Steam in India

Be sure to check out the Indian Steam Pages for detailed information on steam in India!

General steam information

Q. Are steam locos being manufactured in India? When were the last steam locos built in India?

No. The last BG steam loco built by CLW was a BG ‘WG’ class loco named Antim Sitara ("The last star"), #10560, built in June 1970. Mysteriously, this loco's final disposition is not known; SER records it as "untraceable". One of the two WG locos preserved at CLW bears a name board 'Antim Sitara', but the loco is not #10560! The last WP was built in 1967. YG locos were built until 1972, the last one being #3573. The last YP loco was #2870 built by Telco in 1970. As for NG, in recent times (2004) Golden Rock workshops have of course built new oil-fired steam locos based on the DHR's B class, but before this modern effort the last NG steam loco built in India was the ZB class #122 built in 1959.

Q. What is the state of steam in India today? And its recent history...

10/98] Unfortunately for fans who love steam, IR decided to eliminate steam from regular running several years ago, and has largely succeeded. Around 1990, there were still over 2,300 steam locos in service on IR (1027 BG, 1398 MG, 99 NG). Drastic reductions in numbers started in the early 1990s. There were 1,725 steam locos in use on IR by 1992-93. The numbers in succeeding years were 911 in 1993-94, 358 in 1994-95 to 209 in 1995-96. By April 1997, there were only 75 steam locos left in regular service: 3 on CR, 15 on NEFR, 8 on SR, and 49 on WR. Hardly any were preserved or plinthed; most were torn down for the metal plates.

The good news is that the decision to eliminate steam was for commercial passenger and freight services; IR has thankfully decided to retain steam traction for some select tourist attractions, such as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Ooty Rack Railway, etc. These will probably have some steam traction for the next several years.

The DHR has also been given 'World Heritage' status by UNESCO, which has spurred the Indian Government into supporting the maintenance of steam on the line, and new oil-fired steam locos have been [2004] developed by Golden Rock workshops for it, based on the B class design.

There was talk of new steam locos being procured from abroad (SLM / DLM) for the Nilgiri railway as well, although not much has happened on that front and the idea seems to be dead. Alarmingly, for steam enthusiasts, diesel locomotives (YDM-4 class) which have been previously used for the gentler gradients on the NMR line, are now being considered for the steeper sections that require the rack system. On Oct. 31, 2009, a successful trial was conducted with a YDM-4 hauling 5 coaches between Mettupalaiyam and Hillgrove (8.2km) over the critical section with the 1:12.5 gradient with the rack.

There are also plans to re-introduce regular steam running on some of the hill railways such as Neral - Matheran (a B class loco from the DHR has been used on this line in trials, and had a public run on May 23, 2009).

The 150-year celebrations of IR in 2002 gave a big fillip to the steam heritage activities in India. Special runs with steam locos were staged at many places around the country, and the renewed interest has resulted in some of these runs becoming regular or semi-regular features in some places. Older locomotives are also being taken out of mothballs and overhauled in some cases.

Apart from the steam sheds for the Nilgiri and Darjeeling railways (Coonoor, Tindharia), there were no other functioning steam sheds in the country until 2002. Following a decision in 2000 to set up a steam shed for the maintenance of steam locos usable for tourist trains, special excursions, and heritage activities, the Rewari steam shed was re-opened in August 2002 with about ten or so BG and MG steam locomotives.

Unfortunately, the shed did not get off to a good start, and coupled with IR's 150-year celebrations which resulted in many heritage steam runs around the country, the Rewari shed was left with only a few locos, many of them inoperative. Now [11/03] there is again news that the IR officials in charge of maintaining heritage steam have decided to focus on getting the Rewari shed active with at least ten if not more running locomotives to be housed there by December 2004. It now [8/11] has a collectiion of several functioning steam locomotives, which are steamed fairly often and used for short excursions.

