The International Steam Pages

Narrow Gauge Steam in India, August 2000

Dileep Prakash reported on 18th August 2000::

"I'm just back from 4 days on the steamy B Class in Darjeeling. 

The 14 Saddle Tanks are still chugging but maintenance has become abysmal with leaky boilers and faulty cylinders so much so that the line staff has to use banana leaves and paper to protect themselves from leaking steam!! 

The diesels are doing fine between NJP and Darj and do the trip in about 7-8 hrs (a shade better that our old octogenarian B Class). I don't know what will happen to the diesels when winter comes and the diesel freezes in the tank and the pipes!! 

The good news is that no more diesels are likely to come there for the next two to three years because they still have to be ordered with SAN and then manufactured. 

The Baby Sivok is in swell shape and even hauled one coach till Agony Point. It is the pride of everyone at Tindharia. However, (the bad news) the ADRM plans a museum at Ghoom where he wants to keep the Sivok - Museum means "house of the dead" - does it also mean the death knell for the Baby after its rebirth after 40 yrs? The AME feels that it will die a slow death at Ghoom because it cannot be maintained from there and knowing the hoodlums at Ghoom it will slowly be stripped of its parts. 

The UGLY concrete structure coming up at Bismail loop (Agony Point) is the Guest House of the Darj. Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). The land has been given to DGHC on lease by the railways for their 'good' deeds of maintaining the loop and the gardens that surround it!! I've got lots of photos that I will put up soon. 

The two locos planned to be sent to Neral-Matheran are possibly the 794 and 795. But there is a problem - they need to be modified
(a) Their front 'cow-catcher' or grille (pardon me if my techs are wrong) needs to be raised - which the AME says is difficult considering the design. 
(b) their wheels need to be broadened because if the NDM6 slips at Matheran then the B Class will not work very well because of its thin wheels - increasing wheel width means changing a lot of things (PERHAPS HARSH COULD FILL UP ON THE TECHNICALS). "

Rob Dickinson