Steam locomotives at the National Museum of Afghanistan

Steam locomotives in a shed at the national Museum of Afghanistan

Three steam locomotives are preserved in the collection of the National Museum of Afghanistan, situated at Darulaman on the outskirts of Kabul.

History

The three locomotives were built by Henschel & Sohn GmbH of Cassel (now written Kassel) in Germany.1 The manufacturer recorded them as being supplied to “Ferrostaal for Kabul-Darulaman, Afghanistan, British India”; Afghanistan was not, of course part of British India, although the locos would almost certainly have been delivered via India.

All three locomotives have an 0-4-0 wheel arrangement, and are thought to be 2 ft 6 in gauge. They had chimneys with spark arrestors, suggesting wood burning, and a photo show one of the locomotives in service carrying wood on board.


Kabul locomotive shed in 1975

Two of the locomotives were kept in the former engine shed at least into the 1970s. However it would appear that this shed no longer survives (unless anyone knows better).

In Spring 1978, Continental Railway Journal issue 33 described the Darulaman locomotives as “two derelict 0-4-0Ts (Henschel 19680-1/1923), about metre gauge, and the frame and bogies of one tramcar.”


Steam locomotives in the Kabul museum during 2004.

The locomotives subsequently stood outside in the museum grounds, and at some point the third locomotive starts to be mentioned. In 2001 Der Spiegel published a 1989 photo showing the front two locos, and mentioned “Three rusted steam locos and the bogies of a coach “Made in Germany”.2

Steam locomotives at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)

Fortunately a roof has been built over the three locomotives and other exhibits. They are now undercover, and one is displayed on a short section of track.

These are historical artefacts and we want to keep them, museum caretaker Omara Khan Masoudi told Reuters in 2002.3 Of course, it would be good to have a real railway now, that would be progress.

Henschel 19681/1923 – the plinthed locomotive

Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan in September 2012

This locomotive is displayed on short section of specially-built track. It looks to be in better condition than the other locomotives, with an intact cab.

Henschel locomotive 19681/1923 worksplate (Photo: copyright Chris Spidle)

Recognition features for this particular locomotive are the tubular extension to the chimney, which is visible in a 1971 photo of it in the engine shed, and the second ‘dome’ (for sand?) on top of the boiler. The tanks have railings on top, and a step at the bottom edge towards the rear. There is a vertical pipe behind the buffer beam.

This would appear to be the locomotive shown in two photos of the railway which were published in 1930.

1 September 2012 (Nigel Emms)
Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)

Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)
2006
April 2006

German ISAF personnel reposition the loco


Crane lifts Afghan locomotive

Afghan locomotive on a military lorry
14 October 2004
(Wim Brummelman)

Photo of steam locomotive in Afghan national museum, Kabul, 14 October 2004 (Photo: Wim Brummelman)

Photo of steam locomotive in Afghan national museum, Kabul, 14 October 2004 (Photo: Wim Brummelman)
1971
(Burkhard Puetz).

The furthest locomotive has the chimney extension.

Two Henschel steam locomotives from the former Kabul - Darulaman railway in 1971 (Photo: Burkhard Puetz)
Sciences et Voyages (France),
3 April 1930 issue.

Note the headlight, and a name or numberplate in front of the works plate. The bolt holes are visible on the preserved locomotives.


Photo of Kabul to Darulaman railway train from French magazine Sciences et Voyages of 3 April 1930
UHU magazine (Germany),
February 1930 issue, photo from 1926?4
Magazine photograph of a train at Darulaman

Henschel 19680/1923

Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)

This locomotive is similar to 19681/1923, but can be distinguished by the boiler tubes now sticking out from the smokebox, the lack of a chimney extension and the absence of a the second protuberance on top of the boiler. The front left hand side of the cab is bent. There are railings around the tanks, which have a straight bottom edge. As with 19681 there is a vertical pipe behind the front buffer beam.

1 September 2012
(Nigel Emms)

Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)

Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)
14 October 2004
(Wim Brummelman)
Photo of steam locomotive in Afghan national museum, Kabul, 14 October 2004 (Photo: Wim Brummelman)
Photo of steam locomotive in Afghan national museum, Kabul, 14 October 2004 (Photo: Wim Brummelman)
1975
(Frank Selman)

[Photo of loco from rear. Frank Selman, 1975]

[Photo of locomotive in the shed. Frank Selman, 1975]
1971
(Burkhard Puetz).
Two Henschel steam locomotives from the former Kabul - Darulaman railway in 1971 (Photo: Burkhard Puetz)

Henschel 19691/1923


Steam locomotive at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)

This locomotive looks a bit smaller than the other two. It is missing more of its valve gear and other components than the others. The cab is bent backwards. There is a pipe from the dome down to the cylinders. The tanks have a stepped lower edge towards the front.

When stood outside, this loco was the rearmost of the three, and was leaning over towards its left-hand side. A correspondent called Ramon e-mailed to confirm it was no.19691.

One visitor to the museum suggested this loco may be a different gauge to the others, raising the possibility that another railway existed. If anyone is visiting the museum and has a tape measure, it would be interesting to know for sure.

14 October 2004
(Wim Brummelman)

Photo

The coaches

The metal underframes remain from two coaches, at least one of which still had much of its woodwork in 1971.

2012
(Nigel Emms)

Remains of railway coach at the National Museum of Afghanistan, September 2012 (Photo: Nigel Emms)
1971
(Burkhard Puetz)

Remains of railway coach at Darulaman in 1971 (Photo: Burkhard Puetz)

Remains of railway coach at Darulaman, near Kabul, 1971 (Photo: Burkhard Puetz)
1938
Life
Abandoned railway coach in Kabul
192x
(Wilhelm Rieck)

Photo of the first train on the Kabul to Darulaman line

Links

References

  1. The Henschel factory site is now owned by Bombardier Transportation, which builds Traxx locomotives there.
  2. Noch nach über 20 Jahren Bürgerkriegswirren und der Zerstörung Kabuls standen dort auf einem von Disteln und Dornenbüschen überwucherten Anger drei verrostete Dampfloks und das Fahrgestell eines Reisewaggons „Made in Germany“. Potentaten als Bittsteller (PDF) , Der Spiegel, 42/2001, p198. Photo Olaf Ihlau/Der Spiegel, 1989
  3. Afghan rail plan among proposals for donors, CNN News report, from Reuters, 21 January 2002
  4. Narrow gauge railroad, Williams Afghan Media Project

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