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Fairy Queen to roll at Delhi Safdarjung station

Some of the oldest and the prettiest steam locomotives will be chugging at the railway tracks in the Capital, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2007 23:07 IST

In a first of its kind show, some of the oldest and the prettiest steam locomotives will be chugging at the railway tracks in the Capital at what is being termed as a "Heritage parade" of trains from the Northern Railways stables on Friday.

At 11 AM, in the presence of Railways Minister Lalu Prasad, dignitaries and a crowd of railway enthusiasts, the Fairy Queen, the world's oldest functioning locomotive will roll in at the Delhi Safdarjung station in full splendour.

That will be followed by four other locomotives, which share their respective places in history and the railways' pride.

However, the Fairy Queen, which has been around since the time of the Revolt in 1857 and had been, arguably, used by many a leader of the revolt besides ferrying troops during the Revolt, would be the grand attraction of the event, said railways officials.

Built in 1854 in England, Fairy Queen first rolled out on 15 August 1855 from Hawrah, West Bengal.

The Fairy Queen also holds the Guiness Book record of being the world's oldest functioning locomotive because it goes on a "vintage run" once a month, taking tourists from Delhi to Alwar.

"Through this exercise, we want to drive home the point that the Indian railways is something to be proud of because of all the history it carries in its belly," said Rajiv Saxena, spokesman of Northern Railways.

The month of January was the 'Heritage Month' for Northern Railways, when, apart from other events, Locomotive 7200 of USA make in 1947 carried heritage lovers to stations in the seven oldest cities around the Capital every Saturday.

The driving force of the event, officials say, is the fact that almost every Indian is a railway traveller. Therefore, everyone must get a chance to lap up the prettier side of the railways.

"Modern-day engines are not exactly beautiful. But these heritage locomotives will show that even engines could have an element of aesthetics in them," Saxena pointed out.

The other "models" on the "heritage ramp" on Friday are no less in the heritage quotient. The UK-manufactured Sher-E-Punjab steam was the last broad-gauge steam locomotive the Railways.

It was phased out in 1995. The WP-7200 was made in Philadelphia in 1947. Officials claim that its beauty is no less than that of the Ferry Queen. Visitors at the Rail museum have seen these locomotives stationed, but never in motion.

First Published: Feb 01, 2007 23:07 IST