German ISAF Personnel relocate historical railway engine

Gag Halfrunt has spotted that NATO’s International Security Assistance Force website has an article dated 22 May 2006 about moving the steam loco. There are a couple of photos of the loco being moved, and three more in a PDF newsletter.

KABUL – Afghanistan. A joint venture between the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst and the German Supply Company 2, has led to the staging of a major attraction at, or to be more precise, in front of, the Kabul National Museum. A major operation was conducted in order to assist soldiers from the recovery unit lift a historical locomotive from its resting place with the help of their crane and a heavy multi-purpose truck. The engine, which had been neglected in the museum’s backyard, is one of just three historical railway engines left in Afghanistan. Now, after 80 years, it has been granted a place of honour in front of the National Museum, directly opposite the Darulaman Palace.

For five years only, between 1923 and 1929, Afghanistan had its own railway. Three steam engines manufactured by Henschel, a German enterprise, travelled on a test track running from Kabul, southwest to the Darulaman Palace, located 7 km from Kabul, at that the time, the fare for a one-way ticket was one Afghani or 0.02 Euros. The project, however, was short-lived, As long as Afghanistan does not have enough weapons to ward off acts of aggression by the big powers (British Empire and the Tsar) it would be crazy to allow the construction of a railroad track leading into his country, Emir Abdul Rahman (1880 – 1901) stated. Still today, Afghanistan remains one of the few countries in the world without a railroad system.

The idea to put the best preserved locomotive on display in front of the museum’s entrance came from the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst and with the help of the German supply company the 10-ton engine was moved 200 meters and placed on a track bed which had previously been raised by the recovery unit. In view of the considerable age of the engine, this procedure had to be executed with great care and the utmost precision by the crane specialists. Finally, after almost three hours of nail-biting work, First Lieutenant Boris Barchanski reported, “Locomotive in place, mission accomplished!”

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