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Kyber Pass, Pakistan, 23/12/1993
Photographs of a charter train on the Khyber Pass Railway in December 1993. This railway, with broad gauge track, 5ft 6ins (1,676mm), was opened in 1926 for strategic reasons to reach the border with Afghanistan. It rises 2,000 feet in 21 miles and has a ruling gradient of 1 in 33 (3%), with reverses at zig-zags, requiring a locomotive on each end of the train.
The tour group’s railway carriages had been attached to an “express” train to travel overnight north-west from Malakwal to Peshawar, to connect with the charter train up the Khyber Pass. However, there had been problems with the express train’s diesel locomotive causing a severe delay which placed the trip up the Khyber Pass in doubt. Fortunately, arrival in Peshawar in the late morning and a rush in minibuses to the charter train in nearby Jamrud station allowed a curtailed trip up the Khyber Pass Railway as far as Shahgai, rather than to the intended Landi Kotal, near the Afghan border. Since this included the steep start of the Khyber Pass with its zig-zags, there was great relief and little disappointment.
Members of the tour group could travel on the train or, to photograph it, in the minibuses along the Khyber Pass road. Most decided to photograph the train going up the Khyber Pass and travel on the train when it returned down. A little alarmingly, armed guards travelled both on the train and in the minibuses for security.