Tuesday, 12 January 2016


 Vidyut Prakash Maurya  Email – vidyutp@gmail.com
( IHC Membership No. AM 18959A)

DEHRI ROHTAS LIGHT RAILWAY was a narrow gauge railway system running in south Bihar. Dehri Rohtas Light Railway, also known as DRLR, was a 2 ft 6 in or 762 MM  narrow gauge railway line between Dehri and Tiura Pipara Dih in the state of  Bihar, India. It was running till 1984 in old Shabad district or new Rohtas district of  Bihar.
Actually DRLR was a subsidiary unit of  Rohtas Industries, and was used to bring raw materials, especially limestone from hills, for the cement factory of  Rohtas industries at Dalmianagar. Dalmianagar was a big industrial town of  Bihar in post independence era. But this railway system was operating passenger trains also, which was the main transport for humans on this route till the early 1980s.

Dehri on Sone or Dalmianagar town lies on the bank of the Sone River with an average elevation of  99 metres (324 feet). Dehri on Sone is a Railway station on the Gaya-Mughalsarai broad gauge railway section of Grand Chord railways route. It is one of the important railway section of  Indian railway network.
Before 1984,  Dehri had total three railway stations. There were two separate railway stations called Dehri-on-Sone and Dehri. Dehri on Sone was for the Grand Chord Line and Dehri was for narrow gauge Dehri Rohtas Light Railway line.
During British period there was third railway station called Sone east Bank, operated  by East Indian Railways (EIR). The two railway stations, Dehri on Sone and Dehri had no rail link because of the gauge difference and were separated by a road. This road was known as Station road. The station called Dehri City Railway station, was situated at the centre of the town on Dehri-Rohtas light Railway route. 

The Dehri Rohtas Light Railway started off as Dehri Rohtas Tramway Company in 1907 promoted by The Octavius Steel and Company of Calcutta.  Octavius Steel and Co.  was formed by an Entrepreneur from Britain, Octavous. He went into partnership with Alexander McIntosh. In 1876 he formed Octavius Steel and Co. which lasted over 100 years.
Sometime in the year 1908 Messrs Octavius Steel & Company, Calcutta, the promoters of a Company to be called the Dehri Rohtas Tramway Company Ltd., made an application to the Government of Bengal for sanction to the construction of a line of Tramway between Dehri-on-Sone on the East Indian Railway and the village of Akbarpore within the District of Shahabad (now Rohtas). The Government of Bengal by Notification No. 24 R, dated the 10th of November, 1908, granted the application and made an order under Section 5 of the Bengal Tramways Act (III of 1883) called the Dehri Rohtas Tramway Company Order. By the said order the Government of Bengal reserved to itself full control over charges of all kinds for the use of the tramway. An agreement dated the 4th of June, 1909, between the District Board of Shahabad, Octavius Steel & Company and the Dehri Rohtas Tramway Company Ltd., was entered  and thereafter Dehri Rohtas Light Railway was constructed. 

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. For this purpose soon thereafter, the tramway company was incorporated as a light railway company. This company worked for acquire the assets of the then defunct Dwara - Therria Light Railway in Assam. Construction for track started in 1907, in next four years the work of DRLR was going on full swing. The DRLR opened for traffic in 1911. Since its humble start the DRLR was serving for freight as well as passengers.

After the start of services the DRLR network become popular among people of Shahabad district. It was booming period for DRLR  in1913-14 when it carried over 50,000 passengers and 90,000 tons of freight. The goods traffic on this route mainly consisting of marble and stone. In 1927, a 2.5 kilometer spur was added to Rohtasgarh Fort from Rohtas.
At its peak time, 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.

Total 16 railway stations were in use on DRLR network. In 1911 DRLR network has only 10 railway stations. One more sation added in 1926 and trains were now running till Rohtas Fort. When Rohtas Industries took ownership of Dehri Rotas light railway another 25 kilometer track was added on the DRLR network. The last extension was in 1958 on DRLR network. Now in flagship of  Rohtas Industries DRLR was serving total 67 kilometer distance with its 16 railway stations.  In mid of DRLR Banjari was a important industrial town. In Banjari there was a cement plant.  In Banjari Kalyanpur Cements Limited (KCL) was producing cement. The KCL was incorporated in August, 1937 is one of the oldest cement manufacturing companies in the country. Banjari and adjoining areas in the districts of  Rohtas and Kaimur have large deposits of cement grade limestone. DRLR was main mode of cement transport from Banjari to other places.
1 Dehri-On-Sone
2 Dehri City
3 Badihan Shankar Puri
4 Indrapuri
5 Tilauthu
6 Tilauthu Bazar
7 Tumba
8 Ramdihara
9 Banjari
10 Rohtas (Baknaura)
11 Rohtas Fort
12 Baulia Road
13 Mahadevpuri Bhadara
14 Nimahat
15 Nauhatta Road
16 Tiura PiparaDih

