Chappar Rift

Posted on October 18, 2009
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Architecture, Railways, Travel
Total Views: 55365


Owais Mughal

Clicking on the photos in this article will take you to their larger image.

Among many other things at ATP; we have tried to introduce to our readership; the Railway heritage of Pakistan. In the past we’ve had posts on Khyber Pass Railway, the Bolan Pass Railway and Khojak Tunnel. Today we will introduce yet another historic and scenic railway route which once existed in the Balochistan province and Chappar Rift was considered as its main attraction.

The first railway link to Quetta was inaugurated in 1886 via Bolan Pass. A year later another rail route to Quetta was opened via Harnai, Khost, Chappar Rift and Bostan. This route through Chappar Rift, though non-existent today, has been considered one of the most revered engineering projects in this part of the world. The map to the left gives the location of Chappar Rift. Many rail hobbyists around the world try to emulate the scenery of Chappar Rift in their models and many others still visit the area to see the remains of what was once a very scenic railway. A retouched color replica of an original photo from Chappar Rift is given to the top right. An approaching train over a viaduct is visible. Can you spot couple of signalmen standing in the photo? This photo is orignally dated circa 1895.

The ruling gradient of this track was 1 in 40 with a maximum altitude of about 6000 ft above seal level. What made the railway route through Chappar Rift an engineering marvel was the overcoming of two significant geological hurdles in the area.

The first hurdle was an 8 kilometer long mud gorge made of gypsum clay. Since gypsum is not a hard material, laying rail track on this gypsum floor was a challenge. The photo to the left shows the south end of the mud gorge tunnel. Due to partial liquefaction of the gypsum subsoil in wet conditions, the entire portal with approximately 50 ft of tunnel has floated off sideways by about 40 ft and sunk 20 ft into the ground.

The second geological obstacle on this route was the Chappar Rift itself. It is a 5 kilometer wide cleft with hills, as high as hundreds of feet on either side. Look at the photo to the right. It shows how two sides of the Chappar Rift were bridged. If you look carefully, you can spot an approaching train in the photo. Look just above the trussed bridge. The Railway line was laid negotiating and surmounting these natural hurdles. The salient features of the project included almost 2 km of tunneling, a seven span via duct and a 250 ft high bridge. In the photo to the left, this bridge and the viaduct are visible in center of the gorge.

Chappar Rift is considered a freak of a nature. Look at the photo to the left. It shows Chappar Rift from the north. It was formed when a mountain split open in two parts after an earthquake in the area. The nature had carved these two parts so perfectly that from a distance the gorge appeared to be mating parts of a jig-saw puzzle. As the rail track entered Chappar Rift area it had no feasible foundation to be laid on the mountain edge.

The rocks on the edges alongside the mountain were not considered practical. Engineers then decided to cut a line of continuous tunnels to make the rail bed more secure. See the photo to the right. It shows how sequential tunneling was done in Chappar Rift to lay the railway line. This type of continuous tunneling was planned for both sides of the Chappar Rift cliffs and track from both ends was to met in the center by an iron girder bridge. As normal convention of that time, if tunnel work was started from either side, it would have taken a long time and effort to finish the project. Therefore instead of constructing the tunnels in the usual way, the engineers adopted an expedient way of tunneling by driving openings (adits) into the side of the cliff at various points, and then cutting the tunnel right and left of these openings until the various sections met. The photo to the left shows how this process was achieved. Also note a standing person in the photo to the left. Since mechanized elevators were not available, these openings were created by lowering men down by ropes several hundred feet from the top of the cliff until they reached the point where the work for an opening was to be started. The workers then drove crowbars into the perpendicular sides of the cliff in order to get the necessary support for a platform from which the blasting operations could be carried on. Six of these openings were made on one side of the cliff and six on the other. Altogether there is a collection of 1.95 km (6400 ft) of tunnels in the rift.

The icing on the cake in this project was the construction of a 225 ft high bridge. The design and calculations for this bridge were the most difficult for the period when it was constructed. The highest pier was 90 ft from top to bottom, and the weight of iron girders alone was 600 tons. The bridge consisted of seven 40 ft long and one 150 ft long girder span which was used over the deepest part of the rift.

