A railway guard poses next to a rail engine. The steam hauled train, operating since 1925 on this route, makes an exciting journey passing through several tunnels and tortuous bends in the steep mountains to make its way up the world famous Khyber Pass.It was recently featured on a TV series for BBC by presenter Michael Palin
The Khyber Railway is the last great railway construction undertaken in the Frontier during the British Raj, and the first train was driven by a lady Mrs Victor Belay on November 4, 1925.
The first reference to a proposal to build a railway to Afghanistan appeared during the second Afghan War in 1879, when Sir Guilford Moleswoth examined the possibility of running a metre-gauge line through the Khyber. history states that after experiencing logistic difficulties during the first and second Afghan wars, the British Indian government felt a need for laying "railway track in the Khyber Agency" according to a plan prepared by a British Engineer, Victor Belay in 1880.
In 1901, the North Western Railway was extended to Jamrud, the entrance to the Khyber Pass and in 1905, a start was made with the construction of a railway running up the Kabul river gorge and then turning west up the Loi Shilman valley. But an alliance between Afghanistan and Russia slowed down the work, and in 1909, 20 miles of permanent way and bridges were reversed and the whole scheme was abandoned. the construction of Khyber Railway began in 1920 and the section from Jamrud to Landi Kotal was opened on November 4, 1925, and down to Landi Khana, just eight kilometres short of the actual Afghan frontier post.