Indian Branch Railway

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The Indian Branch Railway Company (IBR) was formed on 21 Dec 1863 [1] to construct short branches and feeder lines in northern India, with a 20-year subsidy from the Government of India(GoI) but no guarantee [2].

Around 1872 the IBR was absorbed into the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway(O&RR).


The Nalhati-Azimganj Railway had been completed by Indian Branch Railway by Dec 1863. The line used a 4ft(1222mm) uniq[ue rail gauge. The Nalhati-Azimganj Railway was finally taken over by the Government in 1872, and by this time named as the Nalhati State Railway [1].

The Cawnpore-Fyzabad Railway project had began in 1862 by IBR and an engineer examined the proposed line from Cawnpore to Fyzabad [3]. Construction of the Metre Gauge(MG)) line progressed very slowly; and the, 42 miles (67km) long, was opened on 23 Apr 1867. This became the ‘Cawnpore Branch’ of the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway(O&RR), this line was later converted to Broad Gauge(BG) as part of the O&RR network [4].

In 1866, Without a guaranteed return from the Government of India(GoI), the IBR found it impossible to continue and in 1867, secured a new contract from the GoI on terms similar to those on offer in the 1850s i.e. a guaranteed return on capital employed.

The contract between the Secretary of State and the IBR Company in August 1867 specified ‘for the construction and working of a light system of 36lbs rails at slow speed – 15 miles per hour, in North West Provinces and Oudh. The original lines proposed were from Lucknow to Byramghat, via Dilserai, and from Dilserai via Shahgunj and Jounpore to Benares, with a branch from Shahgunj to Fyzabad’ [3].

The spelling of the place names in the above make interpretation of the proposed route difficult, many of the places cannot be identified but must be the following:-

The Benares-Shahganj-Bilwal-Malipur-Akbarpur-Fyzabad-Bara Banki- Lucknow, a length of 199 miles(319km), was opened from 1872 and completed 1874 and became the ‘Benares-Lucknow Loop’ of the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway(O&RR) [4]. This clearly was originally under construction by IBR when absorbed into O&RR. It is not clear if this line was first constructed as a Metre Gauge(MG)) but certainly was operated by O&RR as part of its Broad Gauge(BG) network.

Around 1872 the IBR was absorbed into the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway(O&RR). The O&RR being merged into the East Indian Railway (EIR) in 1925.


An on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway [5] gives the following: -

  • L/F/8/11/875 “Indian Branch Railway Company Limited, Duplicate contract ; 1867”
  • L/PWD/2/168-170 “Home and Overseas Correspondence of the Indian Branch Railway Company; 1862-1867”(not catalogued)


Unfortunately, there are no IBR staff records held in the India Office Records at the British Library.

Thacker's Directories The following for Indian Branch Railways Personnel have been indexed in Grace's Guide -

Further Information

See Nalhati State Railway and Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway


  1. 1.0 1.1 Old Martinian Association “Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway”"; Retrieved 2 Sept 2016
  2. Wikipedia “Indian Branch Railway Company”; Retrieved 2 Sept 2016
  3. 3.0 3.1 Google Books “The Pictorial Lucknow” by P. C. Mukherji, pages 81-82. First published Lucknow 1883, reprinted by AES New Delhi 2003; Retrieved 2 Sept 2016
  4. 4.0 4.1 “Administration Report on Railways 1918” page 132, pdf page 139; Retrieved 2 Sept 2016
  5. “British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue” - Search; Retrieved 23 Jan 2016