The International Steam Pages


Steam in Asia (West) 2014

Asia (West)

Afghanistan
(29th Nov 09)

Bangladesh
(3rd Jan 12)

India
(7th Aug 14)

Iran
(7th Mar 13)
Iraq
(2nd Aug 07)
Israel
(23rd Jul 14)
Jordan
(30th Oct 07)
Kazakhstan
(3rd Oct 11)

Lebanon
(30th Nov 11)

Nepal
(1st Sep 14)

Pakistan
(8th May 13)

Russia

Saudi Arabia
(30th Dec 08)

Sri Lanka
(25th Mar 14)

Syria
(6th Nov 10)

Tajikistan
(14th Aug 08)

Turkmenistan
(9th Nov 02)

Uzbekistan
(10th Dec 07)

Steam Cranes
(25th Apr 14)

       

Fascinating Steam Age
Industrial Archaeology

International Steam DVDs


Afghanistan Index

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For information on railways here see Andrew Grantham's site http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/. Specifically it seems that there are three surviving tram locos in Darulaman (Kabul) - not just two as originally reported - see http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/railways/kabul-to-darulaman-railway/, note the addresses have been changed and there are extra old photographs on the site (29th November 2009). This is  Wim Brummelman's picture courtesy of Andrew Grantham:

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In 2006, the German army decided to plinth one of the Darulaman locomotives (pictures from the ISAF site, added 29th November 2009):

 

Bangladesh Index

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I don't think anyone has ever suggested that active steam survives here. However, Chris Lewis has sent me a picture (24th April 2005) of a preserved Japanese built metre gauge YD 2-8-2 718 at Dhaka. A number of these locomotives ended up in (West) Pakistan and were recorded on the Mirpur Khas system in Sind until quite recently. Information on surviving steam locomotives here is very thin but Torsten Schneider has been here (16th January 2010) and reports on what he found. On the other hand, I am willing to bet that there are quite a few surviving (and indeed working) stationary steam engines here, but that comment belongs on another part of this site! Another preserved steam locomotive is a broad gauge 4-6-0 at Railbhaban (Western Zone Head Quarters), Baharampur, Rajshahi (3rd January 2012), 

India Index

The Tipong Colliery Railway

Black Diamond Express DVD

When I meet people on my travels and explain that I am looking for steam locomotives, they always say "India" and look very surprised when I sat that it more or less finished nearly 10 years ago. These days, apart from occasional special trains, there are just two mountain railways (which look very different from the heyday of steam) and a couple of small industrial operations. Hence, with relatively little 'real news' I have cut this section down to a more manageable size with separate pages for each facet of steam in India with just brief notes here which will be joined by updates as they occur. Click here for information on Indian Railway museums.

See Alex Jesser's report - 'Almost No Steam in India, 2009' - which summarises all the updates below with this date (12th December 2009). Since when things have improved significantly.

  • Sugar and other industrial steam news (updated 15th May 2014)

  • Links to the 1996-2000 reports  (latest addition 20th February 2000) - these include the end of steam on the mainline

  • Working preserved steam (updated 7th August 2014)

  • Darjeeling news (updated 6th March 2014)

  • Ooty news (updated 10th March 2014) - for news prior to mid 2010 click here.

  • Matheran news (updated 30th August 2013)

  • Kalka - Simla steam (updated 12th March 2013)

  • Fairy Queen / Express India (updated 25th March 2014)

  • Other preserved steam (6th April 2010)

  • Indian Railways Heritage Support Group (9th August 2011)

  • Miscellaneous news on active preserved steam (updated 25th May 2011)

  • The Indian Steam Railway Society
    The XIth annual conference was held in New Delhi on 1st February 2014, the principle guest speaker was the renowned film maker Nick Lera. A brief report is now available (added 8th February 2014). Previously the society called for nominations for awards, papers etc.  (Click here for more information as this will be relevant in future years.)
    The Xth annual conference was held on Sunday 24th February 2013 at the NRM in New Delhi. Sadly the founder president R.C. Sethi passed away in November 2012 and Lalit Kumar Sinha has been selected to replace him. A report of the event is now available (7th March 2013)
    The IXth annual conference was held on 18th February 2012 formally linking the society with the UK's Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society. The previous conference was on February 12th 2011- guest speaker was veteran Indian visitor Laurie Marshall and as always it was be an event to remember, especially as it featured a presentation on the relaunch of the Rewari steam centre. A full report is on http://www.rewaristeamloco.com (20th March 2011).

  • Industrial steam in India is in terminal decline as it is everywhere. On the IRFCA web site, Simon Darvill has updated (23rd November 2003) his lists of industrial locomotives in India (and other countries in the sub-continent) and added sections on light rail and preserved locomotives as well http://www.irfca.org/docs/locolists/industrial/index.html.

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    In Assam, the Ledo Brick Works line is now defunct, with one locomotive transferred to nearby Tipong Colliery, where one of the two ex-DHR B 0-4-0ST will be in use most days on the 2.5km line. I visited in February 2004 and you can read my illustrated report (2nd March 2004). Alexandre Gillieron found the railway working normally and very attractive in early 2006 (17th March 2006). Roy Laverick was here at New Year 2004/5 (14th February 2005). Vikas Singh has sent me a report on his 2007 visit to the area after the monsoon floods  which do not seem to have affected Tipong. It includes observations of IR steam survivors (25th September 2007). I went back to Tipong (for 2 weeks) and have a full update on activity here (25th February 2008). 

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    After nearly two years suspension (see below), Sumit Sharma of Real India Journeys tells me that Tipong Colliery has resumed operation (12th December 2010). Please contact RIJ through their website if you fancy a visit, you'll not be disappointed. I was later told (15th April 2011) that in fact at the moment just mud and spoil is coming out in preparation for anticipated full production later in 2011. As such the diesel suffices for the time being although the steam locomotives are serviceable and available for charter, a situation which continues into 2012 (22nd February 2012). These are pictures of David in 2011 from Sumit Sharma, I note it has been turned at some stage: Sumit was back in April 2014, to be honest not a great deal has changed although the mere fact that David is operational is a positive sign (15th May 2014)

Click for full size image. Further to the above, Paul Whittle was with the Darjeeling Tours group that visited at the end of February 2012 and reports "They are digging coal, not a lot at present, but due to increase to about 200 tons per day. We had David and B Class 792 in steam 792 hauling a proper coal tub train and when the production rises they expect to have both locos plus 789 (in the workshop but serviceable) working (17th March 2012).

Heinrich Hubbert tells me (12th December 2008) that he has heard from Ashok Sharma that Tipong Colliery had a serious accident underground in November 2008. The railway is necessarily not working currently and potential visitors should check on the situation before travelling to the area. For a newspaper account of the incident - click here (14th December 2008). Mark Smithers was here in February 2009, there was no mining but David was steamed for him (24th March 2009). H.H. Wu was here at the end of June and was told that maybe, just maybe things may start up again in August... (23rd July 2009). Certainly nothing was moving by December according to Alex Jesserer (12th December 2009). By January 2010, mining had still not restarted but David and 796 were steamed for the visiting Darjeeling Tours group and derelict 781 was being given a cosmetic make over for the proposed small railway museum in Tinsukia (16th February 2010).

