Cherra-Companyganj Railway

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Cherra-Companyganj Railway

Alternative name for Cherrapunjee Mountain Railway

The Cherra-Companyganj State Railways was a 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) mountain railway that operated between Tharia, a mining town in Meghalaya and Companyganj, now in Sylhet District of Bangladesh, for a distance of 7.5 miles(12.1 km). [1] [2] [3]

The line, which was owned and worked by the Provincial Government of Assam, brought limestone and coal from the mines in the Khasia Hills south to navigable water at Companyganj. Initially the line was worked in conjunction with ropeways but after 1891 packhorses brought the goods down the steep incline up to the hills.

The ambitious railway project was conceptualised by a British engineer in India, H. Kench, after need arose to connect Shillong, the then capital of the British India Province, to Calcutta by rail since carts had difficulty in negotiating mule tracks and roads on the steep slope of the Khasi Hills.

Starting at Companyganj on the Pivan river, a navigable tributary of the River Surmah, the first section ran northwards for miles to Therria Ghat. There was then a mountain section of 4 miles(6.5km) made up of seven rope-worked inclines giving a rise of 3616 feet.1100mtr). Finally came a 3½ mile(6km) locomotive line to the terminus at Cherrapunji, noted for its coal and limestone and for having the highest average annual rainfall in the world (426 inches/10.8 mtr)[4]

Unfortunately the inclines never worked satisfactorily and so this section and the continuation to the terminus were never opened to traffic, being dismantled from 1891 onwards.

The Railway continued to run between Tharia and Companyganj till the Assam earthquake of 1897 in which the tracks were completely destroyed. The tracks were not repaired after that and the railway finally closed in 1900/1

External Links


  1. India Times, 15 Mar 2012 "Cherra Companyganj State Railways, a mountain railway that existed 125 years ago"; Retrieved 10 Dec 2015
  2. "India’s 2ft 6in NG lines"; Retrieved 10 Dec 2015
  3. "Railway Raj Safari 1a" by Keith Scholey
  4. “Indian Narrow Gauge Locomotives 1863-1940” by Hugh Hughes, published by ‘The Continental Railway Circle’ Paragraph 11 Page 32