To build this bridge, the executive Engineer of the project named Captain scott, borrowed two similar spans which were built out as cantilevers from each side of the abyss. When this temporary span had met in the middle, Scott built his permanent span on top, afterward removing the false work. The whole work was completed without the loss of a single life. The bridge was opened by the Duchess of Connaught on 27th March, 1887 in the presence of Duke, Lord Roberts, and a distinguished company of people. The occasion was marked by the explosion of 20 mines. The bridge was named after the Duchess who praised it as the most glorious piece of work in the subcontinent. From that day on the bridge came to be known as the Louise Margaret Bridge.

The Railway line served as an laternate route to Quetta for about 55 years. On the night of July 10, 1942 there was a flash flood in the area which swept away the scree bank in the Chappar Rift. With the scree slope washed away there was nothing left for the railway to be laid upon. It is said that water level reached upto 30 ft in the mud-gorge area and it caused wide spread erosion of rail foundations.

The railway route through Bolan Pass had stabilized over all these years in terms of weather as well as security. This left the importance of a longer rail route through Chappar Rift to non important issue. Therefore in 1943 it was decided that the railway line between Zardalu and Bostan which carried only one train a week, should be closed down. The decision was carried out in the same year and the track was finally uprooted. The photo to the left shows how in 1944 the Louise Margaret Bridge was being taken down after this section was closed down. 133 km of track between Sibi, Harnai and Khost was operational until early 2006. The track is operationally (but not officially) closed due to damaged bridges. There is a chance that Sibi-Khost route will become operational again.

The locomotives that were used on Chappar Rift included the L class and then XA class steam locomotives. The photo to the right is circa 1935 and shows an L class loco pulling an express through Chappar Rift. There is even a poem written about L class steam operation. Two stanzas of that poem which talk about Chappar Rift and Mud Gorge go like this:

Now that which was once my domain,
The famous Mudgorge way,
Must now for ever closed remain,
Where once I ruled the day.

No other engine dared to tread,
Up through the ‘Chappar Rift’,
For thirty years all trains I’d head,
Till XAs made me shift.

If someone wants to visit the area to explore the leftover remains of Chappar rift railway, there is now a gravel road that goes from Bostan to Harnai and passes through the Chappar Rift. A portion of this road is shown in the photo to the left. The photo also shows the north end of the mud gorge tunnel. Most of the time the road is nothing but the embankment of the old abandoned Chappar Rift broad gauge railway line. On the way the road goes through at least three railway tunnels. Then there is a Chai Khana (tea shop) in the middle of no-where. One can find stone boundry pillars engraved NWR (North Westen Railway), holding poles for the sunshade of this ramshackle tea shop. The piers of a number of bridges including the Margaret Louise Bridge are still there as also some tell tale signs of railway stations. The Nari river valley including the areas of Harnai, Khost and Spintangi produces a lot of fresh fruits & vegetables. These are transported by trucks to Quetta and other places over the Chappar Rift. People associated with this freight service form the customers of this out-of-no-where Chai Khana because there is hardly any local population around.

In 1895 a delegation by the name of ‘World Transportation Commission’ visited different transport landmarks of India. The rail route via Chappar Rift was one of the landmarks visited by this delegation. Following photos were taken by the commission members.

Satellite Images of Chappar Rift:

A friend, Mr. Tahir Iqbal has found the satellite images of Chappar Rift at Google Earth. He has also marked the location of rail track and the Margaret Louise Bridge as it once existed. Take a look at these images below:

Latest Photo: October 11, 2009

Following photo is the latest addition in images of Chappar Rift. It is courtesy of Agha Waseem Ahmed who took this photo just 3 days ago (from the time of writing these lines). One can still appreciate the grandeur from the remains of this Engineering marvel

Following is a youtube clip found through web search that shows amazing photos of Chappar Rift from 2010.

