Nepal Government Railway

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Nepal Government Railway

Nepal Government Railway

In 1923, a short narrow gauge railway was built by J. V. Collier of the Indian Forest Service to transport Nepalese timber to India. Collier had been assigned by Nepal's Rana prime minister to manage the forest department in Nepal. In the winter of 1924, Martin and Co. of Calcutta conducted a survey to construct a light railway from the border north to Bichako (Amlekhganj) [1]

In the winter of 1924, Martin & Company of Calcutta conducted a survey to construct a light railway from Raxaul in India on the border north to Amlekhganj in Nepal, about 37 miles(60km) south of Kathmandu [1]. At Raxaul there was an interchange with the metre gauge(MG) Bengal and North-Western Railway(B&NWR)

Construction of the 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) railway began in March 1926, and the Nepal Government Railway opened on 16 February 1927. Three Engineers were present at the opening ceremony, performed by the King, attended by the Maharaja. These were Mr. Leslie Martin, of Messrs. Martin and Co., the engineers, Mr. C. J. Hendry, the Consulting Mechanical Engineer, and the representative of the Statesman, the Chief Engineer Mr. G. C. Das [2].

Stations were at Birganj (4 miles from Raxaul), Parwanipur (mile 8), Jitpore (mile 13), Simra (mile 16) and Amlekhganj (mile 24) [3]. The giving a line length of 24 miles(39km).

A 1933 Report recorded:-
”The Officer in charge was Mr. W. S. Pedrick, and that the line was (Nepal) Government owned and operated has its southern terminus with a few hundred yards of the metre gauge railhead of the Bengal North Western Railway at Raxaul. From there it runs almost due north through the Terai for a distance of 23 miles terminating at the village of Agnlekhganj. Single line throughout except for the crossing loops at four intermediary stations. The line follows in a general direction taken by the trunk road. In fact, for a considerable portion is laid in the centre of the road. Considerations of first cost no doubted in the alignment being as it is and also the adaptation of the 2ft 6ins gauge but considering the amount of traffic the capacity of the narrow gauge will meet and in fact exceed all demands by the placing in service of a new engine.” [4]

The Nepal Government Railway remained in service till 1965 when the construction of a modern highway linking the southern border made it redundant.

Background and History

A greatly increasing population in the Kathmandu valley made it more and more attractive to establish better communications with northern India to facilitate the transport of goods. Eventually during 1922-25 the London firm of Keymer Son & Company supplied a 14-mile(22km) cableway between Kathmandu and Dhursing which could lift 8 tons per hour over the 4500 foot (1370mtr) range south of the capital. This still left the jungles of the Terai area between the cableway and the nearest Indian railhead at Raxaul and in 1924 the Calcutta firm of Martin & Company were asked to survey a suitable route. This they did and they then constructed and for a time operated on behalf of the Nepal Government a 2ft 6in gauge line from Raxaul to Amlekhganj, opened by the King of Nepal in 1927 [3]


An on-line search of the India Office Records (IOR) records held at the British Library relating to this railway [5] gives the following:-

  • L/PS/11/147, P 682/1818; “Nepal: railway schemes”; 9 Dec 1918-21 May 1926


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia "Nepal Government Railway"; Retrieved 14 Jul 2020
  2. Railway Magazine May 1927 page 72 ‘The First Railway in Nepal’
  3. 3.0 3.1 “Indian Narrow Gauge Locomotives 1863-1940” by Hugh Hughes, published by ‘The Continental Railway Circle’ Paragraph 31 Page 64-65
  4. Railway Magazine 3 Jan 1933 page 1’A Visit to the Nepal Railway’
  5. “British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue” - Search; Retrieved 10 Apr 2016