Railway Locomotive Workshop Jamalpur: The First Railway Workshop of India

Railway Locomotive Workshop Jamalpur: The First Railway Workshop of India

Railway Locomotive workshop Jamalpur is the first Railway workshop of India located at Jamalpur in Munger district of Bihar. 

The East Indian Railway planned to expand the railway network from Howrah to Delhi, construction of railway network started and the railway line reached to Rajmahal in 1860, continued westward following the Ganges River reached Bhagalpur in 1861 and finally to Jamalpur in 1862. The expansion of railway network gave birth to a full-fledged railway workshop facility at Jamalpur of Munger District of Bihar in India 150 years ago on the 8th of February, 1862. The workshop was the biggest in India at that time so it was also called as headquartered of the Mechanical Department and principal workshop of the East India Railway Line at that time.

WG 9626 departures from Jamalpur from Rampurhat to Gaya , December the 23rd 1992.
WG 9626 Departures from Jamalpur from Rampurhat to Gaya, December the 23rd 1992. Picture by Duncan McEvoy

History of Locomotive workshop Jamalpur

Initially, Jamalpur was only an engine changing station, although light repairs were done in the running sheds. The workshop was shifted from Howrah to Jamalpur. 

The Jamalpur Workshop-1862
The Jamalpur Workshop-1862

It is interesting to know, why it is shifted to Jamalpur? Most of the employees in the workshop were Britishers. As long as the workshop was in Howrah, they were found more at hotels, restaurants and billiard-rooms instead of the workshop even during working hours. Hence, the workshop was shifted from Howrah to Jamalpur.

Jamalpur Railway Workshops in 1897
Workmen leaving Workshops after work – Jamalpur Railway Workshops in 1897

As there was not much industrial development outside, the Workshop established its own Iron and Steel Foundry and first Rolling Mill in Asia. Later, the Workshop became a major producer of Cast Iron Brake Blocks for the Indian Railways, until gradually, Cast Iron Brake Blocks were replaced by those made of Composite Materials. In the year 1899, CA 764 Lady Curzon, a steam locomotive was produced by the Jamalpur Workshop.  And further, it gave birth to much massive power engine.

Train 3647, Bhagalpur to Delhi express. on 24th of Dec. 1992 entering Jamalpur Railway station
Train 3647, Bhagalpur to Delhi express. on 24th of Dec. 1992 entering Jamalpur Railway station Picture by Picture by Duncan McEvoy

On 15th January 1935, the Jamalpur Workshop along with the entire railway colony was destroyed by an earthquake. It took 3 years to rebuild it from scratch.

The Indian rail Museum at New Delhi displays some stunning picture of our Pride Jamalpur workshop. 

Production and Manufacturing 

Currently, the workshop is spread over an area of 574,654 sq. meters, around 12,000 working professional and staffs. The workshop in houses around 2000 machinery and equipment. 

Machine Shop of Jamalpur Worskhop
Machine Shop of Jamalpur Worskhop Picture by Raj kiran

The production and manufacturing of various categories of wagons, coaches, cranes and tower cars, and locomotives takes place in railway workshop at Jamalpur. It undertakes repair and production of permanent-way fixtures as well. It manufactures some tower cars such as Mark II, Mark III and break-down cranes of 10, 20, and 140 tone capacities, besides various kinds of heavy-duty lifting jacks. 

Crane shop at Jamalpur Workshop
Crane shop Picture by Vinit Kumar

It manufactures wheel sets for coaches and wagons. The high-capacity synchronized lifting jacks known as Jamalpur Jacks were also produced by this workshop in the past. Jamalpur workshop undertakes manufacturing and repairing of various types of wagons, periodic overhauling of diesel locomotives, 140-ton cranes, tower-wagons and whiting jacks.

Wheel Production Unit Jamalpur worksop
Wheel Production Unit

The Jamalpur workshop has become the only workshop in the country capable of manufacturing all four types of rolling stocks for railways namely diesel locomotives, cranes, tower cars and goods wagons of different types, including BOX-NHL, BLC and BVZI.

Welding operation inside Crane shop Jamalpur workshop
Welding operation inside Crane Shop of Jamalpur workshop -Picture by Harsh

Cooliee Gaddi

The speciality of Jamalpur Workshop having a special train for their worker known as the ‘Cooliee Gaddi‘ used to run to take workmen to and from the Jamalpur Workshop. The train was a lifeline for the workers who would come to the Jamalpur factory from Dhanauri and Sultangunj. The train stops giving its service in November 2017.

Jamalpur Tunnel

The Jamalpur Tunnel was constructed to expand the railway network from Howrah to Delhi in 1860-61.  The tunnel connects Jamalpur and Bhagalpur on  Kiul-Sahebganj loop section. The Bariakol tunnel is among the four oldest railway tunnels in the country constructed by the British.

Jamalpur railway tunnel
View of Jamalpur railway tunnel Picture by Gautam Sarkar

The Eastern Railway (ER) has started working on another tunnel cutting through Bariakol Hills on Jamalpur – Bhagalpur section. It would help the operation of up and down traffic on separate lines through the Jamalpur hills and hence facilities fast movement of the trains.

IRIMEE

This is not an end of our pride railway workshop of Jamalpur. The town Jamalpur also in-house a renewed technical institute of Indian Railway called as the Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. The IRIMEE is one of the six Centralized training institutes of Indian Railways established in the year of 1888. It presently conducts training courses for in-service Mechanical & M&C Officers and supervisors and appreciation courses in Mechanical Engg for officers of other disciplines in Indian Railways. 

Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE)
Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (IRIMEE)

The catch of this IR Institute was a Special Class Railway Apprentice exam which was conducted by UPSC having less than 30 seats all over India.  SCRA entry was started in 1927 when there was no UPSC. On successful completion of four years, institute award Degree in Mechanical Engineering to the candidate and they are absorbed as Group A Officers in Mechanical Engineering Department of Indian Railways. After 1999 there was MoU between IRIMEE and Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra for the Collaborative Degree Programme.

So all SCRA Qualified candidates join IRIMEE also get register with BIT for BE degree in Mechanical engineering. Before, the SCAs used to appear separately in the internal examinations of IRIMEE, as well as the external examinations by Engineering Council (London) or by the Institution of Engineers (India).

The bad news is that the SCRA scheme was ended in 2015 and the last batch of it get qualified under the SCRA scheme was 2019.

Things to know about Jamalpur Workshop

  • Set up its first rolling mill in India in 1870
  • The first to establish a railway foundry in the year 1893.
  • CA 764 “Lady Curzon”, a steam locomotive engine was produced by the Jamalpur Workshop for the 1st time in 1899
  • Build the first rail- travelling crane indigenously in 1961.
  • The FIRST and the only railway workshop to manufacture electrical arc furnaces of ½ tonne capacity in 1961 for production of steel casting
  • First to manufacture high capacity synchronised electrically operated lifting jacks popularly known as “Jamalpur jacks” in 1962.
  • Between 1899 and 1923 workshop had manufactured 216 steam locomotives.

About Indian Railway

India Railway has the largest rail network in Asia and the second-largest network in the world with 1.30 million employees. Its length of the railway network is spread over 1,23,236 km, with 13,452 passenger trains and 9,141 freight trains from 7,349 stations plying 23 million travellers and 3 million tonnes (MT) of freight daily. India’s railway network has one of the largest railway systems in the world under single management.

View of Railway Workshop from Kali Pahad
View of Railway Workshop from Kali Pahad Picture by Harsh

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