Karkar coal mine photo

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent tweets a picture of the coal mine at Karkar, with the narrow gauge railway just visible; ignore the text about the “soviet field gun artillery piece gun” in the tweet, that is part of joke thread about the media calling any armoured vehicle a tank.

1950s Afghan coal mine film

“1950s Afghanistan Coal Mine, Miners At Work, Industry – Rare 16mm Footage” from Kinolibrary, which is “an independent archive film agency based in East London. Supplying high quality, rare and inspiring archive footage to documentary makers, ad agencies and museums”.

The video features some narrow gauge V-tipper wagons.

Herat railway construction and Afghan coal mining on video

There are downloadable MP4 format videos entitled Afghanistan Train Line, Coal Baghlan Province and Gold Mine on the website of Awaz News, “an Afghan independent news agency operating throughout Afghanistan and providing in-depth reporting to television and radio networks.”

Awaz News screenshot

On the “Economy/Infrastructures” section of the website, the “Afghanistan Train Line” (13 minutes) video includes images of bridges and construction sites, along with Iranian flags. While the commentary is not in English (presumably it is Dari – can anyone confirm?) there are some recognisable place names. From this, I think the video might well show hard evidence of construction works underway for the Iran to Herat railway. The video shows bridges and cuttings, but no sign of tracklaying or railway systems installation.

The computer generated impressions of trains are clearly not of Afghanistan – they appear to show Skoda CityElefant electric trains from the Czech Republic.

The “Gold Mine” video (12.12 minutes) has some brief railway shots, I suspect of the Karkar and Dudkash coal mines.

The mines are covered depth in the “Coal Baghlan Province” video (13.5 min) on the Natural Resources section of the Awaz News website, this video is well worth a watch if you are interested in industrial things.

Czechoslovakian wagons for the Karkar coal mine

The Williams Afghan Media Project has a picture in the Louis and Nancy Hatch Dupree collection of slides which shows narrow gauge coal mine wagons after delivery to Afghanistan.

The caption says These coal cars are from Czechoslavakia and are waiting for locomobile installation. The photo was taken at Pul-i-Khumri and is dated 10/1959.

The end of one wagon is marked, in English “made in Czechoslovakia”, while the ends of others say “Karkar” and writing I can’t quite read, but which may include “Afghanistan via Termez”(?). The wagons also have numbers, if anyone is into extreme wagon spotting…

There is also a photo captioned There are Coal Union lorries coming from Karkar on the right side, taken at Doab to Pul-I-Khumree in 1959.

More details of the Afghan coal mine railways.

Coal mining loco identification

There is some discussion of the coal mine railways on the Feldbahnforum website; see the Afghanistan Kohlenminen thread from 20 Okt 2010, 14:29 (you may need to register, and it is auf Deutsch).

The locomotive in this photograph is identified as a BND15. The hopper wagons at the mine are apparently the Czechoslovakian JDV (“unified mining car” design), manufactured by Zelezárny Vítkovicé (Vítkovice iron works).

If I have understood the thread correctly, some BND15 locomotives and also one BND30 were supplied to Afghanistan.

“The coal wagon rattles along”

I’ve been gathering some notes on coal mines in Afghanistan – I think there is something quite exciting to report soon – and then all of a sudden the BBC has this: Inside a crumbling Afghan coal mine by Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Pul-e Khumri, northern Afghanistan.

Complete with pictures of the hand-worked narrow gauge railway.

Video of the railway in action. Keep going to the end for the tippler in action (and an abandoned tank).

More soon…!