Bombay-Surat-Baroda-Ahmedabad Railway, 1855

Extracts from Australian newspapers

Made available by the National Library of Australia. Edited by R Sivaramakrishnan. Posted to IRFCA on: January 15, 2010.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 8 October 1855, p. 3

An extract on the proposed Bombay - Surat - Baroda - Ahmedabad line*

(From the Oriental News, May 20)

The second item of Eastern intelligence which will be read with pleasure in England is the sanction by the Indian Government, of the new line of railway from Bombay to Surat, Baroda, and thence to Ahmedabad. Both in a military and civil view this will be one of the most beneficial undertakings ever commenced in India. Owing to several storms .which last on the west coast of India for four months in the year, the port of Surat has for that period no communications whatever with Bombay. The consequence is, that native merchants, unable to bring down their cotton from Guzarat before the rainy (or monsoon) season sets in, are obliged to leave the staple in store at Surat until the fine weather commences. Being comparatively poor men, from being kept four months out of their money, and from the expenses attending the looking after their property at a long distance from their homes, these merchants suffer considerable losses every year. The practical result upon the cotton market at the Presidency is a great diminution in the quantity of the staple brought there for sale. Under the most favourable circumstances the natives of India are but little given to run any risk in commercial speculations, and the consequence is that sooner than have a chance of being obliged to leave a portion of their cotton for next season's sale, they cultivate less of the plant, or else gather it before quite ripe. By the railway we have mentioned, all this will be obviated. Surat will be able to send cotton to Bombay all the year round, just as easily as Birmingham or Manchester can send goods to London or Liverpool.

From Surat the line is to proceed, via Baroda, into the very heart of the cotton districts in Guzerat, and so on to Ahmedabad, the capital of the province. Whenonce the railroad is made, the facilities now existing throughout England far the transmission of merchandise will be at the very door of every cultivator of cotton throughout Guzerat. Up to the present time, Lord Dalhousie has only sanctioned the commencement of the works on this line as far as Ahmedabad, but he has ordered the surveys for its prolongation to be undertaken at once, and from Ahmedabad the railway is to proceed via Deesa and Muttra to Delhi, Meerut, Firozepore, and Lahore, and so on through the Punjaub to Peshawur. Throughout vast tracts by which this gigantic undertaking must pass, great numbers of natives, who have now no occupation whatever, will be converted into comparatively wealthy labourers, and the benefits of civilisation will be extended into countries which are now ignorant of the very name. This scheme has throughout been a pet one of Lord Dalhousie's, and in railway matters his lordship's name stands too high in England to need any praise.

A reference to the map of India is necessary to see the vast importance of the line in a military sense. From Bombay, Poona, Guzerat, Delhi, Meerut, and all the great military stations in the west and north-west of the empire, thousands of men could, at any season of the year, with all their baggage, all the implements of war, and without any fatigue whatever, in a few hours, be assembled at any point of our Peshawur frontier.

With the full knowledge that Russian intrigues have been for years at work in Central Asia, who can undervalue an undertaking like the one we have mentioned? With such a line of railway the Indian Government might dispense with the services of another 7000 European soldiers, and still bid defiance to anything that could be brought against us on the north-west frontier. It is refreshing to turn to a subject like this, after months spent in witnessing the fearful mismanagement of our troops in the Crimea. Lord Dalhousie's government in India has formed a pleasing contrast to what we day by day witness at home. In India, under his management, more great undertakings have been accomplished in the last three years, than in England we dare hope for in twice that period, with all our present obstructions: the two most prominent which appear in the mail lately come to hand are themselves sufficient to establish lasting claims on the gratitude of our vast Indian Empire.* *

The Courier (Hobart, Tas. ), Thursday 12 July 1855, Page 2

The ceremony of turning up the first sod in the north-west railway was performed with the usual solemnities, at Mirzapore, on Saturday, the 17th February last. This railway, along with the line in the lower provinces, a part of which has been already opened, .will connect Calcutta with Delhi, a distance of some nine hundred miles.

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW), Saturday 16 June 1855, p. 1S

The Rajah of Burdwan is said to have ordered the construction of a railway from his own residence to the company's - If his residence is meant the Burdwan Palace, the affair will be a very miniature one. If it be the Kulma Palace, the undertaking is worthy of high praise.

The original source material used on this page is believed to be out of copyright, and/or these extracts are believed to be fall within the scope of fair use under copyright law. Material selection and editing by R Sivaramakrishnan, 2010.