Nagpur Tramway Proposal 1863

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Nagpur Tramway Proposal 1863

In 1863 a “Report on the projected Tramway between Nagpore and the Eastern District” [1] was published to propose a tramway with 2 possible legs from Nagpore(Nagpur) into the countryside, this would enable the carriage of goods and people to the city to connect to the railway that was due to be opened as far as Nagpur two years later [2].

The Report was submitted to the Government of India but was rejected on the grounds that it was of little importance but the Government would support any commercial organisation willing to undertake the work [3].

This 1863 proposal was not adopted.(The GIPR actually reached Nagpur on 20 Feb 1867)

Note: Town Names are as stated in the Report.

The “Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1908" is taken as our definitive spelling which is stated in brackets.

Modern town names and comments in Italics


The following is taken from the 1863 Report [1] held in the British Library.

The Report mentions that a tramway from Nagpore(Nagpur) to Raepore (Raipur) was started and bridges built. This was funded by the Mahratta Government but abandoned. (This was later used for a road Route 53.)

In the early chapters of the report the case was made for the carriage of goods and people with the tramways into the Chutteesgurh (Chhattisgarh District) with a ‘Southern Leg ‘to its towns of Raepore (Raipur) and Balespoor(Bilaspur) as its targets, and a ‘Northern Leg’ to Mirzapoor (Mirzapur). The District having a total of population of approximately 1,548,145 and moving in one year 82,398 carts carrying 12 maunds (486lb 220Kg) and 88,307 pack bullocks carrying 3 maunds (121lb 55kg) [4] of Shellac, Tussa Silk, and Lac red dye from the countryside to Nagpur. There were also outcrops of coal and iron ore which could possibly be developed.

Nagpur Tramway Proposal 1863

  • Southern Route
Started at Raepore (Raipur) and travelling west crossing the Sheonath River at Droog(Durg) it enters jungle. After 20 miles it leaves the jungle when it crosses the Baug River. Onward over a number of bridges it enters Nagpur after 183 miles. This will follow the road currently being built (Route 53) between Nagpur and Raepore. As well as the outgoing goods mentioned before there is the potential trade on the 2 lines of 29,000 tons per annum with a potential earnings of R3,600,718 (£36,000) for incoming goods. Mining of Gold and silver to the value of £50.000 would also benefit from the tramway as a secure means of export. Passenger traffic would also increase the income. It had been stated that if a tramway from Raepore to Nagpore pulled by bullocks or small engine, travelling at a speed exceeding that of the present carriages and costing from R.75 too R1.25 per mile would cause great savings.

Mr Lee who worked as a contractor on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway(GIPR) arriving in Nagpur suggested a gauge of 5ft 6ins (1680 cm) and that there would be no saving adopting a narrower gauge and it would interface with the railway, regardless of its motive power, although tramways of this nature are normally narrower. The proposed base would be 15 feet (14.5mtrs) and 11 feet (3.35mtrs) over bridges. The track would be laid on sleepers of 9 inch (23cm) laid 3.25 feet (1mtr) apart. The gradient between Baug and Nagpur would be no greater than 1:300, East of the Baug the gradients may be as high as 1:100 if heavy work is not carried out. If this is the case it may be prudent to station extra locomotion to assist on the incline. The smaller rivers do not pose much of a problem but the 3 larger ones, the Kunhan river bridge currently being built could be utilised, while the shallow Wyengunga the rails should be run on raised pillars and allowed to be submerged it the monsoon and finally the Baug could be crossed with a light iron girder bridge. It would be hoped that the trade would outstrip the use of Bullocks but the costings show the operation by Bullock to be Rs23,704 and that by locomotive Rs 29,920. But 130 tons over 100 miles in 10 hrs would require tank engines at a cost of Rs15,000 each. To do the same job it would require 295 pairs of Bullocks at Rs80 a pair costing Rs23,600 adding the cost of the driver and the requirement to rest the animals, the Locomotive is more viable. The cost per ton in the case of Bullock Power would be very little difference than now whereas the cost per ton by steam power would be half the present rate. The speed at which the Bullocks would travel would mean that they would only cover 50 miles in 3 to 4 days. The cost per mile would be Rs27,663 whereas the steam version would be Rs32,542. Mr Bereton Chief Engineer of the GIPR came to the same conclusion on cost. Therefore, the cost from Nagpur to Droog being Rs4,960,000 and Droog to Raepour Rs8,000,000 making approx. Rs13,000,000

  • Northern Route
By contrast the superior of the two parts of the scheme as there is no road and covers flat land with very few rivers for the first part of its construction. It is also well suited to picking up the prod)uce along the way. It has to cross the Wyengunga but this is easier than the southern route and the crossing of the Kanhan River there is a government bridge that might be utilised. Kamptee on the Kanhan River is a market that is second only to Nagpur.

The proposed northern leg started at Mirzapoor ([[Mirzapur) for Dhunda (Dhamdha) in a southwest direction passing Khyragurh(Khairagarh), and then west through some low gravely hills into the river valley. This area is fertile and run by the Zemindaree Estates growing mainly rice. Toomba(Tumsar) is the last main town before Kamptee and the outskirts of Nagpur. There was no direct road to this area and the cart roads are only passable in the dry season. The main route is over 190 miles.

  • Other Proposals
Another proposal was to start at Droog(Durg) and the head northwest to pick up the line of the Northern Route then head west as before, this would probably be the most profitable and less costly route. The Report stated 'Currently the only reason the southerly route is heavily used is that it is the only road with the necessary services. Other versions are to terminate at the railhead at Kamptee, stop at Droog(Durg) instead as continuing to Raepour'.

Later Developments

In the 1880’s the Nagpur Chhattisgarh Railway (NCR), a metre gauge(MG line opened from Nagpore(Nagpur); this followed the northern route of the 1863 tramway proposal reaching in Toomba(Tumsar) in 1880 and Amgaon in 1883. The NCR was absorbed by the Bengal-Nagpur Railway(BNR) in 1887 and the MG was converted to broad gauge(BG) reopening in 1888 as part of the BNR mainline.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 IOR/V/27/722/23 “Report on the projected Tramway between Nagpore and the Eastern District”. British Library, also available on microfiche at IOR/V/23/7, No 41
  2. “1918 Admin Report page 65 (pdf72) ; Retrieved 20 Nov 2016
  3. “Calcutta: Public Works Department Press”, 1865 V/24/3278 British Library
  4. Wikipedia “Maund”, assuming that 1 maund in Nagpur was equal to that in nearby Indore at 40.5lb ”; Retrieved 22 Nov 2016
  5. “Administration Report on the Railways in India 1916” page 1 (pdf 9); Retrieved 20 Nov 2016