Delhi Imperial Construction Railways

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Delhi Imperial Construction Railways

It was announced at the 1911 Delhi Durbar that the capital city of India was to be transferred from Calcutta to a purpose built city, initially known as Imperial Delhi but eventually called New Delhi. The Imperial Delhi Committee, formed by the Viceroy of the time Lord Hardinge, was constituted on 25 March 1913 to overlook the construction of the new capital [1].

The project to build the new city was known as the ‘New Capital Project’ and the construction work commenced in April 1913. Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy, inaugurated the new city on 13 Feb 1931. [2].

Quarries and sources of construction materials

  • The Dholpur-Bari Light Railway(DBLR) 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) line had opened in 1908 as the 'Bari-Dholpur Tramway' to carry red sandstone from the Bari Quarry to Dholpur to connect with the ‘Indian Midland Section’ of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) [3].
  • The Mohari-Barauli Railway was constructed by the Imperial Delhi Committee for the carriage of stone for New Delhi from Barauli to Mohari Junction. The 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) line opened in 1917 and was taken over by the Princely Dholpur State Durbar for the carriage of passengers and goods [4]. The line was managed, maintained and worked by the Dholpur Durbar in conjunction with Dholpur-Bari Light Railway(DBLR).
  • In addition to the Bari Quarry mentioned above, two other quarries at Bansipaharpur and Birja were operational in 1922-23; both these quarries had sidings but the route of the lines has not been determined.

Broad Gauge Transhipment

  • At Dholpur there would have been a transhipment yard where the stone was transferred from the NG railway stated above to the broad gauge(BG) ‘Indian Midland Section’ of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR).
  • At Dehli there was a connection laid from the GIPR mainline to a ‘Stone Yard’ where the material from Bari, and the other quarries was delivered, it was also dressed in this yard and the siding had a wagon repair workshop [2].
  • The extent of the BG track was clearly extensive as shown by the number of wagons purchased by the Imperial Delhi Committee between 1913 and 1927. It is known that a BG locomotive shed existed at Barakhamba, which is adjacent to Connaught Circle in the centre of New Delhi and within a short distance of the GIPR mainline [2].

Delhi Construction Narrow Gauge Railway

  • In Jan 1914 10 miles(16km) of track and accessories, locomotives and trucks were loaned for the construction work from the stores of the 'Light Military Reserve Railway', followed later by a further 2 miles(3.2km) of track and another NG locomotive.
  • It is also known that at the start of the project 25 miles(70km) of 2ft 6in/762mm NG line was in use. The NG line was used throughout the building works; the records show large amounts of track, locomotives, wagons and trucks being purchased from 1913-14 onwards [2].
  • A locomotive shed existed at Barakhamba, which is adjacent to Connaught Circle in the centre of Delhi and within a short distance of the GIPR mainline [2].
  • A 3 mile(5km) extension to the NG line was built in 1922-23 to brickfields, which were located near Safdarjang’s Tomb, which is 5km south-east of Connaught Circle [2].
  • The extent of the NG tracks and the routes used during the building works is not known.


  1. Wikipedia “New Delhi Municipal Council/ Imperial Delhi Committee; Retrieved 9 Feb 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compliled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at Reference: Entry DL13 page 143-144
  3. "Imperial Gazetteer of India", v. 11, p. 327; 1908; Retrieved 23 Aug 2016
  4. "Administration Report on the Railways in India – corrected up to 31st March 1918"; Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta; page 225, pdf233; Retrieved 9 Feb 2016