I have been a narrow gauge freak for over 30 years, back then, many countries
boasted working narrow gauge steam - by which I mean (by and large) railways
with a gauge of less than one metre, but which are not 'miniature' again it is
an arbitrary decision on my part. Now those countries with real narrow gauge
steam can be counted on the fingers of one hand and nowhere is it remotely
plentiful. So this page has to widen its scope to include operating museums and
railways which will organise charter trains for visiting groups etc. If you have
got to this page through search engines, please be aware that similar
information is available for those who are broader minded through my
main international steam pages. See also my museums
page which will include references to non-active steam.
As always, updates, additions and corrections will be very welcome.
If your interest extends beyond steam, then the following sites will provide
useful information along with that on steam:
This page covers non-European narrow
gauge steam railways, either scroll down the page or click on a
continent for a further menu - the European list is
now kept separately.
If you are interested in narrow gauge
steam then check out
our ISV DVDs. These are
properly researched quality
documentary films with a story to tell.
'National Geographic Stuff' said one purchaser.
I don't include gratuitous advertisements to commercial products, but I am
happy to make exceptions for
Gauge World, a bi-monthly UK publication with a significant international
Voie Etroite a bi-monthly
French publication with a significant international slant
Narrow gauge railways were never common here, of those not
mentioned which survived into the late 20th century, the public railways and
industrial systems in Mocambique and Angola merit mention and relics of the
Sierra Leone narrow gauge are covered in my museums' page.
This did threaten to become the steam story of the 90's with long stored Mallets being
put back into service on the rehabilitated 950mm gauge railway between the port
of Massawa and the mountain top capital of Asmara, with its spectacular
operation, it just took a little
longer than originally hoped. If you need convincing of the photographic rewards of joining one of
the regular tours here, then you can check my own report on the 'Darjeeling of Africa'
dating from late 2002.
(updated 24th June 2011)
There are a number of preserved operations of which
is the most notable as there is a more than an element of reality about the
trains they run at harvest time. However, it has been announced that the
running lines will close and be disposed of. The Apple Express out of Port
was normally steam hauled until the service was suspended with effect from
1st January 2011 and it seems unlikely it will restart - the stock will need
rescuing soon. The Patons
Country Narrow Gauge Railway, http://www.futurenet.co.za/pcngr/ (link dead
26th April 2014) runs between Ixopo and Carisbrooke. The last I heard was that these operators were
still hoping to restart the Alfred County Railway Banana Express which
having been in limbo following financial
difficulties was operated by them for some time, but was apparently closed down by Spoornet in
One of my favourite steam travel books is 'World of South
American Steam' which lists many, many places which are now just history. It
may be that there are other working 'preserved sites' in, say, Argentina and
Brazil which I am not aware of.
The Patagonian Esquel railway operation is still a classic, even in days of
preservation. La Trochita's own website is http://www.patagoniaexpress.com
(link updated 21st November 2012).James Waite was
here in October 2014 and apart from some stunning pictures he has written
about the history of the line and its steam locomotives (13th December 2014).
Austral Feugo - El Tren del Fin del Mundo (AR) is 500mm gauge, miniature
or narrow gauge? Jack Neville sent a report
of a November 2014 visit (23rd December 2014)
See also the Americas
section of this site.
9th January 2013)
The operational narrow gauge railway and museum at São João d'El Rey in West
Minas is very special. See also the Americas
section of this site.
The Perus-Pirapora narrow gauge line near São Paulo is undergoing a
miraculous revival. See also the Americas
section of this site (updated 9th January 2013), as of this date the
latest information was James Waite's 2012 report.
30th June 2011)
The 3ft gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad - http://www.wpyr.com/
is an international operation across the USA/Canada border. It is covered in some detail in James Waite's extended
report including chartered specials in June 2011 (30th June 2011)
16th December 2011)
This barely counts as a narrow gauge railway in my book at three foot and
large scale operation. There are occasional public and private steam specials - see
section of this site. James Waite spent
a long weekend here in December 2011, he thoroughly recommends the railway
and its steam operation (16th December 2011).
