Pakistan, 1996: From Hyderabad to Malakwal

This travelogue was originally published by Dr Roland Ziegler in 1999 in German. This English translation is by IRFCA, 2012. The original German version is available at www.rolandziegler.de

This is a part of the travelogue detailing Dr Ziegler's travel through Pakistan in 1996.

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Previous section: The Meter Gauge Network of Mirpur Khas, Day 2

Next section: Malakwal and on to Faisalabad

From Hyderabad to Malakwal

In the special train for 1,200km to the north

Before us now lies the longest leg of this journey. From the province of Sindh, we go to the province of Punjab to the next steam target, Malakwal, which we are on track to reach the following evening. On the whole, we will travel more than 1,200km to get there.

The first part of this leg is a night ride. By the next morning the train is 800km along and we arrive at the railway junction Khanewal. Until Khanewal we have diesel traction.

In the dining car

In the dining car

In Hyderabad, where our SGS from Mirpur Khas is detached, the change of locomotive takes plenty of time. While the train is standing at the platform, dinner is served in the dining car. Since, as already mentioned, all vestibule connections between coaches were defunct, access to the dining car without climbing is only possible when the train is stopped at a platform. The crew in the dining car went out of their way and alternately served local and European dishes. Only non-alcoholic drinks were offered, as we were in a strictly Islamic country.

19 January 1996

On the platform in Hyderabad

On the platform in Hyderabad

Even after the end of dinner there is no evidence of an imminent departure. So we can pass the time, for instance, on the platform with a cup of tea at the snack stand. For the equivalent of less than 10 pennies you get tea with milk freshly boiled, seasoned with cardamom and considerably sweetened, the national drink.

There is a high demand for drinks, snacks and travel needs at the various kiosks, which can be found on the platforms of all major train stations.

19 January 1996


At some point, the journey begins, after all. The train at first follows the 1,685km long main route from Karachi to Peshawar. Judging by the noise and the shaking, we are moving quite fast. In my sleep I am sometimes aware that we are stopped somewhere, but not very often as the route is double-tracked. At one time I wake up as someone walks on the coach roof. The next day I find out that the filling caps of the water tanks of the passenger coaches are on the roof, and the water was refilled at a major stop en route.

The next morning we are still rattling around somewhere and we try to find out for the first time where we are. From a station sign we see that we now have Lodhran behind us, and that Khanewal is the next major stop fo us. The track is only single track now, and we halt often, which are opportunities to move into the dining car for breakfast.

Village between Khanewal and Lodhran

Village between Khanewal and Lodran

The landscape is flat, and the majority of land is used for agriculture with the help of irrigation. We pass through some villages, but no major towns. The train is usually too fast now for onlookers to show any special curiosity because of our skin color.

20 January 1996

Khanewal - electric locomotive

Khanewal - electrical equipment

Finally we reach Khanewal, a railway junction. From here one track leads off to Lodhran - the one that we came on, called the Chord. Another line, is the Loop around the metropolitan city of Multan. Then the main route goes from here further east towards Lahore, while we will turn to the northeast.

Khanewal to Lahore is the only electrified section, about 300km long (25kV, 50 Hz). Locomotive No. 7008 is one of the only available electric loco class BCU30 and was supplied by a British consortium of the 1960's.

20 January 1996

Nut-seller in Khanewal

Nut-seller in Khanewal

There is a vast variety of items on offer, catering to travellers' needs. Especially popular are nuts of all varieties, which one or two of our group also stock up on.

20 January 1996

CWD loco on the platform

CWD loco on the platform

We send our diesel to the depot in Khanewal and get a steam locomotive now, this time one of the CWD class. This class dates to the Second World War and is a 'war locomotive' supplied by the Allies (CWD standing for Canadian War Department). In Khanewal, scheduled steam operations had officially ceased some years ago, and so steam locomotives now attract quite a bit of attention.

In addition to the fruit vendors in the foreground, a shoe salesman had set up on the platform here (and parked his hand-cart in front of the locomotive's tender).