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The metre gauge Hudswell Clarke 0-8-0T at Riga Sugar Mill has been in regular use during the season in recent years (see below). I visited in February 2004 and you can read my illustrated report (2nd March 2004). Adrian Freeman reported that Riga started milling on December 4th 2008 and the steam locomotive and Hunslet diesel would work one last 90 day season (7th December 2008), after this the adjacent main line would have been converted to broad gauge. Mark Smithers went to Riga in February 2009 and had the Hudswell Clarke steamed although there were no wagons for it to work with (24th March 2009). Vikas Singh told me (16th February 2005) that Saraya Sugar Mill was unlikely to operate during the 2004/5 season and that the locomotives were once again covered in vegetation, with many wagons sold off and the rails likely to follow.... 

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The Ootacamund (Ooty) Mountain Railway runs from Mettupalayam near Coimbatore to Ooty in Tamil Nadu. The spectacular lower (rack) section up to Coonoor remains steam powered but for some years the upper section has been dieselised. The railway is frequently cut by landslides in the end-of-year rains, how long it is then closed depends on the severity of the damage. The magnificent X Class steam locomotives were built by SLM, although there have been some recent misguided attempts to 'improve' them which have, so far, thankfully been less than a total success - this is 37391 being returned to the railway in March 2007.

 

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Andrew Jones visited Golden Rock in Trichi in November 2010 (looking for YDM4s), but there were 3 X class here- X 37386, overhauled, looked complete apart from painting, converted to oil firing, as will these other two, X 37392, stripped, being replated, X 37384, stripped, to be overhauled. The board shows that they don't rush things! (22nd December 2010). The people down south in Trichi in recent years have never failed to produce a locomotive which would cause traditionalists to shake their heads in amazement and this one is in their best traditions.

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Thomas Schultz has sent me a link to a story in "The Hindu" which shows a brand new X class approaching completion at Golden Rock (21st January 2011). Heinrich Hubbert has been to Golden Rock (28th February 2011) and confirms that X 37396 has recently been completed and is a 'totally new build', a local newspaper carried a picture of it leaving the works and it is apparently at Mettupalayam for running in trials. Assuming all goes well, three more will be built, some may even be coal fired. It apparently follows the original design closely but with oil firing. Heinrich has since returned and confirms that a second new X has entered service, presumably 37397 and there are two new frames and boilers, plus wheels, being worked on as well as 37393 under overhaul (10th May 2012).

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Now, what is presumably 37398 is nearing completion reports "The Hindu", (thanks to Thomas Schultz again for this, 27th December 2012) and it should be ready by mid-January 2013 (Pongal festival). This picture is from "The Hindu" article referred to above. The Hindu has reported a fourth new X has now entered service (10th March 2014), presumably 37399. Thanks to Harvey Smith for this one. Nick FitzGerald was in Coonoor on May 10th 2014 and confirms its presence. Apart from the four new builds, 37384 is the only serviceable coal burner and it is kept for departmental duties (presumably engineering and very occasional coal trains). He adds that a team will assess 37385 in the NRM in New Delhi for overhaul and return to service, which is an indication of the poor condition of the other older locomotives. (24th May 2014)

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Click here for earlier news to mid 2010 from this fascinating railway which includes links to some great photographs. One of the most unusual sights I have seen recorded comes from Colin Young. After a locomotive failure in February 2007 a second locomotive was sent down the rack section and HAULED (at least in part) the train up to Coonoor (17th March 2008).

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is (was?) one of the great steam narrow gauge railways of the world until, having acquired World Heritage status, Indian Railways promptly dieselised the main services in 2000 although steam has continued to put ever more rare appearances since then. The so-called 'school train' from Kurseong to Darjeeling has been diesel hauled at times but by mid 2007 it was again rostered for steam, confirmed by a visit to the railways website recommended by Jan Willem van Dorp (17th October 2007) which showed that the school train has swapped its base since September 2007 - Ex-Darjeeling at 10.15, returning from Kurseong at 15.00, it is now known as the 'local train'. There are 2 diesel trains each way for the whole length of the line, but you really need to read  the news page to appreciate the improvements.... Keith Taylorson (26th March 2008) was here between 8th and 11th March 2008 and confirms the 'local train' to be rostered for steam. He argues "As to whether the local train operation is 'real', I travelled on it and my impression is that it is in all respects a real working train, conveying passengers from A to B, and they were not interested in whether it was a steam or diesel loco pulling them. Furthermore the 2nd class fare from Darj to Kurseong is 10 Rupees (= 13p approx) which I think must make it the world's cheapest steam ride??" The tail end of Cyclone Aila passed through the area in May 2009, causing a number of landslides and cutting the road and presumably the railway in a number of places, especially above Kurseong. I would be grateful for any first hand reports most importantly confirmation when the railway is up and running (again) (30th May 2009), Peter Jordan has told me that the lower section to Kurseong was expected to re-open by the end of May. However, the DHRS website stated in August 2009 that services were unlikely to restart until September 2009 at the earliest (26th August 2009). In the event the official DHR site said that full services resumed on 1st October 2009 (7th November 2009). However during the summer monsoon rains the line was breached again "The Director DHR has confirmed that services between NJP and Kurseong will remain suspended for probably another three months. The road/rail breach at Pagla Jhora has proved much more serious than originally thought, rocks are still falling and widening the affected area, and a 500 metre stretch of new highway/rail route may have to be built on a new alignment. The Kurseong-Darjeeling section and the "Joy Trains" are running." Thanks to Trevor Heath for forwarding this (8th August 2010). Paul Whittle of the DHRS (2nd January 2011) tells me "The Director DHR has confirmed that landslide repairs to the NH55 Hill Cart Road at Pagla Jhora are scheduled for completion at the end of February 2011. Plans are already in place for then reinstating the DHR tracks." Unfortunately, the railways website referred to above has no recent information at all and claims all trains are running normally! As of 6th August 2011, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society website was saying "Monsoon rains in June 2011 destroyed much of the subsequent repair work, and NH55 (The Hill Cart Road) remains closed at that point. Road repair work is due to continue after the end of the rains in September and only after the road formation has been restored will it be possible for the DHR tracks to be reinstated. Realistically this is unlikely before the end of 2011." (15th August 2011) - if you are considering a visit, this is probably the most readily available reliable source of up-to-date information. A September visitor reported the daily Darjeeling - Kurseong train as steam worked with the only diesel seen parked at Kurseong (14th September 2011). According to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society website there was a further landslip just below Tindharia works on 28th September 2011 which destroyed 150m of NH155 and left the railway line unsupported, the works is thus isolated with the road and railway severed above and below it. The DHRS website has been slightly rearranged and the latest travel information is now available on http://www.dhrs.org.uk/page4.html (new link and information updated, 18th June 2012). Their estimate of re-opening remains the end of 2012 at the earliest (18th June 2012). Paul Whittle of the DHRS advises that one diesel and two steam locomotives have been transferred to the upper section and that a complimentary Kurseong train introduced, use the link above for more details. At the same time, there has been a further landslip at Tindharia removing the perimeter wall and leaving several buildings in the workshops under threat. The official Indian Railways position is that the line WILL be reopened throughout by the end of 2013, but looking at the picture on the DHRS home page, that is a very big ask indeed (8th August 2012). Keith Wallace tells me (22nd May 2013) "The the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has managed to transfer two locomotives each way (i.e. a total of 4) between Tindharia and Kurseong on low loaders. These were 779 and 806 to Kurseong and 782 and 786 to Tindharia. The latter two were in poor condition having been denied access to Tindharia for some time now. The low loaders went up via Pagla Jhora."

