The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Pakistan 1
Sind and Multan

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.

Click here for the Case Notes Index.

Other Pakistan tales:

XA 2664 is seen at Multan on 15th December 1984.

My visits to Pakistan concentrated on mainline action. Ttraveling solo without a permit I was initially cautious and I did not cover steam in the Quetta area, where some tourists had been kidnapped. Time was an issue and I did not get to see any ng action. For this I suggest using Rob’s website to read Wilson Lythgoe’s tales of his travels (Part 1 and Part 2). A small group of well-known Australian photographers were far more adventurous than I, some of their photos of ng action can be found in Rob’s Raj Steam gallery

Hyderabad was the first steam centre I visited in 1984, the attraction was steam classes extinct or nearly so in India. The city had reminders of the proximity of the desert, it was hot and dusty, and many camels were used to transport goods. Outside the station stood a huge ramshackle fort, whilst inside the station I had to contend with a plague of flies, vendors had fly whisks, which had little effect.

My first view of Pakistan steam was a XA pacific on a passenger working. The Kotri - Hyderabad - Mirpur Khas service had been dieselised, but something had gone wrong and steam was having a final fling. I had come here to ride these trains and some crews took great pleasure in pointing out to me that they were able to maintain the times of the faster diesel schedule with their old locomotives. Some of the locomotives had polished cab controls showing pride in the job. All Pakistan steam locomotives were oil fired as after Partition they had no access to coal fields. This had the benefit that in a hot climate firemen could get maximum output for minimal effort. I certainly found they were thrashing the locomotives on this route, the stack talk was so much fiercer than their Indian counterparts. Being oil burners the locomotive throbbed as oil was ignited in the firebox, running was generally with a clean stack. The trains stopped all stations so there were some re-starts to savour, though the 4 coach sets were a feather weight load.

Metre gauge YD4 522 (Ajmer 1932) an ex Assam Bengal Railway locomotive seen on arrival at Mirpur Khas on 13th December 1984. The track in the foreground is broad gauge, the line to Hyderabad having been converted at some time after Partition, before which these lines had been part of the Jodhpur Railway.

Mirpur Khas had the usual carriage watering points and curious onlookers. Outside the station the environs looked pleasant and even the ponies drawing tongas seemed well fed. Camels loped past, some hauling carts and others carrying loads, this area bordered on the Thar Desert. 

This was the only place to see metre gauge steam. Apart from the 'main line' which was now ran only to Khohkropar just short of the Indian border, there was a branch north to Nawabshah and a loop line to the south from Jamrao through Jhudo to Pithoro. YD5s built by Nippon in 1952 were in evidence, the class had been transferred from Eastern Pakistan in 1962. Of more interest was SP 138 (Kerr Stuart 1921), a small 4-6-0 allocated to the 14.25 departure, but it left a couple of hours late. The following afternoon no locomotive had been provided for this train before I had to leave, it seemed the depot was struggling for motive power.

After enjoying the return working I was in time to see Hyderabad’s two large HGS 2-8-0s finish their pilot work and see more XAs on passenger duties including a working to Badin. In addition to XAs and HGS class a SGC 0-6-0 had a passenger turn from Kotri to Tando Adam and to hear it restart was memorable for its sharp exhaust. 

XA 2693 (VF 1931) departs Hyderabad for Kotri on the 16.30 from Mirpur Khas, 11th December 1984

A SGC 0-6-0 departs on the return working from Tando Adam, 11th December 1984

With the sun already set at 17.45, XA 2701 is silhouetted as it swings into the station. It was worth pausing to listen as it made a noisy departure, the fire glowing below the boiler as the oil burners were in use, 12th December 1984 

Multan “transports of delight”: aka Spike Milligan, 14th December 1984

Multan depot, CWD 5089 is being prepared whilst XA 2664 heads out, 15th December 1984

CWD 5080 departs for Samasata, 16th December 1984

The steam scene at Multan included two passenger departures scheduled between 11.00 and 12.00; giving plenty of time to watch the locomotives being prepared on the shed, along with pilot locomotives. 0n 15th December 1984 XA class 2664 was rostered for a passenger to Kundian whilst CWD 5089 was in excellent external condition and received a polish whilst being serviced. I hasten to add most locomotives were not so well kept. 

SGS 4076 (VF 1908) supposedly withdrawn was in poor condition and used as a pilot.

Afternoons would supposedly see a similar service plus train M344 to Dera Gazi Khan rostered for a Multan SGS. 4294 (NB 1912) in excellent condition appeared to be the regular locomotive. For some time after it left the sounds of its chugging exhaust could be heard as it headed down the mainline. I visited Multan again in 1989, by then the XAs had been withdraw but SGS, HGS and CWDs continued in use.

Rob Dickinson