McLeod’s Light Railways (MLR) consisted of following four 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge lines in West Bengal in India. The railways were built and owned by McLeod & Company, which was the subsidiary of a London company of managing agents, McLeod Russell & Co. Ltd. On 1 July 1967, MLR was merged with South Eastern Railway.
|McLeod’s Light Railways|
|Owner||McLeod’s Light Railways|
|Operator(s)||McLeod’s Light Railways|
|Line length||97 km (60 mi)|
|Track gauge||2 ft 6 in (762 mm)|
Ahmedpur-Katwa Railway connecting Ahmedpur and Katwa in West Bengal was opened to traffic on 29 September 1917. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 52 kilometres (32 mi). In 1966, Indian Railways had taken over the operation of this narrow gauge railway from McLeod & Company.
The 52 km long railway section has been converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge. The conversion work started in 2013 and was completed in early 2017. On 24 May 2018, the section was opened to passenger traffic.
Bankura-Damodar Railway (also called as Bankura Damodar River Railway) connecting Bankura and Rainagar in Bankura and Bardhaman districts in now West Bengal was opened to traffic in sections between 15 December 1916 and 6 June 1917. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 97 kilometres (60 mi). The railway was known as Bankura Damodar Railway, as it used to terminate at Rainagar, which was on banks of Damodar River. People used to take ferries to cross river to go on other side.
The standard locomotive for BDR was a powerful 0-6-4T design but during the first world war some 2-6-2T engines were also obtained from Stafford company of Bagnall, same as was ordered for the Egyptian Delta Light Railways (and hence known as the Delta class). The 1953 additions were also of this type. There were two Sentinel locomotives; one (No.8) is now preserved at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi. A steam loco shed at Bankura served the narrow gauge line.
The BDR services were withdrawn in 1995 after it incurred huge losses due to higher maintenance costs, falling passenger numbers as well as falling freight. In 2005, the 120 kilometers long railway section was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge and train services were resumed. Extended part to Mosagram was opened in 2012 to connect Howrah Bardhhaman Chord Line .
Burdwan-Katwa Railway connecting Bardhaman (earlier known as Burdwan) and Katwa in now Bardhaman district, West Bengal was opened to traffic on 1 December 1915. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 53 kilometres (33 mi).
The 52 km long railway section was converted to 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad gauge. The Bardhaman-Katwa line after conversion from narrow gauge to electrified broad gauge was opened to the public on 12 January 2018.
Kalighat Falta Railway connecting Gholeshapur in Behala to Falta was opened on 28 May 1917 and was extended a further 0.92 miles (1.48 km) to Kalighat, now Majherhat in West Bengal on 7 May 1920. The railway was built in 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge and total length was 26.95 miles (43.37 km).
The KFR line was the first in India to use three brand new 2-6-2 side tank AK16 locomotives, built in November 1916 by W. G. Bagnall Ltd. of the Castle Engine Works at Stafford in England. They entered service with KFR in February, 1917. The 'AK' in the name stood for 'Ahmedpur-Katwa'. They were also known as the 'Delta Class' engines (since they were originally ordered by the Egyptian Delta Light Railways but were more successful in India) and they were very successful and a lot many were used in the following years till 1953 when the last order was placed. One of the 1916 built Bagnall locomotives has been preserved by the Phyllis Rampton Narrow Gauge Railway Trust at the Vale of Rheidol Railway in the UK.
Due to ever increasing losses, the KFR was closed in 1957. The land where the tracks used to be was used to construct a road, the James Long Sarani, in Behala.