References and Acknowledgements:

  1. Couplings to Khyber by P.S.A Berridge, 1968
  2. Hundred Years of Pakistan Railway, M.B.K Malik, 1962
  3. Mr. Iqbal Samad khan, ex CEO Pakistan Railways, for his email/verbal account of Chappar rift travel
  4. Mr. Nick Lera, for many of the photo of this article as well his email account of Chappar Rift travel. He also corrected some of the mistakes I had made in an earlier write-up of this article.
  5. Mr. J.F. Andrist for his email account of Chappar Rift travel.
  6. Mr. Jeff Bounds for his email account of Chappar Rift travel.
  7. Afghanistan Railways: A dream coming true
  8. Mike’s Railway History
  9. Mr. Tahir Iqbal for Satellite Images of Chappar Rift
  10. Chappar Rift Photo Album – A collection of photos that appear in this article.

Pakistan Railway Discussion Group:

If you want to learn more about Pakistan Railways, then feel free to join the ‘Pakistan Railway (PR)’ discussion group. Everything and anything related to PR is discussed here e.g. preserving of Pakistan’s rail heritage, steam locomotives, sharing of photos and news, time tables etc. You can join the discussion group here.

Image to the left is a poster depicting the photo of Margaret Louise Bridge in Chappar Rift.

ATP’s Posts on Pakistan Railway:

1. Journeys to Remember: Quatta-Lahore by Rail in 1925.
2. Journeys to Remember: Karachi-Peshawar by Rail in 1950s
3. Ghora Tram: Historic Horse Tram Returns to Gangapur
4. Karachi Tramway of Yesteryears
5. Khyber Pass Railway
6. Bolan Pass Railway
7. The Trans-Balochistan Railway
8. Changa Manga Forest Railway
9. Lansdowne Bridge, Sukkur
10. Railway Bridge on Indus at Attock
11. Khojak Tunnel
12. Chappar Rift
13. Karachi Circular Railway (KCR)
14. Zhob Valley Railway (ZVR)
15. How the First Locomotive Reached Lahore
16. 3000hp Iron Horses of Pakistan
17. Lahore Rapid Mass Transit Rail Project
18. A Phoenix Rises From the Ashes of Bakhshapur
19. ek masla hai… A Railway Runs Through It
20. Ava Gardner in Lahore for Bhowani Junction
21. The Meter-Gauge of Sindh
22. Indus Flotilla Company
23. Karachi to Kotri: First Railways in Pakistan
24. Pakistan Railway on the West Bank of Indus
25. SPS#3157: Pakistan’s Gift to the People of Britain
26. List of Railway Stations of Pakistan

41 Comments on “Chappar Rift”

  1. November 2nd, 2006 7:36 am

    Very nice post Owais, I am actually a big fan of Adil and your posts, keep it up there are many like me who are gaining alot out of it.

  2. Umera Ali says:
    November 2nd, 2006 12:50 pm

    This is really interesting post and I really enjoyed reading it.

  3. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    November 2nd, 2006 5:23 pm

    Owais: You have out done yourself. Excellent, excellent work. In summer of 1967 on my way to Loralai I had the opportunity to travel on this line from Sibi to Harnai on a narrow gage train. From Harnai to Loralai we tracked on a four wheeler on times driving through river beds. According to one source this line was called “Sind-Pishin Railway”. The rift is through the Chapper (spell check) Mountain. The bridge was designed by Sir James Browne, then Chief Engineer of the Railway and it rises 234 feet above the ground level. Margaret Louise, Duchess of Connaught (spell check) was a daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria. The picture next to the narration regarding the Duchess is credited to one Fred Bremner and was first published by him in “Baluchistan Illustrated 1900″. I hope you do not mind me adding these few lines. By the way I miss those sweet Zardalu of Baluchistan.

  4. Sobaan says:
    November 2nd, 2006 9:15 pm

    I recently discovered this blog by Adil Najam.
    The topics are quite interesting and I couldn’t stop myself commenting on this particular post.
    Adil, I still have a copy of the book that you published in Pakistan “You Said It” a while ago.
    I’ll try to make some contributions to this blog as well :)

  5. Owais Mughal says:
    November 3rd, 2006 12:34 am

    Pervaiz Sahib, thanks for providing the information on this route. You are right, this route was called Sind-Pishin railway. Before that it was called Sind-Pishin roadworks because British didn’t want Russia to know of their plans of building railways in the area. During the ‘great game’ Russians were active in Baluchistan and some graves of Russian nobility from 1800s are found near the Khost railway station on Sibi-Harnai section.

