The International Steam Pages


Once upon a time, long ago,
Glimpses of Pakistan, 1979 and 1985

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.


Peshawar Loco Depot

I first visited Pakistan in July 1979: a fleeting four day visit travelling along the Grand Trunk Road on the way from India to Afghanistan. This was back in the days when tourists were welcome in both Pakistan and Afghanistan and back in a period when I had minimal interest in railways.

For some reason though I did visit the Peshawar Loco Depot, was given a warm welcome and allowed to wander freely. I only took a couple of photos that afternoon: one was this study of SGS 2437, an 0-6-0 built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1920. My escort climbed into the cab and posed whilst two little fellas also got into the act.........

Actually there were a lot of little fellas hanging around the depot that afternoon all taking full advantage of the Peshawar Drivers, Firemen & Cleaners Social Club Children's Swimming Pool!

The Nowshera based SGS

My second visit to Pakistan was for three weeks in February 1985 and by now I was fully into the steam scene again. First steam stop was Peshawar where, as expected, the train through the Khyber Pass to Landi Kotal was forbidden. I knew that before I got there but its always worth asking as you never know your luck!

My Plan B was to day trip out to Nowshera and ride behind the SGS on the branch north to Durgai. From Peshawar to Durgai is about 100kms by rail but it took three trains, two of which were steam, and six and a half hours to reach the branch terminus. I chickened out on the return trip and waved down a bus: two hours later I was back in Peshawar!

Nowshera needed three engines that day to run the branch services: one for the Charsadda Mixed and one each for the Durgai passenger and goods. I joined the Charsadda train for the run to Mardan Jct, about half way to Durgai, and then waited for the Durgai passenger. SGS 2417, Vulcan Foundry 1916/17, came through first though in charge of a lengthy goods. With rods down and smoke from the funnel the SGS were quite an attractive looking engine.

I then joined the Durgai Passenger for the run to the end of the line. Mid afternoon saw SGS 2503, Armstrong Whitworth 1922, trundling off downhill on the start of its journey back to Nowshera.

The goods must have been waiting at the first crossing station down the line as a short time later 2417 arrived with what was now a very short train. I had hoped for a long train working hard on the sweeping curve but as it was now only one wagon and a guards van I tried a scenic shot instead. What looks like a white line running up the mountain side on the left of the picture is actually the road climbing to the Malakand Pass and then onto the magical beauty of the Swat and Chitral regions.

A Famous Train

In New Zealand circles train 190 qualifies as a famous train: after all it was the last train to use steam engines on a regular basis in that country. Pakistan Railways also had a 190 and in February 1985 it too was steam hauled. With two new friends alongside an elegant looking XA 2706 poses at Kundian. Built by the Vulcan Foundry in 1929 the XA were a 4-6-2 designed specifically to run light passenger trains on secondary and branch lines......a job they were still doing successfully in Pakistan even if timekeeping was not always their strong point.

The North Americans of Bahawalpur

During World War II British manufacturers were fully committed to the war effort so in urgent need of new motive power the Indian Government had turned to the United States and Canada. By the end of the war six hundred and fifty nine CWD/AWD (C if Canadian built and A if from the United States) had entered service. On partition in 1947 ninety six CWD were transferred to the newly formed Pakistan Railways and by 1985, at around forty years old, were still the most modern steam engines on the system. Whereas India continued to build steam locomotives right up until the seventies Pakistan, due to fuel and water scarcity, started purchasing diesels almost immediately.

Bahawalpur was the closest suitable town to Samasata Junction: home of the largest allocation of the CWD 2-8-2 class in Pakistan. The first train I saw coming through Bahawalpur turned out to be a diesel hauled goods..........and from February 1985 until I wrote this I've known absolutely zilch about 3803 apart from the fact it was a diesel! Built by Alco sometime between 1957 and 1959 it had recently been rebuilt, re-classed and then renumbered as 3803. Certainly it had that classic American look but it wasn't what I'd come to Bahawalpur for.

A short time later and I had what I was after! CWD5122, built by the Canadian Locomotive Company in 1945, leaves Bahawalpur on an all stations stopping passenger train in that lovely early morning light. After two photos at Bahawalpur I thought I'd exhausted the possibilities so headed off down the line to Samasata where I found the options even more limiting. So limiting in fact the results aren't worth sharing.....no scenery, no smoke and a very high sun!

Locomotive details were taken from "Indian locomotives" Parts 1 & 4 by Hugh Hughes and published by The Continental Railway Circle.


Rob Dickinson

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