Finally, it must also be mentioned that many steam fans have been working on heritage preservation in India, including those affiliated with the Indian Steam Railway Society. Their efforts have resulted in the IR authorities agreeing to preserve or renovate a few more steam locos that would otherwise have been lost. Increasing interest by railfans, steam experts, and railway personnel has led to the some conferences on steam (‘National Conference on Steam Locomotives’, intended to be annual), steam ‘festivals’ and ‘carnivals’, etc., being planned.

The Deshbandhu Locomotive Park, at Ranchi, near the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, has a collection of steam exhibits, a small number of which are in running order, including the 'Fairy Princess', a locomotive built by the works in 1964.

See below for details of recent and current steam activity in various regions.

More steam information and loco lists on the IRFCA server are available:

Note: Some of these are large files and take time to download and to be displayed in a browser.

Steam Excursions and Steam Specials

Sample information is provided below on steam tourist trains and specials in various parts of the country, to give an idea of what's been happening. This is not intended to be a exhaustive list. These excursions don't always run to a specific schedule, nor are they always well-announced beforehand, so it is best to get accurate and up to date information from sources such as the ISRS or others close to the organizers if you are trying to catch any of these.

  • Fairy Queen - Delhi Cantt. to Alwar. November to March, every second and fourth Saturday, back on Sunday evening. Contact the NRM.
  • Royal Orient - Steam till Rewari Jn. October to March, every Wednesday. Contact Gujarat Tourism.
  • Brahmaputra by Steam - Guwahati, Assam. Steam special which can be booked by a group. Contact the NRM, or CPRO, NFR.
  • Jatinga Steam Safari - Lumding Halflong Hill section, Assam. Steam special which can be booked by a group. Contact the NRM, or CPRO, NFR.
  • Howrah - Tribeni HGS hauled steam special. Contact NRM or the CPRO, Eastern Rly for special group booking.
  • Ledo - Lekhapani. Contact CPRO, NFR.
  • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Contact the CPRO, NFR or the NRM for special bookings.
  • Neral-Matheran - Steam trials performed with a DHR 'B' class loco. [1/06] Special charter steam excursions have run a couple of times.
  • Kalka-Simla - Steam trials soon. No commercial details yet. Several special steam runs are planned using KC 520 (see below under NG).
  • Udaipur - Chittorgarh steam specials planned. Contact CPRO, WR.
  • ER has run at least one heritage special with WP/P 7200 around Kolkata, and may run more.

For the 150th anniversary celebrations of IR in 2002, many steam specials and heritage runs were organized, some on April 16, 2002 and others later in the year and continuing into 2003. These included:

  • Special runs of the Fairy Queen between the National Rail Museum, Delhi Cantt., and Garhi Harsuru (NR).
  • An MG train from Madras Beach to Tambaram (SR).
  • A special run by a YP locomotive (#2204) near Secunderabad (SCR).
  • Special BG runs with WP locos (#7161 and #7105 from the NRM) at Mumbai to retrace the route of the first Indian passenger train to Thane (CR).
  • A steaming of 'Rukmini', an NG loco from the Murtazapur-Yawatmal-Achalpur line, by Bhusawal division.
  • Some live steam action on the Delhi ring railway in October 2003.

Additionally, NR has plans for steam runs for the following sections: Delhi - Meerut, Delhi - Kurukshetra, Delhi - Palwal, Delhi - Alwar, Shimla - Kanoh, Nagrota - Baijnath (Kangra Valley Railway), Delhi - Farukhnagar. CR ran a few specials with the WP locos #7161 and #7105 in 2002 and may continue to do so. NCR plans a steam tourist train between Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

See below under the sections for each railway gauge for further information on recent and potential steam specials.

Broad Gauge

Regular timetabled steam services have been totally eliminated from broad gauge lines. One of the last officially steam hauled broad gauge trains (hauled by a WL engine #15005, "Sher-e-Punjab") ran between Ferozepore and Jalandhar in the Punjab on 6th Dec, 1995. That engine is preserved at the National Rail Museum, Delhi.

