KHYBER, October 18: The railway line traversing the tough mountains of Khyber Agency is considered by many a wonder, but the track has been in a shambles for the last several years.
The rail track between Peshawar district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Landikotal tehsil of Khyber Agency is considered an engineering marvel. Landikotal, which is highest point in the Khyber Pass region, is located at the Torkham border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The British rulers constructed about 50 kilometres railway track in 1925 for the movement of soldiers and goods during emergency situations between Peshawar and Landikotal.
It is the only railway line of the world traversing an airport, ie the runway of Bacha Khan International Airport in the provincial captital Peshawar.
A known poet and researcher, Mr Muqadar Shah Muqadar, told TNN that the railway line passes through 34 tunnels and 92 bridges. He said the first train travelled on this track on 23 April, 1926.
“The railway line was laid between 1921 and 1925 and it had cost 210 million rupees in those times when this was considered one of the wonders of the world,” he added.
The local tribesmen say the reconstruction and renovation of the railway line will promote tourism in Khyber Agency.
“If the tourism sector improves in Khyber Agency, it will boost trade in the area. In the past, many used to visit the area when the railway line was in working condition,” said a resident of the agency.
The government used to run the Khyber Safari train between Peshawar and Landikotal for tourists in the past. The last Safari train plied the track in the year 2007, the year in which flood destroyed a large portion of the track, and the authorities then closed the Safari train service.
Ayaz Raza in Khyber Agency and Muhammad Shahid in Peshawar have contributed to this report.