Further to all the above, there is significant good news from the line (6th March 2014) according to a DHRS press release. Hopefully by the end of June 2014 a temporary alignment will allow through trains for the first time since 2012.

I have now archived older reports:

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A number of groups have visited the railway for chartered trains and in 2006 a series of celebrations were held to mark its 125th anniversary. Less welcome (at least visually) are attempts to introduce oil firing and new locomotives. This is a picture supplied by Trevor Heath - any comment would be superfluous...

 

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Andrew Jones visited Golden Rock Works in Trichi in November 2010 and found B 780 ready to return to the DHR having had a full overhaul. It looks refreshingly traditional (22nd December 2010)! B 786 was here needing a full overhaul which was to start shortly.

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(Darjeeling Himalayan Railway)

There is a UK based Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society, with their own Website (link added 15th May 2000). The railway now has its own official website http://www.dhr.in/ (9th April 2006) - a quick visit showed that is has a few too many 'bells and whistles' and not a few bad links - but it was early days and at least showed a more positive attitude to the railway. A revisit in October 2007 found it much more useful for the would be visitor although many of the potentially steam hauled trains are probably more conditional than suggested (17th October 2007), it has since fossilised and is effectively useless.

The Matheran Hill Railway runs from Neral south-east of Bombay/Mumbai. Its original power comprised 4 Orenstein and Koppel 0-6-0T. They were taken out of service some time ago but all survive (in Matheran, Mumbai, the Delhi Railway Museum and on the Leighton Buzzard Railway in the UK - the latter is in working order). Steam has been re-introduced for special occasions, but in the shape of an ex-DHR locomotive. A large section of the lower part was washed away in July 2005 in the monsoon and it was only re-opened in March 2007.

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Click here for more information on steam operation on the railway (latest update 22nd April 2007). Good news is that MLR 738 (formerly preserved in Bombay/Mumbai) has now been restored to working order and will be available for charter (4th July 2009). By December 2009, Alex Jesserer reported that both locomotives were unserviceable (12th December 2009), however I have since heard that 738 (with a diesel tucked in behind just in case) ran a charter for the visiting Darjeeling Tours group on 20th January 2010. This is Cliff Schoff's much delayed picture of the train at Water Pipe station (23rd May 2011). After a long period of silence, it seems that the DHR locomotive has now been repaired at Golden Rock and should now be in occasional service - see a report in the Indian Express (30th August 2013)

I have added a historical set of pictures from my two visits to the line in 1976 (20th November 2009).

Dileep Prakash reports (amended 25th September 2001) "Steam returns to Kalka-Simla Railway after 30 years. On Wed. 26th Sept 2001  KC 520 of 1905 vintage will haul a special train from Shimla to Kanoe at 12 noon." This went off OK and now he tells me (1st December 2001) "KC 520 will pull a 4 coach rake on the KSR on Saturday 8th December. She will be her old livery of the NWR days and so will the carriages." Also (added 11th September 2001) "There are two ZB class locos that have been rebuilt. One is at Amritsar waiting to haul trains up the beautiful Kangra Valley Railway soon." Click here for a report on a 2003 charter including images (20th March 2003). The Kalka - Simla line was host to centenary celebrations in November 2003, widely reported in India and outside the country for instance, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/3261679.stm (17th November 2003). By December 2009, Alex Jesserer reported that KC 520 was 'under repair' (12th December 2009). David Wood reported (21st March 2011) that it had returned from Amritsar to Simla 'for testing'. Ashwani Lohani tells me (22nd December 2012) that it is now available for hauling steam charters, certainly it hauled a test train from Simla to Kathlighat on 15th February 2013 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIEUqJZX1bI (12th March 2013).

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The Fairy Queen (EIR 22) is one of the world's oldest serviceable steam locomotives Click here for the last information I had on its operations covering the 2004/5 winter season (2nd March 2004), it was certainly still operating at least private charters into 2007. This web site http://www.rajasthantourindia.in/fairyqueen-train-tour.aspx advertised the usual service from 1st October 2009 to 31st March 2010, but by December 2009, Alex Jesserer reported that the locomotive was still 'under repair' at the end of November (12th December 2009). In the event, I doubt that any of these ran as by February 2011, the locomotive had been 'vandalised' while at Delhi Cantonment Station. Many fittings were stolen, presumably for their scrap value. After being sent to Perambur (Chennai / Madras) for "restoration and rehabilitation" (6th September 2011), she has now been returned to Rewari for safe keeping (10th December 2013).

Click for full size image. Click for full size image. Sister engine Express India (EIR 21) is now set to rival her as the Southern Railway has taken her from preservation at Kamalpur for restoration at Perambur and for operation around Chennai (Madras). The first run I am aware of took place on 15th August 2011 (Independence Day) between Egmore Station (Chennai) and Guindy. The picture on the left is taken from a report in 'The Hindu' , there is a similar report in the 'Times of India' and at least two videos on YouTube as well (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJZetoWI7w4 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF-FNqXkikM). It will have been the first ever broad gauge steam locomotive to work out of Egmore as this was always metre gauge until relatively recently (all this 6th September 2011). Ashwani Lohani visited Perambur on 21st March 2014 and was introduced to the old lady (second picture, added 25th March 2014).

The good news is that a pool of working steam locomotives is now available and steam tour groups are now starting to look at the country again. The first ever National Conference on Steam Heritage Tourism was held on 2nd December 2002 and there was a second conference on 14th February 2004 (report added 3rd March 2004), the associated activities are covered as part of my reports on Steam in India (2nd March 2004). Further conferences were held on 2nd April 2005 and 19th March 2006 with keynote speeches by, respectively, Heinrich Hubbert and Bill Aitken and these have continued on an annual basis since then.

WL 15005 returned to the main line on 6th December 2011 with a working between Delhi and Rewari. There have since been public excursions between Delhi and Alwar on 31st December 2011 and 14th January 2012 which continued fortnightly until the end of March. Vikas Arya has sent a profusely illustrated account of recent events (8th February 2012). Steve Cossey points out that information on the trip is on http://www.railtourismindia.com/Trains/Fairyqueen/FQ001.html, note there is a 'Book Ticket' Button top right (7th March 2012). The season is now over, but I have added a page of James Billingham's pictures taken at Delhi Cantonment of WP 7161 on 24th March 2012 (28th April 2012). 

