Bombay City Improvement Trust Railways

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Bombay City Improvement Trust

The Bombay City Improvement Trust was created on December 9, 1898, in response to the Bobbay plague epidemic of 1896. It was created through an Act of the Parliament. The Municipal Corporation and the government handed over all vacant lands to this body. The Trust undertook a host of measures to improve sanitary and living conditions in the city. The planned opening up of suburbs was due to the Trust [1]

The Trust widened roads in the central, crowded, parts of the town. A new east-west road, the Princess Street, was constructed to channel the sea air into the centre of the crowded residential areas. The north-south Sydenham Road (now Mohammedali Road) was also constructed with this end in view [1].

The Dadar-Matunga-Wadala-Sion suburban development was started in 1899 with the express purpose of relieving congestion to the south. Well-laid out plots, with mixed land-use patterns marked these sections. Completed in 1900, access to these parts were through the newly completed Mohammedali Road [1].

The Trust was later merged with the Municipal Corporation and known as the Bombay Development Department/Directorate.

Bombay City Improvement Trust Railways

The only information found concerning the use of railways in the construction and development works undertaken by the 'Bombay City Improvement Trust' were found in the administration reports from 1921 onwards, detailed as follows [2]:-

  • 'Sion-Matunga Scheme 6'. In 1920-21 locomotives, rolling stock and rails were allocated to this project and three locomotives and 200 wagons working by March 1921 and then increased to six locomotives in 1921-22.
  • 'Sewri-Wadala Scheme 57'. By 1922-23 this scheme had been merged with the above and supported by extra locomotives and wagons to speed up the work of cutting down the Rowli and Salamati hills.
  • 'Worli Schemes 52,58 and 61'. Land for these projects was taken over in Jun 1920. Locomotives and wagons came from England and track purchased second-hand in India. Track laying commenced with a 2ft 6in 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) line laid inside the standard gauge (SG). This SG gauge was not in use throughout India. The NG line was hand worked with tip trucks borrowed from 'Dada Matunga Scheme 5'. The first SG locomotive commenced work in Oct 1920 and used to run spoil trains, starting with 10 wagons per day and rising to 1,425 wagons a day by Mar 1921 when there were eight locomotives and 300 wagons in use. A workshop had also been set up to repair locomotives and rolling stock. The records show the locomotives in use and details of the wagons in use [2].
  • 'Dharavi Scheme 56'. Up until 1922-23 work on this scheme had not been as rapid as expected as it had been decided to concentrate on the fore-mentioned schemesand all the work was being done by hand and cart. With the aquistion of Kurla hill filling material was available for a temporary embankment for a SG line and was used to carry material from Ghatkopar hill to the low lying area of the Dharavi Scheme. A 2¾ mile(4.4km) long embankment with track and sidings had been completed by March 1923 ans a running shed and workshop. With the completion of the 'Worli Scheme' extra stock made it possible to speed up the work and by 1923-24 a considerable proportion of the filling work for the construction of co-operative built chawls(multi-storied, on room tenements) [2].

The records show a small number of 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) locomotives were in use on this project [2].

Standard Gauge
The records show a total of twenty-one standard gauge (SG) locomotives dating from 1920-23 that were supplied to the Bombay City Improvement Trust Schemes. The destiny of these locomotives on completion of the schemes in the mid 1920's is unknown.

A further eight SG locomotives dating from 1921-22 were supplied for the 'Salsette Trombay Railway' which did not commence operations until 1928.

It is interesting to speculate how both the 'Bombay City Improvement Trust' and the 'Salsette Trombay Railway' came to use the Standard Gauge (SG)

The Salsette Trombay Railway on the island of Salsette in Bombay was a 4 ft 8½ in (1,435 mm) standard gauge (SG) line that linked Andheri to the north of Bombay with the village of Trombay in the east, a distance of 8 miles(13km). The line was opened in 1928 by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway(GIPR). In 1934 the line was shut to make way for the R.A.F. Santacruz Airport [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wikipedia "Bombay City Improvement Trust"; Retrieved 14 Mar 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at Reference: Entry MH36 page ....
  3. Wikipedia "Salsette-Trombay Railway"; Retrieved 14 Mar 2017