Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-4

Concluding the series with an attempt to answer the question “Where did the Khyber Railway end?”

Anyone familiar with this line would know that

The line up to Landi Kotal was opened on 3 Nov 1925,

and was extended up to Landi Khana on 3 Apr 1926

and the section from Landi Kotal to Landi Khana was closed on 15 Feb 1932.

There is no mention in the Annual Reports of IR of that period (up to 1931) about any further line being opened beyond Landi Khana

Now see this map (presumably prepared by Bayley and Hearn) which is part of the papers they read at the Institution of Engineers.

Khyber map

Beyond Landi Kotal there is the reversing station of Tora Tigga, and finally the “terminus” at Landi Khana. This too is a reversing station from where a line appears to proceed to a point on the Afghan border.

However, there does not seem to be any explicit mention of the tracks being laid beyond Landi Khana. In their paper it is mentioned that Landi Khana is a reversing station from where there is a short distance to the border.

Richard Wallace, who has studied this line in detail, says that tunnels were built beyond Landi Khana but rails were not laid.

Probably this brief writeup by Andrew Grantham sums it up:

http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/railways/khyber-pass-railway/

In particular: “An alignment was cleared for a extension of the line from Landi Khana to the Afghan border post, although it is uncertain whether any tracks were ever laid on this final section of the route.”

One interesting thing I found was in this map which was part of the 1930 NWR timetable:

NWR-1930 map

This shows “Torra Tigga Nala” beyond Landi Khana. Perhaps this is where the tracks were supposed to end. I have not come across this name anywhere else. It may well be an error connected with Tora Tigga, or the place where the rails were expected to end.

This extract from the 1930 NWR timetable shows the trains running to Landi Khana.

Landi Khana 1Landi Khana 2

It is a little hard to read the footnotes. But they mention that the trains ran 7 days a week (both ways) up to Landi Kotal and continued beyond to Landi Khana on 2 days. In the last days of the Khyber Railway there was one pair of trains a week to Landi Kotal.

Finally-it may not be too difficult to locate the mythical tracks beyond Landi Khana. See this video from 2017 where the visitors walk down to the station from the highway:

 

Even the water column still works!

Closing with old pictures of the station, which must be from before 1932:

Landi Khana campLandi Khana camp-2Landi Khana station

 

Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-3

Here we look at the abortive line which was started in the 1900s to link Peshawar to Afghanistan, which even had some train service for a short while before it was suspended. The actual line through the Khyber Pass came later.

This gets rather complicated, so I will be giving details of the references for those who are interested in more details.

A quick summary from Andy Grantham here:

http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/railways/kabul-river-and-khyber-pass/

Here is a station list from Fergusson, which covers the Peshawar-Landi Khana section:

Khyber line station lists

The line was completed up to Jamrud in 1901. There was an intermediate station at Kacha Garhi which soon vanished from the timetables. (Islamia College was there until the 1930s).

Main references:

  1. Gun-running and the Indian North-West Frontier by Arnold Keppel (1911), can be found in pahar.in and archive.org   Cheap reprints also available on Amazon etc. It has useful insights on the NWFP in those days. The latter part deals more with the places around the Persian Gulf.
  2. NWFP Administration under British Rule (1901-1919) by Lal Baha, 1978. Found in pahar.in. Chapter 4 deals with railways and roads.

Kacha Garhi is where the new line started. The line to Warsak was completed by 1907 and, according to Keppel’s book, had one pair of trains a day from Peshawar to Warsak. There were also trains from Peshawar to Jamrud, end of the line until 1925.

Here we see the junction at Kacha Garhi, from the Baedeker guide of 1914 (which had become outdated by then):

txu-pclmaps-khyber_pass_1914

This extract from the official railway map of 1906 may be more useful:

Peshawar area 1906

You should be able to just make out the line going north from Kacha Garhi to Warsak and a little beyond.