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I understand (26th November 2012) that there will be a winter 2012/3 season of steam excursions from Delhi to Alwar using WP 7161 (recently given a major overhaul at Amritsar works where WL 15005 is now going through the same process). The suggested dates are (24th November, 8th and 22nd December, the third date definitely operated, I am not sure about the first two), 12th January, 9th and 23rd February and 9th March. Expect the trips to run with an overnight stay at Sariska and a short visit to Rewari Steam Centre. Ashok Sharma of Real Indian Journeys tells me that he can handle the bookings (22nd December 2012) - mail@realindiajourneys.com and while the full price is Rs 11000 for Delhi Cant (09.10) - Alwar (overnight) - Delhi Cant (next day 18.45), cheaper rates are available for parts of the excursion. Ashwani Lohani tells me that they intend to steam one locomotive at Rewari every Sunday until 31st March 2013 (29th December 2012). WL 15005 was outshopped by Amritsar works on 14th January 2013 and will now be available for the Alwar steam excursions, click here for a picture report (29th January 2013). Stuart Aitken travelled on the last of the current trains and reports it was well run and excellent value - this is WP 7161 at the Rewari water stop (18th March 2013).

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The 2013/4 steam excursion ran with fortnightly runs till the end of April. The link http://www.railtourismindia.com/Trains/Fairyqueen/FQ001.html is still valid (2nd December 2013) and WP 7161 will again be the main power. Olaf Grpler observed the 22nd March 2014 operation at Palam on the outskirts of Delhi at the end of a tour mainly facilitated by my friends at Real India Journeys (1st April 2014). The new winter season has planned trains on October 11/25th, November 8th/22nd, December 13th/21st, January 10th/24th, February 14th/28th, March 14th/28th and April 10th/24th 2015 - note the oddball December date), this link implies that Fairy Queen will be the motive power but gives WP details, thanks to Trevor Heath for this (7th August 2014). 

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have been sent some pictures of the end result of Amritsar works' attention to WP 7161 and WL 15005, together with the rejuvenated PSMT locomotive, thanks to Yoginder Kumar and Kulbir Singh Mann (5th February 2013). A further fuller account is now available courtesy of Samarendra Kumar, Chief Works Manager, Northern Railway Mechanical Workshop, Amritsar (12th March 2013). After this came XE 3634 'Angadh', the picture (left) is courtesy of Kulbir Singh Mann (22nd March 2013). The loco was being worked on by July 2013 (24th July 2013), you can get some idea of what is involved from some recent pictures supplied by Yoginder Kumar. The locomotive has now been steamed and a further illustrated report is available (15th August 2013). Next in line for the Amritsar treatment is WP 7200, the first WP constructed which has now been stripped down for overhaul (22nd September 2013).

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In the meantime Yoginder Kumar tells me that the overhaul of miniature steam locomotive 'Yugantar' is reaching its conclusion with a first test run, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuZPZHH7_Ig, (27th September 2013). There are now two more clips available showing it running 50ft forward and 25ft backwards http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6N06EE0Yd1I and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQhsBPtFhno (9th October 2013), all that remains to be done is to give it a proper 'finish'. Now is ready to run on 4-5 kg/cm2 pressure (roughly 60 psi). Yugantar is now complete (21st October 2013), it's now running 80ft forward which is as much track as they have, see http://youtu.be/1fl4qsGU6kU

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Yoginder Kumar tells me that the 'other' Patiala State Monorail Trainways steam locomotive which has been plinthed at Amritsar for many years has now been taken into the workshop for restoration to working condition. I am not sure where it will be run... (1st April 2014).

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Some time back I reported "Rewari Steam Centre is being developed aggressively and hosted a carnival day on 15th February 2004 (2nd March 2004)." Afterwards things stalled for a while and by December 2009, Alex Jesserer reported that all locomotives at Rewari were unserviceable as was WP 7161 at Siliguri (12th December 2009). But then (5th May 2010) Vikas Arya reported that money has been made available to restore 9 inhabitants (5 bg and 4 mg) to full working order. He now reports that this has now been completed (21st August 2010). There was a steam run with 7200 WP from Delhi Cantt to Rewari on 18th September 2010, the locomotive reportedly was in good fettle, with excellent acceleration although speed had to be limited. There was a steam run on 9th October 2010 to Rewari Heritage Shed where several recently restored locomotives were in steam. Ashok and Sumit Sharma have sent me some pictures of the event (10th October 2010), followed by Vikas Arya's extended account of the re-opening festivities (9th November 2010), see also the Steam Centre's own website - http://www.rewaristeamloco.com (9th November 2010). Now (21st March 2011), it seems one of the eight 'runners' is steamed in turn each Sunday, the latest addition will be XE 3634 scheduled for its first public showing on 2nd April 2011. James Billingham found that by June 2012, the weekly steamings were no more but was nevertheless impressed with what he found (7th June 2012).

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A new museum/heritage centre is to be established at Tinsukia reports Trevor Heath (6th April 2010). Exhibits will include the mg an unspecified diesel, the Garratt from Guwahati and the cosmetically restored B class 781 which has been derelict at Tipong for some time. I would be be very surprised not to see a YP and/or YG among the collection. This is the Garratt WD 74228, BP 7144/1945 (added 14th July 2010), photographed by Rahul who came up from Calcutta specially.

Reuters report (24th December 2008): "India Opens steam Engine Park - Decades old steam engine cruises through the memory lane in a locomotive park in India's northern Jharkhand. 'Deshbandhu Locomotive Park' located in Ranchi, which exhibits steam engines of the bygone era was thrown open to the general public recently. The park, located near the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, exhibits some of the 2351 steam engines which were produced at the factory between 1951 and 1972." There is a video that goes with it (http://uk.reuters.com/news/video?videoId=95361&videoChannel=76) but I cannot view it in China, I've found a similar (or same) video which shows a miniature WP. Of course there are many plinthed locos all over India, the IRFCA has a list on its site http://www.irfca.org/docs/locolists/. See http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Steam/ and particularly http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Steam/Survivors/ for many pictures.

"The heritage of Indian Railways is fast being destroyed. There needs to be a consolidated effort to save the heritage and historical importance of Indian Railways, especially the ruins of the erstwhile Great Indian Peninsula Railway (now called Central Railway), based in Bombay. The Bombay Railway History Group aims to achieve this by saving those silent structures that once brought glory through railway revolution in India through discussions and by creating awareness. The group can be found at http://bombayrailway.blogspot.com/ (amended 9th August 2011). Contact  Rajendra Aklekar rajendraa (at) gmail.com or bombayrailway (at) gmail.com for more information. (updated 9th August 2011).

The Friends of the National Railway Museum have now been incorporated as a chapter of the The Indian Steam Railway Society (updated 8th May 2006). 

Satish Pai tells (23rd November 2003) me he has tidied up the steam page on the IRFCA site - http://www.irfca.org/faq/faq-steam.html - and mentioned some more of the locos under consideration for renovation, etc. For a pretty full list of preserved steam in India there were links on www.indiansteamrailwaysociety.org but that has died, much but not all of the material is available on http://www.irfca.org/steam/, the IRFCA site also has a steam gallery (25th May 2011).

