Cuddalore and Salem Tramway/Light Railway proposal

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Cuddalore and Salem Tramway/Light Railway proposal

This was a proposal in 1854-55 to provide a tramway or light railway between Cuddalore and Salem. This would have been a route that follows the current road number NH79. This is a distance of 124 miles (200km). The project did not proceed.

Background

The most direct route for this tramway or light rail project is following the road that would be built as per the order in the dispatch from London [1].

The request came from the Government of Madras Presidency at Fort St George [2]. The reply from the Madras Engineers was quite specific in that 'a new road sixty six miles in length from Cuddalore to the boundary of the Salem District, there to meet the Salem Road already in existence, by which means of communication between Salem and the nearest seaport would become open to the produce of that district and the carriage of salt from the coast facilitates' [3].

The suggestion of the Chief Engineer, Colonel Arthur Thomas Cotton, 'that on the above lines of road a tramway or light railway calculated for a slow safe speed should be substituted for roads of ordinary construction' [4].

The Madras government did not think the line in question suitable for the experiment and we expect your (Colonel Cotton) concurrence in that view and regard the Salem and Cuddalore Road. Thus here the Government did not approve the building of the railway adjacent to the rough road, but asked that a better road be built.

Further Information

See Early Railway Experiments and Proposals for more information and background.

References

The following India Office Records (IOR) records held at the British Library are relevant:-

  1. Z/E/4/25/R866; P711 "Roads, Cuddalore to Salem, formation of cart, sanctioned to connect with sea port and question as to fitness for tram or light”; 1854-1855
  2. Z/E/4/25/R866; P711 Roads, Cuddalore to Salem, formation of cart, sanctioned to connect with sea port and question as to fitness for tram or light”; 1854-1855
  3. Z/E/4/25/R866; P712-713 Roads, Cuddalore to Salem, formation of cart, sanctioned to connect with sea port and question as to fitness for tram or light”; 1854-1855
  4. Z/E/4/25/R866; P719-720 Roads, Cuddalore to Salem, formation of cart, sanctioned to connect with sea port and question as to fitness for tram or light”; 1854-1855