The International Steam Pages

Steam in Pakistan 1999 - 2007

This page contains short reports and links to longer reports of the steam scene in Pakistan from 1999 - 2007.

Thomas Kautzor's report of a January 2006 visit is extracted/adapted from the Yahoo Pakistan Railways Group (see above), interestingly it seems that SGS/SPS broad gauge survivors exist at Moghalpura works despite previous reports. Since when one SGS and one SPS have appeared at Rawalpindi (after overhaul in Moghalpura) where a (= 'the') CWD is under repair (11th October 2006).

The broad gauging of the link to India from Mirpur Khas through Khokhrapar appears to have been completed more or less on time. However, recent news from Pakistan suggests that the line to Nawabshah and the Jamrao - Pithoro loop line which were assumed to be scheduled for closure may in fact be rehabilitated and hold out the prospect for surviving steam action (March 18th 2006). Indeed, David Thornhill pointed me to a brief report in the Dawn Newspaper online edition reporting a goods train had derailed on the Nawabshah line on March 14th 2006.... (9th April 2006). Vic Allen tells me (11th October 2006) that the monsoon rains were exceptionally heavy and that the metre gauge services are temporarily suspended until repairs on the track are done. However, when Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery visited Mirpur Khas on 1 March 2007 they found that all metre gauge services remain suspended, with little or no hope of a revival. "We were, however, given a warm welcome by the shed superintendent and his colleagues. Present, more or less intact and in reasonable external condition, were SP 127 and 140 and YD 519, 520, 522, 523 and 524. SP 138 had been sent to Lahore for overhaul, which presumably will not now get done." (added 12th March 2007).

Gernot Gmeinhart tells me (17th November 2005) that a non-enthusiast friend took the loop train with SP 127 on 15th September 2005. He was 'lucky' because it had not run on the 3 previous Thursdays. The first tour group to Pakistan for a long time visited at the end of November 2004 and Manfred Schoeler provided a brief summary (6th December 2004) to which I have added Vic Allen's summary and some pictures (10th December 2004) and some detailed timetable information (15th December 2004). The proposal to re-open the link to India has come to the fore again with the latest peace agreement (24th April 2005) and if implemented as agreed will spell the end for steam for certain, whether or not the line is broad-gauged. The second such group visited at the end of May 2005 and Stephen Mourton has sent me a report (7th June 2005).

Earlier reports follow:

Another of the least reported real steam operations is the metre gauge system at Mirpur Khas. According to Vic Allen of Enthusiast Holidays (26th May 2004) they have got 9 steam locomotives available:
SP Class 127, 138, 140
YD Class 518, 519, 520, 522, 523, 524
All in working condition except 524 awaiting parts from Lahore
SP 127 is due for periodic overhaul and will be leaving for Lahore shortly

Time Table
Running two weekly and one fortnightly trains as:
1. Nawabshah operates on 1st and 15th of every month 0800 - 0200+1 SP Class
2. Khokrapar leaves every Monday 1500 hours,  return on Tuesday 1300 hours, YD Class
3. Mirpur - Jhudo via Loop - anticlockwise - every Thursday 0700 -2200 YD Class

Those with a sense of history should check out (11th December 2001). Not surprisingly for all kinds of reasons the flow of enthusiasts to Pakistan has dried to a trickle. 

Peter-H Patt has made a further quick trip (4th March 2001) - Mirpur Khas: MG YD 524 + YD 518 under steam, YD 519 + YD 522 under repair, SP 140 + SP 127 serviceable but cold, SP 138 awaits transport to Moghalpura for overhaul. In Moghalpura itself the following MG engines await overhaul: YD 520 / YD 523 and YE 722 (the latter one most likely not to be overhauled and returned to MPK because it would be the only loco of its class).

After a long gap, 2 reports appeared almost simultaneously (added 4th September 2000): Peter-H Patt had the opportunity to visit the metre gauge section of the Pakistan railways in mid-August 2000, these were his observations.

"The good new is: 5 locomotives are operational right now: YD 518, 519, 520 and SP 127, 140. YD 522 is under repair and should join the fleet latest end of the year. The bad news is that the PR HQ decided to reduce the number of trains: this is the new timetable: MG 6/5 Mirpur - Khokhropar Monday, Wednesday, Friday only (instead of a daily service!) MG 15 Mirpur - Pithoro - Loopline - Mirpur runs Monday only MG 14 Mirpur - Loopline - Pithoro - Mirpur runs Wednesday only MG 20/21 Mirpur - Nawabshah - Mirpur runs Sunday only. The monthly kilometer-chart reflects the changes: in June 2000 it was an all time low of only 6,691 km, compared with the all time high of 44,279 kms in October 1996! Click here for pictures of metre gauge steam in action in February 2000 (added 22nd September 2000).

Three narrow/metre gauge engines have been cosmetically overhauled and are plinthed now in front of the railway stations of:
Karachi Cant (MS 63), Lahore (ZB 205), Rawlpindi (ZB 203)"

The sudden decline in steam activity in Pakistan was one of the worst happenings of 1997. Vic Allen let me have a list (17th Feb 1998) of steam operations in early December 1997 and Peter Patt provided an April 1998 update.  The metre gauge is still active (at least it was in early 1999) but there seems to be no regular broad gauge workings at all.  Read about what little is left.  Peter Patt provided a further update (5th January 1999). You can read about the aborted Bostan narrow gauge revival in 1998 on the Pakistan Archive Page.

Vic Allen reports a message from the Enthusiast Holidays agent (22nd March 2002):  "Only the HGS at Peshawar, and the metre gauge steam at Mirpur Khas, survive. No other b.g. steam, and not even the two n.g. locos overhauled for Bostan Jcn. a few years ago, remain. Very sad indeed." (Not entirely correct as other later reports make clear. RD)

John Tickner visited Moghulpura Works at about the same time and found HGS 2216 (Peshawar), YD 523 and YE 722 (both Mirpur Khas) undergoing major overhaul. YD 524 was ready for testing and was almost ready to go home. At Changa Manga there was little activity (the season runs 1st October to mid-April) but a special steaming of 21496 was readily arranged by the friendly staff here. Ron Ferguson was able to visit Moghalpura Works in Lahore (report added 22nd March 2000)

Rob Dickinson