Pakistan, 1996: Lahore and Changa Manga

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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Lahore and Changa Manga

A day on the bus: The repair shop in Moghalpura, and the Changa Manga Forest Railway

This day will be covered by bus. The first destination is the Pakistan Railways' main workshop at Moghalpura in Lahore. Then we will head southwest on highway 5 to the forest of Changa Manga to see the narrow gauge railway there.

The departure from the hotel is a bit delayed, because some have not noticed that this is the beginning of Ramadan, and at least during the daytime fasting is the rule. It is true that in Islam, travelers are exempted from this rule, but the breakfast is not served publicly at the restaurant, but instead discreetly served in one's own room.

(The variety of food stalls at the stations are hidden by drapes during Ramadan, but behind them the operation goes on as usual.)

Preserved locomotive

Preserved locomotive

In front of the workshops of Moghalpura one can see two preserved locomotives. One of these is No. 448, a 4-6-0 of the former North Western Railway.

22 January 1996

Moghalpura, tracks

Moghalpura, tracks

These tracks at Moghalpura are possibly intended as test tracks. If the overhauled vehicles can stay on these tracks they are not likely to derail anywhere else on the Pakistan Railway network.

22 January 1996

Moghalpura, workshops

Moghalpura, workshops

Moghalpura serves to maintain the entire broad gauge rolling stock of PR. This includes a steam-powered railroad crane and a few remaining steam locomotives, such as SGS No. 2377.

It's not quite clear to me how this will work in the future for high-tech rolling stock such as the Blue Tiger locomotives which are to be maintained here. In 1996, at least, such tasks would have heavily strained the meagre facilities here.

22 January 1996

Moghalpura, HGS overhaul

Moghalpura, HGS overhaul

Inside the shops, it is quite dark. Two or three steam locomotives are in the works. This HGS will be overhauled and put together manually before it will soon be sent to Peshawar to be readied for special trains on the Khyber Pass.

22 January 1996


The bus will take us now through the chaotic traffic of Lahore and continue on Highway No. 5 to the southwest towards Okara. This road is the main artery through Pakistan and accordingly has a lot of traffic. The high proportion of trucks used for long-distance transport suggests that transport by road is apparently far more effective than by rail. Many of the vehicles are hopelessly overloaded. Driving in Pakistan requires courage. When vehicles meet on a narrow road the one who gives up first always loses. And overtaking with oncoming traffic is normal. Oddly enough, there are very few accidents with this type of driving.

The aim of the bus adventurers is the forest of Changa Manga (about 100km from Lahore). The British established this forest towards the end of the 19th century in order to get firewood for locomotives. Natural forests are rare in Pakistan, and coal could only be brought in from Indian sources very far away. To open up this forest a forest railway was built, which still serves its purpose.

Log train in Changa Manga

Log train in Changa Manga

As it was a hundred years ago, the wood is transported from the logging sites to the depot along the forest railway route. The distance is only a few kilometers. Despite this forest having a character completely foreign to the Pakistani countryside, and despite its small size, it is a place of recreation.

22 January 1996

Derailment at Changa Manga

Derailment at Changa Manga

The journey of the train shown in the previous picture, however, comes to a stop very quickly, since one of the cars in the middle of the train decides to jump the rails. After several discussions, the train is split, and various attempts are made to rerail the car by means of leverage. These attempts are unsuccessful, and the track is blocked. Later, they decide to unload the car, at least partially, which ultimately proves to be not an unwise decision.

22 January 1996

Changa Manga saw mill

Changa Manga saw mill

Today, the forest also provides timber. The further processing of the incoming trunks is done partially right here in the forest's own sawmill, which produced a variety of beams and planks.

22 January 1996

Empty wagons

Once the rear portion at least of the log train has been brought back to the depot, the track is free for the next empty wagon train. Our party of tourists goes along with the train of empty wagons. Presumably the risk to travelers from the wooden carts is not covered by the European accident insurance policies.

Once the rear portion of the split log train has made it to the depot as well, the track is clear for sending out empties again. Our party of tourists decides to board this train for the outward journey. Presumably, risks riding empty wagons are not covered by the European accident insurance policies.

22 January 1996

Loading wagons at Changa Manga

Loading wagons at Changa Manga

Near the logging sites the line divides into several loading tracks, where there is a bustle of activity.

22 January 1996

Derailed tender, Changa Manga

Derailed tender, Changa Manga

Unfortunately, we have bad luck with our trip. While the locomotive was shunting on one of the loading tracks, its tender derailed. Given the long experience with the attempts at rerailing the loaded timber wagon just a short while earlier, the tourists now take over the attempt to rescue the derailed tender. Here, experience at various voluntary positions at preservation railroads comes into play. The body of the tender will be lifted bit by bit using bars and jacked up until the derailed tender's bogie is free and can be repositioned on the rails.

22 January 1996


The return trip to Lahore takes place mostly after dark. After sunset during Ramadan is when the Muslims can once again eat. In any case, most of the places we passed on Highway 5 were blocked by parked trucks. And the street restaurants seem to do the business of the year with the famished riders.

After dinner in the hotel restaurant we board our train again at Lahore station. Our train is diesel-hauled, and within a few hours of night travel on the Pakistan Railways main line via Gujranwala we reach Lala Musa (132km).

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Previous section: Malakwal and on to Faisalabad

Next section: Malakwal again: Lala Musa to Gharibwal

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