The International Steam Pages

Another Steam Revival in India, May 2001

Having recently restored a MacArthur, the Northeast Frontier Railway has now put back a YG back into service. This is a press release sent to me:

India - another milestone has been added to the history of rail tourism in the northeastern part of India.The first dry run of the steam locomotive-hauled train on May 14 was covered by the BBC telvision. Their experience was telecasted by BBC World Service in its Asia Today programme on May 21 repeatedly.

Though steam traction has been replaced by diesel and electric traction in Indian Railways, the heritage and nostalgia of steam traction still attracts a lot of European and other foreign tourists. After the success of a similar rail tourism venture on steam locomotive platform christened Brahmaputra by Steam, which included a journey from Guwahati to Pandu, the Jatinga Steam Safari involving a steam traction journey from Lower Halflong to Maibong for tourists to savour the scenic beauty of Lumding - Badarpur hill section, which is the most spectacular mountain line in Indian Railways, was planned.

As part of the erstwhile Assam Bengal Railway, this line was linked with the port of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh). The construction of the line was started in 1899 from the Silchar end and was completed in 1903, which by itself was a major technical feat due to the hilly nature of its terrain and its impenetrable thick bamboo jungles. Construction of this line, dotted with 37 tunnels and 565 bridges, the most famous being the Dayang Viaduct, saw the death of many people involved. The graves of some of them, which lie along the line, bear testimony to this.

The Safari started at Guwahati in the afternoon of May 13 when the journalists were taken to Lumding in a broad gauge train. After dinner at Lumding, they were given an overnight ride to Lower Haflong in a metre gauge train. The steam traction journey started next day morning from Lower Halflong to Maibong. The steam traction was provided by a 1967 vintage steam locomotive (No. YG 4367) revived recently.The details of the loco is provided below. I am also sending a few photos of the Safari as JPEG attachments.

Locomotive No. :YG 4367
Class : Metre gauge Goods
Year of manufacture : 1967 by Tata Electric Locomotive Company, Jamshedpur, India
Last train worked : In Karimganj - Mahishasan section of Lumding division in Assam, India
Year of Condemnation : 28-2-1997
First trial run : 23-2-2001 between Badarpur and Panchgram in Lumding - Badarpur hill section of N. F. Railway.

Revival of the locomotive: A team of 37 dedicated railway employees, all steam experts, led by Mr. A. T. Nath, Senior Supervisor at Badarpur loco shed undertook the work of rehabilitation of the locomotive. They decided to revive the loco by refitting components from other steam locomotives lying at Badarpur and Mariani. Experienced hands from Mariani were engaged in the process, as technical skills for the purpose has become scarce now.

Hill Queen

One of the tunnels

Doyang Viaduct

Rob Dickinson