The International Steam Pages


Narrow Gauge Steam Railways round the World

I have been a narrow gauge freak for over 30 years, back then, many countries boasted working narrow gauge steam - by which I mean (by and large) railways with a gauge of less than one metre, but which are not 'miniature' again it is an arbitrary decision on my part. Now those countries with real narrow gauge steam can be counted on the fingers of one hand and nowhere is it remotely plentiful. So this page has to widen its scope to include operating museums and railways which will organise charter trains for visiting groups etc. If you have got to this page through search engines, please be aware that similar information is available for those who are broader minded through my main international steam pages. See also my museums page which will include references to non-active steam.

As always, updates, additions and corrections will be very welcome.

If your interest extends beyond steam, then the following sites will provide useful information along with that on steam:


This page covers non-European narrow gauge steam railways, either scroll down the page or click on a continent for a further menu - the European list is now kept separately.

Africa
(24th Jun 11)
Americas
(16th Aug 16)
Asia
(4th Nov 16)
Australasia Europe
(22nd Mar 17)

If you are interested in narrow gauge steam then check out
our ISV DVDs. These are properly researched quality
documentary films with a story to tell.
'National Geographic Stuff' said one purchaser.


I don't include gratuitous advertisements to commercial products, but I am happy to make exceptions for

Narrow Gauge World, a bi-monthly UK publication with a significant international slant

Voie Etroite a bi-monthly French publication with a significant international slant


Recent additions/updates of non-European countries are given in chronological order. The European page incorporates the latest updates in the Index.

These are the list of updates:

October/November 2011 several USA updates

30th June 20011 USA updated (parallel Canada link added).


Africa

Eritrea
South Africa
(24th Jun 2011)

Narrow gauge railways were never common here, of those not mentioned which survived into the late 20th century, the public railways and industrial systems in Mocambique and Angola merit mention and relics of the Sierra Leone narrow gauge are covered in my museums' page.

Eritrea

Click for full size image.

This did threaten to become the steam story of the 90's with long stored Mallets being put back into service on the rehabilitated 950mm gauge railway between the port of Massawa and the mountain top capital of Asmara, with its spectacular operation, it just took a little longer than originally hoped. If you need convincing of the photographic rewards of joining one of the regular tours here, then you can check my own report on the 'Darjeeling of Africa' dating from late 2002.

South Africa (updated 24th June 2011)

There are a number of preserved operations of which Sandstone (http://www.sandstone-estates.com/) is the most notable as there is a more than an element of reality about the trains they run at harvest time. However, it has been announced that the running lines will close and be disposed of. The Apple Express out of Port Elizabeth (http://www.apple-express.co.za/) was normally steam hauled until the service was suspended with effect from 1st January 2011 and it seems unlikely it will restart - the stock will need rescuing soon. The Patons Country Narrow Gauge Railway, http://www.futurenet.co.za/pcngr/ (link dead 26th April 2014) runs between Ixopo and Carisbrooke. The last I heard was that these operators were still hoping to restart the Alfred County Railway Banana Express which having been in limbo following financial difficulties was operated by them for some time, but was apparently closed down by Spoornet in April 2006...

Americas

One of my favourite steam travel books is 'World of South American Steam' which lists many, many places which are now just history. It may be that there are other working 'preserved sites' in, say, Argentina and Brazil which I am not aware of.

Argentina
(23rd Dec 14)
Brazil
(9th Jan 13)
Canada
(30th Jun 11)
Colombia
(16th Dec 11)
Cuba
El Salvador
(21st Apr 12)
Mexico
(16th Aug 16)
Peru
Uruguay
(20th Dec 13)
USA
(13th Jun 14)

Argentina

The Patagonian Esquel railway operation is still a classic, even in days of preservation. La Trochita's own website is http://www.patagoniaexpress.com (link updated 21st November 2012).James Waite was here in October 2014 and apart from some stunning pictures he has written about the history of the line and its steam locomotives (13th December 2014).

Ferrocaril Austral Feugo - El Tren del Fin del Mundo (AR) is 500mm gauge, miniature or narrow gauge? Jack Neville sent a report of a November 2014 visit (23rd December 2014)

See also the Americas section of this site

Brazil (updated 9th January 2013)

The operational narrow gauge railway and museum at São João d'El Rey in West Minas is very special. See also the Americas section of this site.  

