North Western Railway

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North Western Railway
NWR Engine.jpg
Line of route
Karachi to Quetta
Karachi to Lahore
Lahore to Delhi
Lahore to Peshawar
Gauge / mileage
Broad gauge 3186 miles (1905)
6861 miles (1947)
1886 Formed by merger of several railways, viz:
Sind, Punjab and Delhi Railway
Indus Valley State Railway
Punjab Northern State Railway
1930 Southern Punjab Railway merged into NWR
Key locations
Presidency Bengal
System agency
1886 State agency
How to interpret this infobox
North Western Railway
North Western Railway logo.jpg
North Western Railway device
System timeline
1886 State owned and State worked
Constituent companies / lines
1886 North Western Railway
Dandot Light Railway
Jammu and Kashmir Railway
Khushalgarh-Kohat-Thal Railway
Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal Railway
Nowshera-Durgai Railway
Rajpura-Bhatinda Railway
Southern Punjab Railway
] Kalka-Simla Railway]
Key locations
Headquarters Lahore
Workshops Lohore(Moghalpura), Karachi, Multan, Saharanpur
see also NWR Railway Workshops
Major Stations Amritsar, Ferozepore, Hyderabad, Meerut, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Saharanpur, Sibi
Successor system / organisation
1947 [West] Pakistan Railways
1947 Eastern Punjab Railway (Indian Railways)
1952 Northern Railway (IR zone)
System mileage
Broad gauge 3890 miles (1905)
Narrow (2' 6") gauge 132 miles (1905)
Narrow (2' 0") gauge 6 miles (1905)
Associated auxiliary force
North-Western Railway Battalion
How to interpret this infobox
North-Western Railway Map 1909, south-west section
North-Western Railway Map 1909, north-east section

The North-Western State Railway (NWR) was formed in January 1886 from the merger of the Sind, Punjab and Delhi Railway, the Indus Valley State Railway, the Punjab Northern State Railway, the eastern section of the Sind-Sagar Railway and the southern section of the Sind-Pishin State Railway. [1]


The military and strategic concerns of Afghan-Indian border were such that Francis Langford O'Callaghan, was posted from the State Railways as "engineer-in-chief for a number of demanding railway projects, surveys and constructions on the north-west frontier" [2]. These were initially military and strategic projects and became part of the NWR network on formation in 1886. The Bolan Pass Railway Construction was completed in 1886. The Khwaja Amran Railway Survey in 1887 included the Khojak Tunnel and the Chaman Extension Railway[3]. The Khojak Tunnel opened in 1891 and the railway reached Chaman on the Afghan border.

Later renamed the North Western Railway, by 1905 it was the longest railway under one administration and the strategic railway of the north-west frontier. In 1947, one part became the nucleus of Pakistan's railways, with 4976 of the old system's 6861 miles lying within the new state; the part lying in India was reorganised and renamed as Eastern Punjab Railway.

North Western Railway - Lines operated and worked

See seperate page for full details NWR - Lines operated and worked

NWR Coal Supplies

From an early daate the NWR estabished their own collieries to supply coal for their operations.See separate pages for more information:-

  • Khost Colliery - owned and worked by NWR, opened in 1877 and closed on unknown date.
  • Dandot Colliery - owned and worked by NWR, opened in 1894 and closed 1911.
  • Sharigh Colliery - owned and worked by NWR, opened in 1894 and closed on unknown date.
  • Bhaganwala Colliery - owned and worked by NWR, opened in 1894 and closed 1899.

NWR Sleeper Supplies

See separate pages for further information

NWR Quarries

FIBIS resources

See separate pages for more information:-

  • FIBIS Gallery Album Railways/NWR/H V O WATERS Collection He served as a travelling Inspector of Coaching and Goods Accounts, NWR 1907-1917. Includes a
    • map of the railway network. To enlarge, click on the icon at the top left hand corner of the map.


An on-line search of the India Office Records (IOR) records held at the British Library relating to this railway [4] gives several entries, the most relevant as follows: -

  • L/AG/46/34; “Records of the India Office relating to the North Western State Railway”; 1893-1924
  • L/F/8/18/1419; “North Western Railway, Book of contracts relating to lines worked by the NorthWestern Railway Office of the Chief Examiner of Accounts”; date unspecified


There are no staff agreements for NWR personnel held at the British Library in the India Office Records.

North Western Railway Personnel gives details of NWR staff from several sources:-

  • “India Civil List 1890” [5] and the " India List and India Office List, 1905" [6] for Public Works Department Railway Branch or State Railways personnel deployed to NWR gives a number of entries. The most notable of these have been listed.
  • "Grace's Guide ” for notable personnel [7]
  • "National Archives from the RAIL collection” [8]

Associated Auxiliary Force


Recommended reading

  • Berridge, Percy Stuart Attwood. Couplings to the Khyber: the story of the North Western Railway. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1969.

Good coverage of the largest Indian railway system, especially from a civil engineering perspective. Lacks a bibliography and poorly annotated. [Slides of the photographs used form a collection deposited at the Cambridge South Asian Archive together with copies of the North Western Railway Magazine, the monthly staff magazine edited by the author.]

  • North Western Railway Magazine.

Monthly staff magazine. Some editorial content published in Urdu . No BL holdings. 2 copies (November 1942, December 1945) are held in the Berridge Papers, Cambridge South Asian Archive.

External links

Historical books online