20 January 1996

Departure from Khanewal

Departure from Khanewal

Departing Khanewal we leave behind the main line and the electric catenary, and take the branch towards Shorkot and Faisalabad.

The CWD (wheel arrangement 2-8-2) is more of a lightweight and has only a few features typical of American locomotive design.

20 January 1996

Steam locomotives in the Khanewal depot

Steam locomotives in the Khanewal depot

Before heading out on the new leg of the journey, some of us take the opportunity during one of the false departures (staged for photos) of our train to make a short sprint to visit the depot at Khanewal, where a few more CWD locomotives are parked. In what conditions these locomotives are, we cannot discover in this short visit.

20 January 1996

Village between Khanewal and Shorkot

Village between Khanewal and Shorkot

The next run-past will take place in a village a few kilometers away. However, our stop there brings so much excitement, that the motif of an ordinary village scene does not materialize, because of the sheer curiosity and friendliness of the people there. So I am instead photographing some of the animals, who seem unmoved by our appearance.

20 January 1996

Steam locomotive and signal cabin

Steam locomotive and signal cabin

This is a white-painted concrete signal cabin typical of the Pakistan Railways. The hand-operated mechanical signaling remains in use even in new buildings. Only in the electrical section Khanewal - Lahore did I see any colour-light signals.

20 January 1996

Sleeping compartment

Sleeping compartment

In the sleeping car, to which I was assigned, there are 4- and 6-bed compartments; we each occupy half of one. In a 6-bed compartment there are two berths each on the outside wall, the wall towards the corridor of the coach, and the bulkhead wall. The left rear door is for one's own washroom. The relative comfort of this car is somewhat above that of the other cars of this train.

The windows are unfortunately -- as is common in the Indian subcontinent -- all barred. You have three parts that can be pushed with more or less force to the top: the actual glass windows, a fine-mesh fly screen, and a sheet-blind. However, most of the windows remain closed but are leaky and still let in a lot of dust, and further north, the cold, without any hindrance.

(The gentlemen pictured are the tour guides.)

20 January 1996

Shorkot Junction, SPS and CWD

Shorkot Junction, SPS and CWD

By late afternoon we reach Shorkot Cantonment Junction, the next railway junction. Here we switch the CWD for an SPS (4-4-0) from the depot at Malakwal, our destination. Currently we are about 6 hours late.

The SPS is in front of a freight train that it may have been hauling today. But it may be -- I no longer remember -- that this picture was staged.

20 January 1996

Brickworks

Brickworks

Brickworks along the route are a common sight. Wood as a building material is in short supply in Pakistan, as there is virtually no forest. Clay is available, however, as there are plenty of major rivers in the area. So the Pakistanis build their villages with brick houses, which are typically plastered bright.

20 January 1996

False departure at a pond

Photo opportunity at a pond

As the sun approaches the horizon the photographers are on an intense lookout for suitable photo opportunities. They seem quite happy with their choice, as they leave the train at this point to capture the pond in the last photos of the day.

20 January 1996

In the evening light

In the evening light

The sun is sinking fast, and in the repeated false departures being staged now, one can take pictures showing the glinting sunlight, which are very popular especially with British railway photographers.

20 January 1996

Overtake at the station Pakka Anna

Overtake at the station Pakka Anna

Then the sun is gone and we are waiting in the station Pakka Anna for an overtake. The greatly delayed (because of us?) Chenab Express thunders through the station. It is pulled by a locomotive of the HGMU30 class, built by Henschel.

20 January 1996

The idea of reaching Malakwal by evening is now just a mere illusion. We are preparing for another night ride, this time with steam. The destination is quite far from here, nearly 220km away, and our very competent SPS will have to labour all night with multiple operational halts. For rail enthusiasts, however, there is a special pleasure to be rocked to sleep by the exhaust blows of the steam locomotive.

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Previous section: The Meter Gauge Network of Mirpur Khas, Day 2

Next section: Malakwal and on to Faisalabad

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