    You are right about Fred Bremmer also.

    Sibi to Harnai track is however broad gauge. Narrow gauge track was used on Bostan-Kan Mehtarzai-Muslimbagh-Zhob route and got disbanded in 1985-86.

  6. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    November 3rd, 2006 9:27 am

    Owais: Thanks for adding more pictures. I intend to add this essay in my library. May be one day you could publish a book based on your essays. Yes, Khost with river Khost by it, is the last station on this line now. Could you please check and confirm the spellings; is it “Chappar” or “Chapper”. My source spells as Chapper. You have used both spellings in your essay. Also is it “Cannaught” or “Connaught”. My source spells it with ‘o’. These are minor but important details for essay like this. Thanks.

  7. Owais Mughal says:
    November 3rd, 2006 9:49 am

    I’ll check the spellings from the books I got the material in a bit.

  8. Owais Mughal says:
    November 3rd, 2006 9:54 am

    Chappar is a local word therefore I’ve seen it pronounced both ‘Chapper’ and ‘Chappar’. The official spellings written on the signboard next to the bridge appeared as ‘Chappar’. This can be confirmed from one of the photos above. click on the L class loco photo that appears next to the poem. it shows this official signboard next to the bridge with words ‘Chappar Rift’ written on it

    I still have to confirm the spelling of ‘connaught’ or ‘cannaught’

  9. Owais Mughal says:
    November 3rd, 2006 10:13 am

    Pervaiz sahib, Your source is correct on the spellings of ‘Connaught’. It is with an ‘o’. I’ve corrected my article above. I checked the spellings at:,_Duchess_of_Connaught

  10. Sridhar says:
    November 3rd, 2006 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Owais for a wonderful journey into the Chappar Rift.

  11. Taher Syed says:
    December 21st, 2006 12:12 pm

    Wonderful, and sad. It would have been a great place to be, in a train. Neverthles.. to see by road now.

    But for us Indians, it is soooo diffictult to visit pakistan.

  12. Hafeez Jamali says:
    December 27th, 2006 10:45 am

    Many thanks for researching and publishing this wonderful article. I had the good fortune of serving as Assistant Commissioner at Harnai a few years back. The remains of Chappar Bridge and Mudgorge always brightened the journey to and from Quetta. Mudgorge can still be quiet treacherous in rainy weather. There is a navigable pass over the Chappar mountain called Chappar Top,some distance northwards of the Rift along the road track- probably a remain of the old railway pass- which presents a beautiful and dangerous propspect during snowfall. I may also add a few historical and political circumstances obtaining in Harnai/Shahrig Valleys just to remind the readers that these railways were not built for the benefits of the natives but rather were a means for strengthening the stranglehold of the colonial power over strategic passes in the vicinity of the Afghan Frontier. These empire building activites as well as the general British presence in the area were strongly resented by native Baloch and Pashtun tribes. The immediate area surrounding the Chappar Rift is home to small villages/ hamlets (locally called Killi) belonging to Panezai and Domar (Pashtun) tribes and further down towards Spintangi valley live the Marri Baluch. These people gave the British a very tough time and put up stiff resistance to colonial rule being initiated in Balochistan under the Forward Policy of Robert Sandeman. On 14 March 1880, Panezai tribesmen set up an ambush on a Levy detachment led by Captain H.F. Showers,the first commandant of Balochistan Levy Corps, in which Showers himself was killed and his detachment suffered heavy casualties. A few years later in 1884, Marri tribesmen, numbering 300 people, raided the Mail Train near the railway station at Kuchali, abt 30 KM south from Harnai. They killed two British soldiers, several railway employees and looted 170,500 Rupees worth of government treasure. The railway lines not only tell the story of empire building but also the heroic struggle of native people against the encroachment of the colonizer on their land.


  13. Owais Mughal says:
    January 1st, 2007 2:54 am

    Hafeez Saheb. Thanks for the informative writeup.

