Light Portable Railway

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Light Portable Railway

'Light Portable Railway' is the description we have used for the surplus 'War Department Light Railway' 60cm narrow gauge(NG) stock that was shipped into India in 1919. This stock was held in stock in the UK.

Following the First World War, the British used the term 'Decauville' to describe light railways that could be rapidly laid and moved, none of the equipment had anything to do with 'Decauville et Compagnie' or the 'Decauville Portable Railway System'[1].


The following is an outline of the history [1] :-

In 1916 during the World War almost all of the equipment of the Indian 'Light Military Reserve Railway(LMRR)' had been sent to support the Mesopotamia Campaign. After the War finished very little of it had been returned for use by the Indian Army.

At the same time as the Afghans declared war, the Waziris attacked the British and Indian Armies. The the peace treaty between the British and Afghans was signed August 1919 but the fighting in Waziristan continued by launching more raids against the British garrisons.

In order to support the action the 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) Trans Indus (Kalabagh-Bannu) Railway(KBR) was used extensively to convey troups, supplies and equipment as far as Tank, which had been connected in 1916 by an extension to the strategic KBR Railway, but this was some distance from the action.

The line was dismantled in 1925 and the stored at Chaman and Quetta together with other remaining 60cm equiment. Some locomotives had been sent for the construction of the Khyber Railway

  • Chaman-Kandahar Railway - see separate page for more information. In 1926 a report was written concerning the building of a railway between Chaman and Kandahar in the event of another war with Afghanistan. There were two proposals, neither of which were constructed. The first being a broad gauge(BG) and the second being using the 'Light Portable Railway' equipment that was in store at Chaman and Quetta

Eventually all the equipment was dispersed - most of the steam locomotives ended up in industrial use, clearly the difference between the 60 cm gauge and the 2ft(610cm) gauge not being significant, the fate of the rolling stock has not beenn identified. By 1928 any remaining stock became the property of the North Western Railway(NWR)


  1. 1.0 1.1 “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compiled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at Reference: Entry IA07 page ....