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British Industrial History

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Bolan Railway

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Historically, the main possibilities of a Russian invasion into India was through either the Khyber or Bolan Pass and therefore it planned that strategic railways be built in both of these passes to thwart this.

1876 First feasibility survey ordered for the Bolan Pass, 60 miles long, rising from 450 feet to 6,000 feet above sea level at the Pishin Plateau, at one end of which lies Quetta. The project was abandoned in favour of the route via Nari Gorge and Harnai. Initially called the Candahar State Railway.

1880 Work commenced but stopped after laying of 19 miles (31 km) of track through the Kundilani Gorge to Pirchowki at the start of the Bolan Pass. Rindli was the terminus.

By 1885 the name being used for the project was the Scinde-Pishin State Railway but some called it the Quetta Railway, this being the intended destination, a strategic position on the Indian frontier.[1]

1885 Work restarted by rapidly laying a rail track in the bed of river Bolan from Rindli upwards to Hirok, some 4,600 feet high, and 50 miles further on. Then a temporary metre gauge line was built from Hirok, through the upper Bolan for 9 miles, and then it connected with a permanent broad gauge line from Kolpur (Kotal Darwaza) at 5,900 feet to Quetta at 5,500 feet. Extensive arrangements were made for the transhipments between the two gauges.

1886 August. The first steam locomotive arrived at Quetta

1887 The line from Quetta to Bostan was opened in broad gauge.

1888 Commenced work on a high level line between Hirok and Kolpor through the Dozan Gorge to replace the section on narrow gauge

1889 A torrential flood destroyed the new high-level section of track which was first laid on Bolan River bed. A new track was laid at a higher altitude but that also got washed away.

1890 Orders were issued for laying an all season track through the Pass - the Mushkaf-Bolan Railway. James Ramsey was appointed the engineer. The Mushkaf Valley line joined the Bolan line some 10 miles above the Kundilani Gorge and provided a short cut

1897 April 15th. The Mushkaf-Bolan Railway section was inaugurated and became the main route to Quetta.

There are 17 tunnels enroute from Sibi to Quetta and the track crosses River Bolan numerous times in a criss-cross journey.

See also -

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1885/10/09