The DRLR network was operated by a very mixed bag of locomotives. It has total 19 NG locomotives. It started off with 0-6-2 tank locomotives. In its start three locomotives arrived from the Dwara - Therria Railway from Assam,  after it was closed in 1909. In the pre independence years, the network also used 0-6-0 ( Bladwin Locomotive Works USA),  0-4-0 (Sentinel) and 0-6-4 variants of tank locomotives.  Baldwin 50788 of December 1918 had 11inch by 16inch cylinders and 2ft 7½inch wheels and was assigned to the Dehri-Rohtas Railway by the War Department of India.
After the Second World War there was increase in traffic on DRLR network. So the railway ( DRLR) brought as many as eight new ZB class 2-6-2 tender locomotives. First four orders for locomotives were placed to Hudswell Clarke, a company of Leeds, Yorkshire, England. Another Four locomotives purchased from Krauss Maffei, a German company.

OLD LOCOMOTIVES - The railway also purchased several locomotives second hand notable to fulfil its demands. DRLR purchased some old locos, among which were the A/1 class 2-8-4 tank locomotives built by Hudswell Clarke that arrived from the Pulgaon - Arvi NG rail 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 manufactured by Kerr Stuart and company ( England) and 2-6-4 tank engines by Henschel and son ( a German company) that arrived from the Shahdara - Saharanpur Light Railway, which was closed in 1964.

RAIL AMBULANCE - A writer Mick Pope, who visited Dehri  in 1980 tell about DRLR ambulance running on tracks. He writes, Every well equiped railway network needs an ambulance coach. This is the DRLR version powered by a converted diesel jeep. How do they turn the jeep at the destination? Easy, they insert a jack under the centre and spin it round.

An old steam locomotive of Dehri Rohtas Light Railway (DRLR) now can be seen outside railway station of Muzaffarpur (Bihar). The loco RIL-06 is on display from 05 December 2015, as heritage property of East Central Railway of Indian Railways. In its naming RIL stands for Rohtas Industries Limited. This loco was manufactured in 1908 by Vulcan Foundry Limited having 0-6-4 tank. It was originally purchased by East Indian Railway. EIR bought total 10 locomotives from Vulcan. But in 1967 DRLR purchased on old loco from EIR it for its operational needs. Actually it was BG locomotive. It was in use till 1984 for transport fo goods wagons of Rohtas Industries. The Vulcan Foundry Limited was a British locomotive builder company at Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire. Now it is a part of Merseyside. 

LOCO Of  Rohtas industries at Muzaffarpur jn. 
Ram krishna Dalmia floted Rohtas sugar, later known as Rohtas Industries. In 1933 He established industrial town Rohtas nagar later called Dalmia nagar, He purchased majority shares of  Dehri Rohtas Light Railway. He also constructed a rope way to bring sugarcane to his suger factory at Dalmianagar. After RK Dalmia Sahu Shanti Prasad jain (1917-1977) was looking after the group business. The group was running mainly Cement, sugar and paper industries in Dalmianagar.
Rohtas industries owned by Dalima group bought Dehri Rohtas light railway for its needs. After independence the M.L. Dalmiya ( Sahu Jain group) and Company Limited used to run Dehri Rohtas light railway. Dehri Rohtas Light Railway Company Limited is a Public Company incorporated on 03 February 1943. It is classified as Indian Non-Government Company and is registered at Registrar of Companies, Patna. Its authorized share capital is Rs. 6,000,000 and its paid up capital is Rs. 5,014,000. It is inolved in Manufacture of  Basic Iron & Steel.
Dehri Rohtas Light Railway Company Limited's Annual General Meeting (AGM) was last held on N/A and as per records from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), its balance sheet was last filed on N/A.
Dehri Rohtas Light Railway Company Limited's Corporate Identification Number is (CIN) U27106BR1943PLC000145 and its registration number is 145. Its Email address is and its registered address is DALMIANAGAR, SHAHABAD, ROHTAS , Bihar INDIA.
The area covered was 413.55 acres owned and/or used by the company as a lessee an unregistered agreement was entered into between the appellant and the District Board of Shahabad, (now Bhojpur) on 7 august1953. Thereby it was agreed that the company will pay a fixed sum of Rs.10,000 per annum towards cess in respect of the railway under the Bengal Cess Act IX of 1880 irrespective of the profits or losses made by the company in its railway business . The company paid the cess as per the agreement dated 7 august 1953 for the the period from 1953-54 to 1966-1967.
Rohtas Industries brought the line up to Tiura Pipradih by adding another 25 km to the DRLR, most of which passed through their property. So, the track was specially used to carry cheapest tribal laborers and, above all, limestone (cement is produced by roasting powdered limestone with powdered clay in a rotary kiln) from different queries in Kaimur hills to the Kalyanpur Cement Factory of  Banjari and Jain Cement Factory at Dalmianagar.
Loco of  Rohtas ind. at MUzaffarpur Jn.
In 1960 the DRLR was a great profit making narrow gauge rail network in flagship of Sahu jain group. The Economic weekly Writes - Dehri - Rohtas Light Railway another company of the Sahu Jain group . Dehri Rohtas Light Railway; increased its earnings from goods and passenger traffic from Rs 39 lakhs to Rs 42 lakhs during the year ended March 31, 1960. The gross profit margin on them improved slightly to about 50 percent. Net earnings after tax went up from Rs 8 lakhs to Rs 10 lakhs. This represents an increase in net earnings on capital invested from 13 to 20 percent, on net worth from 20 to 23 per cent and on equity capital from 26 to nearly 33 per cent. After making adjustment for the distribution of a further dividend for the previous year,  Rs 1 lakh been distributed by wav of dividend and Rs 9 lakhs retained in business, against Rs 10 lakhs and a withdrawal of Rs 2 lakhs from reserves in the previous year. The company has purchased 60,000 shares of Rs 10 each in Jessop for Rs 15 lakhs. The earning per mile run has gone up from Rs 19.19 to Rs 20.00 and expenditure per mile run from Rs 8.52 to Rs 8.83. While the earning per passenger mile declined slightly during the year, that per ton mile recorded a rise.