  14. Mubashir says:
    May 27th, 2007 4:42 pm

    Owais & Hafeez what a wounderfull job done, though I had my primary education at Spintangi, & traveled to Harnai Shahrig several times but never had such a detailed info about the place I always love & remember, while thousands of miles away in Canada. and always dream to go back there oneday. Opposit to Spintangi’s station there is a hotwater spring saturated with mineral has remarkable healing power. There are some small geysers on the same mountain on North side.
    It was disturbing to leanred that the fish stock of Nari River (Natural Habitat of Mahasher fish) has been destoyed by army personals based there by using dynamite for fishing. I hope something can be done to restock this fish to its natural habitat the way it is done in Kaghan & Muzaffarabad.

  15. September 15th, 2007 3:52 pm

    This very good wibe site ..i like these pics ..if u have more pics plz send to me .. becoze i belong to this Area. i have some leastest pics of this railways system .if u wants then i will send to you . Harnai now become district ..

  16. ABDUL SAMAD SUFI says:
    October 22nd, 2007 6:13 pm

    Owais Sahib. Thanks a lot for this seemingly fantastic account of Chappar Rift Bridge. A nostalgic post for me!

    It has brought back many beautiful memories of my childhood.

    Back in 1938-39 perriod( just before World War II) my father Sufi Abdul Latif( may Allah bless his soul) was a Court Clerk in the office of Political Agent, Sibi.The Political Agent’s Office used to move back and forth between Sibi, during winters, and Ziarat, during summers. I vividly remember traveling with my parents from Sibi to Harnai BY train and then by a lorry to that sleepy town called Ziarat. Lorry travel was something which has always stayed in my memories.Half of the passengers sat on it’s wooden floor and the other half climbed on the roof. The over loaded lorry stained at every turn. Poor old lorry’s tired iron and wooden frame creaking painfully, its radiator leaking and engine wheezing. I feel like that old lorry to-day.

    At another occasion I remember traveling with my family from Khost to Bostan by narrow gauge train. My dear Amaji
    held me close to her chest lest I the naughty boy may trip over the high bridge, the Chappar Bridge. From Bostan we went by atruck to Mastung (in Kalat State) where Abaji was posted.

    Later in early fifties I had an occasion of traveling from Quetta to Ziarat via Bostan by car passing near the Chappar Rift . There was no bridge section left , yet six tall piers still enchanted me, reminding of the structure’s glorious past. It was really awe inspiring.

    Parvaiz Munir Alvi is so correct. There is definitely no ‘ZARDALU’ in the world like those of our dear Balochistan. I miss them too. Could anyone bring some for me to Detroit , USA?

    Thans and God bless you.

  17. Faheem Ahmed Allibhoy says:
    December 9th, 2007 1:20 am

    A most interesting article. I belong to Quetta and have done mining at Khost, hence I have had the chance to travel over the Chappar Rift by road on numerous occasions, family elders have also travelled the route by train. By the way I was unaware of the presence of graves near the Khost Rly. Station where we had an office and stores. Many thanks for providing so much of detail of this masterpiece of engineering.

  18. Rafay Kashmiri says:
    December 9th, 2007 6:08 am

    Owais Mughal,
    thanks a lot, for this dream

    @Abdel Samad Sufi,
    Very impressing your post, I discovered very little of
    ” our”Beautiful Balouchistan, only Bolan Mail
    Karachi-Quetta which became my beloved city, Huunah lake Hurrak etc being Karachiit, discovered snowfall first time in my life there, while visitng my Khala jan living there since ages, her husband a Dentist, such a nice person with a profession of horrors, anyway, they had Zardalu trees in their large courtyard, the fruit from Paradise, I thought they were king size apricots, but discovered later and felt ashamed
    of myself being Karachi-wala, was amazed to see shetut
    trees on the streets, apple trees, apricots, etc ,etc when ever
    feel hungry just stop along road side in Chauny (Cantt)
    area and eat as much as you can, flowers there, havn’t seen
    in my life. Very nostalgic

