Trains of fame and locos with a name - Part 3

by Harsh Vardhan and Joydeep Dutta

This article was originally published by the Indian Steam Railway Society (ISRS) in its newsletter, and is reproduced here by permission, which is gratefully acknowledged. Copyright for the material here rests with the ISRS and the author(s) of the article. The ISRS is the premier organization in India engaged in preservation and efforts to promote awareness of the country's railway heritage.

This article originally appeared in the FNRM Newsletter No. 5, Spring 1999.

(Part 2 appeared in the previous issue.)

On 22nd December 1851, THOMASON was the first locomotive to start working in India as a contractor's engine. It was a 4' 8.5" gauge Ioco and worked for the removal of earthworks in the Solani aqueduct near Roorkee. The first 56" gauge Ioco on Indian soil was a shunting engine that started working for the contractors of Great Indian Peninsular Railway on 18th February 1853. It was later acquired by the GIP and named LORD FALKLAND after the then Governor of Bombay. The better- known SULTAN, SINDH and SAHIB hauled the first official train that carried 14 coaches and 400 passengers and ran between Boribunder and Thane on 16th April 1953. All these three locomotives as well as Falkland were inside-cylinder 2-4-0 tender engines built by Vulcan Foundry of UK. Sindh was subsequently plinthed at the Chief Mechanical Engineer's office at Byculla and was brought to Delhi for the Centenary Year celebrations of IR in 1953. The loco has been reported missing since

The East Indian Railways did not lag far behind in starting their operations. The first locos to be named on this railway were the Kitson built EXPRESS and FAIRY QUEEN (No. 21 and 22) in 1855, both of which have been preserved at Jamalpur and NRM respectively. These are outside cylinder 2-2-2 well tank engines and Fairy Queen has been restored to full working order in 1997.

The leading railway companies of the Raj like the Great Indian Peninsular (GIP), East Indian (EIR), Bengal, Nagpur (BNR), Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BBCIR) railways also took lead in christening their locomotives. In the early days, the naming of the locomotives always followed a set pattern and they were in most cases named according to the fancies and tastes of the homing shed/railway. Naming of locos after the British rulers and bureaucrats was usually the order of the day and most railways would compete in order to outdo each other in this fashion. EIR, EBR, GIP, BBCIR & Barsi Light RIy. (BLR) were prominent in naming their locos after LORD IRWIN, LORD READING, LORD ELGIN, LORD HARDING, LORD MINTO etc. One locomotive that is special in this sense is RAMGOTTY (1862) as it was perhaps the first locomotive to be named after an Indian. Ramgotty Mukherji was the much admired Manager of Nalhati area and this Anjubault, France built 0-4-0 tank locomotive which earlier has had a change of gauge from 40" to 56,' was named after him. The locomotive is preserved at the National Rail Museum, Delhi. Another common trend started by EIR in 1859-60 was to name the locos after insects like GNAT, LOCUST, ANT, HORNET, BEE, CRICKET etc. and BNR, East Coast (ECR), North Western (NWR) and Indian State(ISR) Railway soon followed suit. EIR named their earlier locomotives alphabetically in a variety from DEER, EAGLE, FOX, IVANHOE, JUPITER, KING OF SPADES, MONKEY, NAVVY, ORION, PLOVER, QUEEN, RAVEN, SPIDER, TULIP to UNDAUNTED. EIR also named five of its 0-4-0 shop shunters in 1927 after strongmen of history viz. AJAX, ATLAS, HERCULES, PHOENIX and SAMSON.

BNR started naming its engines after insects in 1882 but soon turned to some more sophisticated names like EMPRESS OF INDIA, MARS, CEASAR, HINDUSTAN, TRAFALGAR, CENTURION, INDUS, BRITTANIA and continued naming locos till 1920.

