Great Southern of India Railway

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Great Southern of India Railway
[[Image:|150px| ]]
Line of route
Negapatam to Erode
Gauge / mileage
Broad gauge
1858 Formed as Guaranteed railway
1872 Merged to form South Indian Railway and later(1875) converted to metre gauge
Key locations
Presidency Madras
Stations Trichinopoly
System agency
How to interpret this infobox

The Great Southern of India Railway (GSIR) was formed in 1858 for "the construction and working of a railway from Negapatam to Trichinopoly, with branches to Salem and Tuticorin - total, about 300 miles. Capital 500,000l. (for the works at present authorized to be proceeded with, - viz., the line from Negapatam to Trichinopoly). Rate of Interest Guaranteed - 5 per cent." [1]

William Smith Betts was the first Agent of the Great Southern of India Railway [2], #p.210,214. The Chief Engineer Mark William Carr was appointed in 1858 [3].

From 1856 George Barclay Bruce was the Consulting Engineer, based in London, first to GSIR and then to the sucessor South Indian Railway for a period of 50 years [4].


The construction of the line from Negapatam via Tiruvallur to Tanjore (48 miles/77km) started in April 1859 to broad gauge(BG) standards and the was opened to traffic by December 1861 . The headquarters were at Negapatam with the Agent, Chief Engineer, Locomotive Superintendent and Traffic Superintendent and Workshops . The line reached Trichinopoly in 1862 [2] #p.2,3,6,7.

David Logan was Resident Engineer on the construction from 1858 until 1863, when he succeeded Mark William Carr as Chief Engineer, a position he held until resigning in 1866 to superintend the reclamation work at Back Bay, Bombay [5]

In 1864 November Frederick Lewis Dibblee, on his arrival in Madras, was engaged as Engineer-in-Charge on the GISR, then District Engineer and later Chief Engineer, a position he continued to hold until August 1868, when he resigned and transferred to the Carnatic Railway [6]

In 1865 new 'beautiful and unique' offices were constructed at Trichinopoly and the Chief Engineer, Chief Traffic Superintendent, Chief Accounts Officer, Audit Officer etc moved over, thus leaving at Negapatam the Agent's office and the Locomotive Workshops. #p.8,9.

The Resident Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent was Charles Edwin Crighton [7] and continued in this post with South Indian Railway after amalgamated in 1874.

In 1868, the GSIR line reached Erode, connecting to the Madras Railway and David Logan was reappointed as Chief Engineer. "The GSIR was at that time a 5-foot 6-inch gauge line, extending from Negapatam to Erode. Its subsequent development into the system now known as the South Indian Railway, about 1,100 miles in length, was carried out under Mr. Logan's direction."[8].

On 1st July 1874 the Great Southern of India Railway Company and the Carnatic Railway, were amalgamated under the title of the South Indian Railway (SIR).
These broad gauge(BG) lines were later(1875) converted to metre gauge(MG) to become part of the SIR Madras-Tuticorin Mainline MG network - see separate page.


Refer to FIBIS Fact File #4: “Research sources for Indian Railways, 1845-1947” - available from the Fibis shop. This Fact File contains invaluable advice on 'Researching ancestors in the UK records of Indian Railways' with particular reference to the India Office Records (IOR) held at the British Library

An on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway [9] gives 46 references. The most important being:-

  • L /AG/46/13 “Records of the Great Southern of India Railway Company; 1859-1874”


Unfortunately, there are no GSIR staff records held in the India Office Records at the British Library.

The only GSIR personnel that have been identified so far are mentioned in the text above.

Further Information

See South Indian Railway

and Madras-Tuticorin Mainline


  1. "Money Market and City Intelligence", The Times, Wednesday, 15 June 1859, #23333, 7a.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Southern Railway Heritage Centre "Marvels of the South Indian Railway 1859-1951". With page numbers indicated #p.
  3. Grace's Guide "Mark William Carr"; Retrieved 18 June 2016
  4. Grace's Guide "George Barclay Bruce"; Retrieved 18 June 2016
  5. Institute of Civil Engineers "Obituary David Logan"; Retrieved 17 June 2016
  6. Frederick Dibblee, MICE Biography "Frederick Lewis Dibblee"; Retrieved 18 June 2016
  7. Grace's Guide "Charles Edwin Crighton"; Retrieved 23 Jul 2016
  8. Grace’s Guide "David Logan"; Retrieved on 19 Jun 2016
  9. British Library “British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue” - Search; Retrieved 18 Jun 2016