The International Steam Pages


Active Preserved Steam in India

One of the features of the Indian steam scene in recent years has been the restoration of a number of steam locomotives to working order by local initiative with the Indian Railways. Often this has been done quietly and with almost no publicity and the news is broken only when the latest 'Black Beauty' is revealed on its inaugural run. This is very frustrating for the enthusiast (inside and outside India). Even more frustrating is that while the engineering departments are justly proud of their achievements, the commercial departments, with very few exceptions, have absolutely no interest in exploiting the tourist potential. I am also certain there have been steam outings which have never been reported..... What appears below is what has filtered through to me over the years.


Sad news is that on 3rd October 2007, there was a fatal accident when a boiler tube failed on WL 15005 while it was hauling the Palace on Wheels, two footplate crew died as a result of their injuries incurred while bringing the train to a halt. I have abstracted the text from the Times of India report. (25th November 2007).

On 2nd February 2007, a special steam review took place at Safdarjang Station in Delhi. Present were the Railways Minister and 5 locomotives in steam: 
XE 3634, AWE 22907, WL 15005, WP 7200, Fairy Queen. G.Shankar tells me that the AWE and XE had been got ready at Amritsar Shops of the Northern Railway (added 15th March 2007). The number of 'working' preserved steam locomotives in India must now run into double figures, getting them to work co-ordinated charters for a tour still remains a challenge!

Rajendra Aklekar reports that one of the SER N class broad gauge Garratts has been restored (BNR 811, IR 38811) to working order, a project that certainly took me by surprise as no word of this seems to have leaked out (8th September 2006). The upper picture below is by Subhasis Ganguly via Nick Lera (added 11th September 2006). Its first run was held on 17th November 2006 from Shalimar (on the branch from Santragachi near Howrah) to Kharagpur. The lower picture below also by Subhasis Ganguly was taken during the event (added 30th November 2006).

Steam charters have proved to be a 'hit and miss' affair in the last few years, not everyone in the system is committed to their success. It is therefore very pleasing to report that Alexandre Gillieron's small group enjoyed 100% success on the NFR in November 2006. Read the illustrated report (4th December 2006).

The Railway Touring Company visited in March 2005, (15th April 2005) their most notable achievement being to get WPs 7161 and 7220 out on the main line between Delhi and Rewari. 

During my trip to India I visited Rewari, India's first heritage steam centre (2nd March 2004). 

In September 2003, North Western Railway held a unique steam run. Two steam trains ran on parallel tracks between Phulera and Jaipur, a distance of around 55 kms. One train was hauled by a WP class and the other by a YG class. A commemorative steam run was held between Howrah to Bandel on 16th August 2003 with 2 WP class locomotives. WP 7200 ran a regular service on (most?) Sundays in late 2003. At the same time Amritsar workshop was resurrecting AWE 22007 although news of its completion and commissioning has yet to be confirmed.

Alexandre Gillieron and David Wood have separately contributed to an illustrated report (4th March 2003), to which I have added some pictures from the Kalka - Shimla line by Peter Jordan on a more recent DHRS trip (20th March 2003). 

A surprising bit of good news was the restoration of MAWD 1798 for tourist operation on the Northeast Frontier Railway (updated 8th April 2001). The railway has since restored a YG to working order also for tourist operation (24th May 2001).

Apurva Bahadur tells me (29th January 2000) that a recent visit to Bandra Marshaling Yard (BAMY) loco shed in Mumbai found WP 7161 being restored for a potential special train in late January 2000 and 2ft 6in gauge W class 0-6-2 585 being prepared for display at WR HQ. Check out http://railinindia.tripod.com for a report of this January event (link added 13th March 2000)

Harsh Vardhan, Dileep Prakash and Ashwani Lohani reported that WPs 7105 and 7161 were fully restored by the Charbagh Shops of the Northern Railway during 1999 and then transferred to the National Railway Museum. 7161 was subsequently sent to Bombay/Mumbai for working a special train in early 2000.

HGS 26761 returned to action at Howrah Station, Calcutta on 19th September 1999. You can read Harsh Vardhan's report of the day out and plans for a new Millennium Express. (5th October 1999).


Rob Dickinson

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