he International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
Broad Gauge Steam, Sind, Pakistan, February 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.

Head north out of Karachi for around 150km and you will come to Kotri Junction. At the time of my February 1985 visit it was home to three classes of steam loco with two of those covering most local passenger services in the area. Twice daily shuttles ran on the main line to Tando Adam 70km further north and on the two nearby branches there were five return services to Mirpur Khas and three to Badin (each around 100km distant). In other words twenty steam hauled passenger trains a day with most in daylight. The third class of loco handled most of the yard shunting at Kotri and nearby Hyderabad so there was definitely a lot happening! 

I based myself at Hyderabad where there was suitable accommodation and a choice of restaurants. After a couple of weeks existing on tough mutton curry in other parts of the country I was overdue for some variety even if that variety only extended to chicken curry, either tender or tough depending, and vegetables that were guaranteed to be overcooked! It was a good base though from which to cover the broad gauge happenings plus it enabled me to commute out to Mirpur Khas where the metre gauge, covered in an earlier tale, commenced.

It's early morning and with an impressive array of semaphores in the background the first shuttle of the day from Tando Adam arrives at Hyderabad behind SGC1295.

The lady in the burqa, walking along the track on the right of the first carriage, reminded me how few unveiled women I saw in Pakistan.......I spent twenty five days there on this trip and it wasn't until the day before leaving I saw my first.

Soon after XA2670 makes smoke as it leaves Hyderabad for Mirpur Khas. 

Looking decidedly work stained two HGS take a break from their shunting duties at Kotri.

Another day and the early morning shuttle from Tando Adam is seen arriving at Kotri.........again SGC1295 is doing the honours.

SGC1196 shunts empty carriage stock at Kotri.......compared with 994 in the next picture it looks decidedly scruffy.

SGC994 must have recently returned from overhaul or else been given some 'beauty' treatment from the men with the paint brushes....black, two shades of silver, light blue, maroon and lettered in yellow she was a joy to behold. Worthy of an 'engine only' shot as she waits to leave with KT1, the late morning shuttle to Tando Adam. 

A short time later 994 was off and blasting up the short, steep bank leading to the bridge over the River Indus.......an amazing sight especially when you consider she was eighty years old and still allowed out on the main line with a passenger service!

Minutes later XA2704 was captured in the same spot with its service to Mirphur Kas. It was too warm in this part of Pakistan for steam effects but when the firemen opened the oil feed valve up then the effect could be highly dramatic.........

Nowhere near as dramatic though is XA2670 approaching the Indus on the opposite bank: this time on an almost level double track. This shot does show though what an 'elegant' looking engine the XA were especially when compared with the stocky looking SGC.

XA2704 departs Hyderabad for Kotri. Do I detect an unveiled woman to the left of the loco.....very daring!

My position could have been better as XA2693 heads off with its late afternoon train.........

........so I went back the following evening to try again. This time a more interesting shot as the train left from another platform, but a diesel........and so on the 18 February 1985 this shot became my last railway photo in Pakistan. As it turned out it was also my last railway photo for the next fifteen years! 

Steam lingered on for a number of years in Pakistan with fellow travellers reporting its gradual demise in The Continental Railway Journal. With new diesels delivered late in 1985 and the XA proving difficult to maintain it was planned to withdraw them almost immediately. The older SGC and HGS lingered on with the last reports of them in use around Kotri in February 1988. 

Locomotive details taken from "Indian Locomotives" Parts 1 & 4 by Hugh Hughes and published by The Continental Railway Circle:

The SGC 0-6-0 and HGS 2-8-0 were British Engineering Standards Association designed in an attempt to standardise the type of locos used on the various Indian railways. By 1920 over 2000 0-6-0 and 900 2-8-0 had been built and on Partition in 1947 Pakistan received 269 and 133 respectively. 

SGC994 was Vulcan Foundry built in 1905....as I said earlier amazing to be seen on a main line passenger service at eighty years old!

SGC1196 was North British built in 1910 with makers number 19285 

SGC1295 was North British built in 1913 with makers number 20297....a mere seventy two year old youngster

HGS2264 was built by Kitson in 1920

HGS2300 was Vulcan Foundry built in 1923/24

The XA 4-6-2 were a Standard's Committee engine designed in the 1920s for branch line passenger work. By 1940 one hundred and thirteen of these elegant Pacifics had been built with thirty seven going to Pakistan at the time of Partition. All three pictured were built by the Vulcan Foundry: 2704 in 1929 and 2670 & 2693 in 1931. 

Rob Dickinson

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