the narrow gauge question

John Peterson

Hello all,

An interesting discussion.

Having a closs look at the article that started it all it seems to me
that it was built with a different criteria to the situation in Vic.

The locos were big and eight coupled to spread the weight to allow the
5 tons axle load. These railways were built for the desert with little
or no major engineering works as an exercise in the maximum effeciency
for a railway. Imagining them used on a trip to Walhalla I don't feel
it would make it around the curves used and would require major
earthworks to allow for overhang and swing on curves. On a reverse
curve?? In other words it would defeat many of the advantages of using
a narrow gauge.

The VR ran some long trains. I suspect that the rolling stock was on
the small size to allow for efficiency in engineering in hilly country
and to make it less likely to derail. In that context I guess 2'6"
would have an advantage over 2'. I suspect the train lengths were much
longer on the VR than the NE Dundus in the photos I've seen.

I checked out another line in India that ran in hilly country also 2'
6" gauge to see the sort of loco and rolling stock; were they smaller?
The Kalka Simla line [still running] seems similar to VR mountain
country. They used 2-6-2T and at one stage 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 artics as
well. The rolling stock however, seems bigger than the VR one. Could
someone with knowledge of these lines comment?


Michael J

Hi John,

The Kalka Simla line was not so much a hill line as a mountain line by
our standards! 102 tunnels, 864 bridges, and 919 curves with a 1:25
ruling gradient, in about 60 miles. It is also interesting in that
construction started in 2ft gauge, but after the edict from the British
military, the line was converted to 2ft6in gauge. I wrote the following
about it's steam locos in a Wikipedia article:

The first locomotives to arrive were two class "B" 0-4-0ST from the
famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
<> . These were
built as 2' gauge engines, but were converted to 2' 6" gauge in 1901.
They were not large enough for the job, and were sold on in 1908. They
were followed by 10 engines with a 0-4-2T wheel arrangement of a
slightly larger design, introduced in 1902. These locos weighed 21.5
tons, and had 30" driving wheels, and 12"x16" cylinders. They were later
classified into the "B" class by the North Western State Railways. All
these locos were constructed by the British firm of Sharp Stewart
<> .
Larger locomotives were introduced in the form of an 2-6-2T, of which 30
were built with slight variations between 1904 and 1910. Built by the
<> Hunslet and the
North British Locomotive Company
<> , these
locomotives were about 35 tons, with 30" drivers and 14"x16" cylinders.
These locomotives, later classed K and K2 by the North Western State
Railways, subsequently handled the bulk of the railways traffic during
the steam era. A pair of
<> Kitson-Meyer 2-6-2+2-6-2
articulated locomotives, classed TD, were supplied in 1928. They quickly
fell into disfavour, as it often took all day for enough freight to be
assembled to justify operating a goods train
<> hauled by one of these
locos. Shippers looking for a faster service started to turn to road
transport. These 68 ton locomotives were soon transferred to the
edit> Kangra Valley Railway, and subsequently ended up converted to
metre gauge <> in Pakistan
<> .