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British Industrial History

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Indus Flotilla Co

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The Indus Flotilla Co was a steamship company established in 1859 in British India to provide the navigation of the Indus, &c, by means of steam ships, between Kotree and Mooltan, to be worked in connection with the railways. It plyed the Indus River all the way from Karachi Port in the south to Makhad in the north, via Jhirk (Jerruck) and Mithankot. The journey between Karachi and Multan (Mooltan) alone used to take up to 40 days. The northern portion of the line was often referred to as the Punjab flotilla.

The company had its headquarters at Kotri. Its promoters negotiated the same guaranteed rate of return as the original guaranteed railways. Early on, it merged with the Scinde Railway and the Punjab Railway to form the Scinde, Punjab and Delhi Railway.

The Scinde Railway had been formed in 1855 and in 1861 succeeded in connecting Karachi to Kotri, a distance of 108 miles. Once this railway was in place, the steamers of the Indus Flotilla could take cargo from Kotri instead of Karachi, saving themselves about 150 miles of circuitous wending through the Indus River delta. The railway, however, bypassed Jhirk/Jherruk completely, reducing its importance.

In 1856 the charter of the Scinde Railway was expanded to include the construction of Punjab Railway to connect Mooltan to Lahore and Amritsar.

In 1863 the Scinde Railway's charter was further amended to permit the construction of a line from Amritsar to Delhi. The distance from Mooltan to Delhi was about 490 miles. At this time the company changed its name to the Scinde, Punjab and Delhi Railway (SPDR).

The Secretary of State for India purchased the SPDR in 1885, and in January, 1886, it was named North Western State Railway, which was later on renamed as North Western Railway.

In 1961, the Pakistani portion of the North Western Railway was renamed Pakistan Railways.

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