Until a few years ago, real narrow gauge steam was one of the great
features of the annual sugar harvest (the 'Zafra'). Now it has finished, there
are a few museum mills which may run the odd tourist train, operation is a bit
hit and miss, see the Americas
section of this site.
The railways of Central America were generally
built to three foot gauge and fallen into disuse. James Waite was
here in April 2012 and was treated to royal hospitality. Read
about what he found (21st April 2012)
(updated 16th August 2016)
Ferrocarril Interoceanico heritage railway & museum.
Cuautla, Morelos -
(link broken by 25th October 2016).
There may be an active operational site here:
"Railroad Station - Inaugurated in 1881, the station now houses narrow gauge Steam Engine No. 279, built by Baldwin Locomotive Works out of Philadelphia and originally put into service in 1904. The train made
its last run in October of 1973, the day before the new wide gauge tracks were put into function. The engine and cars were later donated to the Municipality, who now runs them on a still-functioning, short, narrow gauge track that runs between Cuautla and the town of
Yecapixtla, renowned for its cecina (dried & salt cured meat)."
Picture, I believe is by Sammy King, courtesy of Thomas Schultz.
Thomas Kautzor visited for a
scheduled run in November 2012, but it was cancelled at the last moment (13th
December 2012). The next expected run is scheduled for 13th April 2013
and it will be sponsored by Club Amigos del Ferrocarril who hopefully will be
more reliable than the local government (4th January
2013)..James Waite tells me (16th August 2016) that a web search suggests that
the shed has become a museum and 279 looks to no longer be a runner, See
(link broken by 29th October 2017) and http://cuautla.org/museo-vivencial-279-de-cuautla/.
narrow gauge museum has 27 steam locomotives but just one is operational.
See also James Waite's visit in December
2013 (20th December 2013)
28th September 2017)
This site lists all known tourist operations - http://www.railserve.com/Tourist/North_America/
This site is devoted to the world of the 2ft narrow gauge railway
especially in New England but not much is steam - www.thetwofooters.com,
see also James Waite's visit to Maine in
October 2011 (updated 19th April 2017).
Using the above, I have tried to eliminate 'theme parks' for the most part
anybody?). Beware also of replicas...
Three Foot (and Three Foot Six Inch = %%) Railways
- Tanana Valley Railroad -
link dead by 25th October 2016 - probably the most northerly active steam loco in the world, see James
Waite's 2011 report (14th July 2011)
- White Pass & Yukon Railroad, AK - http://www.whitepassrailroad.com/
This operation is covered in some detail in James
Waite's extended report including chartered specials in June 2011
(30th June 2011)
- East Broad Top Railroad, PA - http://www.ebtrr.com/,
see also James Waite's report of a September 2011 visit
(13th October 2011)
- Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, NM - http://cumbrestoltec.com/
- see also Trevor Heath's visit http://www.trevorheath.com/livesteaming/chama.htm
(added 3rd November 2007) and James Waite's report of a September 2011 visit
(20th October 2011)
- Durango & Silverton, CO - http://www.durangotrain.com/
- see also Trevor Heath's visits http://www.trevorheath.com/livesteaming/chama.htm
(added 3rd November 2007),
see also James Waite's report of a September 2011 visit
(20th October 2011) to which has been appended a
report of his 2014 visit to see two of the 2-8-0s (13th June 2014).