This extract from 1911 is a little better:

Peshawar area 1911

Here we see the line going north of Kacha Garhi and then turning west. The experts in the government were still divided between going directly west through the Loi Shilman valley into Afghanistan, or by going by a more roundabout route along the banks of the Kabul river. The construction was sanctioned up to a point where the two alternative routes would diverge. But the construction seems to have halted a little beyond the westward turn.

Also there seems to be a wrong place-name here as Skhakot (Flag) is actually the name of a station on the Nowshera-Durgai line (near the latter).

One more map from Keppel’s book:

Peshawar map from Keppel's book

If you look carefully, you will see the line going north from a point between Peshawar and Jamrud, and turning west after reaching the river. That point is Warsak, which can be found on current Pakistan maps on Google Maps etc. The end point of the line is similar to the 1911 map above.

Also note the “other” Warsak further west near the Afghan border, and the projected terminus at Dakka across the border. Briefly, the Loi Shilman route involved a tunnel from this Warsak going further west towards Dakka. The river route can also be imagined here, continuing from the end-point here, up to Palosi and down to some point near Dakka.

Finally, see this from a report on Lord Minto’s time as Viceroy:

Minto note on Loi Shilman route

Coming next-where exactly did the Khyber Railway end?

 

 

 

Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-2

Another look at the neighborhood, this time from Wikimapia. Can’t say how reliable it is, though it does show the elusive places such as Kacha Garhi and Dakka.

https://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=34.010621&lon=71.511898&z=14&m=w&show=/38342473/ur/%D8%AD%D9%84%D9%82%DB%81-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A6-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%BE%DB%8C-%DA%A9%DB%92-75&search=Peshawar

Start from Peshawar Cantt and move west. The route of the Khyber Railway is shown quite clearly here, unlike in Google Maps.

https://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=34.029616&lon=71.272945&z=14&m=w&show=/38342473/ur/%D8%AD%D9%84%D9%82%DB%81-%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A6-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%84%DB%8C-%D9%BE%DB%8C-%DA%A9%DB%92-75&search=Peshawar

Note the two pairs of reversing stations. The one between Landi Kotal and Landi Khana has not seen trains since the 1930s, and saw regular services only from 1926 to 1932.

Also reposting the basic map:

Khyber map

Next, we come to the planned narrow gauge line from Jamrud to Dakka across the border.

It is covered in this earlier post:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/book-on-industrial-locomotives-of-south-asia/

Whatever was done here, no traces of this narrow gauge line have been mentioned by any visitor. The construction of the actual BG line started soon after the 1919 war.

Then there was another abortive project to reach Afghanistan in the 1900s, which actually did see some BG track rapidly constructed and shut down equally rapidly in 1905-1907. That will be in the next post.

 

Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-1

The Khyber Railway may not see trains again. While its basic history is known well enough, there are a couple of planned extensions which may have changed the history of the route if they had been implemented.

We start with the basics, from this “official” map used by Victor Bayley and Gordon Hearn  in a paper presented at the Institution of Engineers in the late 1920s. It can be found in “Couplings to the Khyber” by PSA Berridge:

Khyber map

Not all of these stations appeared in timetables.

The Khyber Railway actually starts from Jamrud, which was the railhead beyond Peshawar Cantt since 1901. Work on the present line started in the 1920s, and the section up to Landi Kotal was opened in 1925 and up to Landi Khana in 1926. While an embankment may have been built up to the border, probably rails were not laid. These are points which are yet unclear and can be established only by visits to the area-if it is safe enough.

The stations listed in timetables are given in the Fergusson lists:

Khyber line station lists

 

Note Kacha Garhi, we will meet it again soon. It seems to have been in the timetables only around 1910.

As most readers know, passenger trains did run up to Landi Khana up to 1932. Then the ruler of Afghanistan “requested” that this be stopped, and the trains then ran only up to Landi Kotal.

It is unclear how useful the line was for freight. Typically there was a passenger train from Peshawar Cantt to Landi Kotal on one or two days of the week from the 1940s onward. Regular services stopped in 1984, though tourist specials ran on and off until rainstorms washed away large parts of the line in 2006.

