The International Steam Pages

Western Railway - Metre Gauge

The Western Railway was the king of metre gauge systems. While the North Eastern Railway may have had more steam locomotives at the time this project is focused on, the Western Railway boasted an extraordinary range of locomotive classes. This was largely as a result of the many native state railways in western Gujarat (Saurashtra) having separate locomotive policies.

The principal player in what became the Western Railways was the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BBCIR). Apart from its own lines, the BBCIR also operated many of the state lines and unusually built its own locomotives at the workshops in Ajmer which did not always follows the BESA and IRS guidelines.

The 'rare classes' were active through the 1970s and just into the early 1980s and while not attracting the number of visitors as the narrow gauge, their is fair coverage of nearly all of them. In fact, apart from the difference in gauge, many of the branch lines with their low density of population and traffic had many of the characteristics of their 2ft 6in (762mm) gauge cousins in other parts of the area.

With the exception of the Hill Railways at Ootacamund and Darjeeling, the Western Railway also had the dubious honour of being the last to operate steam locomotives, the fleet at Wankaner somehow staggering on into 2000.


Rob Dickinson