Powayan Light Railway

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Powayan Light Railway
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Line of route
Shahjahanpur to Mailani
Gauge / mileage
Narrow (2'6") gauge 40 miles (1905)
1890 First section opened as the
Powayan Steam Tramway
1894 Tramway fully opened to traffic
1904 Line further extended to Mailani
Key locations
Presidency Bengal
Stations Pawayan, Shahjahanpur, Mailani
System agency
1890 Owned and operated by
Powayan Steam Tramway Company
1900 Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway
How to interpret this infobox
Powayan Light Railway

The Powayan Light Railway was a 2ft 6in/762mm narrow gauge(NG) railway .
The Powayan Steam Tramway Company was the owner of the railway and ‘Steam Tramway’ was the first description.
In some references also described as the Shahjahanpur-Mailani Tramway.

Note on spelling

  • Pawayan is the spelling given in the Imperial Gazetteer of India [1] which we take as the definitive spelling of the town.
  • 'Powayan Steam Tramway' is the spelling of the Company in all documents and records, which later is recorded as the 'Powayan Light Railway'.


  • The section from Shahjahanpur to Pawayan (see Note), a length of 17 miles(27km) opened in 1890 [2]. The line was constructed by the ‘Powayan Steam Tramway Company ‘and was owned by Carew & Company of Calcutta , who also managed forest land in the marshy jungle foot-hills of the Himalayas. Eric Cambell Geddes, with his railroad and logging experience, was appointed Manager of the estate. As an aid to further jungle clearance he extended the existing light railway and became Manager of the ‘Powayan Steam Tramway’ [3].
  • In 1899 Eric Geddes joined the ‘Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway’(R&KR) when it assumed control of the extended line [3] and the working and maintenance was fully taken over by the R&KR in December 1900 [2]. In 1901 he became Traffic Superintendent of R&KR which then included the renamed ‘Powayan Light Railway’ and returned to Britain in 1903 [3].
  • Following the taking over by the ‘Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway’(R&KR) in December 1900 the tramway was renamed ‘Powayan Light Railway’.
  • The line was extended to reach Mailani, a further 21 miles(34km) in 1904 [2].

The 1918 Administration Report records that the ‘Powayan Light Railway’ was being managed and operated by the ‘Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway’(R&KR) between Shahjahanpur and Mailani,a length of 38.86 miles (62.2km) [4]

It is reported that ‘Powayan Light Railway’ “from Shahjahanpur via Powayan to Mailani, which was constructed by a subsidised company and worked as part of the R&KR System since 17 Dec 1900, was dismantled during WW1 and acquired by the State in 1920-21” [5]

The line is not showing on the 1931 ‘Imperial Gazetteer of India’ Map [6].


There are no staff records in the India Office Records (IOR) held at the British Library

An on-line search of the IOR records relating to this railway [7] gives 5 references. The most important being:-

  • L/F/8/16/1166 “Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway Company Limited, Agreement for capital expenditure on the Powayan Steam Tramway and acquisition of interests in the Powayan Steam Tramway Limited; 1906"
  • L/F/8/17/1263 “Powayan Steam Tramway Company Limited, Indenture supplemental to that of 1st July 1901; 1912"
  • L/F/8/19/1436 “Rohilkund and Kumaon and Lucknow Bareilly State Railways and Powayan Steam Tramway, Reprint of contracts showing modifications up to and includng the contract of July 3rd 1914; 1917"

In addition :-

  • Mss Eur E290/104 "Nineteen photographs of the Pawayan Steam Tramway, Shahjahanpur District, and of bungalows at Rosa, near Shahjahanpur city, presumably inhabited by Europeans employed in the Rosa sugar factory Dated as: c.1880s"

BL Catalogue comment - Sir Edward Bosc Sladen Collection: "Photographs of the route of the Pawayan Steam Tramway, Shahjahanpur District - Collection of prints, somewhat yellowed and faded, mounted on pages from an album, with captions written beneath. The collection consists of views of bungalows at Rosa (presumably for Europeans employed in the Rosa sugar and rum factory), and views of trains on the route of the Powayan Steam Railway between Shahjahanpur and Mailani."

Further Information

See Rohilkund and Kumaon Railway