With the development of electric and diesel locomotives in the country, steam engines got eliminated from Indian Railways in 1995.
The Indian Railways has taken the initiative to revive steam locomotives along all the hill railways around the country. Along with the new structure of Delhi Ring Railway, the steam engine will be seen running successfully across the hills of the country.
With the recent successful operation to run a steam locomotive on the Palampur-Jogindernagar section of Kangra Valley Railway, all the five railways based on hill stations will now have steam loco services.
After more than 20 years, Kangra Valley Railway observed the restored version of steam engine trains recently. Kangra Valley Railway is a part of the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
The initiative is undertaken by the Indian Railways in order to revive the glory of steam heritage and boost the tourism in Himachal Pradesh. The steam locomotives are expected to attract more tourists to the beautiful hilly regions.
There are regular steam loco services on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway and on the demand of tourists, the Kalka-Shimla Railway and Matheran Hill Railway run loco engines during specific seasons.
During the Commonwealth Games 2010, the Delhi Ring Railway was being planned to run on the tracks, but the plans couldn’t be put into action because of certain reasons. Furthermore, with the expansion of the city, the Ring Railway started falling off and was being totally neglected.
A senior Railway Ministry official said:
“It is a big step towards the reintroduce the steam locomotives by Indian Railways. Our aim is to have regular steam-pulled trains in all hill railways and to run the much-awaited Delhi Ring Railway route.”
The task to bring back the steam engines has been assigned to the Northern Railway and the state-run transporter is working vigorously for the project. The importance is laid on bringing back the heritage of Indian Railways in order to attract tourists that will boost the railway tourism in the country.
Steam locos will attract tourists and rail admirers towards the already existing 34 km-long ring railway. This line runs parallel to the Ring Road in Delhi and passes through various popular places of the city including Sarojini Nagar, Safdarjung and Chanakyapuri.
The current plan is to put four heritage coaches in one steam engine train that would start from the Safdarjung station and will pass through Old Yamuna Bridge, Old Delhi, New Delhi, Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar station before returning to the Safdarjung station. Delhi tourists will then be able to visit prominent places like Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, National Rail Museum, Humayun’s Tomb, Baroda House and Kashmiri Gate, using the refurbished steam railway line.
It will undoubtedly be a great initiative to lure tourists and showcase the rich cultural railway heritage of the country.