Rajkot-Betti Tramway

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Note:

  • Spelling of town of Betti and Betti River is used in documents of the time, Beti is the more modern spelling
  • Incorrectly described as the ‘Betty Tramway’ in the Delhi National Railway Museum [1] [2].


Rajkot-Betti Tramway

The ‘Rajkot-Betti Tramway’ was a 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) Line that opened on 17 Dec 1923 using the Trunk Road from Rajkot to Betti Bridge via Kuvada and Kuchiydad, a distance of c.15 miles(24km) [3].

There were extensive Limestone quarries near the Betti River, the output being exported as well as used locally [4]. It appears most likely that the tramway was used to carry the limestone to Rajkot where there were rail connections throughout the Kathiawar peninsular.

History

In the Rajkot administration report of 1913 the state reported that, “There are several extensive stone quarries in the State the quarries at Halenda, Betti and Bhayasar yield limestone which is largely used for building. A railway line is very badly needed for the exploration of these vidis and quarries” [3].

It was not until the report of 1923-24 that with a view of developing trade in the Mahal of Kuvada and the surrounding country, the state thought of opening a tram service over 32 miles and requested permission to do so. Some of the States, objected to the use of the trunk road. Due to this the tramway was limited to using the Trunk Road from Rajkot to Betti Bridge via Kuvada and Kuchiydad. General Karbhari was put in charge of the project [3].

The gauge was fixed at 2ft 6 inches and sanctioned was in April 1923. The work was completed by December and it was opened for traffic on the 17th December 1923. This was probably Bullock operated to start with [3].

The capital outlay was Rs361,834-14-5 on the day of opening and extra expenses raised the cost to Rs369,817. It was greatly appreciated by the public. And by the next year traffic had vastly increased. Even though during the monsoon the Ramnath causeway over the Anji had been washed away due to a breach in the Lalpuri Tank and it caused the closure of the line for 2.5 months. The line was used to repair the breach in the Tank. The resources of the line have been strengthened with the addition of two motor locomotives of 30 and 35 HP on big passenger car of 28 seats and 12 steel wagons. The order was placed by the Thakor on his visit to England and will cost Rs45,000 to Rs50,000[3].

Locomotives

The records show that two 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) locomotives were delivered to the Tramway in Feb 1925 by John Fowler & Company Ltd; and further engines delivered in Oct 1935 and May 1936 [5][6]. The customer was ‘His Highness the Thakar Sahib of Rajkot’[6].

The National Rail Museum, New Delhi has a locomotive as one of its exhibits. It is a Fowler Diesel No 390014 It is stated to be previously owned by the 'Rajkot-Bety Tramways' and described as 'Betty Tramways - Fowler Diesel' [1]. In April 2016 the locomotive was photographed 'painted pale blue/white and gold' [7]. In 1997 the loco was painted 'white and brown' and in 1981 as ‘pure white livery with navy blue and yellow trimmings’[2].

Further Information

Kathiawar Peninsula Railway and Tramway Systems gives a map, timeline and relates this railway to others in the Kathiawar Peninsula.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia “National Railway Museum, New Delhi” ; Retrieved 30 September 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 Indian Railways Fan Club(IRFCA) “Fowler Diesel – Betty Tramways” Photographs and description by S.Shankar; Retrieved 30 September 2017
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 British Libary “India Office Records” V/10/1811 ‘Rajkot Administrative Reports 1909/10-1927/28’ ref: 1913 and 1923-4 Annual Reports, under Trade and Transportation in the reports which have no page numbers
  4. “ The Ruling Princes and Chiefs and leading Personages in Western India States Agency”, First edition. Western State India States Agency Press 1928 page 64.; Retrieved 23 Aug 2017
  5. The University of Reading, Museum of English Rural Life, “Fowler Collection TR FOW MP1-5” and “Build Book No 2”
  6. 6.0 6.1 IRFCA “Indian/South-Asian Industrial Locos – Tramways and Light Rail by Simon Darvill; Retrieved 30 September 2017
  7. Phil Jenkins “The Railways and Industry of India – Delhi Railway Museum” Photo line 16 no 2; Retrieved 30 September 2017