Khojak Rope Inclines

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Khojak Rope Inclines

Prior to the opening in 1891 of the ‘Kojak Tunnel ‘- see separate page a temporary system of ropeways were constructed over the Kwara Amran range of mountains on the Afghan frontier of India. The object was twofold[1]:-

  • “To facilitate the conveyance of machinery and stores for the western end of the tunnel and to expedite the extension of the railway beyond it”
  • “As a military precaution to provide for the conveyance of troops and military stores to the front in case of need”

This temporary system was in use from 1888 for a period of three years

Khojak Rope Incline
Khojak Rope Incline-Truck

It was specified that the Ropeways:-

  • “should be possible to transport intact broad gauge locomotives, wagons loaded with stores, and other rolling stock”
  • “as the Ropeways were to be used for three years only, they must be constructed as cheaply and as quickly as possible”
  • “they should be broad gauge throughout
  • “that the inclines should be able to carry the heaviest broad gauge locomotives and rolling stock”
  • “that in order to avoid delay through obtaining plant and appliances from England, they should be designed and made in India”
  • “that the carrying Capacity should not be less than 400 tons per day”

The Report [1] stated that the first portion of the temporary line leaves the permanent line on the east side of the range at Shashakhan :-

  • It follows the river-bed on an average gradient of 1 in 22 as far as Shelabagh. Six-wheeled locomotives, weighing 46 tons exclusive of tender, hauled as their ordinary load 4 wagons, weighing 72 tons.
  • Here the slope of the valley steepens and the gradient to Wallers Camp is 1 in 15½. The line was worked with specially designed eight-coupled tank engines fitted with brakes (hand, steam and Le Chatelier) on all 8 wheels. These engines weigh 54 tons up to 1 in 15 gradients bround 500 feet curves, did the work extremely well, running regular 5 to 20 trains each way for three years.
  • Incline No 1. Gradient 1 in 2¾, with a length of 1320 feet and a vertical height of 452 feet with a maximum load of 30 tons. There was a centre crossing place. The gradient was so steep that specially designed incline-trucks so that the upper platform on which the broad gauge tracks were laid was always horizontal during transit. A single loaded wagon was carried on these rails and shunted on at the bottom and off at the top of the incline and vice-versa for the return. It was worked by a stationary engine at the summit to a height of 7260 feet above sea level .
  • next followed a short length of single broad gauge line of 1100 feet along the ridge with a maximum gradient of 1 in 40, worked by a small tank engine.
  • Incline No 2. Gradient 1 in 2½, with a length of 1420 feet and a vertical height of 568 feet with a maximum load of 30 tons. There was a centre crossing place and specially designed incline-trucks were also in use here.
  • Incline No 3. Gradient 1 in 7 down to 1 in 10, with a length of 3950 feet and a vertical height of 484 feet with a maximum load of 40 tons. It was a double line, self-acting as it was downhill with horizontal pulleys 12 feet diameter at the summit of the incline, fitted with double hand brakes.
  • Incline No 4. Gradient 1 in 8 down to 1 in 13, with a length of 4700 feet and a vertical height of 376 feet with a maximum load of 50 tons. It was a double line, self-acting as given above.
  • This connected to a short length of single line, with a gradient of 1 in 16 worked by tank engines with eight-coupled wheels, similar to those on the east side.

This then joins to the permanent railway close to Chaman Fort, which had been laid with a gradient of 1 in 40 for a distance of 10 miles to the terminus at New Chaman.


The works were constructed by Walter James Weightman (the author of this Article) , under the instruction of Francis Langford O'Callaghan, Engineer-in-Chief; the designs and drawings having been first submitted for approval to Guilford Lindsey Molesworth , Consulting Engineer to Government.
All the machinery and appliances were made at the ‘North Western RailwayLocomotive and Carriage Shops at Lahore under the direction of Charles Thomas Sandiford

Further Information