The Sambhar Salts Railway

The Sambhar Salts Limited operates an extensive railway network at its works around the Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. Mohan Bhuyan and Shashanka Nanda visited the company's works and were generously allowed access to document one of India's most unique Industrial Railways. A blogpost on our stay there can be read here.

Date: 2012-12-03
Owner: Shashanka Nanda
Size: 28 items

Morning breaks over Sambhar Lake as a Sabarmati WDG4 named 'Kaushal' waits patiently for the starter. The wagons on the embankment above it belong to the Sambhar Salts Limited (SSL), which operates an extensive railway network of its own around the lake,


Further down the embankment, an MG loco belonging to SSL waits patiently with its train of wagons for the day's duty to begin.


The SSL premises next to the Sambhar Lake Railway Station. A gauntleted BG / MG track branching from the mainline has been laid to facilitate loading of freight trains from the factory.


The processing factory of SSL is right next to the Railway station. The viaduct in white is actually the unloading line for the NG network of the company.


The tracks run along the shores of the lake and branch out into an enormous private network which contains 45km of MG lines and 25km of NG lines.


An NG train laden with raw salt collected from the pans makes its way towards the unloading sidings in the factory.


As it does so, India's longest running passenger train; the Bhopal - Jodhpur passenger makes its way across the lake. It was headed by an offlink WDG4 from BGKT


At various points, the lines branch inward toward the salt pans where the raw salt is collected through evaporation of saline water.


The NG line going through the pans. The red colour of the water is due to the presence of algae. The line in view is permanently laid. However, temporary branches are laid from these lines running in to the pans which are currently in use.


A temporary line, complete with its own culvert branching in to the salt pan.


Wagons lined up along the pans awaiting the loading of raw salt.


The wagons are built on a metal chassis, but have a wooden body to reduce corrosion.


A worker loading the wagons. On an average, an NG wagon can take around 5-6 metric tons of salt.


Like any other network, the SSL Railways too face the odd glitch. Here, one of the NG wagons in a rake of empties has jumped track.


A team of SSL workers quickly arrive on the scene and lift the wagon with a crowbar to re-rail it.

(view all 21 comments)
Very interesting, thanks for the series! :-)

Posted by Roni Kappel on 2013 Feb 02 02:06:08 +0000
A pretty unique collection - never knew such a railway existed.. Very interesting pictures, thanks Shanx & Mohan.
Posted by PVS Praveen Kumar on 2012 Dec 13 04:08:23 +0000
Amazing to see the pictures. Thanks for bringing them here.
Posted by Krupa Ratnam on 2012 Dec 12 06:54:35 +0000