Some BG steamers were still in operation on ER and SER (possibly also NR) in 1996. CR, SR (except Nilgiri), and SCR were the earliest to eliminate steam (by 1990 or 1991). WR eliminated steam in 1992. One or two steamers had been sighted in action on ER near the Sahibganj shed in 1997. These may have been the last (unofficially) running steam locos in regular BG service.

(Some material above from Lonely Planet: India -- A Travel Survival Kit, Nov. '97)

[9/99] A BG steam loco dating to 1922 (HGS 26761 ??) hauled the "Millennium Express" between Howrah and Tribeni. Following this the run has been made a semi-regular excursion.

[11/99] Two WP's (nos. 7105, 7161) which used to be at Charbagh were refurbished and travelled under their own power from Saharanpur to the National Rail Museum in New Delhi. They have been provided with air-braking capability, and use an auxiliary power car for the compressor, etc. There are some plans to use them to haul tourist trains on occasion (no firm information on this yet).

[3/03] In late 1999, WP 7161 (ex- New Jalpaiguri, ex-Moradabad) travelled back to Saharanpur and thence was hauled to BAMY (Bandra diesel shed) where it was cleaned and spruced up. [2/00] It was steamed and run live on Feb. 15 for the filming of a motion picture. It has since returned to the NRM, although with some damage to the smokebox and other parts during the filming. In 2002 this loco along with WP 7015 (see below) took part in many special runs around Mumbai to celebrate IR's 150th year.

[3/03] WP 7015 was steamed on Feb. 12, 2000, at the NRM and hauled a special tourist coach around New Delhi on Feb. 13. Later, in 2002, it participated in several steam specials along with WP 7161 (above), around Mumbai and at other places.

These two WP locos (7161 and 7105) are occasionally steamed at the NRM. The Indian Steam Railway Society may be the best bet for getting information on such steam events. Currently [3/02] they are at the Parel workshops, Mumbai, for use in steam specials by CR as part of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of IR. They have also been used in the shooting of some movies. No. 7015 was somewhat damaged in the shooting of the movie 'Gadar' but appears to have been repaired to working order.

[2/09] A third WP (actually a WP/P, one of the original Baldwin prototypes), No. 7200 'Shahanshah', which was at the NRM was later [3/02] at the Charbagh Workshopss undergoing restoration for use in steam specials by NR. It has run several steam specials, including one between Royapuram and Tambaram on January 26th, 2009, to commemorate the 153rd anniversary of Royapuram station, the oldest railway station in the country. Prior to this run, it was worked on at the Perambur Loco Works.

[3/02] WL No. 15005 was undergoing restoration at the Amritsar workshops, for use in steam specials by NR.

[3/02] It has also been proposed that AWE No. 22907 and XE No. 3634 be restored at the NRM and used for steam specials by NR. [11/03] AWE No. 22007 is being restored at Amritsar.

The Rewari steam shed is expected to house several fully operating BG and MG locomotives in 2004, perhaps by the end of that year.

There are several WP and other locomotives in reasonably good shape at various locations around the country. Sonpur on the NER has WP No. 7581F which is in excellent condition, while WP locos Nos. 7656 and 7000 of CR are at Jhansi and Bhusaval respectively and in good condition.

In Sep. 2003, NWR held an interesting steam run with two steam trains on parallel tracks for 55km between Phulera and Jaipur; one was hauled by a broad-gauge WP class loco, and the other by a meter-gauge YG class loco. Loco numbers not known.

A commemorative steam run was held on 16th August 2003 between Howrah and Bandel by ER. The train was hauled by two WP locos. There are some efforts to try to make this a regular tourist run.

[11/06] An N-class Garratt (Beyer Peacock) of the Bengal Nagpur Railway (#38811) was restored and run between Shalimar and Mecheda on Nov. 17, 2006. This class was the largest Garratt to operate in India.

[12/06] On Dec. 6, 2006, WP 7161 hauled a train from Gaya to Gujhundi and back to commemorate the centenary of the opening of the Grand Chord route between Calcutta and Delhi, which shortened the travel distance between these two cities tremendously.

