Opening of the Khyber Railway

An extract from the Railway Gazette, 6 November 1925, p. 598.
This material is under copyright held by the Railway Gazette International and is reproduced here by permission granted generously by the Editor of the Railway Gazette International.

The construction of the Khyber Railway - linking India and Afghanistan - one of the most remarkable lines in the world, was described at some length in a fully illustrated article in The Railway Gazette for May 9, 1924. On Monday last, the 2nd inst., news came of the formal opening of the line, on that day, by Sir Charles Innes, the Railway Member of the Governor-General's Council, acting on behalf of the Viceroy.

Sir C. Hindley, the Chief Commissioner of Railways, said the work was one of which the railwaymen were intensely proud. The great engineering difficulties which had been overcome and the standard to which the railway had been built rendered it a technical achievement ranking with the greatest engineering work carried out by any of their predecessors. The work of location had a history of half a century, but not till 1920 had the Government of India decided to extend the standard 5 ft. 6 in. gauge railway through the Pass. To Colonel Hearn belonged the credit of locating one of the most brilliant pieces of work carried out by British engineers in the country.

Sir Charles Innes read a special message from the Viceroy, in which he congratulated Sir C. Hindley, the Chief Commissioner of Railways, and his engineers on the brilliant consummation of their labours, and Mr. Bolton, Acting Commissioner of the North West Frontier Province, the political officers, the Commander-in-Chief and the Army, on their share in making those labours lighter.

Sir Charles Innes, in the course of a speech, heartily congratulated the railwaymen on their achievement. Touching upon the broad aspect of the matter, he asked his audience to remember that the problem was not merely a physical one. Not engineering skill alone had made the railway. At first the tribesmen were inclined to resent the intrusion of the railway into their mountain fastnesses. Their suspicion gradually gave way to goodwill and goodwill ripened into co-operation. The railway was one more addition to the long list of enduring monuments in India to the genius of British engineering.

The effect of the railway would naturally be to develop trade through the Pass, but he was thinking of more. Lord Curzon's words expressed their hopes to-day. 'As the people trade together, they get to know each other better. Every line of frontier railway we build will turn out in the long run to be a link in the chain of friendship as well as peace.'

Proceeding, Sir Charles said that the tribesmen during the construction period had been brought under the civilising influences of this railway. He hoped that influence would continue and that the railway would bring profit and honourable employment to many tribesmen, and that commerce with Afghanistan would increase.

The material above is under copyright held by Railway Gazette International and is reproduced here by permission granted by the Editor of the publication.