One beneficial result of the 150th railway celebrations was the rash of new railway museums being established around the country. One of special interest to me, given my oft-stated preference for narrow gauge steam, is the establishment by the South Eastern Railway of a specifically narrow gauge museum at Nagpur (21st January 2003). Jaideep Gupta, gjaideep@hotmail.com - senior divisional electrical engineer and co-ordinator 150 yrs celebrations - would welcome suggestions (and even contributions) for this worthwhile project.

A good site for Indian images is http://www.trainweb.org/railworld/index.htm (added 15th October 2000). YP preservation - 2 YPs have been purchased for private preservation went to Ajmer Works for overhaul (16th September 1999). I have had news from Shaun McMahon about them (7th February 2000). Later news (updated 3rd October 2000) had them en route to Togo.

Finally, David Breaker sent a press release from the then newly formed Shakuntala Railway Preservation Society (16th June 2002). However, it seems to have died a death....

Iran Index

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Toma Bacic sent me this picture of a steam locomotive in good condition seen near Tehran Main Station on July 24th 2007. Thomas Kautzor comments "The loco is 2-10-0 51.02 or 51.03 (I can't distinguish the number's last digit on the picture), one of 16 built by Henschel in 1938 (51.01-16 = Henschel 24052-67) for operation on the Trans Iranian Railway. During WW2 in 1942 fifteen of them were based at Polesafid (Pol-e-Sefid) shed on the mountainous line to Bandar Shah on the Caspian Sea." (All of this 8th January 2011.)

The Spring 2006 issue of the Continental Railway Journal carries an account of an extensive DGEG visit to the country. As expected, it was mainly diesel orientated (CRJ in 1977 reported the railways as 'long dieselised'), but some steam relics were observed. Near Tehran station was an unidentified Vulcan (UK) 2-10-2 (52.11-52.74 series, built 1951-3) and a Cowans steam crane - pictures of these are on http://www.phantasrail.com/tehran_(5).htm (added 23rd July 2007). In Tabriz a 5ft gauge Russian built 0-6-0T (Sormovo 37946/1904) was seen.

Chris Capewell tells me that most if not all of the above have now been moved from the station to a nearby site which Google Maps calls the Iran Railway Museum. This page shows a map http://www.panoramio.com/photo/51048551 (7th March 2013). There is a preserved Russian 0-6-0T in Tabriz, Thomas Kautzor points out that a picture is here http://www.panoramio.com/photo/33793584, and there are links to two similar pictures on that page (11th March 2013). 

Thomas Kautzor has provided information on surviving steam locomotives of the metre gauge line from Teheran to the Moslem shrine of Shah Abdul Azim el Rey (Shahr-e-Rey) (21st January 2011). He has provided these pictures (taken by his friend Arsam Behkish) of one of the 5 Tubize locomotives supplied and preserved in Mellat Park in north Tehran (added 29th June 2007).

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Iraq Index

The December 2003 issue of the British magazine 'Railways Illustrated' carries a picture of a nearly intact standard gauge British 2-8-0 (wartime Stanier 8F) in the loco works yard in Baghdad taken on October 8th 2003..... (added 13th November 2003). On the other hand, if you want to see some wonderful images of Iraqi metre gauge steam back in 1967, the check out this set of Basil (Badger) Roberts' pictures (link amended 13th April 2013).

Israel Index

Trevor Heath passed me this snippet (13th December 2012) for a country that got rid of steam a long time ago: "Turkish 8F to Israel - via England - A standard gauge steam locomotive is currently en route to Israel via ship from the UK. The Churchill 8F Group, the owner of two British built - Stanier 8F 2-8-0 repatriated from The Turkish State Railway, has sold former British War Department No.WD341 to the Municipality of Bee'r Sheva in Israel. The locomotive will be exhibited at the new railway museum at the old narrow gauge station. The current plan is to cosmetically restore the 2-8-0 to represent Israel Railways No. 70414 in 1958. At the moment, there are no immediate plans to restore the 8f to operation. The locomotive was shipped from Southampton last month and is currently en route to the port of Ashdod by Grimaldi Lines ship Grande Europa. The original IR 70414 is famous for being one of the last steam locomotive to run in Israel." The full story is on http://www.heritagerailway.co.uk/news/stanier-8f-sold-to-museum-in-israel. There is a picture of the new 70414 through on Wiki Commons and a YouTube video shows the original on its last working https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnCCskPcbnY (both these 22nd July 2014). Those with an interest in the railways of the area and Israel in particular may be interested in 'HaRakevet' magazine, http://harakevet.com/, some of the past editions are available to download (23rd July 2014).

Jordan Index

Dan Gibson's website (5th May 2005) to chart the history of  the Hejaz Railway is a wonderful starting point for here, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

10 years ago, a story circulated that a revamped Hejaz railway around Amman was to become the answer to the city's traffic problems. Now the story has re-emerged with bells and whistles as an eventual reasonably high speed link with Damascus - (the original report is no longer available). If it is half true then it might just be all over for those steam charters (28th May 2007), but read it carefully! It is the lesser used line north to Zarka which will be rebuilt first, not the spectacular climb south and the devil is in the detail as always "A private Chinese company, Infrastructure Development, in tandem with Pakistani contractors, is to start work in 2009 to transform a short stretch of the neglected line, creating a light commuter railway between Amman and Zarka in the northeast. There are plans then to rebuild the line all the way to Damascus." Don't hold your breath waiting!

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Regular working steam finished in Jordan in the 1970s. However, several locos are kept in working order and in September 1997 I joined a tour here. Read about what I found.... and also an update covering May/June 1998 (15th September 1998). Hugh Ballantyne was here with the Dorridge Travel Tour in May 1999 (11th June 1999) and was here again in September 2000 with Enthusiast Holidays (25th October 2000). You can now read the full report of Glyn Dawson's visit (25th November 2003) with the Railway Touring Company. I have a report from Roland Beier of a May 2004 visit (21st June 2004), to which I have appended a few notes from Ray Mason of a Railway Touring Company trip in October 2004 (7th November 2004). Keith Smith tells me (4th June 2005) that he found Pacific 85 (ex Ma'an) present on shed on 30th May 2005, apparently under restoration.

Jan Willem van Dorp has been here in search of steam activity, suffice to say he was disappointed. Read his full report (6th October 2005). The railway here was the subject of a talk on the BBC's 'From Our Own Correspondent' in January 2006 - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4609450.stm but here in China I can't check to see if the link is still valid (added 10th February 2006).... Bill Alborough was here researching a tour in mid March 2006. 85 is now a runner and has been transferred to Aqaba with a view to running tourist trains to Wadi Rum, alas it seems it is not powerful enough for the climb away from the coast. Back in Amman, the usual suspects (23, 51, 71 and 82) are said to be serviceable (added 18th March 2006).

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The latest news on 85 comes from Richard Gennis that it did do two runs between Aqaba and Wadi Rum in March and/or April 2006 but that was all and in October 2006 it was said to be waiting to go back to Amman. Click here for more information and some pictures (added 21st January 2007). In April 2007, Graham Williams found 85 back as expected and the loco foreman said that there were five serviceable steam locomotives which agrees with the information above, unfortunately the next scheduled occasional steam special was to happen after Graham returned to the UK (28th April 2007). Thomas Kautzor joined a tour group in October 2007, read his report (30th October 2007).