Meter Gauge

All timetabled MG steam services have also been shut down, the notable exception being the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. In Assam, east of Guwahati, most MG steam shut down by March 1997. Services to Alipurduar, Gitaldah, etc. were mostly dieselized in the mid-1990s. In Bihar, lines from Saharsa to Forbesganj and Mansi were running with steam until August 1998.

In Rajasthan, Gujarat & Madhya Pradesh, there were steam services between Chittorgarh, Rajkot, Ahmedabad and Mhow that lasted a long time. Train 9643/9644 from Ahmedabad to Udaipur was a passenger express that was still steam-hauled until August 1998. Chittorgarh - Ratlam steam passenger service stopped in January 1998. Day passengers #85, #86 were also steam-hauled.

Steam was officially supposed to shut down in April 1998, but did in fact continue for some time as dieselization plans were not being implemented apace. There were 12 steam locos at the Mhow shed in mid-1998 (4 working) and trains #89, #90 (Ratlam-Mhow) were steam-hauled until the end of 1998, and also reportedly occasionally in early 1999. A steam banker also used to run from Kalakun to Patalpani. However, as of March 1999, it was been reported that the Mhow shed has stopped working steam. It may be possible to still see some of the decommissioned steam locos at the shed (those that have not been scrapped).

As of July 1999, four passenger services and 2 salt trains to Vavania were still plying, but were to close on August 15, 1999. Following that, the salt traffic on the route shifted to road transport. The Dahinsara-Navlakhi steam service shut down in 1998. The Dahinsara - Maliya Miyana shut down on Aug. 15, 1999.

Wankaner was another steam holdout for a long time. It had no diesel servicing facilities for a long time. Wankaner had 3 YG's (3360, 3334, 3318) and 1 YP (#2233) running a few passenger services and one goods service to Navlakhi, Morbi, etc. Two more locos (YP 2825, YG 3434) were also reported to be in good working condition in May 1999, but eleven others were being cannibalized to keep those working. The working locos had temporary extensions to their boiler certificates for 1999. As of January 2000, two YG locos were thought to be in good working order at Wankaner, and were being used for odd jobs. They had been purchased by private parties in the USA, and were packed and sent off to their new owners shortly thereafter.

Update: [2/05] Wankaner's steam shed is still standing; it has YP 2825 (with tender), YP 2150 (no tender), and YG 4129 (no tender), with all three in very poor condition with advanced corrosion and parts missing. Two other locos, YP 2183 and YP 2211 (both with tenders) outside the shed are reported to be in better condition, although it is not clear that they can be steamed. (Also here are tenders of YP 2150 and YG 3618.)

Towards the end of 1998, Jetalsar had 6 YP's running, but by March 1999, this shed stopped working steam. As with Mhow, it may be possible to see some of the decommissioned steam locos at the shed.

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (Ooty) steam locos are still running, and the Coonoor steam shed is naturally still active. There were some plans to have these locos be phased out by 2000, as there seems to be no easy way to get replacements for the X-class locos dating back to the 1940s (the youngest is from 1956). However, they're still soldiering on. Recently [2004], some oil-burning experimental variants have been tried out here. The first one to go into regular service was dispatched from Golden Rock Workshops on February 20, 2011 and three more are expected.

Meanwhile, the Railway Board has (twice) put out tenders for new supplies of steam locos, but nothing further has happened on this front. It is reported that SLM, Winterthur, had submitted proposals for modern replacement steam locos for this railway.

[2/01] MAWD 1798 was steamed in preparation for its proposed regular use in hauling tourist trains in the northeast. It had last run in regular passenger service in 1993 and had since been lying condemned at New Guwahati loco shed. The loco was built by Baldwin in 1948. The loco has now [11/03] been run several times between Guwahati and Pandu, hauling a train named Brahmaputra by Steam. With imminent gauge conversion of this line it is not clear what will happen to this loco.