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. In a brief trip report he writes- 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.
Brian writes - 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!

Due to the decline in traffic and competition to road in the late 1970s, the DRLR succumbed and closed to traffic on July 16, 1984.  After 1970 Business of  Sahu-jain group was going down. In 1979, Rohtas Industries was in the midst of a workers’ strike. In such type of situation DRLR rail network was also facing problems. In 1984 all production units of  Rohtas industries closed down and more than 11,926 employs of  group become jobless. Employs went to court for their dues and salary settlement. Dehri Rohtas Light Railway had 570 employs on roll in 1984. They all were also fighting for their dues. After 29 year in 2013 they not got their dues from the company. Now Dehri Rohtas Light railway is in list of defaulting companies of Bihar state.
But here it was a completely different story of  DRLR. The railway closed on July 16, 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.
Indian Railway purchased scrap material and land of  Dehri Rohtas Light Railway between 2004-2009, when Laloo Prasad yadav was union rail minister. Indian railway paid 140 crore INR for its scrap material. Now the land of DRLR would be used for the Eastern Freight Corridor. The scrap of DRLR was spread in  220 acre area in Dehri town.  It was railway yard of DRLR narrow gauge system. Indian Railway also bought all old locomotives of DRLR from its yard. It contains old steam locomotives also. One of the old locomotive  is now on display at Hajipur zonal head quarter of East Central Railway. Indian railway also planned a new broad gauge line between Dehri to Banjari on the same elevation of DRLR narrow gauge. The new line will be 36.4 kilometer length and its estimated cost is 106 crores.

Total distance  -           67 km
Gauge                            2 ft 6 inch or 762 MM  (NG)
Total stations                16
Starting year                 1911
Closing year                 1984
Total Staff                     570 ( in 1984) 

01.  "IR History: Part III (1900-1947)". IRFCA. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
02. "M/s Dehri Rohtas Light Railway Company vs District Board Bhojpur & others and District Board Shahabad & others". Manupatra. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
03. http://indiankanoon.org/doc/574042/ and http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1125710/
04. https://www.zaubacorp.com/company/DEHRI-ROHTAS-LIGHT-RAILWAY-COMPANY-LIMITED/U27106BR1943PLC000145
05. Mainstream weekly   Monday 1 March 2010, by Amarendra Kishore
06. http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/ne/India/narrow_gauge/steam/76cm/pix.html ( IMAGE CREDIT)
07. T H E ECONOMIC WEEKLY, December 17, 1960)
08. BOOK - Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar- Author -  ANAND A YANG- (Page 49) University of California Press ( Feb 1999)
09. Book - THE TOI STORY: How A Newspaper Changed The Rules Of The Games- Sangeet P Menon, Harper Collins.
10. Dainik Jagran, (Patna Edition) Sunday, 17 May 2015
11. www. Mca.gov.in( ministry –Bihar)
12 . Book , The TOI Story- Sangeeta P Manon ( Harpper Collins India)
13. Website - http://www.kalyanpur.com/ (History)
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( Paper presented in Indian History Congress held at Gaur Bangala Uni. Malda Town, WB, India on 28-30 Dec 2015 )