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Kazakhstan Index

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No real steam here, but Torsten Schneider has sent me some pictures of his visit to the country in September 2003 (added 9th October 2005).

Some steam survivors were still at Aralsk on the Aral Sea in 2007 - see http://www.typhoonfury.com/Photo%20-%20Video%20gallery/kazakhstan.html (3rd October 2011)

Lebanon Index

No real steam here, but Thomas Kautzor has told me of this interesting site covering the railways on the country which contains (recent) pictures of steam survivors - http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/380/385/railways/index.html (17th December 2009).

Wilson Lythgoe (30th November 2011) has pointed out an interesting proposal for a railway museum at Rayak. It may just be a pipe dream but there is a lot of good historical information within it.

Nepal Index

What follows below is history as the railway has been ripped up for broadgauging (link corrected 1st September 2014).

Ashok Sharma confirms (5th January 2004) that Avonside 7 at Janakpur is a runner and available for charter. If you need more information you can contact him on mail@realindiajourneys.com. Alexandre Gillieron's small group took this up and enjoyed a day and a half here in November 2006. Read the report (4th December 2006). He (as did Jan Willem van Dorp almost simultaneously) confirms there is no possibility of any return to steam on service trains. However, a tour group in March 2008 tried to charter a special with the locomotive but found it impossible to get the railway to confirm that it could be turned out in timely fashion. It must be doubtful whether they still posses the capability to carry out steam repairs, by all accounts they have enough difficulty keeping both their active diesels running (30th March 2008).

Previously, the first news I had for a long time came from Peter Grace (10th November 2003): "I visited Janakpur only last month. By the engine shed in Janakpur was an Avonside 0-6-2T. It was not working but was ready to do so. Of the four diesel locomotives on the line, two are in pieces, and the other two are pretty sick. They need to have at least two engines to operate all the trains daily. The Avonside is there in the event one of the diesels drops its bundle, then I am sure it will be pressed into service. Further down the line at the old workshops were 11 other engines. 5 have been cannibalised. But 6 are basically all together. One or two were missing some bits, but I was told these were all in the sheds and would be returned to the locos soon. There really was only minor rust damage in the coal bins, although I don't know the condition of the boilers. Included in this lot were the two Garratts from the old Amlekghani line, south of Kathmandu. A project has arisen to move these steam locos, some cars and the workshop equipment to the Kathmandu Valley to build a tourist railway with World Bank assistance. We will see how this goes. With this plan they are basically off the market. Although I don't know who has the final say, it has been reported to me the King does not want the locos, as part of Nepal's heritage, to leave the country."

I understand that steam here is still serviceable although not in regular use as a couple of British enthusiasts hired a train for a couple of days in early 1999 (added December 9th 1999). Whether the usual cast of thousands of extras were included I do not know. The country  is covered briefly in Berndt Seiler's March 1997 report. World Steam reported some time ago that the locos were all for sale, more details are available (updated with target prices 21st August 2001) - but see above, whether that will have changed after the country became a republic is another question.

Pakistan  Index

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When this page was first established there was still some real broad gauge steam particularly around Malakwal, but that ceased in early 1997. The metre gauge lines around Mirpur Khas continued using steam although the line to the Indian border at Khokrapar has been converted to broad gauge since when the other branches have seen only an intermittent service and when Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery visited Mirpur Khas on 1 March 2007 they found that all metre gauge services remain suspended, with little or no hope of a revival. .

All the pre-1998 reports can be accessed from the first Pakistan Archive Page. Later reports from visitors up to the early 2007 have now been collected in the second Pakistan Archive Page, these include details of extant steam locomotives in the country. To which it can be confirmed that XB 450 has been preserved inside Mughalpura works - see this ca 2010 picture http://www.panoramio.com/photo/41916990 (thanks to Simon Colbeck for this one, 29th March 2012).

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Torsten Schneider has sent an illustrated report of his March 2013 visit, well worth reading as it includes the Gangapur Horse Tram (8th May 2013)

Elsewhere in Pakistan, active steam survived in at least three locations:

  • Excursions on the Khyber Pass line from Peshawar - click here for more information - however a Far Rail newsletter says the line was cut by floods in June 2007 and repairs will take a long time.... (27th October 2007).

  • Excursions from Rawalpindi to Golra Sharif - the location of a railway museum, reported defunct by Torsten Schneider (8th May 2013).

  • Changa Manga Forest Railway - click here for a report (16th February 2006), confirmed operational again by Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery (12th March 2007). For a locally produced report from late 2007, check out what Owais Mughal had to say on http://pakistaniat.com/2007/10/21/changa-manga-forest-railway/ (9th April 2009). Logging has now ceased but the railway survives as a weekend tourist attraction (8th May 2013)

A Pakistan Railways Newsgroup has been established, pakistanrailways-subscribe@yahoogroups.com, the usual health warning about volumes of trivia will no doubt apply when it has settled down, but hopefully it will make it easier to catch up with steam news from the country (19th June 2003). For a locally run enthusiast group page on the railways of Pakistan with some steam content, try http://www.pakistanrail.com/ (added 22nd April 2007).

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A railway museum has been established at Golra Sharif in the Rawalpindi area, at least two narrow gauge locos are here. See the Pakistan Railways website http://www.pakrail.com but by 27th March 2012 all mention of the museum had been removed!. Charan Singh Kundi was here in October 2004 and Nick Lera has provided an edited version of his report with some images (24th October 2004). Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery reported (12th March 2007) that the Steam Safari to Golra Sharif continued to run on the first and last Sunday afternoon of each month. On 4th March 2007 it was actually transformed into a PR staff charter to Taxila, leaving Rawalpindi at 9am behind HGS 2264; but the assistant station master managed to squeeze them in. In steam in the yard was HGS 2303. CWD 5734 was on display at a revamped Golra Sharif, which had been inaugurated by President Musharraf the previous day. No SPS or SGS was seen. The last reported steaming of the HGS (2264 and 2303) was on 10th October 2010 (16th September 2011). Torsten Schneider reported the Golra Sharif steam safari is now defunct (8th May 2013).

A reliable source has reported that CWD 5735, SPS 3078 and SGS 2473 were intact within the works at Moghalpura, Lahore in July 2011. The SPS is slated for plinthing at Faisalabad, the future of the other two is uncertain (16th September 2011). All were still present in March 2013 reports Torsten Schneider (8th May 2013).

A dedicated Vulcan Foundry site - beware this site has been infected with Trojans - reports on two very interesting survivors in the country (4th October 2011) http://www.enuii.org/vulcan_foundry/photographs/steam_survivors/index.htm. The first shown is 3185/1916 FS class (ex-BNR 556) sold to the Punjab Irrigation Department in 1937, the second is even older 1835/1902 F class (ex-BNR 185).

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Russia Index

As of April 2014, I have at last moved Russia to the European section, it was originally placed in Asia because at that stage all the reports referred to the east of the country, now all the new reports come from the western part, hence the migration.

Saudi Arabia Index

Dan Gibson's website to chart the history of  the Hejaz Railway is a wonderful starting point for here, Jordan and Syria.