The Perus-Pirapora narrow gauge line near São Paulo is undergoing a miraculous revival. See also the Americas section of this site (updated 9th January 2013), as of this date the latest information was James Waite's 2012 report.

Canada (added 30th June 2011)

The 3ft gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad - http://www.wpyr.com/ is an international operation across the USA/Canada border. It is covered in some detail in James Waite's extended report including chartered specials in June 2011 (30th June 2011)

Colombia  (updated 16th December 2011)

This barely counts as a narrow gauge railway in my book at three foot and large scale operation. There are occasional public and private steam specials - see the Americas section of this site. James Waite spent a long weekend here in December 2011, he thoroughly recommends the railway and its steam operation (16th December 2011).

Cuba

Until a few years ago, real narrow gauge steam was one of the great features of the annual sugar harvest (the 'Zafra'). Now it has finished, there are a few museum mills which may run the odd tourist train, operation is a bit hit and miss, see the Americas section of this site

El Salvador

The railways of Central America were generally built to three foot gauge and fallen into disuse. James Waite was here in April 2012 and was treated to royal hospitality. Read about what he found (21st April 2012)

Mexico (updated 16th August 2016)

Ferrocarril Interoceanico heritage railway & museum. Cuautla, Morelos - http://www.rinconestudiantil.com/morelosnatural/Webs/Turismo/Tren_escenico.htm (link broken by 25th October 2016). There may be an active operational site here:

Click for full size image.

"Railroad Station - Inaugurated in 1881, the station now houses narrow gauge Steam Engine No. 279, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works out of Philadelphia and originally put into service in 1904. The train made its last run in October of 1973, the day before the new wide gauge tracks were put into function. The engine and cars were later donated to the Municipality, who now runs them on a still-functioning, short, narrow gauge track that runs between Cuautla and the town of Yecapixtla, renowned for its cecina (dried & salt cured meat)." Picture, I believe is by Sammy King, courtesy of Thomas Schultz.

Thomas Kautzor visited for a scheduled run in November 2012, but it was cancelled at the last moment (13th December 2012). The next expected run is scheduled for 13th April 2013 and it will be sponsored by Club Amigos del Ferrocarril who hopefully will be more reliable than the local government (4th January 2013)..James Waite tells me (16th August 2016) that a web search suggests that the shed has become a museum and 279 looks to no longer be a runner, See http://www.oem.com.mx/elsoldecuautla/notas/n3909857.htm and http://cuautla.org/museo-vivencial-279-de-cuautla/

Peru

Click for full size image.

There is a small museum operation on the Surco Park Railway in the suburbs of Lima.

Uruguay

The Indare narrow gauge museum has 27 steam locomotives but just one is operational. See also James Waite's visit in December 2013 (20th December 2013)

USA (updated 13th June 2014)

This site lists all known tourist operations - http://www.railserve.com/Tourist/North_America/

This site is devoted to the world of the 2ft narrow gauge railway especially in New England but not much is steam - www.thetwofooters.com, see also James Waite's visit to Maine in October 2011 (1st November 2011). 

Using the above, I have tried to eliminate 'theme parks' for the most part (Dollywood, anybody?). Beware also of replicas...

Three Foot (and Three Foot Six Inch = %%) Railways 

Other Narrow Gauges

Barely Narrow Gauge

Asia

Asia (particularly the sub-continent) epitomises narrow gauge steam for me, it was love at first sight in India in 1976. Alas, as everywhere, most of it is history.

China
(25th Jun 16)
Cook Islands India
(13th May 16)

Indonesia
(28th Sep 15)

Myanmar Nepal
(14th Aug 14)
Pakistan
(4th Nov 16)
Philippines Sri Lanka Taiwan
(4th Apr 15)

China

Ten years ago, the country was opening up and visitors were discovering new lines, almost as fast as known ones were closing. Since writing the text below about the Shibanxi railway, the coal trains have finished, tourist coaches dominate the train contests (red or blue), the locomotives may be green or yellow as well as black and the major stations have been rebuilt in a style which is a cross between a church and a supermarket. The amount of it that is still 'real' is so small that it's basically become a Disneyland experience. Don't bother to go if you haven't been yet and, if you have, stay away, it'll break your heart (19th November 2012).

Click for full size image.