BBCIR was a late beginner in the naming business but later on changed the name of its first three engines to PATNA, POONA and PALEJ. In 1905-06 it named 10 of its Bayer Peacock built 4-4-0 engines after heirs to the Royal throne. These were, PRINCE EDWARDS, PRINCESS MAY, PRINCESS VICTORIA and PRINCE GEORGE amongst others. BBCIR also named their fifteen MG engines (YB class 4-6-2 built by Ajmer works in 1932) like CITY OF AJMER, CITY OF DELHI, CITY OF PALANPUR, CITY OF BHARATPUR and CITY OF MUTTRA (Mathura). Earlier between 1899-1903, GIP had named their B1/B2 class 4-4-0 passenger engines after Indian cities like CAWNPORE, AGRA, JHANSI, BHOPAL, MAHOBA etc. In 1937 GIP named their XP locos (No. 3100-01), which were the only two of their kind from the IRS class of engines, after KING GEORGE and QUEEN ELIZABETH.

Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway gave their first four locomotives of A class (0-8- Os built by Sharp Stewart in 1865) such quaint names as JIMPEEBUTTEE, BOTEETUTTEE, DAOTHABTEE and PERLEEWERLEE.

In 1909 the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railways named their eleven V-1/2 4-4-0 passenger class locomotives after Indian holy rivers. No. 700 engine named NARBADA (Narmada) has been plinthed at the Perambur Works of IR. Other locos were given names like GANGES, JUMNA (Yamuna), GODAVARI, KISTNA (Krishna) etc.

The electrification of the Bombay Suburban railway brought in the first DC electric locomotives in 1928. Of these the first EF/1 4500 (later reclassified as WCG1 20025) C-C locomotive built by SLM, Switzerland was named SIR LESLIE WILSON. Another engine which came from SLM in 1938 as a passenger class Ioco known as EA/2 4025 (later WCP2 20024) with 1-Co-2 wheel arrangement was named after SIR ROGER LUMLEY. The first AC electric locomotive WAM1 20202 dedicated to the service of the nation by the then Railway Minister JAGJIVAN RAM on 1st Jan 1959 was named after him. All the above three locomotives can be seen today at the NRM.

The exotic little Darjeeling Himalayan Railways have also regularly named their engines. The first engine utilised in construction the line in 1880 was a 0-4-0 tank engine appropriately called TINY. DHR purchased more engines for building its Kishanganj and Teesta Valley line extensions. Of these, one engine called BABY SIVOK has survived and can be seen plinthed at Siliguri Jn. Station. The B class locos that have single handedly worked this line have carried beautiful names as HIMALAYAN BIRD, MOUNTAINEER, QUEEN OF THE HILLS, MEGHDOOT (Cloud Messenger), GREEN HILLS etc., although these name. plates are known to be switched between locos. The three B-class locomotives built by Tindharia workshop between 1919-25 were originally named as TINDHARIA, KURSEONG and DARJEELING. The other famous 20" gauge Gwalior Light Railway are not known to have used any names on their steam locos but the NDM5 diesels that arrived following the demise of steam were named CHINKARA (801) and CHEETAL (802) which are locally found species of Deer.

Barsi Light Railway also named their locos after British premiers between 1887-1915. Amongst these was No. 11 LORD AIRDALE, which later became SIR ALEC (a name previously held by No. 6). This beautiful 4-8-4 loco has been plinthed outside the Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad. Parlamedi Light Railway of BNR named their three locos in 1898 as SITA, RAMA and VISHNU and went on to name further three as PARSHURAM, HANUMAN and KUBER in 1928. Mourbhanj State Railway named their three Iocos between 1903-08 as JAGGERNATH, BALABHADRA and SUBHADRA. Jaggernath arrives from 'Juggernaut' which means 'Lord of the Universe' and is another name for Krishna, the other two being his siblings.

Two metre gauge locomotives that deserve a special mention are TWEED and MERSY(both 1873 built) which are the oldest surviving MG locomotives of Indian Railways now working in sugar factories in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Several steam locomotives in past have been seen carrying names that were probably given by their shed/crews. But these were not fixed names for a particular locomotive and could be shared by other tacos of the shed. Nevertheless these were some exquisite names like RANI JHANSI, MAYUR (Peacock), PUSHPAK (Air-craft), SITARE HIMACHAL (Star of Himachal), RANI REGISTAN (Queen of the Desert), SHER-E-PUNJAB (Tiger of Punjab) and many many more.

