Barsee Tramway

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The Barsee Tramway to connect Barsee with the Barsee railway station is recorded in the British Library India Office Records V/23/232, No 71 for 1863
The ‘Page’ references quoted refer to this record.

The 1863 proposal to construct a broad gauge(BG) 'Tramway' did not proceed and ‘The Road' (see below) was used for cart and pedestrian traffic.

It was not until 1886-87 further proposals were put forward for a light railway. This finally opened as the Barsi Light Railway in 1897 using much of the original 'The Road' trackbed. (see below)

Barsi Light Railway

Spelling Note

Barsee and Barsee Tramway are spellings given in this 1863 record
We have retained the spelling Barsee only with reference to this Tramway

Barsi is used from about 1870 onwards, and in the Imperial Gazetteer of India that we take as our definitive spelling.
We have therefore used the spelling Barsi in all other references

Barsee Tramway


The Great Indian Peninsula Railway (GIPR) broad gauge(BG) 'South-East Mainline' section from Poona to Barsee Road Station opened in 1859 and was connected to Madras in 1863 with the opening of the Bhore Ghat section.

In September 1862, The Chief Engineer of the Presidency of Bombay, Lt. Col. M. K. Kennedy, submitted a proposal with five alternatives regarding connecting the town of Barsee to the GIPR Mainline at Barsee Road Station, a distance of 22 miles(35km) by way of a Bullock operated broad gauge(BG) Tramway.
The proposals comprised:- a single track Tramway with passing places; or a road either 20 foot(6.1m) wide or 24 foot(7.3m) wide with a single track Tramway that would run on one side. All proposals to include passing places [1].
The problem was the crossing the Seena (Sina)River and two estimates for a bridge were provided:- a brick/stone arched bridge or an iron girder bridge [2].

The early crops had failed so it was decided that as a means of famine relief the road and bridge should be built (Bombay Government Resolution 8 October 1862) [3]. A 24 foot(7.3m) road with a gradient of less than 1 in 100 was required [4]. Meanwhile, the Government of India requested the GIPR, the Sind Railway and the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway(BB&CIR) Companies, to submit designs and recommendations regarding a bullock tramway carrying 300 tons a day over a distance of 50 miles [5].

The GIPR replied that it did not think that a tramway was suitable and that a broad gauge(BG) branch line [6]. Sind and BB&CIR both sent back detailed drawings and estimates, both thought that a broad gauge(BG) was preferable as this would be interchangeable with the main lines but bullock power was possible [7]. Sind also suggested that it might be more economic to use a light rail locomotive and supplied the information regarding this [8]. The final information was received in January 1863 [9]. The Governor had indicated that he thought a branch line was preferable [10].

'The Road'

'The Road' was constructed with earth works, cuttings and bridges and although first proposed in 1862 was not completed until 1870 [11].

By this time Barsi had become the spelling of the town and was connected to Barsi Road Station , on the GIPR, a distance of 22 miles (35km), with a roadway of 24 foot width (7.3 metres) with 'hard shoulders' [12] and of designed to be built with sufficient strength to carry locomotives and the gradients did not exceed 1 in 100 [11]. The Seena (Sina) River bridge was a ten arch masonry constructed bridge.

'The Tramway'

The proposal to included the construction of a broad gauge(BG) 'Tramway' did not proceed and ‘The Road' was used for cart and pedestrian traffic. Over the years that followed the embankments became consolidated [11].

Barsi Light Railway

Everard Richard Calthrop had, in 1887, registered in London the Indian Railways Feeder Lines Company to promote the construction of narrow gauge (NG) lines in India. He resigned from GIPR in 1889.

Calthrope, in 1887, commenced negotiations with the Government of Bombay for a concession to build a Light Railway on the bed of the 'Road'. Negotiations were concluded and in 1895 the 'Barsi Light Railway Company' (BLR) was formed utilising engineering solutions based on many innovative designs.

A request for tender was put out and on the 1st August 1895 an agreement was signed to build a 2ft 6inch(NG) light railway between the GIPR Barsi Road Station and Barsi Town.

The first BLR section between Barsi Road Station on the GIPR (later named Kurduwadi) and Barsi Town opened in 1897 utilising the ‘The Road' as the trackbed.

Further Information

See Barsi Light Railway for further information and references


British Library IOR/V/23/232, No 71; "Papers relating to the project of connecting Barsee with the Barsee railway station by tramways.” Bombay: Education Society's Press, 1863" File held on Microfiche. With page numbers as follows:-

  1. Pages 4-8
  2. Pages 9,10
  3. Page 14
  4. Page 25
  5. Pages 26-31
  6. Pages 33-36
  7. Pages 40-45
  8. Pages 47-48
  9. Page 54
  10. Page 23
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 “Barsi Light Rail - E.R.Calthrope & the Newly Exhibition” from ‘Engineering’ 20 Jan 1897, page 183. Reproduced by ‘Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modeling Review’ No 69 Vol 9 January 2007, editor Roy C Link. ISSN 0958-0808
  12. Page 25