A railway museum opened in Madinah (Medina) in January 2006 (all this added 16th May 2007) according to an article in the Arab News http://www.arabnews.com/?page=21&section=0&article=76563&d=23&m=1&y=2006. The picture on the right is taken from it and shows two restored steam locomotives present.More information on their identity would be very welcome, it has long been reported that locomotives were still in existence in the desert and pictures of them prior to restoration are on the unofficial Hejaz Railway website which has a mass of other pictures too - see http://nabataea.net/medinalocos.html. That suggests the locomotives in the picture may be SLM 158 and Hartmann 54. Thomas Kautzor has provided more information (20th September 2007) to which I have appended the text of the article above in case it is removed, he also joined a tour group in October 2007 and had a first hand account from a Jordanian driver who had worked in Madinah, read his account (30th October 2007).A page on the IRFCA website (http://www.irfca.org/gallery/Foreign/Hejaz/) has further news and images (28th December 2008), showing "105" in a fully restored state. On checking it seems that maybe these were taken some years back. Thomas Kautzor has been delving through various sources of information and has come up with a considered opinion on the identities of the locomotives in Madinah (and elsewhere). (link corrected 25th March 2012)

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Sri Lanka Index

If you want to know what Sri Lanka was like when steam was real in the 1970s, check out my "Those were the days" feature (5th January 2011). Ceylon Railway Enthusiasts Circle (CREC),  have launched their own magazine, " Lanka Railway Digest" (17th August 2012) see http://www.ceylonrail.net/lankarailwaydigest/ (link and presumably the magazine dead 26th April 2014) and it was available via Ebay. Thanks to Nalin Abeysinghe for this.

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Fam Deelen has an Aveling and Porter steam roller which belonged to the Sri Lanka railway until ca 1983, he would very much appreciate pictures of it in the country preferably working - this item really belongs in the stationary steam section but I have included it here as it's more likely that a regular steam locomotive gricer will have photographed it. Incidentally a quick Google search shows that the UK is host to a Fowler roller and at least one other A&P (added 12th June 2011).

There is a list of extant/preserved steam locomotives available on this site - http://www.infolanka.com/org/mrail/locos1.html (10th May 2005).

A railway museum has been established here, see their website and also Keith Smith's report (8th November 2009). James Waite and Thomas Kautzor were here on a visit in January 2010 and have provided a comprehensive survey of relics in Colombo which goes beyond just railway items (updated with pictures of Port Locos 26th January 2011). Clive Hepworth was here in February 2013 and his report updates that from 2010, including a visit to Ratmalana Works (12th March 2013)

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The Railway Touring Company ran another trip here in March 2006, Robin Patrick has sent me a brief account together with some pictures (added 2nd October 2006). Richard Gennis found 340 in use on an evening excursion in December 2007. Read his report (22nd January 2008).

The Railway Touring Company successfully relaunched the Viceroy Express in February 2004 reports Phil Lawson (1st April 2004). Things are not yet perfect but the potential from this once war torn country is excellent, the tsunami will have caused further problems in the tourist industry. 

A repeat trip in March 2005 (added 26th March 2005) saw the following steam legs:

251 Airport - Mount Lavinia
251 Mount Lavinia - Kandy
340 Rambukkana - Kandy
340 Kandy - Nanu Oya / Badulla - Nanu Oya
251 Palugaswewa - Trincomalee
251 Palugaswewa - Maho Junction - Polagahawela
251 Mount Lavinia - Chilaw (on Puttalam line)

Diesel assistance was made on the incline beyond Rambukkana and beyond Gampola 'up country' - apparently this is compulsory following an accident. In addition, the Sentinel railcar V2 331 was steamed specially on a short section at Dematogoda Shed (Colombo) along with the other serviceable narrow gauge steam loco Hunslet tank 220.

Vic Allen tells me (15th December 2002)  "All steam train operations suspended (including/especially the Viceroy Express workings) because of lack of coal in Ceylon." Obviously only a temporary setback, but it seems at least three UK tour operators have postponed their planned 2003 tours. The potential for steam tours here is enormous, now it looks as if there is a better chance of peace than for some long time past, the local organisers are JF tours, http://www.jftours.com. However, there are several tours were being promoted for 2004 so it seems that the problem may be resolved.

Preserved steam has been used here for some time mainly under the imprint of the 'Viceroy Express'. Chris Lewis (22nd March 2002) travelled on one such tour with the Railway Touring Company. "Excellent week with Viceroy Express. Steam engines were 213, 240 and 340. 213 proved to be a little belter! Managed all the planned routes with steam at least in one direction, usually in two. (Colombo-Homegana (narrow gauge no longer available), Colombo-Kandy-Badulla, Harbana-Colombo, Colombo-Galle). Highlight was a trip from Kandy to Matale with steam at 21.00 with just a third class coach (no lights) after regular service had finished for the night. The Hunslet and Sentinel were working at Dematagoda works. The Garratt at Ratmalana works is in danger of being scrapped. We implored this was not allowed to happen, and our guide was going to take this up with the works management. The engine under major overhaul 251 was said to be ready in about six months. The two Sentinel lorries had been moved to the training centre (two very nice lady instructors), were said to be steamable, but may be plinthed. Despite an initial reluctance for run pasts, cab rides, etc it soon changed to absolute freedom to do what we wanted. Trip included double heading and banking."

After a long break in news about steam action, Francois Lanoue travelled here with the Railway Touring Company in February 2014, read his report (25th March 2014). Ultimately the trip was a success but 'strength in depth' is clearly lacking.

Syria Index

10 years ago, a story circulated that a revamped Hejaz railway around Amman was to become the answer to the city's traffic problems. Now the story re-emerged in the London Times with bells and whistles as an eventual reasonably high speed link with Damascus. If it were half true then it might just be all over for those steam charters (28th May 2007), but on reading carefully, it is the lesser used line north to Zarka which will be rebuilt first, not the spectacular climb south and the devil is in the detail as always "A private Chinese company, Infrastructure Development, in tandem with Pakistani contractors, is to start work in 2009 to transform a short stretch of the neglected line, creating a light commuter railway between Amman and Zarka in the northeast. There are plans then to rebuild the line all the way to Damascus." Don't hold your breath waiting!

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Thomas Kautzor has passed me news that Cadem Works in Damascus has received a make over and is now effectively a public museum (24th December 2008), he now adds (4th July 2009). Mark Enderby was here in October 2010 and has provided a list of steam locomotives present (6th November 2010).

