McLeod's Light Railways

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McLeod’s Light Railways
Katwa to Ahmedpur Narrow gaugue railway 13.jpg
McLeod's Light Railways at Labhpur
Locale West Bengal
Opened 1915-1917
Owner McLeod’s Light Railways
Operator(s) McLeod’s Light Railways
Line length 97 km (60 mi)
Track gauge 2 ft 6 in (762 mm)

McLeod’s Light Railways (MLR) consisted of following four 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge lines in West Bengal in India. The railways were built and owned by McLeod & Company, which was the subsidiary of a London company of managing agents, McLeod Russell & Co. Ltd.[1] On 1 July 1967, MLR was merged with South Eastern Railway.[2]

Ahmedpur-Katwa Railway[edit]

Ahmedpur to Katwa NG train at Ahmedpur Jn., Birbhum.

Ahmedpur-Katwa Railway connecting Ahmedpur and Katwa in West Bengal was opened to traffic on 29 September 1917.[3][4] The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 53 miles (85 km).[5] In 1966, Indian Railways had taken over the operation of this narrow gauge railway from McLeod & Company.[6]

The 52 km long railway section has been converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge. The conversion work started in 2013 and was completed in early 2017.[7]

On 24 May 2018, the section was opened to passenger traffic. Now a pair of DEMU trains run between Katwa and Ahmedpur six days per week(Except Sunday).

Bankura-Damodar Railway[edit]

Narrow gauge loco plinthed at Bankura railway station.
Bankura Damodar Railway

Bankura-Damodar Railway (also called as Bankura Damodar River Railway) connecting Bankura and Rainagar in Bankura and Bardhaman districts in now West Bengal was opened to traffic in sections between 15 December 1916 and 6 June 1917.[8] The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 97 kilometres (60 mi).[9][2] The railway was known as Bankura Damodar Railway, as it used to terminate at Rainagar, which was on banks of Damodar River. People used to take ferries to cross river to go on other side.

The standard locomotive for BDR was a powerful 0-6-4T design but during the first world war some 2-6-2T engines were also obtained from Stafford company of Bagnall, same as was ordered for the Egyptian Delta Light Railways (and hence known as the Delta class). The 1953 additions were also of this type. There were two Sentinel locomotives; one (No.8) is now preserved at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi. A steam loco shed at Bankura served the narrow gauge line.[10]

The BDR services were withdrawn in 1995 after it incurred huge losses due to higher maintenance costs, falling passenger numbers as well as falling freight.[11] In 2005, the 120 kilometers long railway section was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge and train services were resumed. Extended part to Mosagram was opened in 2012 to connect Howrah Bardhhaman Chord Line .

Burdwan-Katwa Railway[edit]

Burdwan-Katwa Railway connecting Bardhaman (earlier known as Burdwan) and Katwa in now Bardhaman district, West Bengal was opened to traffic on 1 December 1915. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 53 kilometres (33 mi).[12]

The engines chugged along at the maximum speed of 30 km per hour.[13][14]

The 52 km long railway section was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge.[15][16]The Bardhaman-Katwa line after conversion from narrow gauge to electrified broad gauge was opened to the public on 12 January 2018.[17]

Kalighat-Falta Railway[edit]

Kalighat Falta Railway connecting Gholeshapur in Behala to Falta was opened on 28 May 1917 and was extended a further 0.92 miles (1.48 km) to Kalighat, now Majherhat in West Bengal on 7 May 1920. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 26.95 miles (43.37 km).[18]

The KFR line was the first in India to use three brand new 2-6-2 side tank AK16 locomotives, built in November 1916 by W. G. Bagnall Ltd. of the Castle Engine Works at Stafford in England. They entered service with KFR in February, 1917. The 'AK' in the name stood for 'Ahmedpur-Katwa'. They were also known as the 'Delta Class' engines (since they were originally ordered by the Egyptian Delta Light Railways but were more successful in India) and they were very successful and a lot many were used in the following years till 1953 when the last order was placed. One of the 1916 built Bagnall locomotives has been preserved by the Phyllis Rampton Trust in the UK.[19]

Few years after independence, due to increasing losses, the KFR was closed in 1957. The reclaimed land, on where the tracks used to be, were used to construct a road namely the James Long Sarani in Behala.


  1. ^ "McLeod's Light Railways". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Bankura-Damodar Railway (BDR)". SE Railway. Archived from the original on 27 August 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  3. ^ Chakraborty, Snehamoy. "Emotions pasted – One last run". The Telegraph, 14 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-14. 
  4. ^ "Ahmadpur-Katwa Railway". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  5. ^ "Narrow gauge gets a new lease of life". The Statesman, 14 October 2004. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  6. ^ Mortimer, Simon. "India: narrow-gauge lines in late 2002 and late 2003". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  7. ^ Mortimer, Simon. "India: narrow-gauge lines in late 2002 and late 2003". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Bankura-Damodar Railway". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  9. ^ Indian railways: glorious 150 years - Page 81 by R. R. Bhandari, India. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Publications Division - 2005 - McLeod & Co. owned and managed four 2 ft 6 in gauge lines in Eastern region - (1) Bankura- Rainagar line - 97 km long - opened in 1916-17.
  10. ^ Aitken, Bill. "Bankura's Iron Horses". Rediff On The NeT Travel. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  11. ^ "BDR resumes service after 13 yrs". The Statesman, 23 January 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-22. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Burdwan-Katwa Railway". Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  13. ^ "Narrow gauge gets a new lease of life". The Statesman, 14 October 2004. Retrieved 2009-08-22. [dead link]
  14. ^ Manning, Ian. "The Katwa Railways". From Bengal Towards Nagpur. Indian Railway Fan Club. Retrieved 2009-08-22. 
  15. ^ "Burdwan-Katwa Railway". fibis. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  16. ^ Siddiqui, Kanchan. "Burdwan bids adieu to vintage narrow gauge trains". The Statesman, 14 April 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2013. [permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Baro rail Katwae, jamlo bhidr (Big railway in Katwa, crowd gathers)". Bengali. Ananda Bazar Patrika, 13 January 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  18. ^ AK16 Steam Locomotive
  19. ^ AK16 Steam Locomotive

External links[edit]