The International Steam Pages
Steam at Shimla, March 2016
James Waite reports:
I had a good flight to Delhi for my Shimla trip and met up with Takahide and Ashok Sharma of Real India Journeys. Ashok told us that at the last minute he had been asked to go up to Shimla to look after a Dutch enthusiast who was also there for the steam train. I didn't think to ask the name of his Dutch friend but when we got there he turned out to be Ad van Sten. I think that he was as surprised to see Takahide and me as we were to see him! Before we headed north Ashok took us to the Delhi railway museum and also to a farm/country estate in the outskirts of Delhi to see a privately preserved ZB class 762mm gauge 2-6-2.
The steam run at Shimla with KC 520 duly took place on a gloriously sunny day. We had thought of hiring a car to follow the train by road but decided against this as there are only a few points where the line is accessible by road and runpasts were supposed to be on offer during the run. In the event these didn't happen which was a shame and we would probably have been better off with a car. It was a one-way trip as the Ffestiniog Travel group, who had chartered the train, were going off on a sightseeing tour but Ashok negotiated for the four of us (including him) to ride back on the empty stock train being pushed by a diesel, for the steam locomotive to run round so as to be at the front and for us to have a couple of runpasts.
On the Sunday after the trip Ashok arranged a car and driver to take us out to Rewari steam locomotive restoration centre, about 80km to the south west of Delhi. It's housed in an old metre gauge locomotive shed, partly adapted to accommodate broad gauge locomotive s. It's now home to 5 metre gauge and 5 broad gauge locomotive s and was a very atmospheric place. We were joined by one of his enthusiast friends who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the whereabouts of other plinthed locomotives around Delhi. We visited some of these at the end of the day. I got back home on Monday morning. The weather was brilliant throughout, predictable perhaps around Delhi but I think we were very lucky that it was so good at Shimla. I rated the whole visit as most successful.
I got down to the shed at Shimla at about 7.30 on the Friday morning in time to see the sun rise. Fortunately the locomotive was well positioned for this:
I then went back for breakfast and returned about an hour later:
This is the train at Summerhill:
This is the locomotive taking water after reaching Taradevi which Ashok told us has now become definitively as far as the railway will run the steam locomotive. There is a sharp curve with the precipice on its outside a short distance south of Taradevi tunnel. There's a new awareness of safety on the line in the light of the fatal accident last autumn and they are afraid of runaways with the steam train.
Here the locomotive runs round
These are our two runpasts:
the train was posed for us at the north end of the loop at Summerhill.
Finally here is 520 back at Shimla station.
This is one of two of the line's railcars in their shed at Kalka. I think it may well be the old steam shed.
This is the other railcar which must have set off from Kalka very early in the morning as I photographed it shortly after breakfast:
This is the same railcar at the other end of the station after being turned.