The International Steam Pages
Steam in India, September 1997
You should also read Heinrich Hubbert's report which covers a similar period.
Christoph Oboth reports:
On September 2nd, beside several diesels, three 0-4-0ST (all
Stephenson & Hawthorne) were present, of which one is in use every day, one kept in
reserve and one is under overhaul. General manager Singh said to be glad about his
"antiques" (because of their simplicity, reliability and cheapness) and regrets
having scrapped other locos some years ago. The steel plant looks very smart with lots of
green and dreadfully bad alignment of tracks. Usage of rather old steam cranes is common!
Darjeeling (September 3rd to 8th)
All trains between Kurseong and Darjeeling had been cancelled due to 2 heavy landslides between Kurseong and Ghum. Repair was going on and should be completed by the end of October. New Jalpaiguri - Kurseong-traffic was reduced to 1 pair of trains daily. After heavy rainfalls on September 5th, the uphill train derailed 1 km before Tindharia-loop (thanks god without crash!), so next day all traffic in the mountain section was closed for a day to clear the line. Staff anticipated cancelling all traffic from September 10th to October 10th for general repairs to tracks and rolling stock.
Western Railways (September15th to 20th)
To our great disappointment and surprise, all steam activity had finished at Udaipur on August 25th. Four engines remained out of use in Ranapratapnagar shed: Three were to be transported for further use to Mhow, one was sold for scrap. Nevertheless, Udaipur is still worth a visit: There is an extensive model railway at Western-Railway´s training centre which is used for teaching the staff how to run a railway line. All signalling and points switching is done as in the prototype, all signal boxes are 1:32-scale images of the reality and - working!
Chittaurgarh - Ratlam:
Trains 73/74 and 89/90 mostly steam. On these trains, diesel is only used in case of power failure (which happens quite frequently), even if there are only 1˝ steam trains a day! Locos are run at their limits (70-90 km/h!), trains are quite long (7-10 coaches). Timekeeping is rather good (depends on loco condition), but train 74 to Chittaurgarh seems to be retimed and is running later than mentioned in the Bradshaw.
Chasing is possible, but road conditions are terrible. Several large bridges and some nice stations are worth a visit. To hire a Jeep is about 1300 Rs/day, but most drivers refuse to do their service more than 1 day...
Ratlam - Mhow - Kalakund
Trains 89/90 are steam up to Mhow, but photography is difficult: daylight running occurs only close to Ratlam, Road access is nearly impossible. All shunting at Mhow is steam. For photography at the locoshed, permission from Rail-Bhavan is absolutely necessary: Mhow is short for Military Headquarters Of War, and photographers should avoid shooting anything outside the station/shed area!
The Ghat section Mhow - Kalakund also sees steam: Every uphill train (1 in daylight, Kalakund at 12.44) needs a YG as banker. The loco leaves Mhow between 1000 and 1100 and returns to Kalakund roughly at 1700. Footplating is no problem, but although the line is fantastic, there is only one shot /day possible.
Steam at Mhow (and with this up to Chittaurgarh) is to be finished in December 97.
Wankaner - Morbi - Navlakhi:
All traffic will remain steam until mid-1998. Mhow locos are to be transported after closure to Gujarat, and this could leave only Wankaner (and maybe Jetalsar, too, but Heinz Hubbert is going to find out if there is any steam left). Although 3 YP were in situ, all traffic was YG. The passengers are 2-3 coaches (old style!) long, freights up to 10 cars. Chasing is absolute no problem and especially between Wankaner and Morbi, there are several good positions (viaducts, temples, palace at Morbi, stations). North of Morbi, there are only very few passengers and landscape is flat. The line runs directly parallel to the road and reminds one of the Grodzisk-Opalenica line in Poland. Lots of peacocks out there: At Dahinsara station at sunrise about 13 of these big birds on top of the trees, water tanks and everywhere! (See also CRJ 111.)
No traces of steam seen from a broad gauge train passing the station (but see Keinrich's report).
Fairy Queen: Should be running again on October 18th, November 15th, December 20th, January 17th and February 21st between Delhi and Alwar. Tickets: 400 US$! When not running, the loco is stored at Delhi Cantonment station under open skies!
Further news (from Ashok Sharma in Delhi):
Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board/Korba:
One of three XE runs 1 train/day on the 8km industrial branch. One engine is promised for Indian Railway Museum. For specials or lighting up an engine on request, they charge the enthusiasts about 10000 Rs!
B.G. Steam was seen at:
Chunar power station (no further information)
Bathinda - Ambala: Steam on Passengers !?!?? Any confirmation???
Pachora - Jammer (n.g.): A passenger hauled by steam had been seen recently leaving Pachora station between 11.00 and 11.30!
The director of the Railway Museum plans to erect a new roundhouse for 10 B.G. steam locos in Rewari. All locos should be in running order! Possible: Specials Rewari-Delhi-Haridwar...