[2/01] YG 4367 was renovated and steamed, and ran between Badarpur and Panchgram (Lumding-Badarpur section of NFR). This loco, made in 1967 by TELCO, had seen its last run in the Karimganj-Mahishasan section of Lumding division (NFR), and had been condemned in 1997. It is now assigned to haul the train for the Jatinga Steam Safari (Lower Halflong - Maibong).

YP #2204 which was used for the IR heritage steam runs around Secunderabad in April 2002 is reported to be at the Moula Ali shed now, undergoing some repair work. It used to be Guntakal earlier. This loco is thought to be in basically full working condition. A YP, perhaps this one, or another one (??) is slated to haul excursion trains between Mysore and Nanjangud, in a package including the Bandipur wildlife sanctuary.

An MG ‘GX’ Garratt is being revived on the NFR at Guwahati, with the help of the ISRS. Another project where the ISRS is involved is the revival of WD 1801, also on the NFR.

[3/02] At least one YP loco has been restored and is at the Rewari shed which is to be made operational as a steam shed. Some additional YP and YG locos are also expected to be available there soon. YP #2508 currently plinthed at Kacheguda station is a candidate for renovation as well.

[11/03] There is a report that the locomotive ‘Tweed’, one of the oldest locos to run in India, may be acquired by the Indian government from the Saraiya sugar mills where it was running until the 1980s. It is believed that this locomotive can made operational with some repairs.

[5/02] Indian State Railways No. 421, a 0-4-0 saddle tank built by Black Hawthorne in 1873, was revived by the Ajmer workshop and steamed in May 2002. This was used for an irrigation project from 1873, and shunted at Ajmer Works for many years before being plinthed there until recently.

Other runs: SR is reported to have had a steam run with a YG (number??) around Chennai in Sep. 2003.

See BG section above for a Phulera-Jaipur run.

Narrow Gauge

Apart from the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, no timetabled NG steam services run now. The Pulgaon-Arvi section (762mm gauge), although not owned by IR, was operated by CR using ZP Pacifics until 1998. The 97km Bankura-Rainagar section in West Bengal, another non-IR railway on the 762mm gauge, had CC class Pacifics dating back to 1906 working until 1998.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway — New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling

The only 610 mm gauge line left. Steam services still run, timetabled ones as well as special 'excursion' runs which are announced from time to time and may cover sections that are not normally served by steam. The specials often have vintage coach cars attached (also, sometimes, the rare DHR dining car).

The DHR has about a dozen steam locos left, and as they break down they are being cannibalized for parts for the remaining ones. Parts are always being switched among the locos in use. At least three 'B' class locos (perhaps more) are in non-working condition and are used just for parts. See the DHR loco list for more information. See the section on preserved locos for some information on the locations of some other ex-DHR locos.

[4/03] There have been many proposals for new or refurbished steam locos for the DHR. Some years ago IR called for bids for new steam locos that would be externally similar to the existing 'B' class locos, but which would have more modern steam technology.

A detailed proposal was received from Schweizerische Lokomotiv- und Maschinenfabrik (SLM), Winterthur, Switzerland (later, it's successor as it spun off its steam business: Dampflokomotiv– und Maschinenfabrik (DLM) when the parent company became Sulzer Winpro). The proposal was deemed too expensive.

More recently [6/03], SR's Golden Rock Workshops have been engaged in building three new 'B' class locos. The new locos are oil-fired, following concerns about coal-fired locos possibly starting lineside fires. The first of these (#1001, 'Himrathi') was ready in November 2003 and was sent for trials on the DHR soon thereafter. These locos have many other improvements such as pre-heating of feed water, air-brakes, etc. A diesel generator (5kW) is provided for powering pumps that circulate water and supply fuel oil to the burner, and also to power the compressor for the air brakes and the lighting arrangements.

Originally the loco had two generators, two blowers, and two compressors; in a subsequent round of modifications (following complaints about the deafening noise) by Golden Rock in consultation with BHEL, each of these components was reduced in number to one. The locos have a fuel tank with a capacity of 900 liters, and a saddle water tank, which in the first loco holds 1,800 liters. Loco weight is about 15 tonnes.