  19. Owais Mughal says:
    December 14th, 2007 11:58 pm

    Dear Fahim Ahmed Sahib, plz tell us more about your travel experiences in Chappar Rift area. I’ve heard that old track bed is now used as a road bed on which trucks ply between Khost and Quetta

  20. Faheem Ahmed Allibhoy says:
    December 17th, 2007 12:33 am

    Dear Owais Sahib,
    Many thanks for your comments, I was unaware of the manner in which this website is used but was told by a family member that you had posted a message for me. Yes the old railway bed is indeed being used as a road, most of it, because the authorities could never have planned anything better than this for use as a road. The road to Khost leaves the main Quetta-Ziarat road at a place called Kach, branching off to the right into the mountains towards Chappar Rift. The entire road is a fair weather track although the chappar rift itself, is now a black topped road starting from Mangi- where a chai khana exists- going upto the top and all the way down the mountain, after which it once again is a kacha track. It still is a very scenic drive although no longer as dangerous as it used to be in the past when I frequented the area. I have climbed over the mountain and walked into the Chappar Rift tunnel, it is still in very good shape and nowhere could I see signs of a cavein or collapse, a fair tribute to the quality of work that went into the construction of this awsome project.
    I do hope others using this website are able to offer their comments on the history of this part of Balochistan.

  21. Owais Mughal says:
    December 17th, 2007 1:49 am

    Fahim Saheb. thanks for a detailed reply. Yes, I’ve also heard of the famous ‘chai-khana’ on Chappar Rift-Kach route and I’ve heard it is now a famous landmark of the area.
    I am very impressed to learn that you had a chance to walk through Chappar Rift tunnels.
    I’ve never been there personally. Hopefully one day, soon.

  22. Faheem Ahmed Allibhoy says:
    December 18th, 2007 12:46 am

    Owais Sahib. You are most welcome to visit Quetta as my guest and I shall take you to the Chappar Rift and show you around this area of which you have provided so much valuable information.

  23. Owais Mughal says:
    January 3rd, 2008 1:12 pm

    Another photo of Margaret Louise Bridge here:

  24. Owais Mughal says:
    February 5th, 2008 6:25 pm

    Last Photo of the article is added today.

  25. February 6th, 2008 12:49 am

    This is a very nice and informative post, about the engineering work in the past and depicts the effort by the engineers and workers. I m fan of such things and like it best. I hope in future I’ll gain lot of from such posts at ATP.

  26. Owais Mughal says:
    April 19th, 2008 9:14 pm

    Two Satellite Images of Chappar Rift are added to the post towards the end. The images also mark the track route as it once existed in Chapper Rift along with the location of Margaret Louise Bridge. The images are courtesy of Mr. Tahir Iqbal and Google Earth.

  27. July 13th, 2008 3:26 am

    I have searched almost everywhere to seek old photoes of this historic railway track. but I always faced a None. But one day I was seaching at google your great site was infront of me and Allah give me my wish. I download all the photoes of Chappar Rift tunnels & Railway Track. I am wokring currently the company ACC which consults the Kach-Shahrag-Harnai Road Project and I work as Office Manager and I have lot of current photoes of this area I will send it you very soon.
    and I and thanking you very much for giving me this precious information. and Inshaallah I will give you other informations what I have heard from my father & grandfather about this Railway Track.
    Thak You.

  28. Naeem Ahmed Bajwa says:
    September 18th, 2009 9:13 am

    Very intersting article. I have travesed the entire route from Harnai ownwards to Bostan. Existing road runs along the original allingnment of the railway track. This was the original route to Quetta, but was abondoned when Chapper rift bridge collapsed after devastating earthquake of 1935..?.. Since than Bolan route is operational.

    Folded mountain with dip slopes on either flanks makes a very interesting geological feature. Rift itself is not a rift in geological terms but an erosional feature, possibly along some fault line.

  29. Owais Mughal says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:25 am

    Naeem Saheb. Thanks for your comment. Chappar Rift route sruvived the 1935 quake but it couldn’t survive a flash flood in 1942 and that is what ultimately closed the section down.

  30. Shairani says:
    October 14th, 2009 11:11 pm

    Outstanding article. Thanks for bringing this to your readers notice. I appreciate it very much!

