Calcutta Port Commissioners' Railway

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Calcutta Port Commissioners' Railway

Calcutta Port History

See Calcutta Port and Docks - Railways for early proposals on the developments of Calcutta Port

Calcutta is India’s only inland port, lying around 125 miles(200km) from the Bay of Bengal on the Hooghly River. Before the British established a port there, both the Portugese and the Dutch had used the Hooghly for trade and had established jetties in the area. However British private traders and merchants built a number of piers and jetties on the river from the middle of the 17th century, first developed port facilities on the Howrah at Calcutta. By 1758 these came under control of the ‘EIC Marine Establishment’. In addition to the private jetties, the EIC had their own jetties, wharf and a dock and marine yard at Kidderpore. In 1866 the control of the facilities passed to ‘Calcutta Municipality’ to the Government of Bengal and by 1870 who formed the ‘Calcutta Port Commissioners’ to run the port [1].

Bird & Company were awarded a Contract in 1873 from the provincial government of Bengal which, faced with famine, had sought to import some 70,000 tons of rice into Calcutta by the end of 1874 over 4000,000 tons of rice had been handled. In 1880 the CPCR awarded a Contract to load and unload wagons of the railway line that ran throgh the length of the Port providing it with a vital link to the growing Indian railway netrwork. See Bird & Company for more information.

During the building of the 'Calcutta Port Commissioners' Kidderpore Dock in the mid 1880's a 3½ mile(5.6km) long temporary line was laid for the transportation of bricks from Akra for the new docks. It is thought this was a broad gauge(BG) line using locomotives and wagons on hire from the Calcutta Municipal Railway [2]. See Akra Brick Factory Tramway/Railway for more information.

Calcutta Port Commissioners' Railway

The’ Calcutta Port Commissioners' Railway’(CPCR) was a broad gauge(BG) port railway that opened in stages from 1875 onwards serving the docks area of Calcutta along the bank of the Hooghly from Chitpur in the north to Kidderpore Docks in the south.

The first CPCR line was from Bagh Bazar to Meerbohur Ghat a distance of 1¾ miles(2.8km), prior to this the Calcutta Municipal Railway for transferring wagons from the East Bengal Railway Sealdah station to Bagh Bazar. Until the first locomotives arrived in 1877 the CPCR used East Indian Railway locomotives. Wagon ferries were used for transferring wagons from the port across the Hooghly to the Bengal-Nagpur Railway at Shalimar [1].

The 1918 Administration Report states ‘The railway serves the godowns, warehouses, jetties, workshops, jute, sugar, tea, rice and grain depots, timber yards, mills and coal depots on both the Calcutta and Howrah Foreshores and is used only for goods traffic. The railway consists of single and double tracks, and there are a large number of sidings for crossing trains and loading goods. The mileage of all tracks including all sidings amounts to 154.28’ [3]

The following table gives the various CPCR lines that were operational in the late 1920’s [1] .

CPCR Lines and opening dates

Route of line Date Length miles (km)
Bagh Bazar - Meerbohur Ghat Jan 1875 1.76 miles (2.8km)
Cossipore(Gun Foundry Road) - Bagh Bazar(Chitpur) Jun 1878 1.14 miles (1.8km)
Meerbohur Ghat-Jetties Jun 1878 0.94 miles (1.5km)
Jetties - Chandpul Ghat Dec 1880 0.32 miles (0.5km)
Chandpul Ghat - Kidderpore Dock(Graving dock) Jan 1887 2.16 miles (3.5km)
Graving dock(via Kidderpore Dock) - Majerhat(East Dock Junction) 1893 2.34 miles (3.7km)
East Dock Junction - West Dock Junction(BNR) 1901 1.35 miles (2.2km)
East Dock Junction - Garden Reach berths Jul 1916 2.65 miles (4.2km)
Telkul Ghat(EIR) - Shalimar(BNR) Dec 1901 2.20 miles (3.5km)
East Dock Junction - Chetla 1893 1.50 miles (2.4km)
Subsidiary Marshalling Yard - King George's Dock 1928 1.25 miles (2.0km)
Kidderpore Docks section 87.71 miles (141.2km)
King George's Dock & Garden Reach section 41.56 miles (66.9km)
Calcutta & Shalimar section 36.40 miles (58.6km)
Total track in mainlines, marshallig yards, sidings etc 198.49 miles (319.4km)

Modern CPCR History

Now known as ‘Kolkata Port Trust Railway’. Some sections of this railway are still in use, while some are abandoned. It is reported that 'the sections connecting the Outram Ghat area just outside of Kidderpore have become part of the Circular Railway, with scheduled passenger services. The Kidderpore section, on the other hand, is largely in disuse, although sections of it are in intermittent operation.' [4]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 “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 http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry WB96 page ....
  2. “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 http://irsshop.co.uk/India. Reference: Entry WB141 page ....
  3. " Administration Report on the Railways in India – corrected up to 31st March 1918"; Superintendent of Government Printing, Calcutta; page 41; Retrieved 9 Oct 2017
  4. "Calcutta Port Trust Railway - Budge Budge Jute" by Shantanu Sen, 1 Jun 2010; IRFCA report Retrieved on 9 Oct 2017