They can haul a 2- or 3-coach train at about 20km/h. The second loco (#1002, 'Himanand') was also manufactured towards the end of 2003 (December?) and was ready after trials in July 2004. It has some further modifications such as a change in the placement of the air-brake compressor reservoir to better preserve the external look of the loco. Deflector plates have also been provided. (The first loco received a lot of criticism from steam enthusiasts over its looks and design.)

In terms of performance, the steam atomizing burners (four of them, from BHEL) on both the locos are said to have been improved to produce less noise. The oil burners work by aspirating air for combustion using ejectors in the chimney. The smoke box now has 'economizers' to improve performance. The saddle tank capacity has been raised to 2,100l. Before the manufacture of the new oil-fired locos, one existing B class DHR loco was converted by Golden Rock to being oil-fired too. Apart from these attempts, NDM-6 diesels (#604, #605) also work on the line now.

See the DHR loco list.

[5/01] The Kalka-Shimla route may soon see the reintroduction of steam as a 1952 Bagnall loco from the Gaekwad's Baroda State Railway has been renovated and test run between Pratapnagar and Dabhoi with plans to use it in regular tourist service to Shimla.

Another loco that may be used on the Kalka-Shimla route is KC 520 of 1905 vintage, plinthed at Ambala Cantt. for many years and recently renovated [8/01]. This loco was recently [9/01] used for a few special runs on the route, and again [11/03] on special runs for the anniversary of the KSR (aided, however, by a disguised ZDM diesel).

[12/04] Two ZB locos (numbers not available; said to be from 1952 and 1953) are also being restored for possible use on the Kalka-Shimla line.

[9/01] Steam may return to the Neral-Matheran line. Trials have been run with a DHR 'B' class loco (No. 793) to see if it can be run on this hill section. Another proposal being floated is to use a steam locomotive of the erstwhile MLR (No. 741) on this line. MLR No. 741 is [3/02] being restored at the Parel workshops of CR. The ISRS is involved in both these projects. Update [5/02]. It is reported that the 'B' class is ready for regular running on the Neral-Matheran line.

[9/01] A ZB class loco is being used for trials on the Kangra Valley Railway line for possible introduction of a steam tourist run there.

[3/02] ZB No. 66 is being restored at the Amritsar workshops.

[12/04] ZB No. 73 has been gifted to the Patna botanical gardens. This loco is thought to be steamable since it was overhauled as recently as in 1991 at Pratapnagar.

[3/02] SER is planning some steam runs with a class Bagnall 0-6-4 tank 2'6" gauge loco in the Nagpur division. The loco was earlier used in the Bankura-Rainagar section.

The Kalka shed is expected to work on renovating some other NG steam locos, including a ZF (No. 107), which may eventually make it to regular service on the Kalka-Shimla line.

Other old locomotives like ‘Ramgotty’ and ‘Fireless’ are also under consideration for renovation and being brought back to working condition, although their age and neglect over many decades may make this a very hard task.

The oldest steam locos

The Fairy Queen, a 2-2-2WT BG loco, is one of the oldest working steam locomotives in the world, dating from 1855. It was built by Kitson & Co. in January 1855 and supplied to the East India Railway Company, and began working in August 1855 as EIR #22. It was withdrawn from service in 1909 and preserved, and later moved to the National Rail Museum at New Delhi, where it was "revived" in 1996, and in 1997 it began regularly hauling a tourist train between Delhi and Alwar.

A sister loco, the Express, was also built at the same time (it became EIR #21) and withdrawn in 1909 to be preserved at the Gymkhana, Jamalpur Loco Works. Its firebox was damaged, hence it was not considered a candidate for restoring, unlike the Fairy Queen. Both Express and Fairy Queen are recorded as having hauled trains of troops from Howrah to Raneegunge to quash the uprisings during the 1857 mutiny.

