“Railways will be beneficial to the commerce, government and military control of the country.”

— Governor-General Lord Hardinge, 1843

 

On this day, 159 years ago, Pakistan’s fist railway was inaugurated that ran for 108 miles between Karachi and Kotri in (then) British India. The project began in 1856 when a contract was signed between the East India Company and Scinde (Sindh) Railway Company to build the railway until it officially became operational to the public on 13th May 1861. The (then) Sindh Commissioner Bartle Frere pioneered the project in a dramatic ceremony on the construction site where he appeared pushing a wheelbarrow. The entire construction took 16 months to complete, costing Rupees 250,000 per mile, which was an enormous sum in those times. Hence, in present-day Pakistan, the people of Karachi were the first to witness a moving steam engine. Their reactions were a mixture of fear and scepticism, but most importantly, they were in awe of the huge locomotive in action.

Today, the section of the railway that runs between Karachi to Kotri is still one of the fastest speed tracks to exist in Pakistan. Upon its construction, the railway line was fenced on both sides. Interestingly, this fencing exists on the tracks between Karachi to Kotri right up to this date.