Dehri - Rohtas Light Railway and Rohtas Industries

Does this loco look familiar? Hiding beneath the Dehri-Rohtas Light Railway livery of Rust & Grime is ex IR 'K' class #536 sold out of mainline service in 1967 to become #27 in the DRLR fleet. Some rough welding has taken place to leaky tanks. Surely one of the ugliest loco designs ever but I guess they have their fans? 1980 [Photo by Mick Pope]

Dehri Rohtas Railway 0-6-4T #6 Avonside works# 1982 of 1926. Dehri Rohtas Railway, 1980/01/14 [Photo by Mick Pope]

Dehri Rohtas Railway 0-6-2T #5 Avonside works no 1856 of 1920. Dheri Rohtas Railway, 1980/01/14 [Photo by Mick Pope]

Rhotas Industries Ltd. No.6 is a broad gauge 0-6-4 tank locomotive built by Vulcan Foundry in 1908. Prior to arriving at RIL in 1967, it worked for Eastern Railway as ER No.34308. [Photo by Mick Pope]


No.4, a broad gauge 0-6-0 tank built by Jung and was brought new by RIL in 1957. [Photo by Mick Pope]



Introduction


The Dehri Rohtas Light Railway started off as Dehri Rohtas Tramway Company in 1907 promoted by The Octavius Steel and Company of Calcutta. The original contract was to build a 40 Km feeder line from Rohtas to the East Indian Railway's Delhi - Calcutta trunk route at Dehri-on-Sone. Soon thereafter, the tramway company was incorporated as a light railway in order to acquire the assets of the then defunct Dwara - Therria Light Railway in Assam. The DRLR opened to traffic in 1911 and was booming by 1913-14 when it carried over 50,000 passengers and 90,000 tons of freight, the goods traffic mainly consisting of marble and stone. In 1927, a 2.5 Km spur was added to Rohtas Fort from Rohtas.

Rohtas Industries brought the line up to Tiura Pipradih by adding another 25 Km to the DRLR, most of which passed through their property.

The DRLR operated a very mixed bag of locomotives. It started off with 0-6-2 tank locomotives, three of which arrived from the Dwara - Therria Railway after it closed in 1909. In the pre IRS years, it also used 0-6-0, 0-4-0 (Sentinal) and 0-6-4 variants of tank locomotives. After the wartime increase in traffic the railway brought as many as eight new ZB class 2-6-2 tender locomotives, orders for which were equally split between Hudswell Clarke and Krauss Maffei. At its peak, the DRLR used to operate two daily passengers trains in each direction from Dehri-on-Sone and Tiura Pipradih, a run of 67 Km. Apart from this the railway carried marble and stone traffic to the mainline at Dehri-on-Sone.

The railway also purchased several locomotives second hand notable among which were the A/1 class 2-8-4 tank locomotives built by Hudswell Clarke that arrived from the Pulgaon - Arvi system of Central Railway in 1959. Other unique locomotives that operated on DRLR were the several ex. Kalka - Simla Railway K class 2-6-2 tank engines by Kerr Stuart and 2-6-4 tank engines by Henschel that arrived from the Shahdara - Saharanpur Light Railway.

Due to the decline in traffic and competition to road in the late 1970s, the DRLR succumbed and closed to traffic on July 16th 1984.

Although the DRLR was a hotspot for narrow gauge enthusiasts from Europe in the 1970s, not much has appeared about it in the media since its closure. Brian Manktelow from London, England decided to unravel the fate of DRLR rolling stock in 1994 and visited the area. Below is a brief trip report:

An unannounced chance visit to the Rohtas Industries works Jan 19th, 1994 proved very fruitful. After making personal contact with the management, we were given permission and a guide to visit all three sites.

Rohtas Industries BG (5'6") Shed


All seven locomotives were present in and around the shed. The three Jung tanks and the two old East Indian Railway (EIR) 0-6-4 tank locomotives were seen in very clean condition and ready to run. The fourth Jung tank engine was stripped down for long-term repair. The only really grubby looking loco of the lot was the Kerr Stuart saddle tank engine. Considering that these locomotives had not turned a wheel since the early 1980s, they were indeed in remarkable condition and everyone around spoken to was optimistic that one day the order will come for them to return to service and they will be ready for it!

