Khyber Railway

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The Khyber Pass Railway was a line from India to Afghanistan via Khyber Pass; built as a strategic line to thwart any Afghan or Russian invasion of India and opened in 1925. [1]

In 1879 a reconnaissance survey was conducted with an aim to find the feasibility of laying railways through Khyber Pass. Many years pass without any action on the ground. Finally the construction started in 1905 from a place called Kacha Garhi between Peshawar and Jamrud. The track made progress westwards and 32km of track was laid by 1907. [2] [3]

The alliance between Russia and Afghanistan made British consider Russia no longer a threat. This stops the work on Khyber Pass Railway.

In 1909, several kilometers of permanent way and bridges were uprooted from Khyber Pass and sent to other areas of India to be used there.

Colonel Gordon Hearn was assigned to the work of surveying and recommending the best route through Khyber Pass. Previously all surveys recommended a metre gauge(MG) track. However the proposal to use broad gauge(BG) was adopted and construction restarted in 1920. Victor Bayley was the engineer who was assigned the construction of the line. The section from Jamrud to Landi Kotal was opened on November 3, 1925 by the wife of the engineer Victor Bayley. [4]

The railway was worked by North Western Railway(NWR) until partition in 1947. Then by Pakistan Railways until closure. [5]


An on-line search of the India Office Records (IOR) records held at the British Library relating to this railway [6] gives several entries, the most relevant as follows: -

  • L/MIL/7/6643; “Collection 145/106 Construction of Khyber railway.”; 1919-1926 (Three maps)
  • L/PS/10/951/2: “File 8929/1920 Pt 3 NW Frontier: Afghanistan and Khyber Railway; HMG's Waziristan policy”; 1922-26

External links

Historical books online


  1. Wikipedia -" Khyber Pass Railway"; Retrieved 12 Dec 2015
  2. IRFCA "Khyber Pass Railway"; Retrieved 12 Dec 2015
  3. Facebook "Railways in Indo-Pak"; Retrieved 12 Dec 2015
  4. Bayley, Victor (1939). Permanent Way Through the Khyber. London: Jarrold
  5. Wikipedia "Khyber Train Safari"; Retrieved 12 Dec 2015
  6. “British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue” - Search; Retrieved 11 Apr 2016