The International Steam Pages

Steam in India, April 1998

Richard Grove is a regular visitor to India and he reports as follows:

"Potentially very exciting piece of news. Indian Railways have been discussing possibility of Festiniog workshops building new Darjeeling locos on 1897 drawings. The Swiss quote was "10 times too much" according to Jayanta Ghosh, Railway Procurement Officer in Rail Bhavan. Similarly a Chinese quote. I will have more new on this shortly. Interesting if the Festiniog can get the action.

Mhow-Ratlam via Indore.

The last steam service ran on April 4th (I have to check my dates for this) due to coal supply problems. Mhow reduced now to 3 YGs for the Kalakhund-Patalpani section. Pity about the Ratlam route. This was one of the last really long daily mainline steam services in the world (14 hours until March when the Chittaurgarh-Ratlam section was taken off). The regular YPs in excellent condition are now standing dead at Mhow. They are being sold for scrap locally at 4000 sterling each. Enquiries to General manager at Churchgate WR Mumbai. Locos from Mhow have recently been transferred to Wankaner and Jetalsar so Mhow won't last much longer. The bankers on the Kalakhund section are spectacular, almost as good as on the Himatnagar-Udaipur route (finished Mar 97 what a chance missed there for a tourist spectacular). Regauging at Mhow long time in future. Jayanta Ghosh told me a permanent steam shed is planned at Rewari for up to 30 locos. Have suddenly woken up to value of steam touristically, now that re-gauging is so badly behind schedule. Apparently it has been an unparalleled financial disaster especially in mountain sections. Ajmer is still carrying out major overhauls for the three remaining steam depots.

In Bihar in December I heard there was still steam operation on the Manoharpur-Saranda forest railway occasionally; however this is an area with considerable Naxalite activity. I intend to visit there next month however." (Well this is a new one on me and I look forward with great interest to Richard's news. RD)

Rob Dickinson