The Kosi Dam Railway

by Simon Darvill, 2015

Between 1954 and 1963, the Governments of India and Nepal built the Bhimnagar Barrage (also known as the Kosi Dam or Kosi Barrage) on the Kosi River. As part of this a 2'6" gauge railway known as the Kosi Dam Railway was built. It was used to carry stone from the quarries to the construction site. Initially stone was quarried up river from the dam and then sent down river by boat. The river was too shallow to use a boat up to the dam so it was transshipped to the railway. To start with, this was done at Chhakraghatti and taken by train to Bhimnagar. It was later done at Chhatra as it was more convenient and the railway was extended to a wharf north of Chhatra. A branch was also laid from Bhimnagar to Forbesganj in Bihar, India. This was used for the movement of materials and personnel arriving by IR. By the late 1950s the initial supply of stone had been exhausted and a new quarry was started in the hills opposite Phurse. A line was laid from Chhakragatti to Ghopa. The stone was transferred from the quarry to the railway at Ghopa by a cableway. This was short lived due to an accident and the cableway was removed. The stone was taken from Phurse to Ghopa by road and transshipped to the railway.

The main shed and workshops for the line were located at Bhimnagar with a sub-shed at Chhakragatti. 24 locomotives are known to have been used on the line -- all came from various 2'6" gauge lines of IR. It is unknown where the original rolling stock for the line came from, but most of it was replaced in 1960; some of it survived and was derelict at Bhimnagar and Chhakragatti in 1968. The 1960 wagons were built by IR and were long wheel based four-wheeled wagons with low wooden sides. A passenger service was operated on the line during the monsoon season of 1958. It was used mainly by British military personnel who were travelling between Forbesganj and Ghopa whilst a metalled road to the cantonment at Dharan (near Ghopa) was being constructed. This service was operated by the 4-4-0 locomotive which had originally been used on the Tezpore Balipara Light Railway. in Assam and two four-wheeled carriages. The Chhakragatti to Ghopa section had closed by 1972. The Bhimnagar to Chhakragatti section closed by 1972. At least some of the line around Bhimnagar was still in use in 11/1982 as a ZB class locomotive was reported working in the area with a stone train.

Some photographs from the defunct line can be found in our gallery.

Locomotive of the Kosi Dam Railway