Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lindsay’s Steam Safari Adventure Across Pakistan

Steam & Safaris Ltd North-West Frontier Explorer Tour Group, with MS 4-6-0 #63 Sindh, Pakistan. 10-1-1998

There is race on to develop world’s fastest trains, set in motion by the introduction of the Bullet Train by Japan many many years ago, News is that China has developed Maglev – the world’s fastest train “running” at a matchless speed of 350 kilometres per hour. But despite these advancements, there are still people whose love for the old steam engines developed in the late 1800s hasn't died down as yet. These steam locomotive lovers travel around the world to get close to those noisy, black smoke bellowing black engines.

Steam & Safaris Ltd North-West Frontier Explorer Tour Group is one such group of enthusiasts that travel around the world and find pleasure in riding trains pulled by the steam locomotives such as HGS 2-8-0s, CWD, SPS 4-4-0s, and Metre-gauge MS, YD & YE classes. In 1997-98, the Steam & Safaris Ltd North-West Frontier Explorer Tour Group toured Pakistan and had a rollicking time travelling in steam engine pulled trains.

The group traveled to places like Rawalpindi - Havelian - Peshawar - Landi Kotal - Malakwal - Bhera - Sargodha - Chak Jhumra - Shorkot - Rohri - Sibi - Quetta - Rohri - Nawabshah - Mirpur Khas - Pithoro – Karachi besides the Changa Manga Forest.  The group mostly consisted of the British steam enthusiasts, including a Canadian and an Australian. Many of the group members had used S&S before, primarily in South Africa. The S&S group's main attraction had been their journey from Rawalpindi to Landi Kotal, just short of the famous Khyber Pass,  through Peshawar and Jamrud  as part of the famous Khyber Steam Safari - a wonderful tourist attraction that has now been halted due to the security situation in the area. I have myself traveled on this Safari many years ago from Peshawar to Landi Kotal and can still feel the adventurous journey. Landi Kotal is the last railway station, just short of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Torkham.

The Australian member Lindsay shot some wonderful photographs of these vintage steam locomotives, which though have largely been phased out of service from Pakistan Railway, but some are still operational and plying on difficult routes where ascent gradient is too steep. I came across Lindsay’s collection when he shared some of his photos in my Flickr group Jalalspages Pakistan and was greatly impressed by his resourceful collection. I requested him the usage of his photos for writing this post, which he very graciously allowed.

So scroll down for the memorable itinerary of the Steam & Safaris Ltd North-West Frontier Explorer Tour Group, as covered by Lindsay. Although he had injured his back, and was generally confined to his sleeping berth, which made it difficult getting on and off the train at the photo stops, but he managed with some help from my friends. And the results are fantastic.  Don’t forget to read more about Lindsay at the end of the post. 

 Metre Gauge Ten-wheeler - MS 4-6-0 No 63 
Metre Gauge Cross - YD 2-8-2 No 520 returning a charter to Mirpur Khas from Pithoro (at right), crosses YE 2-8-2 No 722 on regular service, Shah Dipalli 9-1-1998
0-6-0 #17208 built by the firm John Fowler & Co, of Leeds, Yorkshire in 1927. Changa Manga Forestry Line, Lahore
 YD 2-8-2 No 520 departing Mirpur Khas with a Steam & Safaris Ltd charter to Pithoro Jcn 
 YD 2-8-2 No 520 on Meter Guage Turntable at Pithoro Jcn 
 YD 2-8-2 No 520 dep Mirpur Khas for Pithoro Jcn with a Steam & Safaris Ltd charter 
 HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 works a Steam & Safaris Ltd charter west of Golra Sharif Jct, Islamabad
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2303 & HG/S 2-8-0 # 2216 cross the Indus River Bridge at Attock 
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2216 & HG/S 2-8-0 # 2803 departing the reverse at Changai, Khyber Pass
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2303 & HG/S 2-8-0 # 2216 at Landi Kotal, Khyber Pass
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2303 & HG/S 2-8-0 # 2216 departing Jamrud for Peshawar
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2303 with a Steam & Safaris Ltd charter at Nowshera
 Akora Khat Tak 
 East of Faqir Abad with Steam & Safaris Ltd charter, turns on the clag for the Poms
 West of Golpur 

 CWD 2-8-2 # 5122 waiting for the road at Shorkot. The NSWGR D.59 class and the QR AC.16 class were very similar to the CWDs, although 4'8 1/12" and 3'6" gauge respectively.
 CWD 2-8-2 # 5122 waiting for the road at Shorkot 
 SP/S 4-4-0 #3159 near Bhera 
 SP/S 4-4-0 #3159 between Chiniot & Rabwah 
 SP/S 4-4-0 #3159 dep Chak Jhumra 
 HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 dep Havelian 
 HG/S 2-8-0 # 2216 has been turned at Havelian, and is running back to couple onto its chartered train. Havelian is at the end of the branch line from Taxila Cantonment, and the start of the Karakoram Highway, leading from Pakistan over the mountains to western China. December 1997.
 HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 north of Kotnajibuilah – Haripur Hazara 
HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 - HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 Landi Kotal Khyber Pass 
HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 - HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 between Changai & Landi Kotal
Long Live Pakistan - inscribed in Urdu on the green plate - HG/S 2-8-0 #2303 Akora Khat Tak 
HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 - HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 dep Medanak (1st Reverse) Khyber Pass 
HGS 2-8-0 # 2303 & HGS 2-8-0 # 2216 at Landi Kotal, Khyber Pass
HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 Jamrud 
HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 Taxila Cantt 
Embrazures in the fortified walls of Khairabad Kund 
HG/S 2-8-0 #2216 - HG/S 2-8-0 #2306 nearing Jamrud from Peshawar 

About the Photographer: Lindsay, an Australian was 27 in 1997 when he visited Pakistan with the S&S Ltd to ride the steam engines of Pakistan. One of the engines, CWD he found very similar to the one he had worked on at the railway museum. Before he was married, he spent many years working as a volunteer steam engine fitter at the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, and travelled widely around Australia and overseas, riding on and photographing trains. He is married now with small children and occasionally still photograph some trains in other countries - usually when on a business trip. Presently, Lindsay work as an Engineering Manager for Eaton Corp in its electrical business in Sydney, Australia.

Khyber Steam Safari (Pakistanpaedia)

Steam Locomotive (Wikipedia)