The Arakkonam-Conjeeveram Tramway was a 3 feet 6 inches" (1067mm) Rail Gauge line († see Gauge Note) which opened in about 1864-65.
The Tramway was constructed by the Indian Tramway Co.(ITC) , a company that was formed in 1862 to build short lines around Madras, with a 20-year subsidy from the Government of India but with no Guarantee.
The Tramway ran between the towns of Arkonam and Conjeeveram ( ‡ see Spelling Notes)
The records  state:-
The 'Indian Tramway Company' constructed a light railway for the distance of 14 miles and 22 chains (14.275 miles/23km) commencing from the Arconum ‡ Station, along and upon one half of the Government road towards Conjeveram‡ , and the remainder of the railway being a distance of 4 miles and 43 chains (4.537 miles/7.3km), together with the stations, sidings, engine-houses, storehouses, and other buildings, made and constructed by, and at the cost of, the Company, upon land taken up by, and at the cost of, the Government, and made over to the Company free of charge.
Thus the total length of the line was 18.8miles (30.3km) and the line "opened for traffic about 1 Aug 1865".
The ITC suffered losses and in 1870 went into liquidation. The lines were taken over by the ‘Carnatic Railway Company, a new company formed for the purpose.
- The 3'6" (1067mm) gauge is most unusual, and why it was adopted on this tramway is unclear. See separate page ‘Rail Gauge’ for further information.
- This line was then converted by the ‘Carnatic Railway’ soon after 1870, to broad gauge(BG) to conform with the Government Policy of that time and the gauge of the ‘Madras Railway’ where the line connected at Arkonam.
- With the creation of the ‘South Indian Railway’ the metre gauge(MG) was adopted and the line was converted once again to MG in July 1878 .
- ‘Arakkonam-Conjeeveram Tramway’ is the spelling used at the time for the Tramway
- Arkonam is used in the 1908 Imperial Gazetteer that we take as the definitive spelling for the town name. Alternative spellings are Arconum and Arakkonam (which is also the modern name).
- Conjeeveram is used in the 1908 Imperial Gazetteer that we take as the definitive spelling for the town name. Alternative spellings are Conjeveram, Conjeevaram and Kanchipuram (the modern name)
See separate pages for further information
- 1870, the ‘Indian Tramway Co.’ went into voluntary liquidation and the business taken over by the ‘Carnatic Railway’
- 1872, the ‘Carnatic Railway’ merged with the ‘Great Southern of India Railway’, which operated broad gauge (BG) from Negapatam via Tiruvallur to Tanjore (48 miles/77km) The line reached Trichinopoly in 1862 and Erode in 1868
- 1st July 1874 the ‘Carnatic Railway’ and the ‘Great Southern of India Railway Company’ were amalgamated under the title of the ‘South Indian Railway’ (SIR).
- 1875-78 these Broad Gauge lines were converted to become part of the SIR Metre Gauge network. The ‘Arakkonam-Conjeevaram’ section was converted to MG in 1878 and extended from Conjeeveram to reach Chingleput in 1881. This line becoming the ‘Arakkonam Branch Line’ of the SIR MG network
- “Parliamentary Papers Accounts and Papers Volume 51 of 37” Session 9 February to 21 August 1871 Pages 230-231; Retrieved 14 Nov 2018
British Library ‘India Office Records’ L/F/8/11/876 "Indian Tramway Company, Duplicate deed of surrender of existing railway and determining existing contract Secretary of State"
- “Administration Report on Railways 1918” page 1368 (pdf147 ; Retrieved 30 Mar 2018