The steam is all set to hit the forgotten tracks of Delhi’s ring railways, which runs parallel to the Ring Road. The Delhi division of Northern Railways is planning to bring back the romance of steam railways for Delhiites by introducing heritage steam loco trains on the Capital’s now almost dysfunctional ring railways.
As per the plan, which has been drawn to revive steam railways in India, a steam engine will pull a special tourist train on ring railways, which runs across 34km, around the Capital.
With the advent of diesel and electric locomotives, steam engines were phased out in 1995 by the Railways. Moreover, there are very few steam locos across the world, which are in a working condition.Known for their rhythmic whistles, the black beauties, as these locos are popularly known, are run with steam produced by the burning of coal and water. A steam engine can match any diesel engine and can run at a speed of more than 100 kmph.
“We are planning to run special tourist steam loco trains once a month on ring railways. We don't have any train traffic on these lines and it can be a good opportunity for Delhiites to see the magic of gigantic steam engines running on tracks again,” said a senior railway officer.
The Railways is mulling the option of starting trains on a monthly trip from Safdarjung railway station. “The prices of the ticket will be nominal, so that even children can enjoy the journey. Most probably, the booking will be done online,” he said.
The ring railways of Delhi, rail tracks laid parallel to the Ring Road, were conceptualised as a mode of transport before the Asiad Games in 1982, but it failed to change the way people travelled. It slowly chugged into oblivion as the model was unfit for the Capital.
At present, the Rewari steam loco shed, which is around 120 years’ old, has nine working steam locos, which were resurrected in 2010 by the Delhi division of Northern Railways.
Ashwani Lohani, divisional railway manager (Delhi), said, “To revive steam railways in the country, we are planning to run steam locos on ring railways for tourists.” The division is also planning a tie-up with the Delhi tourism to give the initiative a better reach. “Steam engines might have lost their utility, but their glory remains the same. These engines have run across the length and the breath of the country for more than hundred years,” Lohani said.