Bengal-Nagpur Railway

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Bengal-Nagpur Railway
Bengal-Nagpur Railway device
Line of route
Calcutta to Nagpur (Bombay)
Calcutta to Waltair (Madras)
Bilaspur to Katni
Gauge / mileage
Broad gauge 1696 miles (1905)
1887 Company formed
1888 Existing metre gauge converted to broad
1944 Line acquired by state
Key locations
Presidency Bengal
System agency
Worked by Bengal-Nagpur Railway
How to interpret this infobox

Bengal-Nagpur Railway
Bengal Nagpur Railway logo.jpg
Bengal-Nagpur Railway device
System timeline
1944 Management of line taken over by state
Constituent companies / lines
Bengal-Nagpur Railway
Jubbulpore-Gondia Railway
Mayurbhanj Railway
Parlakimedi Light Railway
Raipur-Dhamtari Railway
Key locations
Headquarters Calcutta
Workshops Kharagpur
Major Stations Asansol, Balasore, Bilaspur, Chanda, Chhindwara, Cuttack, Jubbulpore, Mandla, Nagpur, Raipur, Sambalpur, Vizagapattam
Successor system / organisation
1952 Eastern Railway (IR zone)
1955 South Eastern Railway (IR zone)
System mileage
Broad gauge 1696 miles (1905)
2498 miles (1943)
Narrow (2' 6") gauge 343 miles (1905)
798 miles (1943)
Associated auxiliary force
Bengal Nagpur Railway Battalion
How to interpret this infobox

The Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR) was formed in 1887 to take over the metre gauge(MG) Nagpur-Chhattisgarh Railway, to convert the existing metre gauge track to broad gauge(BG) and to extend the system eastwards to join the East Indian Railway at Asansol, 132 miles from Calcutta. [1]


The BNR was the last major railway formed to benefit from a Government guarantee, with the system from the outset owned by the Government of India GoI who contracted the BNR company to manage matters, initially for 25 years and therafter determinable every 10 years.

The BNR was the last company to be nationalised, on 1 October 1944. In 1952, the BNR was merged with the East Indian Railway to form Indian Railways' Eastern Railway but in 1955, BNR re-emerged to form South Eastern Railway.

Branch Lines and extensions

Railways absorbed into BNR

Lines worked by BNR at some time


Refer to FIBIS Fact File #4: “Research sources for Indian Railways, 1845-1947” - available from the Fibis shop. This Fact File contains invaluable advice on 'Researching ancestors in the UK records of Indian Railways' with particular reference to the India Office Records (IOR) held at the British Library

An on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway [2] gives 47 references. The most important being:-

  • L/AG/46/5 “Records of the Bengal Nagpur Railway Company; 1856-1947
  • L/F/7/249-255 "Finance Department Records; 1890-1947

There are no BNR Staff Agreements in the IOR but as a State Railway a search of the following may yield a result -

  • L/F/8/1-20 "Appointments to State Railways made in the UK 1855-1946"
  • Z/L/F/8/1-2 Index to Appointments to State Railways made in the UK 1855-1946"
BNR Loco Running Staff 1910

A series of articles on the BNR, then celebrating its (highly significant) 25th year, was published during 1911 in The Indian Railway Gazette. The December 1911 issue carried biographical entries on the top 12 staff complete with individual photographic portraits. Microfilm of the Gazette can be consulted at the British Library's Newsroom.

There are some reports, letters and notes on the railway's history covering 1890-1930 held at


  • Francis Joseph Edward Spring, 1880-84 deployed from the Railway Branch of the Public Works Department, to the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Survey
  • Arthur John Barry Lieutenant Colonel , was an an English civil engineer and architect. Engaged c.1887 as BNR Executive Engineer in charge of the construction of the bridge over the Damuda River bridge and the work of the Damuda district, afterwards Superintending Engineer of the Bengal section.
  • Trevredyn Rashleigh Wynne , 1887-1905 deployed from the Railway Branch of the Public Works Department, to the BNR as its first Agent and Chief Engineer.
  • Frederick Smith Stanton, 1887-92, following his retirement as Director General of Indian Railways, served on the Board of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway Company, based in London.
  • C W Bowles Colonel; date unknown but prior to 1907; BNR Engineer in charge of constructing its workshops, houses, schools, churches, hospitals, armoury, recreational facilities and a gaol. It was during this period that he experimented with using the Ewing System for transporting construction material during the laying of railway tracks for BNR. The Ewing system was subsqently used by Bowles for the Patiala State Monorail Trainways

External Links

  • Evolution of SER over the years A history of the South Eastern Railway, including the BNR and its constituents. This archived link from South Eastern Railway is most likely chapters (or content) from the book South Eastern Railway: March to New Millennium 1878-2001 by R. R. Bhandari 2001. Unfortunately, not all the chapters are accessible.
  • Kharagpur’s Diaspora Reunited Memories and photos of a BNR family, the Cramptons, from the 1930s to 1950s.
    • A map on which the Bengal-Nagpur Railway is shown may be found in Correspondence Part 7 (scroll down a considerable way)
  • "Indian Railway Notes" by Hugh Scholey


  1. " Administration Report on the Railways in India – corrected up to 31st March 1918"; Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta; pages 1 to 5; Retrieved 19 Feb 2016
  2. British Library Archives & Manuscripts Catalogue; Retrieved 18 Jan 2016