Even so, it is still possible to see see remnants of the line and stations (yes, even Landi Khana) if you travel by the road which now sees plenty of goods traffic into Afghanistan.

Next we come to the lesser-known stories connected with the line’s construction.

To begin with:

The official date of opening from Jamrud to Landi Kotal was 3 Nov 1925. and to Landi Khana 3 Apr 1926. Nothing is said about the line beyond Landi Khana.

But Richard Wallace has found evidence that work on the tunnels was continuing even after these dates. Not so surprising, as it is possible to run trains through tunnels where all work has not been completed as long as there is nothing to block the rails.

To be continued.

 

The Jodhpur Railway from the Bradshaw of June 1944

The Jodhpur Railway of those days was one of the small but well-run railway systems in the first half of the 20th century. The network (as shown in the June 1944 Indian Bradshaw) is:

Jodhpur1-1944Jodhpur2-1944

These are also in the IRFCA gallery’s Heritage section, though wrongly labelled as being from the 1943 Bradshaw.

It can be seen that after 1947 a part of this system (west of Munabao) became part of Pakistan’s railway system. Initially it was merged with the North Western Railway, then Pakistan Western Railway and finally Pakistan Railway.

The part remaining in India essentially became the Jodhpur Division of the Northern Railway and later the North Western Railway (which has nothing to do with the previous NWR).

The NWR and partition

This includes part of a book which was not published. It may be of interest to some who are interested in the NWR at the time of Partition and later.

It should be noted that (essentially) the present Delhi, Ambala and Firozpur divisions fell in India and the rest of the NWR fell in Pakistan.

This is the official map from the “History of Railways” in 1937.

NWR in 1937 001

I don’t think there was any significant change from this point to 1947, apart from realignment which shifted the junction point at Ruk to nearby Habib Kot.

Apart from this, part of the metre gauge Jodhpur Railway (one time Jodhpur State Railway) beyond Munabao to Hyderabad (Sind) fell in Pakistan.

A similar official map from 1937:

Jodhpur Railway 1937 001

The line from Mirpur Khas to Nawabshah via Khadro was completed later (in 1939).

Note the “frontier” stations at Phulad, Chilo, Sujangarh and Kuchaman Road.

Initially the NWR name continued to be used in Pakistan until 1961 when it became PWR and later PR. The metre gauge lines of the ex JoR were included in the NWR.

In India, the ex-NWR portions initially were a separate system called the East Punjab Railway, which soon became part of the Northern Railway. The EPR had joined the old EIR at Saharanpur and Ghaziabad.

However, the Saharanpur-Shahdara NG line was part of neither but continued to be owned by Martin & Co (later Martin Burn) until it closed in 1970.

The remaining part of the Jodhpur State Railway in India soon became the Jodhpur division of NR, and still later in the new NWR (HQ Jaipur) which has no connection whatsoever with the old NWR.

(Partition in the East was also quite complicated, so we leave that for another day).

Here is the extract of the unpublished book by Ken Staynor who is no more:

Breakup of the North Western Railway and the Anglo-Indian community

Unusual languages on signboards in India

Dogri in Jammu:

Jammu Tawi (Dogri script)

Maithili in Darbhanga:

Darbhanga station Maithili

Also at Madhubani, although it does not seem to be on the platform signs:

Madhubani (Maithili)

These are in Manipur. While the residents of that state are called Manipuris, there is no language of that name. Experts from there will tell you that the signs are Meitei in Mayek script.

Jiribam-manipuriVangaichungpao-Dholakhal

Here is one language many of us would not have heard of:

Ghaghra (JH)

This is in Jharkhand, midway between Rourkela and Chakradharpur. This is the local language Ol’Chiki. Thanks to Pavel Ghosh.

In the neighborhood, here is a left-over Urdu sign in Bangladesh:

Boira (still trilingual)

And left-over signs in Gurumukhi script up in Khyber-Pakhtunwa province of Pakistan:

Landi Khana station todayShahgai (Khyber)

Remember that no train has been to Landi Khana since 1932, and not to Shahgai since around 2000.