According to this post http://www.drehscheibe-foren.de/foren/read.php?30,4318482 a daily service has been reinstated on June 20, 2009 between Ain-Fijeh and El-Hame by a private operator, with one of the SLM and three coaches restored/repainted, another three coaches under restoration. The timetable reads: Ain-Fijeh 09.00 - El-Hame 11.00/16.00 - Ain-Fijeh 18.00. Tickets can be bought from a small kiosk at the old Hejaz station in Damascus. According to the posted response, the same operator was trying to reinstate a weekly steam train service from Cadem to Dera'a, also starting in June. Chris Jeffery and Aya Kakuma followed this up and reported "There is indeed a daily service on the Barada Valley line, which looks set to continue at least through October. Whether such intensive activity can be sustained during the winter months remains to be seen, but things are certainly looking brighter than they did a year or two ago. The journey is now about 50% longer and actually starts at Al-Rabweh (a short bus or taxi ride from the centre of Damascus), the train having come down empty from Hame. It then runs up to Ain-Fijeh as usual, where the driver pointed out a nice restaurant for lunch, before returning in the afternoon. The advertised departure time of 9:30 a.m. is, of course, highly flexible. We had three rides in the space of nine days before we stopped rubbing our eyes in disbelief. 25th September 2009 was a particularly busy day on the line with a Railway Touring Co charter hauled by Hartmann 0-4-4-2T No 962 following the regular service behind SLM 2-6-0T No 755. We guess the service was suspended for Ramadan, but it was very well patronised during the Eid al-Fitr festivities, though much quieter a week later." This report was received in early October 2009 while I was away and uploaded on 9th November 2009.

In February 2010, it was suggested An-Fijeh and Zebdani, through the Barada Gorge, would be reopened in May 2010. That is an additional 25 km of track (El-Hame - An-Fijeh is a little under 10 km). Aside from Hartmann 2-8-0 90 and SLM 2-6-0T 755, which have been on the line for a while, newcomers since last summer are SLM ex-rack 0-6-2T 805 (formerly stored in good condition on track 1 at Cadem) and Hartmann Mallet 962 (as above). Three freshly-restored bogies coaches have also been transferred to the line to run with the Mallet. The station building at El-Hame has been restored (Cadem-style), the station area ballasted and the trackwork extended to accommodate all the additional rolling stock (formerly there was just a loop there). You can have a look at Ghiath's pictures on Panoramio under http://www.panoramio.com/user/1653512. Apologies for the late appearance of this item (1st June 2010) - 100% my fault (RD) and not that of correspondent Thomas Kautzor. A first hand report would be appreciated. Chris Jeffrey went back again and reported (4th October 2010) "Just back from Damascus. The train does now run from El-Hameh (not Al-Rabweh) all the way to Zebdani every Friday and Saturday during the summer (approximately May-October), and is well patronised. It also goes just as far as Ain-Fijeh on other days during school holiday periods. The section through the Barada gorge is spectacular, not unlike the Yarmuk valley. On any given day there are the usual ad hoc stops for fruit-picking, socialising or running repairs. The presence of the RTC meant that two engines were working on September 24th 2010 - SLM 0-6-2T No 805 (ex-rack) and Hartmann 0-4-4-2T No 962. At the southern end, trains can again run into Dera'a from Jordan (the apparently regular Saturday diesel from Amman and of course the RTC steam charter)."

Dan Gibson's website (5th May 2005) to chart the history of  the Hejaz Railway is a wonderful starting point for here, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Jan Willem van Dorp has been here in search of steam activity, suffice to say he was disappointed. Read his full report (6th October 2005). The Summer Friday picnic train has ceased - apparently some time ago! The railway here was the subject of a talk on the BBC's 'From Our Own Correspondent' in January 2006 - see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/4609450.stm but here in China I can't check to see if the link is still valid (added 10th February 2006).... Bill Alborough was here researching a tour in mid March 2006. He found signs of regular (alleged daily) steam freights from Damascus to Dera'a, Hartman 260 was seen at both ends and 90 was being prepared to go out too. More good news was the re-establishment of a tourist service on a 12km section of the Sergaya branch, from El Hame to A-in Fidje every Friday out at 09:00, back at 16:00. The trip takes an hour, four locos are still outstationed at El Hame 91 and 755 are usable, 754 and 751 are not working (18th March 2006). Charles Towler adds similarly (30th April 2006) "As of Early April Syria Hejaz Railway Hartmann 2-8-2 number 260 was trundling from Damascus to Der'a (123 km) with a mixed train a few times a week. Borsig 2-8-0 number 90 also sees use. "

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You can read the full report of Glyn Dawson's visit (25th November 2003) with the Railway Touring Company. Manfred Schoeler went with a small group in April 2003 to sample Syrian steam, highlight was the return to service of one of their Mallets (11th May 2003). I have a report from Roland Beier of a May 2004 visit (21st June 2004), to which I have appended a few notes from Ray Mason of a Railway Touring Company trip in October 2004 (7th November 2004). Thomas Kautzor joined a tour group in October 2007, read his report (30th October 2007).

Christoph Oboth was here in March 2001 and found the Friday Serghaya train running. Read his full report (6th April 2001), for the pictures look on http://www.eisenbahnbildarchiv.de/main.html?E7=./pages/syrien01.html and http://www.eisenbahnbildarchiv.de/main.html?E7=./pages/syrien02.html (17th August 2001).

Working steam exists here after a fashion. Certainly the Fridays only (Summer holidays, mid-July to mid-September) Damascus - Serghaya train was regularly steam hauled in 1997. In addition, locals speak of regular sightings of steam at work in Damascus station, presumably as a result of diesel failures. There are several locos kept in working order and in September 1997 I joined a tour here. Read about what I found.... and also an update covering May/June 1998 (15th September 1998).  Don't rush out and buy an air ticket, but if you are passing through anyway, ask at the station or Cadem works if any steam movements are planned. Hugh Ballantyne was here with the Dorridge Travel Tour in May 1999 (11th June 1999) and was here again in September 2000 with Enthusiast Holidays (25th October 2000).

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Tajikistan Index

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No real steam here, but Harvey Smith has sent this picture of a preserved E class in a park near the station at Dushanbe (14th August 2008):

Turkmenistan Index

Tim Littler reported after a visit in late 2002 with 2 Russian L class steam locomotives (9th November 2002): The line from Turkmenbashi through the Kara Kum desert was the first in the USSR to be dieselised in 1946, however, there was still some steam. A derelict FD in Turkmenbashi, 2 x FD and 5xEr on the way to Ashgabat and 2xEr on Ashgabat depot. Turkmenistan had positioned water tanks every 70 km and were very efficient. We took a new (1996) branch to Saraks 500 yards from the Iranian border and 30 km from Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan Index

Click for full size image.

Tim Littler reported after a visit in late 2002 with 2 Russian L class steam locomotives. "Despite us running regular trains here every year, the most difficult country. They still have a working steam reserve of 20 x Er at Kokand in the Fergana Valley. Tashkent Museum contains an excellent and complete selection of former Soviet steam."

No real steam here, but Torsten Schneider has sent me some pictures of his visit to the Tashkent Railway Museum in September 2003 (added 9th October 2005). Colin Young has added some further images of different locomotives (10th December 2007).

Steam Cranes

Steam cranes have always been the 'Cinderellas' of the railway steam scene, but as their more glamorous steam locomotive sisters ended their working days, they have often continued to be active in countries with no other real steam, but in this region the only known active survivors are in India, Bangladesh and maybe Pakistan. You can read more about these and other survivors (updated 25th April 2014). Note that Russian cranes appear in the European section (14th August 2013)


Rob Dickinson

Email: webmaster@internationalsteam.co.uk


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