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INDIAN STEAM RELICS

A FIREMAN'S PERSPECTIVE

By   Hal  Hughes

Former Fireman  Grade A  Northern  Railway  Delhi  Division  Saharanpur

 

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16 Apr.1853 - 16 Apr.2002

 

FOUR  DAYS  AND  THREE  NIGHTS  IN  THE  LIFE  OF  A  FIREMAN  GRADE A


Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [<<Page-1] [<<Page-2] [<<Page-3] [Page-4]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 >>] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]


Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi  with overnight rest in Delhi:-PAGE-4

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The first modified EM on the NWR. She is named 'Colonel C.F. Curson'. Several EMs bore names. (Photo courtesy John Lacey, source not disclosed.)

The token arrives with the Asst’ Signal man from the signal box ,  I pass it to the driver, Mr Collis who sign’s for it.  I look at the gauge glass and see that the level is of an inch below the bottom of the top nut,  Gurbux shouts that the starter has turned green, the driver gives a long burst on the whistle.   I open the firebox and start putting on a fire , Gurbux looks to the rear of the train and shouts “alright” to which the driver reply’s “alright”. We start moving, Gurbux is waving the lamp to the guard and he gets a reply wave of the guard’s lamp he shouts “alright;”  Mr Collis  reply’s the same and he opens the regulator up to the running position and chains it up again;  on the reversing gear he cuts of 30 % and after a bit back to 35 %. We pick up speed again.  I finish firing and close the door, in the mean time Gurbux has been looking out for the advanced starter and has told the driver that it was ok on green and had got the driver’s reply. 

We steam on towards Modinagar gathering speed, Gurbux is now having to get on the tender to break the big lumps of coal and push it towards the chute. I put on the injector and fill up the boiler and  have a look at the lubricator to make sure it is working .  I turn and have a look out of the window toward the front of the locomotive we are still a way from Modinagar.  Gurbux has pushed a large pile of coal into  the chute and comes down off  the tender, he washes his hands and face I open the firebox and put on a fire about 8 shovels of coal and close the door.  I pick up the bucket and fill it from a tap on the footplate side of the tank,  I wet the footplate with a few buckets of water to keep the dust down,  I also chuck a few buckets on the coal in the chute and on the tender. I wash my hands and face and take a towel out of my Khana box and dry my face and hands  and stand between the hand rails the wind is nice and cool, as cool as it can be after all its ’summer time in India.  

We are moving now we go over a few culvert’s and  make a racket as we go over them ,  the footplate on an EM is split  with a flap over the space between the engine and the tender,  the flap is made of  steel plate curved and slides on another piece of steel bolted to the wooden floor of the tender.  Most of the floor of the engine part of the footplate is  made of wood with a steel plate in front of the firebox door also a steel plate on the floor  under the coal   chute, due to the parts of the footplate being separate from one another the whole footplate is alive the tender moving one way and the engine moving the other. You have to be an acrobat to fire and walk about on the footplate at speed that is why a fireman never puts on a fire when the train is going over points at speed or you might lose your footing and get thrown of the footplate.  I look out of the window and see that the outer signal is coming into sight at Modinagar it is green I shout to Mr Collis “alright” to which he reply’s the same. We thunder through Modinagar picking up the token and throwing out the one we picked up in Meerut,  all signals are green, I shout “alright” and get reply from Driver.

We carry on putting on fires and filling up the boiler between Modinagar and Muradnagar, which we also thunder through picking up token and throwing out token that we picked up in Modinagar.   We are heading for our next stop which is Ghaziabad. 

We pull into Ghaziabad where we have a 10 minute stop, we fill up the water tank,  I turn on the steam donkey and rock the fire bars I make fire.  Gurbux makes us a mug of tea,  I have brought some food with me 6 boiled eggs and 6 paratha’s which we share between us. The starter is green, I shout to the driver  “Starter green” he gives a long blast on the whistle; I look to the rear and see the guard waving his green lamp I shout “alright” to which Driver reply’s the same: we move off towards Delhi slowly gathering speed.  I look out and all the signals are green I shout “alright” to which Driver Collis reply’s “alright”.  I put on the injector and then open the firebox door and put on a good fire 4 shovel’s in each back corner of the firebox the rest sprayed over the rest of the grate area. We are going up the embankment towards the Jumna Bridge just outside of Delhi it is a long haul up this embankment and the cut off is set at 25 % so we can keep the speed up. I put on a few fire’s between Ghaziabad and Delhi also put the injector on a few times to fill up the boiler look out and see signals at green shout “alright” to Driver who reply’s the same back to me.  Gurbux is now on the tender most of the time.

We thunder over the Jumna Bridge and make our way into Delhi Station where 20 Dn the Dehradun Express comes to a halt,  the time is 20:36.   Gurbux and myself start to remove the Brass decorations on the footplate and lock them away, a point’s man arrives. The Locomotive is detached from the train and we get the signal to move off  on our way to the Loco running shed in Delhi while the driver and myself keep an eye on the way in and the signals from the point’s man.  Gurbux is locking the fire irons and tool box together with a chain and padlock, also all the oil containers and anything else that has to go into the in built boxes on the footplate.

We arrive in the Running Shed , we have used 3 tons of coal ,  I turn off the steam lubricator make sure that I fill up the boiler,  put on a fire about 6 shovel’s of coal.  Gurbux  goes around the locomotive removing the trimmings from the oil boxes as we cannot leave them in as they will get stolen by some other crew who is short  of trimmings;  some strange crews about in Delhi from the CR & WR Ha! Ha! ( Only joking chaps ).  The driver  has gone into the Office to book in any repairs that might want doing ,  I take out all the light bulb’s  and put them in a tray in my Khana box and lock it and also Mr Collis’s  box. put the   and  wait for the Grade A ( formally european running rooms ) Khalisi to come and collect our Khana boxes. After he has removed both boxes from the locomotive I say good night to Gurbux Singh the 2nd fireman  who goes to the Grade B & C running rooms, they are just near the main gate of the shed in Delhi. I wait for Mr Collis and we make our way over to our running rooms the time is 21: 45 .

On arrival at the running rooms we have a chat with the cook and ask him what curry he has on offer, it’s chicken curry so we give him enough rice for the two of us, we also get some sweet with our meal. We give him tea leaves and ask him to make us a pot of tea with our meal.  While he is cooking   the meal we both go and have a bath and get into our pyjama’s while we are waiting for our meal to arrive we have a read of the Times of India of which there are a few copies about  in the running rooms,  we also have a chat with some of the other drivers and firemen who are in the running rooms.  Some times after we have eaten our meal we get into a game of cards with other crews much leg pulling goes on in the running rooms though we never make too much noise as there are crews sleeping before they are called out to their trains, we then get to bed by about 23:30,  the latest we will be getting called  is at 8:30 in the morning.

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An EM preserved at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi. The EM were among the best loved locomotives of their time. (Photo by S.Shankar).


 

Dehradun  Express  from Saharanpur to Delhi [<<Page-1] [<<Page-2] [<<Page-3] [Page-4]

Flying Mail  from Delhi to Amritsar [Page-1 >>] [Page-2>>]

STAY TUNED FOR THE FOLLOWING UPCOMING SECTIONS:

Flying Mail from Amritsar to Delhi

Dehradun Express from Delhi to Saharanpur and sign off 

[Click here for more STEAM LINKS]

Comments? Questions? E-mail me at:     hal.hughes1@tiscali.co.uk


Last Updated: 30/05/02 Page spun by S.Shankar with Microsoft FrontPage 98