World’s oldest steam locomotive to chug again

The world’s oldest steam locomotive is all set to chug again and thrill train lovers in a Heritage Run planned in Chennai soon. The 155-year-old ‘Express Loco’ built by Kitson Thomson and Hewitson Leeds, United Kingdom, was used in the erstwhile East Indian Railway till 1909.

Thereafter, it remained parked in Jamalpur and Howrah as a piece of exhibit for over 100 years. The ‘Express Loco’ is older than the ‘Fairy Queen’. The two locomotives have the history of hauling trains of troops from Howrah to Raneegunge to quash the uprisings in the 1857 mutiny.

The ‘Express Loco’ christened ‘EIR 21′ was brought by road to the Perambur Loco Works four months ago. A special team headed by the Southern Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer V. Carmelus took up the challenge of reviving the lost glory.

The 130-horse power locomotive was dismantled for undertaking corrosion repairs. Experts from the Goldenrock Workshop, Tiruchi, Integral Coach Factory, Chennai and Perambur Carriage Works were roped in to rehabilitate the world’s oldest locomotive.

“The only major replacement was the injector. We have introduced air brakes as the vacuum braking system is not in vogue. The steam-fired locomotive can haul at least four coaches comfortably,” Mr. Carmelus, who flagged off a trial run at the Perambur Loco Works on Thursday, told The Hindu.

Royapuram to Avadi

The Heritage Run is planned between Royapuram, the oldest railway station building in Southern Railway, and Avadi. “Depending upon the response, we may consider operating the Heritage Run at periodic intervals. It is a matter of pride for us…I am sure children and many youths who have not seen or enjoyed travelling in trains hauled by steam engines will love to be part of the Heritage Run,” Mr. Carmelus said.

He said the ‘Fairy Queen’ numbered ‘EIR 22′ that was stationed at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi was also revived by the Perambur Loco Works in 1996. The next year, it started hauling tourist trains between New Delhi and Alwar.

Explaining the salient features of ‘Express Loco’, Mr. Carmelus said it had a coal capacity of one tonne and two water tanks of 3,000 litres capacity each.

The total weight of the locomotive is 40 tonnes and it can run at a maximum speed of 40 kmph.