Company, but have been operated by the GIPR and then CR for many years. They appear in the main timetables, as they have done during the GIPR days.

Martin Burn had two lines which were not mentioned in the 1964 timetable:

The Barasat-Basirhat Light Railway closed on 01-07-55. It later became part of the Barasat-Hasnabad BG line of the ER which now has EMU services from Sealdah.

The Bukhtiyarpur-Bihar Light Railway was replaced by a BG line in 1962, which ran beyond Bihar Sharif to Rajgir. It now has several long-distance services including a section of the Shramjeevi Express from New Delhi and a passenger train from Howrah. The line has been extended south of Rajgir to Gaya via Tilaiya and Manpur, though only one pair of DMUs presently run on this route. It was part of the ER and is now in the ECR.

McLeod & Co had the Kalighat-Falta Light Railway which closed on 01-04-57. There is apparently no chance of revival.

References:

All-India Timetable of 1964 and current timetables.
The Great Railway Atlas by Samit Roychoudhury (2005 and 2010 editions)
Information about locomotives can be found in Indian Locomotives (Parts 3 and 4) by Hugh Hughes.