The Fairy Queen is believed to be the oldest steam loco in the world that is in regular revenue-earning service now. There are a couple of locos that are even older that have been restored to working order, but they have been steamed only for special occasions (The Lion (1838) in the UK, steamed in 1930 and restored in the 1950's and steamed a few times since then; and John Bull at the Smithsonian in the USA, also of the 1830's, restored a couple of times over the years and steamed a few times in recent years).

In July 2004, when the Fairy Queen was parked at the National Railway Museum vandals stole two brass handles and four copper pipes from it.

The Fairy Queen did have some modernizations put in, especially when it was pressed into service for the tourist train. In particular, it was modified by placing a small air compressor at the side and an air tank over the couplers behind the engine, to provide air brake capability. The compressor was powered by a diesel generator set in the pantry car of the tourist train rake.

The locomotive Tweed, a 0-4-0 'D' class loco that belonged to the Tirhoot State Railway and then the Oudh & Tirhut Railway, later found its way to the Saraiya Sugar Works in Sardarnagar, Gorakhpur. Although built in 1873 (by Sharp Stewart), it was reported to be in active duty at the sugar mill until the late 1980s. Currently it is not working (since the mid-1990s?). A plan has been floated for IR to acquire the loco and renovate it. A sister loco, Mersey was also reportedly working well into the 1980s at another sugar mill. (at Sardarpur?)

[1/00] The last of the "F" or "FM/A" class 0-6-0 steam locos, built in 1887 (No. 253, built by Neilsen (Glasgow), works number 3701) is still at work, as of Jan. 2000, at the Lohat site of the Bihar State Sugar Corporation. It was earlier with the Mysore State Rly. and the Madras and Southern Mahratta Rlys. and sold in 1930 to Comens & sons.

There are locos dating from 1899 and 1904 on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.


Are there any Indian steam locomotives outside the country?

The preserved loco's page has details of three Indian locomotives (DHR 19B, MLR 740, and a Baguley 0-4-0T) transferred to other countries and repaired / preserved.

Q. What were the longest steam runs in India?

Probably the longest runs on broad gauge were by the GSM class 4-6-0's of the Bengal Nagpur Railway, which hauled trains between Calcutta and Nagpur (1130km, 700miles). These locos were built around 1938, and could generate 1544 indicated hp at 100km/h (64mph). Runs of up to 700km were not unusual, e.g., WP's and XC's hauled trains between Gangapur and Vadodara (crew change at Ratlam), Gangapur and Delhi.

On MG, runs of around 600km were not unusual. The Ajanta Exp. was hauled by the same loco (a superheated P or YB) between Kacheguda and Manmad, a distance of 630km. (The loco was coaled at Purna, which in later years became a loco change point as well.) Hubli YCs hauled trains between Pune and Hubli (560km) and between Hubli and Bangalore City (469km). On occasion, though, the same YC would haul a train between Pune and Bangalore, for a 1029km-long run, which was probably the longest MG run.

Q. What were the highest speeds of steam locos in India?

The WP locos were rated for 100km/h and were actually capable of more. The first prototypes (WP/P) were used in trials at higher speeds, with the unofficial record being 118.4km/h (recorded by a dynamometer for a WP on trial). On MG, the YP locomotives often hit 75km/h.

Q. Were oil-fired steam locomotives common in India?

Oil firing was never very popular in India, mainly because of the abundant supply of cheap coal. It was more expedient to work around the problems of the coal quality (high ash content, etc.) or to design locos suitable for Indian coal, than to use oil as the fuel. Nevertheless, there were some oil-fired steam locomotives in use in some places, notably on the South Indian Railway where during World War 2 several locomotives homed at Erode were converted to oil firing. Later, in 1965, there were trials with WP locos converted to oil-firing but the results were disappointing. Of course, in modern times we have the examples of the new oil-fired locos built by Golden Rock Workshops for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

After the Partition of British India in 1947, the newly created nation of Pakistan was left without a good and reliable supply of coal, as almost all the coal fields supplying Indian railways were in what became independent India. Therefore, in Pakistan after 1947 there was a great deal of emphasis on converting locomotives to oil-firing, and oil-fired locos were very common there.

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