Madras Tramways

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Madras Tramways

Madras Tramway Proposals

Various proposals were put forward in 1857 using tramways instead of common roads, but nothing came of these.
See separate page for further details.

Madras Horse Drawn Trams

In 1874 a horse-drawn tram entered dervice in Madras when 11 miles(17km) of metre gauge track was opened for passenger service. The line of patent modular design was laid by J E & A Dawson [1].
By 1886 the line was assessed as a dismal failure and narrowly escaped being scrapped. In that year ‘The Indian Engineer’ reported moves to construct an electric tramway. Nothing happened until 1891 when Madras Municipality offered a concession to Messrs Hutchinson of London, who registered the ‘Madras Electrical Tramway Company’ in London on 2 April 1892. The prospectus proposed 18 miles of track to be laid [1] .

Madras Electric Tramway

The Madras Electric Tramway Co Ltd was formed in 1892. The construction of the first track commenced in 1894 and the first tramway section opened for use in May 1895. it was the first electric tram system in India. Its activities expanded in 1904. [2] [3].

The ‘Electrical Construction Company’ of Wolverhampton, England was awarded the contract for construction of the Madras Tramway in 1893, but several problems were encountered. Charles Herbert Gadsby took over the tramway in Dec 1894 and remained until Apr 1896. Trial runs began in Feb 1895 and public service started on 7 May 1895 with seven cars [1] .
On 31 May 1900 the ‘Electrical Construction Company’ as contactor-turned-operator bought out other shareholders and placed William Thom as Manager. He turned the business round and on 16 Mar 1904 a new company ‘Madras Electrical Tramway(1904)’ was formed. At this point there was 9¼ miles(15km) of route, 3 acre depot site, 45 cars. By 1905 the route had risen to 13.25 miles(21km) and rolling stock to 51 and by 1924 the system had grown to 26 miles(42km) [1]

Trams in Madras (Chennai) were operated between the docks and the inland areas, carrying goods and passengers. At its height in 1921, there were 97 cars running on 24 km of track. However, the tram company went bankrupt about 1950 and the system closed on 12 April 1953 [4].