For our reports click below, the later ones are updates and rely on the earlier ones for basic information:

We even have two DVDs of this fabulous railway - Shibanxi Heaven (2004-07) and Shibanxi Gold (2008-2011). For current information the best source is SY Country.

It seems that Shibanxi now has (or rather will have) a 'rival' preserved steam railway, this one is just south of Zhengzhou, read Ichiro Junpu's report (25th June 2016) : http://www.kii762mm.com/modules/pico/index.php?cat_id=212 and http://www.kii762mm.com/modules/pico/index.php?cat_id=213.

Cook Islands

Click for full size image.

The Cook Islands was an unlikely site for a new steam enterprise in the 21st century, a former Polish narrow gauge loco in exile - see the Asia East page on this site.

India

Narrow Gauge Steam in India
Raj Steam - A Regional Survey

The famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway now has its own official website http://www.dhr.in/, but it's rarely if ever updated. It is (was?) one of the great steam narrow gauge railways of the world until, having  acquired World Heritage status, Indian Railways promptly dieselised the main services in 2000 although steam has continued to put ever more rare appearances since then. The so-called 'school train' from Kurseong to Darjeeling  (vice versa in recent years) is sometimes diesel hauled but may be rostered for steam. Watch out for the effects of monsoon landslides which have kept the railway closed for long periods in recent years. See my Asia (West) page for up-to-date information, the line is now reinstated throughout (4th April 2015) and scheduled trains are now running (16th June 2015). Alas, less than two weeks later problems at PaglaJhora mean that the service is again temporarily suspended at least until repairs can be completed at the end of the monsoon season in September 2015 (28th June 2015). It returned to a full service at the beginning of December 2015 (20th March 2016).

The mountain railways Neral-Matheran and Kalka-Simla have steam locomotives which come out on special occasions...

John Browning sampled Indian narrow gauge steam in March/April 2016 - read his report (13th May 2016).

Click for full size image.

The Tipong Colliery Railway in Upper Assam is (almost) a genuine working railway. You can read the report of my latest visit (February 2008) and our DVD covering it. The coal mine has not operated for some years although visitors have been able to charter trains.

Indonesia

Click for full size image.

The sugar mills of Java (in season, roughly June to September) now represent the greatest concentration (about 25) of working narrow gauge steam locomotives in the world. What is left is but a pale shadow of activity 20 years ago but is still very special in my book. For the latest information on the scene, Check out the Java 2014 reports (last report, 1st November 2014) and the Java 2015 reports, (final verdict 28th September 2015). In summary, there was very little real steam in 2015, not much more than the firelesses at Semboro and Pagottan.

And if you can't get there, why not consider buying a copy of Sweet Spot - the story of the steamiest sugar mill in Java.

Myanmar

Click for full size image.

There are occasional private steam charters on the Burma Mines Railway - check out my own report of a 1999 visit.

Nepal

Narrow Gauge Steam in Nepal (21st December 2014)
Raj Steam - Nepal

There were very occasional private steam charters on the Janakpur Railway, which must now have ceased as the railway has been ripped up for broadgauging (14th August 2014).

Pakistan

Narrow Gauge Steam in Pakistan (updated 4th November 2016)
Raj Steam - Pakistan

The Changa Manga Forest Railway still uses steam - click here for the most recent report, confirmed operational again by Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery in February 2006.

Philippines

One or two steam locomotives are held in reserve at Hawaiian-Philippine and La Carlota on Negros island - see the Asia East page on this site..

Sri Lanka

The narrow gauge out of Colombo is defunct but I believe the steam railcar and one of the 4-6-4T are still steamable for visitors to Dematogoda shed.

Taiwan

Hsin-Ying Sugar Factory has repaired 762mm gauge Tubize 370 to run tourist trains on the Wushulin Sugar mill system and now 346 at Xihu sugar mill is also a runner. These days 3 Shays at Alishan are 'runners' but only on special occasions. For a March 2015 review of the steam scene see 'Preserved Steam (and more) in Taiwan 2015' (4th April 2015)

See also http://www.taiwanrailways.com/ for a comprehensive set of maps and pictures of the 'modern' narrow gauge scene.

Australasia

Australia

See anz/ausop.htm and Association of Tourist and Heritage Rail Australia (ATHRA) - www.athra.asn.au.


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk


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