Steam update -- Spring 1999
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.
Jetalsar and Mhow: Both these sheds closed to steam in December 1998. Diesel locos have been drafted in for the banking and passenger train operation but till last heard, there was no provision for a breakdown cover. Both sheds have retained one steam loco each for any kind of emergency resulting from a diesel loco breakdown. One visitor to the WR HO at Churchgate was given to understand that these locos would be permanently maintained there in working condition for any special workings in future.
YG 3724 was seen in fine fettle on a Mhow -- Ratlam run hauling 89190 passenger in April 98. It was subsequently moved to Rewari shed as a spare power for working the Royal Orient. It was seen working the Royal Orient in March and April along with 3438 as 3415 was taken up for POH.
Wankaner: This last bastion of steam continues to be in steam till the latest reports received. No definite date has been set for the end of steam working. The locomotives have received temporary extensions to their boiler certificate for 1999. However as overhauls of MG steam engines has ceased, locos are kept serviceable only by cannibalising spares from other withdrawn engines. The daily salt train from Vavania is also reported to be working. The gauge conversion work has started in earnest from Maliya Miyana end of the Gandhidham -- Ahemedabad mainline through to Dahinsara Jn. Once this line is converted, it would certainly be preferred to carry all the salt traffic through this route avoiding transshipment from MG to BG. This would render the rest of the line a prime candidate for closure for hastening the conversion work on rest of the line upto Wankaner. However it may be safely assumed that steam will definitely last here till the end of the year and if the locos are still serviceable who knows we might see them in steam in the 21st century.
Locos sold to USA YP's 2257 and 2805, working on Jetalser and Wankaner sheds of the Rajkot Division, were recently purchased by Railroad Development Corporation of the USA, in the interest of preserving the locomotives and ultimately operating them on one of its railways in the future. The locomotives are being overhauled and will be stored pending a decision on their ultimate destination. A Delhi based export company has reportedly brokered the deal and the price was quoted as Rs. 18 Lakhs per engine.
WP Locomotives: WP 7015 and 7161 were seen ready in February equipped with air brake equipment fitted and a POH done at the Charbagh workshop. The visitors were told that the cosmetic restoration and firing trials will be given by the new homing shed. However the locomotives may yet have to wait for one year or more to be back in steam, as there are no concrete plans yet for running these locomotives!
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway: The DHR is working its full stretch beginning April and all the three services are said to be operating regularly. Three NDM6 diesel locomotives from a batch of engines originally made for Matheran Railway have been diverted to DHR for trail runs.