Northern Railways' ambitious steam loco train tourism project, started in December 2011, has been marred by technical glitches.
The special locomotive - India's only steam train running on the mainline - has been developing technical snags during the journey, causing huge disappointment to tourists who have paid exorbitant sums of money to enjoy a ride aboard the heritage train.
Tourists, including foreigners who paid Rs 10,200 for a Delhi-Alwar-Delhi trip in the steam locomotive, are being brought back to Delhi in ordinary diesel loco trains.
"We paid for the steam run but were brought back from Alwar in a diesel engine. Why do Railways run steam engines if they can't rectify problems with the machine. Old engines have been polished so they look good from the outside but the machinery is rusty from inside," said a disappointed tourist, who did not want to be named.
The Northern Railways had started a fortnightly heritage steam run to Alwar-via Rewari heritage steam loco shed, in December last year.
"Steam locomotives as old as 70-80 years may not be fit to run on the main line and there is always the peril of untoward incidents due to technical snags," a source said.
Two iconic steam engines - Sher-e-Punjab, built by Vulcan foundry and imported from the UK in 1955, and Akbar, which was left abandoned at the Saharanpur steam loco shed for almost 20 years - have broken down during their past journeys.
In 2006, two persons were killed when steam leaked from a locomotive and a tube perforated.
"Something is wrong with these engines and it has not been rectified properly. Even the staff of Rewari heritage steam loco shed is not too keen on running these engines after the 2006 incident," the source added.
The railways, however, feel that these are initial hiccups that would be rectified with time and there is no real threat to safety.
"There is nothing wrong with the engines and they are completely fit to run," said Vikas Arya, senior divisional mechanical engineer (power), Northern Railways.