Bengal and North-Western Railway

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Bengal and North-Western Railway
[[Image:|150px| ]]
Line of route
Gauge / mileage
Metre gauge 902 miles (1905)
1881 Company formed
1884 First section opened to traffic
Key locations
Presidency Bengal
Stations Baharaich, Basti, Bhatni, Mankapur
System agency
1881 Bengal and North-Western Railway
1943 Oudh and Tirhut Railway
How to interpret this infobox
Bengal and North-Western Railway
[[Image:|150px| ]]
System timeline
Constituent companies / lines
Bengal and North-Western Railway
1890 Tirhoot State Railway
Key locations
Headquarters Gorakhpur
Workshops Gorakhpur, Samastipur (Stores)
Major Stations Benares, Darbhanga, Ghazipur, Gonda, Monghyr, Muzaffarpur
Successor system / organisation
1943 Oudh and Tirhut Railway
System mileage
Metre gauge 1468 miles (1905)
2088 miles (1943)
Associated auxiliary force
Bengal and North Western Railway Battalion
How to interpret this infobox
Bengal and North-Western Railway Railway Map 1909

The Bengal and North-Western Railway (B&NWR) was a metre gauge(MG) railway. [1]

The Bengal and North Western Railway Company came into being in October 1882 as a result of an agreement made with the Secretary of State for India. The government had started work in 1881 on constructing a rail link between Patna and Bahraich, along the Ghaghara River. The company agreed to complete the construction works and, in consideration of that investment, the government would provide a tranche of land without charge (instead of providing a guaranteed return). Once constructed the company became responsible for the railway’s operation under the concession agreement [2]

The B&NWR was unusual in that it was one of the very few railways promoted and constructed without Government assistance other than the gift of land, the original contract being signed in 1882.

The B&NWR Agent and Chief Engineer was Alexander Izat from February 1883, 'on loan' from the Public Works Department [3], a post which he held till the 31st May 1904 when he joined the Home Board as Managing Director [4]. An outstanding tribute was paid to Alexander Izat in 1912 - see the Inaugeration of the Izat Bridge

Later, following retirement of Alexander Izat in 1904, James Rennie Izat, the eldest son became the B&NWR Chief Engineer [5], and later the B&NWR Agent and General Manager, with headquarters at Gorakhpur [6]. William Rennie Izat, a younger son was the B&NWR Chief Engineer [7]. It has not been possible to determine these dates.

In 1890 the company took over management of the Tirhoot State Railway, and managed further lines up until 1943. [8]

The B&NWR eventually comprising a complicated network of lines on the left (north) bank of the Ganges between Katihar in the east and Lucknow in the west.

On 1 January 1943, the Government of India nationalised the B&NWR and amalgamated it with the Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway and the Lucknow-Bareilly State Railway to form the Oudh and Tirhut Railway which subsequently, in 1952, became part of North Eastern Railway, a zone of Indian Railways. [8]

Bengal & North Western main line

B&NWR main line was 301 miles long Metre gauge consisting of following sections:

  • Sonepur to Mankapur (219 miles) opened 15 January 1885
  • Mankapur to Gonda (17 miles) opened 2 April 1884
  • Gonda to Colonelganj (18 miles) opened (29 October 1891) 1 February 1892
  • Colonelganj to Jarwal Road (11 miles) opened 1 February 1892
  • Jarwal Road to Bahramghat (5 miles) (including Elgin Bridge) opened 18 December 1896
  • Bahramghat to Burhwal (4 miles) opened 24 November 1896
  • Burwhal to Barabanki (Broad gauge: 17 miles) opened 1 April 1872
    • Burhwal to Barabanki (Broad to Mixed gauge) converted 24 November 1896
    • Burhwal to Barabanki (Mixed to Metre gauge) converted around 1943
  • Chupra-Benares-Allahabad Branch (Metre Gauge) first section opened 1891, extended to Jhusi 1909, Izat Bridge 1912, Allahabad 1913 [9].
  • Dighwara-Goldingganj diversion (7 miles) opened around 1960
  • Barabanki to Chhapra (Metre to Broad gauge) converted 1981
  • Chhapra Kacheri to Dighwara (Metre to Broad gauge: 10 miles) converted autumn 2006

Lines worked by B&NWR


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 [10] gives 81 references. The most important being:-

  • L/AG/46/23 “Records of the India Office relating to the Bengal and North Western Railway; 1882-1921”
  • L /F/7/256-278 “Collection 27: Bengal and North Western Railway; 1908-1946”

Personnel Records

India Office Records. There are no staff lists or personnel records for the B&NWR held at the British Library.

Miscellaneous references have been identified from varied sources:-

  • James Rhind, 1883, B&NWR Locomotive Superintendent, posted from PWD at request of Alexander Izat, on taking charge of the construction of the B&NWR. He equipped the line with rolling-stock, built a number of steamers and flats for the Ganges Ferry, Digha Ghat-Sonpur, near Bankipore, and also for the crossing of the Gogra River, near Ajoodhia'. He died in September 1888 on duty with B&NWR [11].
  • George John Price, 1896, B&NWR Assistant Engineer. Employed for some years on the construction of the B&NWR Mansi-Khatihar branch line in Kharik subdivision, under Alexander Izat the Chief Engineer and Agent. Transferred to Gonda, in Oudh, where he was placed in charge of a B&NWR division of the railway and died in service November, 1903 [12].
  • William Ernest Napper, 1903-20 Engineer. In charge of Gonda Division on death of George John Price in Nov 1903. Remained with B&NWR until 1920 see biography

External Links

"Bengal and North Western Railway" Wikipedia