The International Steam Pages
Notes - Pakistan 3
Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.
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Other Pakistan tales:
In 1989 I was checking steam workings north of Lala Musa and had stayed at Jhelum in a hotel that resembled a doss house. I was woken at dawn by the call for the faithful from the nearby mosque and then heard the sound of a steam locomotive working hard and whistling as it approaching. At the station I found SGS 2471 taking water below the two massive tanks. The Lala Musa crew told me it was the only steam working on the mainline. I found Rawalpindi had recently withdrawn its steam fleet, leaving Malakwal with the only sizeable bg allocation. Fans from many countries visited to see not just the end of Pakistan bg steam but also to admire an allocation of neat elderly inside cylinder locos.
I used Sargodha as a base for my trips to Malakwal. On one of my first visits I had been photographing at the station when I was summoned to the Assistant Station Master’s office, I was aware of the old “No Photography” rule here, but thought it more likely they were curious as to why I was there. It turned out that the Railway Police had reported my activities the previous day giving me a good report as they saw I was courteous to a mentally retarded beggar whom they kept a benevolent watch on!
The ASM controlled the yards and station area and had two ancient safe working machines on his desk to issue mini tokens. He insisted I ride with the guard to Malakwal as this was a Friday and the train would be crowded as the usual ticket checks were waved for some poor passengers. This turned out to be an interesting trip, the guard was in his summer uniform, crisp white jacket and pants, whilst the other occupant of his compartment was a young beggar boy in tattered clothes and his shaved head had sores on it. The guard allowed the boy to wave the flag and blow a whistle, he also bought him a drink and something to eat.
Mona was one of the regular crossing points. The local primary school sometimes held lessons at the station to take advantage of the shade. I noticed that when the train drew to a halt the teacher wisely suspended learning the Koran as the children were watching all the rail activity. Sometimes the SPS 4-4-0s could be induced to make some stack talk when starting, but on these lightly loaded trains they generally sauntered along.
Malakwal had a fleet of SGS and SPS types including a couple of the large boiler SPS variants, which I rarely saw at work. The only occasion I rode behind a large boiler SPS was when 406 worked a train to Sargodha. I was able to enjoy some stack talk from an open doorway as flashes of light from its oil burners lit up the nearby fields. The crew made up some of the lost time, I speculated whether it was their effort or the different drafting arrangements for the larger boiler that seemed to make it a better steamer than its classmates.
A SPS working towards Sargodha waits a cross enabling me to enjoy the sunset. Arrival at Sargodha was after dark so I took a tonga from the station and the sound of harness bells rang as the horse trotted to the hotel, 9th January 1989.