Madras Railway

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Madras Railway
Madras Central Station.jpg
Madras Central Railway Station
Line of route
Madras to Bangalore
Madras to Raichur
Madras to Waltair (Vizagapatam)
Jalarpet to Mangalore
Gauge / mileage
Broad gauge 904 miles (1905)
Broad gauge 497 miles (1905) - North East line
1845 Company formed
1856 First section of line open to traffic
1889 Branch line Calicut-Azikhal Railway opened
1907 Line acquired by State
1908 Jalarpet to Mangalore transferred to South Indian Railway
Key locations
Presidency Madras
Stations Bezwada, Calicut, Coimbatore, Erode, Guntakal, Nellore, Rajahmundry, Renigunta
System agency
Own agnecy
How to interpret this infobox
Madras Railway
[[Image:|150px| ]]
System timeline
1907 Merged with Southern Mahratta Railway to form Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway
Constituent companies / lines
Madras Railway
Kolar Gold Fields Railway
1903 Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Shoranur-Cochin Railway
Key locations
Headquarters Madras
Workshops Madras, Perambore, Podanur
See M&SMR Railway Workshops
Major Stations Madras , Bezwada, Bangalore, Calicut, Cochin, Coimbatore, Erode, Guntakal, Mangalore, Nellore, Ootacamund, Rajahmundry, Renigunta

See also separate page Madras Stations for details

Successor system / organisation
1951 Southern Railway {IR zone)
System mileage
Broad gauge 1411 miles (1905)
Metre gauge 82 miles (1905)
Associated auxiliary force
Madras Railway Volunteers
How to interpret this infobox
Madras Railway Map 1909, north section
Madras Railway Map 1909, south section

First Company Formation

The Madras Railway Company(MR) was incorporated on 8 May 1845 [1] and the prospectus stated “the securing the introduction of the railway system into the territories under the presidency of Madras .... to depute to India a skilful engineer ...with two engineer officers ... to suggest some feasible line of moderate length as an experiment for railway communication in India” [2].

The proposal was for an initial 70 mile line between Madras and the military base at Arcot. Robert Stephenson agreed to act as Consulting Engineer based in London. The subsequent recession removed the financial incentive for railways in India and the Madras scheme was dissolved the following year [3].

Second Company Formation

The Madras Railway Company(MR) was formed provisionally in July 1852 to acquire lands in the “East Indies” and to construct and work a railway or railways in that territory. In December of that year the railway company contracted with the East India Company to construct and maintain an “experimental line of railway” from Madras to (or towards) the west coast of India. [4]

The Chief Engineer from 1853-6 was George Barclay Bruce. "He had then laid out and partly constructed about 500 miles of the Madras railway, he developed a system of carrying out works without contractors using direct labour. Also he developed the brick wells sunk by native divers system to construct the Poiney Viaduct, a major hurdle on the route [5]. .

The first section of line, from Madras to Arcot, was not opened to traffic until 1 July 1856.

In 1859, its object was given as "the construction and working of a railway from Madras to the western coast at Beypore, with branches to Bangalore and the Neilgherries; also of a line from Madras, via Bellary, to join the line from Bombay - total, about 820 miles." [6]


Headquartered in Madras, whence its lines radiated, the Madras Railway was built to Broad Gauge(BG).

The “1870-71 Annual Report for Indian Railways for the Madras Railway“ gives:- ‘Broad Gauge (BG) Line sanctioned 862 miles(1387km), Line opened 1870/71 125 miles(201km), giving total Line length 832 miles(1339km) and 30 miles(48km) to be finished’. The Report also details the ‘progress of the railway and the commercial summery’ - see separate pages for Report details.

In 1887, July-September, the engineer Charles Albert Bull is recorded as being deployed from the Railway Branch of the Public Works Department to undertake a survey, this would be to continue the expansion of the MR network.

In 1901 the southern part of East Coast State Railway(ECSR), renamed Madras (North-East) Railway was transferred to MR.

It was the last guaranteed railway to fall to Government of India (GoI) ownership (31 December 1907).

On 1 Jan 1908, the northern portion (ie the north east, north west and Bangalore branches) was merged with the Southern Mahratta Railway(SMR) to form the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway(M&SMR). The southern section of Jalarpet-Mangalore Mainline section, became part of the South Indian Railway(SIR).

The GoI took over the management of the M&SMR on 1 April 1944.

On 14 April 1951, M&SMR together with SIR and MSR became Southern Railway, a zone of Indian Railways.

Madras Railway - Construction and Bridges

Madras Railway Bridges and Constructions - see separate page for details

Madras Railway Lines

The Madras Railway (MR) constructed and worked an extensive network of broad gauge(BG) lines.

In addition, in 1901, the southern part of East Coast State Railway(ECSR), renamed Madras (North-East) Railway was transferred to MR and became part of the MR network.

The MR contract expired on 31 Dec 1907, at this point the BG route mileage was 1449 miles(2331km)

The MR also worked several lines on behalf of other parties. The metre gauge(MG) Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Shoranur-Cochin Railway; together with the 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) Morappur-Dharmapuri and Tirupattur-Krishnagiri famine protection railways owned by the Government of India.

Madras Railway – Lines owned and worked gives details of the Mainline routes together with Branches, the line lengths and dates of opening

  • 'BG Lines - owned and worked by Madras Railway(MR)'
    • Madras-Jalapet SW Mainline (and Royauram Branch Line; Ranipet Branch Line, Bangalore Branch Line)
    • Arkonam-Raichur NW Mainline
    • Madras-Waltair NE Mainline (and Samalkot Junction-Cocanada Branch Line; Waltair-Vizagapatam Branch Line)
    • Jalarpet-Mangalore Mainline (and Mettupalaiyam Branch Line; Palghat Branch Line)
  • 'Railways worked by Madras Railway(MR)' - giving details of lines worked by MR on behalf of other parties and the reallocation of these arrangements to SIR and M&SMR from 1908 onwards

Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Workshops

The Madras Railway - Locomotive, Carriage and Wagon Workshops was moved from Madras, established in Perambur in 1863 and progressively extended. In 1901 a major expansion commenced by the Deputy Locomotive Superintendent Mr A Pilkington under the orders of Mr C E Phillips, Locomotive Superintendent at that time. These workshops became the M&SMR workshops in 1908.


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 [7] gives many references. The most important being:-

  • L/AG/46/15 “Records of the Madras Railway Company; 1852-1937”
  • L/AG/46/33 “Records of the India Office relating to the Madras and Southern MahrattaRailway Company; 1882-1930”


Unfortunately there are no Staff agreements held at the British Library in the India Office Records.

The following have been identified from various sources:-

Further Information

See Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway(M&SMR) for information from 1908 onwards.

External links