Steam locomotives of the Indian Railways are making a comeback on tracks after 25 years. Indian Railways will re-introduce the classic way of train traveling with this initiative, a measure to boost tourism. Phased out from train operations, these locomotives have been revamped and will brought back into service.
The new age of steam locomotives will start with hauling the pioneer of luxury train in India, the Palace on Wheels. While regular commercial services on small routes will soon follow.
The initiative of reviving steam locomotives by Indian Railways has started with a weekly train service with a steam locomotive on the outskirts of Delhi. A 1947-made steam loco “Azad”, hauls the passenger train which began its operation on 23 September between Garhi Harsaru and Farukh Nagar near Gurugram in Haryana. Till date, it is the world’s only broad gauge commercial train service with a steam locomotive.
The broad gauge steam locomotive named “Azad” gets its name from the fact that though made in the US, was brought to India in 1947, the year of Independence.
Arun Arora, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer of Northern Railway, stated, that Indian Railways occasionally operates steam locomotives on mountain railway corridors like Kalka-Shimla and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which they would make as a regular service. In the near future all services to the mountain railways in Darjeeling, Kalka-Shimla, and Pathankot-Joginder Nagar.
In the case of using steam locomotives to haul the Palace on Wheels, the plan is to use the steam engine from Delhi to Rewari in Haryana and, thereafter, a regular diesel locomotive will replace the steam engine.
In the meanwhile, two other steam locomotives, namely Azad and Akbar, are being revived at the Rewari steam locomotive shed in Haryana. Similarly, the National Rail Museum in Delhi is flooded with railway engineers as two obsolete steam locomotives are undergoing refurbishing to begin operations after almost three decades.
These include a Ramagooty steam engine, which is similar to the Fairy Queen, while the other is a fireless steam locomotive. The restoration is expected to be ready by this year’s end.