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UK experts in town to restore locomotives

A UK-based team of railway experts has arrived in Mumbai to collaborate with Central Railway on the restoration of one of the four original steam locomotives that was run on century-old Matheran Railway.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2009 01:18 IST
Rajendra Aklekar

A UK-based team of railway experts has arrived in Mumbai to collaborate with Central Railway on the restoration of one of the four original steam locomotives that was run on century-old Matheran Railway.

The team will be visiting the Parel workshop and meeting top CR officials on Tuesday.

A high-level delegation from Indian Railways had visited the Leighton Buzzard Railway in May 2008 to sign the agreement that covers technical, operational and marketing activities, as applied to narrow-gauge railways. HT was the first to report it in June 2008.

Mervyn Leah, honorary chairman of the Leighton Buzzard Railway told HT, “We will meet Central Railway officials on Tuesday to share our experience in restoration of steam engines.”

Reliable sources said there were four novel steam locomotives that the Peerbhoy family who started the railway in 1907 had bought specially for the mountainous railway from Messrs. Orienstein & Koppel, Germany for the Matheran Light Railway (MLR). These were specially made for the narrow curves and steep climbs of the Matheran hills. All the original four engines – MLR 738, MLR 739, MLR 740 and MLR 741 – exist even today.

Leighton Buzzard Railway is a 4.8 km long track offering 70-minute round trip from Page’s Park to Stonehenge Works, which is in the Bedfordshire countryside to the north of the town.

Opened in 1919, to transport sand, the 2 feet gauge line has carried a steam-hauled passenger train service since 1968. One of the Matheran engine has been restored and preserved by the Leighton Buzzard Society.