For a century or more the builders traditionally never christened the engines themselves. In fact in most cases, especially the War-Department locos, the builder was not even aware which part of the subcontinent the Ioco would be finally working! Chittaranjan Locomotive Works broke this tradition and in November, 1950 and named its first Indian built WG locomotive No. 8401 DESHBANDHU after the famous Indian statesman Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. Further the first WP 7060 that they built in 1963 was called VIVEKANANDA. CLW also built the first DC electric locomotive WCM5 20083 in 1961 and named it LOKMANYA or the public reverend, a title given to the freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The first WDS4 19057 diesel hydraulic shunter flagged off on January 6th, 1968 was called INDRAPRASTHA (Delhi). The best-known locomotive built by CLW was the last broad gauge steam locomotive WG 10560 rolled out on in 1970. It was aptly named ANTIM SITARA (The last star) taking a cue from 'The Evening Star' the last British built steam locomotive for British Rail. In a coup of sorts the last built Steam loco on Indian soil, the metre gauge YG 3573 was ignored and not given a name at CLW in 1972.

CLW has carried forward its tradition of naming locomotives and still continues to name all its landmark locomotives built. The first B-B AC electric locomotive WAG1 20710 built by them in 1963 was named BIDHAN (Order). The first dual voltage locomotive WCAM1 21800 built in 1974 was named VALLABH (Master) and the first WCAM2 21861 called BALWANT (Powerful). CLW built a dual brake WAGS 23141 in 1986 was called NOUVION after F.F. Nouvion, the French pioneer of 25 KV AC traction and was commissioned by him. WAP3.22005 JAWAHAR (Jewel, also the first name of India's first Prime Minister) is a first of its type hig h-speed passenger class locomotive that initially hauled the Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express. Also worth mention here are ASHOK (first 5000 HP WAP4 locomotive), SWARNANJALI (Golden Maiden, WAP4 22242 the 165th electric locomotive built in 1997-98), AJAY (Undefeated, WAG5HA 23357, first loco built in 1989-90), JANMASHATI (Birth - century, WAG5HA 23356, 100th electric locomotive built in 1988-89), SHANTIDAN (Gift of Peace, First WAG7 No. 27001 christened by Mother Teresa on August 3, 1992), SWARNABHA (Golden Maiden, WAG7 27371, the 25OOth loco built by CLW), AGRASAR (Forward Bound, first uprated version of WAG7 called WAG7H), KARAMVIR (Duty-bound, 5000 HP modular freight locomotive WAG7), GAURAV (Pride, first WAP5 locomotive flagged off).

The Diesel Locomotive works, Varanasi has lagged far behind when it comes to naming of the locomotives. As a result there are very few named diesel locomotives in the country. The first WDS1 shunter plinthed outside the DLW was at last given a name -- MAHALAKSHMI after a Hindu Goddess. The first YDM4 6199 locomotive rolled out was called HUBLI. To commemorate the 25th year of production a WDM2 16098 was named RAJATRATH (Silver Chariot). A more powerful version of WDM2, the first WDM2C 14001 was called GAJRAJ (Elephant King) while the first WDP1 15001 is known as CHETAK and the first WDG2 14501 was named SHAKTI (Power).

Some of the other named locomotives that can be spotted on IR are GURUDEV TAGORE (WAM1 20290), SURUBHI (WAM4 20615), ABHINAV (WAG4 21004), NETAJI SUBHASH CHANDRA BOSE (WAGS 23222), BABASAHEB (WAP1 22021), SPUTNIK, STEEL SAMRAT (Emperor of Steel) etc.

The latest in the line is a WAG9 three phase 6000 HP freight electric locomotive called NAVYUG (New Era), the first fully indigenously built taco of this class by CLW, and dedicated to the service of the nation on November 14, 1998. Jyoti Basu, Chief Minister of West Bengal inaugurated SAMARPAN (Dedication), a WAG7 No. 27430, on 21st November 1998 during his visit to the works.