Indus Valley State Railway

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Indus Valley State Railway

Spelling Note

  • The spellings used for town names in the 1850-60 is variable. We have given the name as stated in the documents of that time and with the later name in (brackets).
Indus Valley State Railway

The Indus Valley State Railway(IVSR) was constructed by the Government to provide a rail link between Kotree(Kotri) and Mooltan((Multan). This was to complete a rail connection from the port of Karachi to Lahore by linking two lines:-

The section between Kotree(Kotri) and Mooltan((Multan) was linked by the ‘Indus Flotilla’ also owned by the ‘Scinde Railway Company’ thus providing a through service from Karachi to Lahore.

The survey of the route of the line commenced in 1870 and construction commenced in 1871 based on the metre gauge(MG) standard. This was changed in 1874 to broad gauge(BG) requiring the sections under construction to be converted [2].

On the 1st July 1878 the IVSR line was officially opened for traffic from Multan down to Kotri and in full operation on the 27th October 1878 with the opening of the ‘Sutlej Bridge’, completed in March 1878 and inaugurated on 7th June 1878 to be renamed the ‘Empress Bridge’ - see separate page .

At the River Indus crossing linking Sukkur to Rohri a ferry was used whilst the engineering challenge of the ‘Sukkur Bridge’ was under construction. On completion in 1889 this was renamed the ‘Lansdowne Bridge’ - see separate page .

See separate page Indus Valley State Railway - Survey and Construction for full details of the survey and construction.

Background

The ‘Scinde Railway Company, with Mr W P Andrew as its Chairman, in about 1863 made application to the Government for a concession to construct a railway between Kotree(Kotri) and Mooltan((Multan) thus to join the 'Scinde Railway' and the 'Punjaub Railway' to provide an unbroken rail link from the coast to the Punjaub(Punjab).

The following is recorded in a letter dated 4 June 1869 to the Duke of Argyll, Secretary of State for India” from Mr W P Andrew, Chairman ‘Scinde Railway Company[3].
“The Secretary of State for India authorised the Scinde Railway Company’, in the year 1863, to engage a staff of engineers for the purpose of surveying the country between Kotree(Kotri) and Mooltan((Multan).

Therefore 6 years had passed and clearly no decision had been reached by the Government authorising the railway to be constructed, meanwhile of course, the ‘Indus Flotilla’ was providing the “missing link” (as it came to be known).

The reasons for the Government to fail to come to a decision are several, all analysed in the later pages of the 4 June 1869 letter[3]. There were three possible routes each with their own “political aspects; the commercial and the engineering features”:-,

  • 1st. Entirely on the left bank of the Indus
  • 2nd. Entirely on the right bank
  • 3rd. On the right bank from Kotree(Kotri) to Sukkur (about half the whole distance) and crossing the Indus River at Sukkur, thence to Mooltan((Multan) by the left bank”.

There were significant differences of opinion on the merits of each route with heated discussions and letters. As a consequence by June 1869 there was still no prospect of a decision. By this time it was clear that the construction of this railway would be a State venture and became named the ‘Indus Valley State Railway

Later in 1869 the Government of India ordered that a ‘Rail Gauge Committee’ be established in order to recommend the future ‘Rail Gauge’ for the railways of India. There were extreme differences of opinion and the outcome was that the Metre Gauge (MG) would be adopted for all new constructions undertaken by the State .
This highly controversial decision by the ‘Rail Gauge Committee’ is examined in detail on a separate page.

Metre Gauge Survey and Construction

By June 1871 it was reported that the Metre Gauge “Indus Valley Railway ...northern portion had been laid out, and is about to be commenced .... the lower division is beset with difficulties from inundations. A committee is investigating the route on either side of the river, and will report which they consider to be the more favourable [4]. The final route chosen was the the 3rd Route from Kotree(Kotri) crossing the river at Sukkur to Mooltan(Multan) and construction of commenced in Nov 1871.

The construction continued through until July 1974 when Metre Gauge construction was abandoned
See separate page ‘Metre Gauge Construction’ for full details

Break of Gauge Deliberations

Meanwhile the consequences of the break of Gauge from BG to MG at Kotree(Kotri), and MG to BG at Mooltan(Multan) caused heated argument, papers and letters both in London and in India.
These 'Rail Gauge Deliberations' were complex and are the subject of a separate page
But can be summarised as follows:-.

  • A debate in the British Parliament in March 1873, after many counter arguments, concluded that the decision should rest with the Government in India.
  • A paper by the India Office Public Works Department titled “The relative advantages of the 5ft 6in gauge and of the Metre Gauge for the State Railways of India, and particularly those of the Punjab” [5] was presented at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in June 1873. This presentation and the following discussion l[6] lasted over seven evenings but failed to reach a conclusion and passed the matter back to the Indian Government .
  • The decision was finally reached in 1874 by the Indian Government that changes of Gauge were unacceptable and therefore instructed that the IVSR should be re-engineered to Broad Gauge(BG). As a consequence the sections under construction were to be converted from MG to BG [7].

