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Established: 1899
Ended: 1902


The Imperial Military Railways was created in the time of the Anglo-Boer War with the stated purpose:

(1.) To be the intermediaries between the Army and the technical working administration of the railway.

(2.) To see that the ordinary working of the railway is carried on in such a manner as to ensure the greatest military efficiency.

(3.) To satisfy the demands of the Army on the railway without disorganising the working of the railway system as a whole. In war these services are essential, for the officers of a civil railway administration cannot discriminate between the demands of the various branches and departments of the Army, or class them in order of urgency.

A Department of Military Railways under the direction of Major (later Colonel Sir) E Percy C GIROUARD, Royal Engineers was set up in October 1899. Its work was divided under the following headings:

  • The control and working of the railways in British territory.
  • Arrangement for the repair of lines damaged by the enemy.
  • The control and working of the lines in Boer territory - once captured the lines were referred to as the 'Imperial Military Railways'.

At the signing of the peace in 1902 its military function was transferred to the civil authority of the CENTRAL SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS.