1902 Encyclopedia > Railway, Railways (Railroad) > Railways - Africa; Asia; Australia; New Zealand

Railway, Railways
(Part 46)


Railways - Africa. Asia. Australia. New Zealand.



The railways of Lower Egypt have been laid out primarily to connect Alexandria, Cairo, and Suez, with branches to Mansurah and elsewhere in the Delta. The line first laid out, between Alexandria and Cairo, 130 miles long, was opened in January 1856. The junction line from Bennah to Suez is 101 3/4 miles in length; the total length of railways open for traffic in Egypt at the end of 1883 was 941 miles, laid to the 4 feet 8 1/2 inch gauge.

Cape Colony

There are three systems of railway at the Cape of Good Hope,—the Western from Cape Town, the Midland from Port Elizabeth, and the Eastern from East London. In January 1884 there were 1213 miles open for traffic.


In the colony of Natal there were at the end of 1883 105 miles of railway open, and 120 were then in course of construction.


In the Island of Mauritius there are two lines of railway laid to the 4 feet 8 1/2 inch gauge, with two branches, of a total length of 94 miles. The North line, starting from Port Louis, is 31 miles long, and was opened in 1864; the Midland line, passing through the centre of the island, is 35 miles long, and was opened in 1865.



In 1845 the East Indian and the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Companies were formed. Four years later the Government entered into arrangements with these two companies for the construction of railways in the presidencies of Bengal and Bombay, guaranteeing for ninety-nine years a dividend of from 4 1/2 to 5 per cent. upon the estimated cost of these and succeeding railways. They adopted one uniform gauge of 5 feet 6 inches. Down to 1869 this policy of guarantee and uniform gauge was adhered to. But in 1869, under the rule of Lord Lawrence, the Government altered the standard gauge for new lines to one metre, or 3 feet 3/8 inches, and used the lightest rails and rolling-stock compatible with the requirements of Indian traffic. There are now five different railway gauges in India, namely, the 5 1/2 feet, the 3 feet 3 3/8 inches, the 4 feet, the 2 1/2 feet, and the 2 feet. The first piece of railway opened in India was a section of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, 20 1/2 miles alone, from Bombay to Tannah, in 1853. At the end of March 1884 there were 1288 miles of that railway open for traffic. The East Indian Railway was opened for a length of 38 miles in 1854; there are now 1509 miles open. In 1869 this railway was transferred to Government, though it is still worked by the company. Of the Madras Railway 65 miles were opened in 1856; there are now 861 open. The first of the imperial state railways was opened (114 miles) in 1873. At the end of March 1884 the number of miles of line open the traffic was as follows (Table XXXIII.):—

The number of passengers carried increased from 24,280,459 in 1874 to 65,098,953 in 1883.

Ceylon [Sri Lanka]

In Ceylon the railways have been constructed by the Government. The main line, from Colombo to Kandy, 74 1/2 miles long, was opened for traffic in 1867; and the branch to Navalapitiya, 17 miles long, was opened in 1874. The Kalutara Railway, 27 5/8 miles long, was finally opened in 1879. There were 164 miles open at the end of 1884, and 16 in course of construction.


The only railway ever laid in China ran along a strip of land, about 9 miles long, between Shanghai and Woosung, opened in 1876. In October 1877 the line was removed and the traffic came to an end in consequence of official jealousy, although the railway was very popular with the natives.


The first railway that was opened in Japan was the Tokio-Yokohama [Tokyo-Yokohama] line, 18 miles in length, commenced in 1869 and opened for traffic in 1872, laid to a gauge of 3 1/2 feet. At June 1884 there were open for traffic 236 miles of railway.


The four leading colonies of Australia have their capitals connected by railways, and each has its own gauge.

New South Wales

The railways of New South Wales are divided into three systems, all of which take their departure from Sydney, the capital,—the northern, the western, and the southern system. The first piece of line, 15 miles in length, was opened in 1855; and at the end of 1883 there were 1320 miles open for traffic, and 597 in course of construction. The lines are laid to a uniform gauge of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.


Victoria has a uniform gauge of 5 feet 3 inches. The railways all belong to the state. There were 1562 miles of railway open at the end of 1883, besides which 130 were in progress.


In Queensland a system of light substantial railways has been laid out on the 3 1/2 feet gauge, mainly from motives of economy and to moderate the difficulties of carrying the line over the main range to the tableland of the Darling Downs. The first section of the Southern and Western Railway was opened in 1867. At the end of 1883 there were 1038 miles of railway open for traffic, and 454 were in course of construction.

South Australia

In South Australia a gauge of 5 feet 3 inches was at first adopted. The Adelaide and Port Adelaide Railway, 7 1/2 miles long, was opened in 1856, and the Adelaide and Kapunda Railway, connecting the capital with the chief copper mines, 50 1/2 miles long, was opened in 1857. At the same time railways on a 3 1/2 feet gauge were also constructed; the first of these, between Port Wakefield and Blyth, was partly opened in May 1867. The Port Augusta and Port Darwin Railway, destined to connect the Indian Ocean with the Southern Ocean, will, when completed, be about 2000 miles in length. The colony had 991 miles of railway open for traffic at the end of 1883, with 225 in course of construction. In view of the inconveniences of a break of gauge, the progress of the broader gauge lines was stayed northwards, after the junctions had been effected, and new main lines into the interior are constructed on the 3 1/2 feet gauge.

Western Australia

In Western Australia there were only 55 miles of railway open for traffic at the end of 1883 and 68 in course of construction.


At the end of 1883 Tasmania had 167 miles of railway completed, and in 1884 207 miles in course of construction.

New Zealand

The first railways in New Zealand were constructed in the province of Canterbury; the Lyttelton and Christchurch Railway, connecting the port town with the capital of the province, 6 miles long, was commenced in 1860, and opened in 1867, laid to a gauge of 5 feet 3 inches. The Great Southern Railway, a portion of the trunk line to the south, of the same gauge, was opened, also in 1867, to the river Selwyn, distant 23 miles from Christchurch. A comprehensive system of railways connecting the chief towns of the colony was commenced at the expense of the Government in 1872, for which the 3 1/2 feet gauge was adopted as the standard. The first lines so constructed were the Wellington and Woodville Railway and the Napier and Manawatu Railway. At the end of 1883 there were 469 miles open for traffic in the North Island and 926 in the South Island, besides 91 of private lines, making in all 1486 miles. (D.K.C.)*

*1902encyclopedia.com Editor note:
Author initials at this point in this article in 9th edition were D.K.C., but probably should be A. T. H.

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