Broad Gauge Conversion and Completion

As a consequence, the ‘Middle’ section works were closed, and work was concentrated at both the ‘North’ and ‘South’ Divisions to widen the embankments. In the ‘North’ section the line from Multan to Hamdi was converted to broad gauge(BG) and by April 1876 the line was open to Adamwahan connecting it directly to Calcutta and Bombay. In the ‘South Division’ by 1876 construction was in progress. The ‘Sutlej Bridge’ was completed in March 1878 and inaugurated on 7th June 1878 to be renamed the ‘Empress Bridge’. Finally the IVSR line was in full operation on the 27th October 1878
See separate page ‘Broad Gauge Construction’ for full details

Later History

A Conference was held at Lahore in November 1878 and a proposal was made by the Honourable Member of Council for Public Works to the Officers of the Scinde, Punjaub & Delhi Railway Company (SP&DR), that they should take over the working of the traffic of the Indus Valley State Railway to which the Directors of the Indus Valley State Railway agreed [8].

In 1886 the North Western Railway(NWR) was formed by the merger of the IVSR with the SP&DR and other railways. The ‘Sukkur Bridge’ was under construction and on inauguration in March 1889 was renamed the ‘Lansdown Bridge’ - see separate page thus providing an unbroken BG route from Lahore to the port of Karachi.

Personnel Records in chronological order

Unfortunately, there are no Indus Valley State Railway (IVSR) Staff agreements held at the British Library in the India Office Records(IOR).

Some of these staff were mentioned at the inauguration of the ‘Sukkur Bridge’ when it was named in 1878 the 'Empress Bridge. See Empress Bridge#Inaugeration for details.

However the following have been identified from other sources:-

Further Information

External Links


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 “Administration Report on Railways 1918” page 106 (pdf115) ; Retrieved 28 Feb 2018
  2. British Library IOR/V/24/3590 “Administration Report on the construction of the Indus Valley Railway” Various pages as listed in separate page Indus Valley State Railway - Survey and Construction
  3. 3.0 3.1 “Letter to Duke of Argyll, Secretary of State for India” from William Patrick Andrew dated 4 Jun 1869 pages 6 and 7 of 85(pdf 11 and 12) ) ]; Retrieved 28 Feb 2018
  4. “Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons, Volume 51”; “Report on Railways in India 1870-71” by Juland Danvers, dated 1st June 1871 Page 4 Para 7 ‘Indus Valley’ (pdf page 78) ) ; Retrieved 28 Feb 2018
  5. ‘Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Volume 35 Issue 1873, 1873, pp. 214-228; Retrieved 28 Feb 2018
  6. ‘Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Volume 35 Issue 1873, pp. 229-468 “Discussion: The relative advantages of the 5ft 6in gauge and of the Metre Gauge for the State Railways of India, and particularly those of the Punjab”; Retrieved 28 Feb 2018
  7. British Library IOR/V/24/3590 “Administration Report on the construction of the Indus Valley Railway” Various pages as listed in separate page Indus Valley State Railway - Survey and Construction
  8. British Library IOR/V/24/3590 “Administration Report on the construction of the Indus Valley Railway” pages 5-8,15,21 37
  9. Grace's Guide "Frederick Ewart Robertson"; Retrieved 8 Jun 2016
  10. Google Books "India List and India Office List, 1905" page 569 (pdf page 532) Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  11. Google Books "India List and India Office List -1905" page 444; Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  12. Google Books "India List and India Office List, 1905" page 427 (pdf page 390 ) Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 13.8 "1872 Thacker's Indus Valley Railway Personnel" Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  14. Google Books "India List and India Office List -1905" page 440; Retrieved on195 Aug 2016
  15. "Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers"; vol 97 page 398-399 year 1889 "Obituary of Frederick Lewis Dibblee"; Retrieved on 17 Apr 2016
  16. "Obituaries of Frederick Lewis Dibblee"; Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  17. Google Books "India List and India Office List -1905" page 510; Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  18. Google Books "India List and India Office List -1905" page 649; Retrieved on 8 Aug 2016
  19. Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Volume 94 'Obituary - Robert Edwin Wright'; Retrieved 3 Apr 2020
  20. Google Books " India List and India Office List, 1905" page 465 (pdf page 428) Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  21. Google Books " India List and India Office List, 1905" page 501 (pdf page 464 ) Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  22. "Grace's Guide - Henry Francis Storey”; Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  23. Google Books " India List and India Office List, 1905" page 560 (pdf page 523 Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  24. "Grace's Guide - William Michell”; Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016
  25. Google Books " India List and India Office List, 1905" page 595 (pdf page 558) Retrieved on 19 Aug 2016