The history of steam locomotives of the Indian Railways is a vast subject which perhaps may not be of interest to most younger people interested in the railways as a whole. And some unusual locos of the past have been scrapped without leaving any specimen. Fortunately the history has been well documented by writers such as Hugh Hughes, though his books may now be out of print. Here I have referred to his “Indian Locomotives Part 1-Broad Gauge 1851-1940”.
Today we pick up a set of pictures from “Couplings to the Khyber” by P. S. A. Berridge which has some pictures of not-so-common steam locos which were used on the pre-partition NWR.
We are familiar with the Garratts used on the BNR (later SER) until about 1980, besides the MG Garratts on the ABR (later NFR). There was only one other example of a Garratt used on BG in India, which is pictured here. This is No 480 of GAS class built by Beyer Peacock (Manchester) in 1925.It had the arrangement 2-6-2 + 2-6-2 It, like the Mallet in the lowest panel, was purchased as a trial for the Sibi-Quetta section with its fearsome 1:25 gradients. It was found that the regular HG/S 2-8-0 performed better than both of them. So no further Garretts or Mallets were tried on the NWR.
Traditionally, the expresses going up the Bolan Pass had HG/Ss at the back and front. Today, they have diesels at both end. Mach station was the equivalent of Karjat with the banking locomotives.
The 2-6-6-2 Mallet shown here is No 460 of MAS class which was built by Baldwin (Philadelphia) in 1923. It may be the only Mallet which ran anywhere on the Indian Railways. Both the Garratt and the Mallet did well on the less steeply graded section between Lala Musa and Rawalpindi and ran until the late 1930s.
In the middle we see one of the N1 class 2-10-0 which started their working life on the GIPR’s ghat sections, 30 of them being built by North British (Glasgow) in 1920. They may be the only 10-coupled locos which worked on mainline services on the Indian Railways. Once the ghat sections of the GIPR were electrified in the mid-1920s, these were moved to the NWR and did well on the moderately graded systems. An interesting point is that they were originally oil-fired. Due to wartime shortages of oil, they were converted to coal-firing in 1942. (On the other hand, practically all steam locos running in Pakistan were converted to oil-firing soon after partition as the supply of coal became limited).
Finally, here is one of the HG/S 2-8-0s which handled the Bolan Pass and ran whatever little traffic there was on the Khyber line up to the 1980s. This picture shows it in the desert between Jacobabad and Sibi:
My friend Dr MSM Saifullah adds that “one can see a mosque, the outline of which are arranged using rocks. It clearly shows the entrance (with rocks absent) and the mihrab. Mihrab is a semicircular niche in a mosque that indicates the direction one faces for the prayer (called qibla). Mosques of these type are common in deserts and areas with little vegetation.”
And here is another one on the Khyber line in 1968. Note how the loco’s appearance has changed from the British days. Diesel locos could not be used on this route due to axle load limitations. SGS 0-6-0s have also been used on tourist trains on this route.