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Afghanistan

Trolleybuses in Kabul

Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan had 337.715 inhabitants in 1976. The city itself is situated in mountain and hilly terrain near the Kabul river. The first trolleybus route from Cinema Pamir to Silo and the depot was built by Elektrizace železnic Praha (Electrification of Railways, Prague) in 1976 - 1979 and first 25 blue and white trolleybuses started their service in February 1979. Afghans themselves have built two extensions of existing route, first from Silo to Hotel Spinzar, and another that has connected Cinema Pamir to a distant Textil Fabrik (textil factory).
Kábul 1979.
Kabul 1979.
There were 86 trolleybuses 9TrH23 (products of Škoda Ostrov) delivered to Kabul, only 80 of them were in service in1988. Three trolleybus routes were serviced by 55 to 60 vehicles during peak hours. Eyewitnesses inform of very bad shape of overhead in 1988, trolleybuses had to cross some junctions with help of children who jumped on trolleybus, pulled down the "sticks", vehicle passed critical point without the power, children gave trolleys back and jumped off.
Schema.
Schema.
One track long 12,5 km was intentionally divided into three routes with transfer points but no transfer-tickets, so if you wanted to go all the way, you had to pay a new fare.The reason for such organization was high price of electric current for big consumers. In spite of this, trolleybuses still were the cheapest transport mean in Kabul that time. That is why they were always overcrowded and followed by a bus of a private company which took remaining passengers, but for five times higher price. Trolleybus routes were not signed by numbers, but were distinguished just by destination tables.
View at depot under construction.
View at depot under construction.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1977)
People of Kabul are watching Škoda 9Tr trolleybus during testing fares.
People of Kabul are watching Škoda 9Tr trolleybus during testing fares.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1977)
Trolleybuses of Kabul.
Trolleybuses of Kabul.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1977)
Trolleybus in colours of Kabul with two local vehicles.
Trolleybus in colours of Kabul with two local vehicles.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (9. 2. 1979)
Kabul trolleybuses in 1979.
Kabul trolleybuses.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1979)
Trolleybus transferring point Kino Pamir.
Trolleybus transferring point Kino Pamir.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1979)
Czech  “manager of trolleybuses“Jan Zrzavý starts the trolleybus service in the city of Kabul.
Czech "manager of trolleybuses" Jan Zrzavý starts the trolleybus service in the city of Kabul.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (9. 2. 1979)
One of curiosities of trolleybus routes in Kabul was driving trolleybus through the Market Square. Overhead wiring was led right above merchants and customers, but trolleybus itself was running outside the Market.Trolleys and overhead really suffered from these conditions.. Kabul transport company decided after advice of Czechoslovak experts to move the overhead closer to the trolleybus lane. We don´t know whether this was done or not.
Market Square of Kabul in 1983.
Market Square of Kabul.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1983)
The war with USSR came and some trolleybuses were destroyed by bombs placed inside but even if there had been no war, trolleybuses in Kabul would have been sentenced to death, because there was no professional background and no effort to repair overhead and vehicles. Both above mentioned extensions of track was done without any prescription, any drawings, any project. Jan Zrzavy said that it had been really amazing that trolleybuses were able to run on this overhead. He also proposed the construction of the first overhead maintenance vehicles for Kabul.
View at depot 1988.
View at depot.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
View at depot.
View at depot.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
View at depot.
View at depot.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
The switch is replaced by “trolleybus children“ 1988.
The switch is replaced by "trolleybus children".
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
Reparation of a trolley switch and detail on overhead wiring.
Reparation of a trolley switch and detail on overhead wiring.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
Kabul.
Kabul.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1988)
Peaceful years of Kabul - the 80´s.
Peaceful years of Kabul.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (the 80´s)
Trolleybus stop in 80´s.
Trolleybus stop.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (the 80´s)
Sad finnish of trolleybus service in Kabul (near depot).
Sad finnish of trolleybus service in Kabul (near depot).
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý
Due to confusing political situation of Afghanistan it has been difficult to get any bits of information. According to the last news, trolleybuses have not been in service since 1992, when Old and Upper Town of Kabul were heavily bombed and front line came across the Upper Town several times. Even today we can see typical Czech steel trolley columns including steel ropes with pieces of isolators and copper wires. The copper overhead was found more useful for the purposes of war than for public transportation.
Street of Kabul with columns and other remains of overhead in 1995.
Street of Kabul with columns and other remains of overhead.
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý (1995)
Tragedy of Afghanistan...
Tragedy of Afghanistan...
Photographed by Jan Zrzavý

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