The International Steam Pages

Steam in Eastern India, September 1999

Harsh Vardhan reports on the return to action of HGS 26761 on 19th September 1999:

"Well you have heard (and seen) the most of it from reports and webnews. Here is my delayed two-bit account of the revival of steam in east India.

The run was rescheduled from Howrah to Tribeni instead of Bandel. A distance of 49 Km. The formation was a CRT wagon with tools tackles repair gang and a genset water pump, a TW wagon with spare water, an AC chair car, an AC first class coach converted into lounge car and two first class coaches.

The crew working were on the train were a little nervous as all big shots including 3 GM's were to be around for the occasion. Train was prepared at Howrah loco and brought to Howrah stn. at 0930 Departed at 1000. It was a good clear day although sweaty which is usual at this time for Calcutta. The train was worked slowly at about 25-30 Kmph with the anxious AMEs DMEs on the footplate giving all briefs. The loco did have the original whistle which is quite loud and shrieking type. Huge crowds gathered gathered wherever the train stopped or passed through. The loco was decorated quite well although the Orange, white and green livery didn't go very well with the wagons. The tender also had a EIR insignia. Travelling on the mainline, with a few caution stops in between Bandel Jn. was reached at about 1200. Here I got down and took some pictures of the train departing.

Then took local to Katwa(incidentally this is also a single line electrified passenger section) at 12.50 join the party at tribeni. After lunch and speeches, we started back at 1530 and this time there were some problems of the tender axle getting heated so there was some delay but who was complaining. The train was worked upto 50 Kmph on return and the clapping of the pistons was a music to be heard to be believed. Reached back Howrah at 06.30

ER now plans to make it a regular trip in marketing arrangement with WB Tourism Deptt. The journey will also include visit to important places enroute like Belur math, Mahesh, Chandannagar, Chuchura, Hooghly Ghat, Bandel and Bansberia. Alternate routes are also being explored. Steam Tour operators who may be interested can write to DRM Howrah Division or West Bengal Tourism Deptt. Any problems, feel free to contact me.

Another highlight of the journey besides encounter with steam was that in just 48 hours I could undertake and enjoy the following modes of transportation;
An Electric loco
A Diesel Loco(WDM2 and WDS6)
A Steam loco
A Suburban train
A Metro train
A Tram
A Steamer
A Push-pull type train on circular railway.
 and Not to mention of the battered taxis and buses of Calcutta.

Many thanks to Ashwani Lohani for first alerting me to this. There are now plans to run a regular 'Millennium Express' with the loco starting in November 1999.

Rob Dickinson