  31. DARWEESH says:
    October 19th, 2009 2:49 am

    Real wonderful. Excellent article.

  32. DARWEESH says:
    October 19th, 2009 6:11 am

    Wonderful, real good.

  33. Owais Mughal says:
    October 19th, 2009 10:59 am

    I want to bring to attention the second last photo in this post which was taken by ATP contributor Agha Waseem just last week on his visit to Chappar Rift. That photo alone prompted me to post this blog. Hopefully one day i will also get a chance to travel to this place of Civil/Mach Engineering marvel.

  34. Rashid Ali says:
    October 19th, 2009 12:03 pm

    Owais, I would like to congratulate you on bringing forward rich history of the railways in Pakistan region. I am not sure if steam locomotives are still operating in Pakistan. However, In my childhood and teens I journeyed a number of times between Karachi and Heyderabad Sind on a train which use to leave Karachi at night 10:30 PM and was operated by a steam locomotive. This train use to stop at many small stations and halts. I can not forget the life which revolved around these railway stations and halts. The area use to come alive as soon as the train arrived. Smoked fish and hot & sweet tea made out of mixed milk (Cow and Buffalo milk ) called “Gudmud” served in cups made of baked clay (Theekra). The mixed aroma of tea and of baked Theekra cups still reside in my memory. Memories of my journey, about 4 decades ago, from Quetta to Zahidan will justifybly need a book. I have many other memories of trains and will try to join the Railways discussion group.

    I wish someone will also take up the history of air travel in our region. First airport in united India was established in Drigh Road, Karachi, in 1928.

  35. Owais Mughal says:
    October 19th, 2009 12:49 pm

    Rashid Ali saheb. thanks for sharing your memories. The regular steam operation in Pakistan has stopped since late 80s. Diesel engines have taken over since then.

    Steam driven trains are still available for hire/charter only.

    Changa Manga steam train is still operational

    There was a weekly steam safari between Rawalpindi and Golra stations until early 2009. Don’t know its current status

    Meter Gauge steam is in operational condition between Mirpur Khas and Jamrao, but I believe regular service is not there. This train can be chartered for tourism puposes.

    Khyber Steam Safari was a tourist train operation between Peshawar and Landi Kotal and it has not run since 2006.

  36. izaz haque says:
    October 22nd, 2009 12:43 pm

    Fascinating article!

    How does one get a copy of Mr. M. B. K. Malik’s book?

  37. Owais Mughal says:
    October 22nd, 2009 2:28 pm

    Izaz Saheb.
    M.B.K Malik’s book is in high demand across the world. Occasionally it does appear for sale at You can check there.

  38. asmat ullah says:
    June 5th, 2010 11:00 am

    history repeates it self,thats why we shole save the historical place for the new generation and take a lession and do more for that area wher we find precious and amezing movements.i love with my region “khost” thanks
    Asmat ullah panezai ,Ejaz shamozi,Ghafar taran,Sadam panezai,Waris Taran,Bashir Taran.

  39. Jawaid Islam says:
    January 13th, 2011 2:26 pm

    Another marvel of enginneering and a wonderful write up Owais. I am learning new things about Pakistan, locales and such wonders, I applaud your blog to acquaint us all what Pakistan was and could be again given the right leadership.

  40. Tanawwur Ali Hyder says:
    May 27th, 2011 1:54 pm

    Excellent Owais,

    This brings back sweet memories.

    While on an auditing assignments at PMDC Sharigh Collieires in 1969, 1970 and 1972, I used to travel from Sibi to Sharigh on this railway line (it was operational till Khost – with a perfectly operational turning system for changing the direction of the Steam Engine by 180 degrees).

    We also went from Sharigh to Quetta on the dirt/ unmetaled road which used the three railway tunnels as well as the railway track (obviously the line had been removed earlier).

    The journey from Sharigh to Quetta was really fascinating with the remains of bridges providing a snap of engineering excellence.


  41. Owais Mughal says:
    August 8th, 2011 10:41 am

    For some amazing photos of Chappar rift c2010, see this video

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)