 

Locomotive No. Type Manufacturer Makers No. Year
1 0-4-0ST Kerr Stuart 4173 1921
2 0-6-0T Jung 11736 1953
3 0-6-0T Jung 11737 1953
4 0-6-0T Jung 12796 1957
5 0-6-0T Jung 12797 1957
6 0-6-4T Vulcan Foundry 2294 1908
7 0-6-4T Vulcan Foundry 3103 1915

- All locomotives except No.1 & 3 were in good stored condition, looking very presentable
- No.1 was in poor condition - No.3 was completely dismantled, under prolonged heavy repair.


The Dehri Rohtas Light Railway (2'6") running shed


Here it was a completely different story. The railway closed on July 16th, 1984 and since then nothing has moved. In the shed there were seven ZB class and three tank engines, one being Kalka Simla Railway. All were seen totally rusted through and shot to pieces with trees and vegetation running riot on, through and around them. They are still locked up and guarded and inaccessible without permission though.

Locomotive No. Type Manufacturer Makers No. Year
7-9 ZB 2-6-2 Hudswell Clarke 1806-8 1950
11-12 ZB 2-6-2 Krauss Maffei 17906-7 1954
13 ZB 2-6-2 Krauss Maffei 18300 1955
15 ZB 2-6-2 Slavonski Brod. -- 1959
24 K 2-6-2T North British 18598 1908
6 0-6-4T Avonside 1982 1926
RI 1 0-6-4T Avonside 1457 1902

- All locos were seen in poor or derelict condition
- No.7-9, 11-13 and No.15 were brought new by DRLR.
- No.24 is ex. Kalka Simla Railway, Northern Railway No.529
- RI 1 is ex Dwara - Therria Light Railway
- Most of the above locos still had their work plates intact
- The ZBs had raised brass numerals on the cabside and raised brass DRLR lettering on some of the tenders


The Dehri Rohtas Light Railway (2'6") running shed


The workshop is situated a little way outside of the town and was once again found locked up and guarded. Upon entry we found a time warp on the whole place. Two ZB locomotives were seen stripped down in mid repair and seven tank engines in various stages of dereliction. Also present was a small Orenstein and Koppel diesel engine that was locked up in a wire cage compound so details are not available. Also in the works were several items of coaching stock all dating back from the early 1900 and built in Leeds, England.

On the railway itself, the old exchange sidings with the mainline were packed with rusting narrow gauge wagons and boxcars. The entire track leading from the sidings and out into the country has been lifted but the track bed was quite easy to follow. The area around the loco shed and in the factory boundaries is still intact although fenced off and inaccessible from the local paths and roads. Vast amount of wagons still survive but all like the locos are in deplorable condition.

Locomotive No. Type Manufacturer Makers No. Year Condition
2 0-6-2T Kerr Stuart 3120 1920 derelict
3 0-6-2T Avonside 1459 1902 stripped down
5 0-6-2T Avonside 1856 1920 derelict
10 ZB 2-6-2 Hudswell Clarke 1809 1950 under repair
14 ZB 2-6-2 Krauss Maffei 18301 1955 under repair
23 K 2-6-2T North British 18788 1909 dismantled for scrap
28 2-6-4T Hunslet -- -- derailed at 45 deg. against wall
29 2-6-4T Hunslet -- -- derelict
RI 2 0-6-2T Avonside 1458 1902 very derelict
-- Diesel 0-4-0 Orenstein and Koppel -- -- locked up in wire cage

- This is how the workshop was left at closure of the line in 1984
- RI 2 is ex Dwara - Therria Light Railway
- No.23 is ex. Kalka Simla Railway, Northern Railway No.514

We have not seen any reports of visits to the works or the railway since this time. Although twelve years have passed since the last reported visit, it would hardly come as a surprise to us if it is still much the same. In Brian's words, "If anything, or at all still exists and you are able to get in all right, you will be in seventh heaven! It was a fantastic time warp, be warned that you will need at least half a day to cover the three sites plus the usual tea and biscuits chat time."

We hope that someone will visit the area in the near future and bring us up to date.


No.5 was a 0-6-2 tank engine built by Avonside and brought new by DRLR in 1920. [Photo by Mick Pope]

A slightly modified version of No.5, the No. 6 engine was a 0-6-4T also built by Avonside in 1926. [Photo by Mick Pope]

Every well equiped railway needs an ambulance coach. This is the Dehri Rhotas Railway's version powered by a converted jeep. How do they turn the jeep at the destination? Easy, they insert a jack under the centre and spin it round - which is fine unless it falls off part way round - which it did on our visit!. Dehri on Sone, 1980 [Photo by Mick Pope]

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