Railway modelling in Kandahar

Yes, really!

Matthew Picciotto built a HO (1:87) scale model railway module inspired by the Uzbekistan – Hairatan – Mazar-i-Sharif line while in Kandahar.

Read all about it in his article Free-mo in a foreign land in the May 2015 issue of the free digital magazine Model Railroad Hobbyist. The article describes the challenges of building a model railway 7000 miles from his home in the USA; although it notes “rocks and gravel were all locally harvested from the ground outside my tent”.

Free-mo in a foreign land | Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine | Having fun with model trains | Instant access to model railway resources without barriers

There is also a Facebook group focused on modeling 5 foot gauge railways as well as armour and aircraft from the former USSR: Russian Modelers Collective.

Paris conference discusses Afghan railways

A Ministry of Mines statement on the 4 July 2011 conference in Paris.

Conference on Afghan Railways development held in Paris

A comprehensive plan for building railways in Afghanistan based on economic criteria was welcomed at a special conference in Paris.

The Conference, organized by the Afghan and French governments, was attended by representative of the G8 group, international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, European Union, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, India.

The inaugural speech of French Minister of Transport Thierry Mariani, was followed by His Excellency Wahidullah Shahrani, the Afghan Minister of Mines, who presented the plan, designed to facilitate transport of goods between South Asia and Central Asia and revive the historic role of Afghanistan as the transport hub of the region.

Mr. Shahrani clarified National and Regional Resource Corridors Program drafted by the Ministries of Mines, Transport and Civil Aviation, and Public Works. The Program was warmly received by the French Minister of Transport and the participants.

Representative of G8 and international organizations expressed their willingness to consider giving financial and technical support to the proposals for the Mazar-i-sharif-Andkhoi, Kandahar-Chaman, Kabul-Torkham and Kabul-Mazar-i-sharif railways projects financially and technically, and emphasized the need for a clear organizational structure and railway management regime.

Railways are vital for Afghanistan’s development and the exploitation of Afghan mineral resources. Accordingly the comprehensive railway plan has emerged from coordination by the Ministry of Mines with other relevant organizations.

Mr Shahrani, in his dual role as the Minister of Mines and Head of the Infrastructure Cluster, was accompanied by Engineer Abdul Quddus Hamidi the Minister of Public Works, Dr. Daud Ali Najafi Acting Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, and Mustafa Mastoor Deputy Minister of Finance.

Source: Ministry of Mines, 2011-07-09

Chaman in 1896

The Royal Geographical Society Picture Library has a photograph showing Railway & telegraph plant for Kandahar / Defence tower & barracks for troops / Railway terminus at Charman, taken by AC Yate in 1896.

The preview is a bit too small to see very much, but it might show the railway stores which were allegedly in place ready for rapid construction of a line across the border from British India to Kandahar in the event that Imperial Russia made a move on Herat.

There is also a view of the Railway station at Chaman: tug of war – Pathan v Punjabi Mohammedan (2nd) Baluchis in Pakistan, also by AC Yate and dated 1896-97.

Presumably the photographer is the Captain AC Yate who wrote The Transcaspian Railway and the Power of the Russians to Occupy Herat in 1891, arguing for building a railway to Sistan (the Afghanistan/Iran/Pakistan border area), rather than Kandahar: The press and the public are at this moment advocating the extension of our railways to Kandahar; but that this could be done without precipitating a rupture of our relations with the Amir is doubtful.

The RGS has various other interesting photos – a search for railway brings up shots of colonial (and other) lines, and there are views of the Bolan Pass line.

“The most irresistible of all civilizers”

The movements of Russia and England in the East continue to keep pace with each other, and whatever may be the result of the pending dispute, the gain to civilization will be unquestionably great.

The projected Afghan railway is a report from the New York Times of 26 October 1879 about plans for a railway to Kandahar from Shikarpore, in what was then British-ruled India but is now Pakistan.

They don’t write ’em like that any more….

Pakistan – Afghanistan feasibility studies

Peshawar-Jalalabad railway route

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways (PR) has completed a feasibility report of the Chaman-Qandahar railway track and it has now requested the World Bank to assist in the feasibility of the Peshawar-Jalalabad route.

Director Planning Ministry of Railways Aftab Akbar told APP that the PR’s top priority is rehabilitation, upgradation of infrastructure and lying of new tracks with an aim to be a hub of economic activities for regional countries.

[More about Pakistan Railways’ plans]

Source: The News International, 2011-03-28

In January 2010 a Chaman – Kandahar study was reported as having been submitted to the Afghan government.

“Considerable progress” with the extension of regional railways

Statement by Afghanistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs at the 19th Session of the ECO Council of Ministers- in Istanbul on 22 December 2010:

[…]
As H.E. President Karzai stated in his important speech in the Kabul Conference of July 20th this year, Afghanistan in the future will be the nexus of regional economic cooperation and we are committed to share the benefits of Afghanistan’s centrality with our neighbors and countries in the region particularly the ECO member states to increase transit of goods and energy as well as movement of people within our region.

Our national road and railway programs have been precisely designed to serve this important vision of Afghanistan for regional cooperation.

It was in September this year that the ECO Truck Caravan passed along some of the newly built regional, national and provincial roads across the northern Afghanistan which is clearly indicative of the progress made in the implementation of our National Road Program.

Moreover, considerable progress has been made on the extension of regional railways to Afghanistan and through Afghanistan to other countries including the railway route from China along Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan to Afghanistan, and through Afghanistan to Iran, Turkey and Europe.

In this connection, I am pleased to refer to the construction of the Hiratan – Mazar-e-Sharif railway which will be completed in the next few weeks; the ongoing construction of the Sangan-Herat railway and the ongoing preparation of the pre-feasibility study report for the Kandahar- Chaman railway.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, 2010-12-25

Kandahar and Jalalabad studies

The technical studies of Kandahar-Quetta and Jalalabad-Peshawar railway, which will be completed in four months, are handed over to the Hampton and Branchville Railroad Company.
Source: Quqnoos.com, 2010-07-08

The H&BR appears to be a 40 mile shortline in South Carolina with eight locos and 14 staff… on the face of it, not the most obvious firm to carry out feasibility studies in Afghanistan?

Memorandum for Kandahar and Jalalabad railways

Has anyone got a copy of the text of the joint communique?

Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to establish rail links

By Sajid Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for establishing the Torkham-Jalalabad and Chaman-Spinboldak-Kandhar rail links.

The MoU, covering feasibility studies for both the projects, was signed by Federal Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Afghan Finance Minister Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday.

However, both countries failed to break the deadlock over the transit facility for Indian goods that would be sent to Afghanistan via Pakistan under the proposed Afghan -Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
[More…]
Source: Daily Times, 2010-07-08

The Jalalabad plan presumably means rehabilitating the Khyber Pass line and then extending it over the border into Afghanistan for the first time.