Fairy Queen, the world's oldest running steam engine that was vandalised and looted at a railway shed and rendered useless last year, is on its way to recovery and may hit the tracks in October.
Built in Leeds, UK, in 1854, Fairy Queen made its first commercial run on August 15, 1855, from Howrah in West Bengal.
The brass spare parts, almost irreplaceable, of the 156-year-old engine were stolen while it was parked at a railway shed last year. "The rare parts are being made at Perambur loco workshop in Chennai. We are hopeful of getting the engine back in October, after which it will be rolled out for tourists again," said Ashwani Lohani, DRM (Delhi), Northern Railways.
The engine, which was brought back to life in 1997 on the mainline after being in the wilderness for almost 88 years, was given the status of national treasure by the government.
Fairy Queen, which retired in 1908, was resurrected by Lohani, also founder of the Indian Steam Railway Society. The heritage engine, which used to run between Delhi and Alwar, has also made it to the Guinness World Record.
After it was looted in 2011, the steam loco was parked at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi before it was sent to Chennai for repair last month.
"Almost everything, including its rhythmic whistle, was stolen. There were slight chances that it could be revived, but we have been told by the workshop that they have made a breakthrough by making its spare parts," said a Railways officer, requesting not to be named.
The Railways hope that in October the spotlight will be back on the engine. “Steam enthusiasts across the world are waiting to see it again. This time, we will keep it at the Rewari steam loco shed. Its revival and preservation plan will be presented before the international steam loco experts in the upcoming national steam congress,” said Lohani.