Kharaghoda Salt Works Railway

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Kharaghoda Salt Works Railway

An evaporation saltpan was developed on a large scale at Kharaghoda, Surendranager District [1], Gujarat, from 1870. The salt works were first named as the’Bombay Salt Department’ and by the early 1900’s as the ‘Pritchard Salt Works’ [2].

The broad gauge(BG) Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway, Bombay-Ahmadabad BB&CIR Main Line had reached Viramgam in 1871 from where the Patri Branch Line, 22 miles(35km), reached Kharaghoda in 1873 [3].

Railways were first used on the site from 1873-74 when the BB&CIR laid sidings on behalf of the ‘Bombay Salt Department’. The tracks were described as ‘extensive’ and were designed to load the salt direct from the pans into wagons. The site continued to develop with a subsidiary site at Udu being opened in 1880-81, a line linking the two operations. The collection period normally ran from early April to mid May, or the beginning of June, and locomotives, wagons and crew were leased from BB&CIR each year[2].

The record shows, in great detail, the various problems encountered each year:- unsuitable wagons being supplied by BB○ subsidence as the lines ran over salt flats which became soft with rainfall, causing derailment and stranding; shortage of fresh water ; unsuitable or old locomotives supplied by BB&CIR. The 1916-21 seasons were disrupted due to shortage of wagons due to wartime constraints, but the next ten years the railway operated without notable incident, the 1928-32 seasons gave an average of 13,515 wagons moved from the pans to the Storage Depot. In 1934 the ‘Salt Department’ took over the fleet of over dedicated wagons from BB&CIR and further modifications were made to the track layout and facilities [2].

The site was taken over by the Government of India after August 1947 and the modern site covers 23,000 acres (34 sq.miles/88 under the name of ‘Hindustan Salts Limited’[2].


  1. Wikipedia “Kharaghoda”; Retrieved 17 Feb 2017
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compliled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at Reference: Entry GJ39 page 156-157
  3. “Administration Report on Railways 1918” Page 13 (pdf 22) ; Retrieved 4 Nov 2016