- Georgetown Loop Railroad, CO - http://www.georgetownlooprr.com/
- Sumpter Valley Railway, OR - http://www.sumptervalleyrailroad.org/,
see James Waite's report from January
2014 (added 8th February 2014)
- Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad, CA - http://www.roaringcamp.com/
- Yosemite Mt. Sugar Pine RR, CA - http://www.ymsprr.com/
- Colorado Railroad Museum, CO - http://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/
- Connecticut Antique Machinery Association, CT - http://www.ctamachinery.com/
- Midwest Central Railroad, IA - http://www.mcrr.org/
- Huckleberry Railroad, MI - http://www.jonra.com/village/train.shtml
(Link broken by 1st November 2018),
(second link added 8th August 2011)
- Lake Linden & Torch Lake RR, MI - http://www.houghtonhistory.org/
- Kings Island, OH -
http://www.pki.com/ (link dead by 12th April 2018)
- Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad, OH - http://www.cplerr.com/
- Historic Jefferson Railway, TX - http://www.jeffersonrailway.com/
- LaPorte Co Historical Steam Society, IN - http://www.hesston.org/
- Pioneer Park, Fairbanks, AK (Tanana Valley Railroad #1) http://www.ftvrr.org/
dead by 25th October 2016)
- Poway Midland RR, CA - http://www.powaymidlandrr.org/
- Pioneer Coal Mine Tunnel, (%%) PA - http://www.pioneertunnel.com
- Laws Railroad Museum (https://www.lawsmuseum.org/)
/ Carson & Colorado Railway (https://carsoncolorado.com/)
CA - see Thomas Schultz's report of the
first public run of restored Southern Pacific 18, now updated with James
Waite's account of railway developments in the area. (28th
Other Narrow Gauges
- Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad, ME - http://www.mngrr.org/
- Wiscasset, Waterville, and Farmington Railway, ME - http://www.wwfry.org/
- Bucksgahuda & Western’s Railroad, PA - http://www.bnwrr.com
- Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge RR - http://www.cripplecreekrailroad.com/
- Foster Brook and State Line Railroad, Bradford, PA has a 2ft Shay (no
- California State Railroad Museum, CA - http://www.csrmf.org/
- Grove Farm Museum, Kauai, HI - Try http://www.hsengco.com/trains/
- see also Trevor Heath's visit http://www.trevorheath.com/livesteaming/kauai.htm
- Boothbay Railway Village, ME - http://www.railwayvillage.org/
- Northfield & Cannon Vy, MN - http://www.steamlocomotive.com/mnsteam/
- Alder Gulch Shortline, MT - http://www.virginiacitymt.com/AlderGulch.asp
- Rock River & Thresheree Park RR, WI - http://www.thresheree.org/
Barely Narrow Gauge
Asia (particularly the sub-continent) epitomises narrow gauge
steam for me, it was love at first sight in India in 1976. Alas, as everywhere,
most of it is history.
Ten years ago, the country was opening up and visitors were discovering
new lines, almost as fast as known ones were closing. Since writing the text
below about the Shibanxi railway, the coal trains have finished, tourist
coaches dominate the train contests (red or blue), the locomotives may be
green or yellow as well as black and the major stations have been rebuilt in
a style which is a cross between a church and a supermarket. The amount of
it that is still 'real' is so small that it's basically become a Disneyland
experience. Don't bother to go if you haven't been yet and, if you have,
stay away, it'll break your heart (19th November 2012).
It seems that Shibanxi now has (or rather will have) a
'rival' preserved steam railway, this one is just south of Zhengzhou, read Ichiro Junpu's
report (25th June 2016) : http://www.kii762mm.com/modules/pico/index.php?cat_id=212
The Cook Islands was an unlikely site for a new steam enterprise in the 21st
century, a former Polish narrow gauge loco in exile - see the
Asia East page on this site.
The famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway now has its own official website http://www.dhr.in/,
but it's rarely if ever updated.
It 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 (vice
versa in recent years) is sometimes diesel
hauled but may be rostered for steam. Watch out for the effects of monsoon
landslides which have kept the railway closed for long periods in recent
years. See my Asia (West) page for
up-to-date information, the line is now reinstated throughout (4th April 2015)
and scheduled trains are now running (16th June 2015). Alas, less than two
weeks later problems at PaglaJhora mean that the service is again temporarily
suspended at least until repairs can be completed at the end of the monsoon
season in September 2015 (28th June 2015). It returned to a full service
at the beginning of December 2015 (20th March 2016), but more recently
services have been suspended owing to continuing ongoing political unrest. The
strike is now over, services will gradually resume, as always, please check the DHRS
website for the latest news before attempting a visit (6th October 2017).
The mountain railways Neral-Matheran and Kalka-Simla have steam locomotives
which come out on special occasions...
John Browning sampled Indian narrow gauge steam in March/April 2016 - read
his report (13th May 2016).
The Tipong Colliery Railway in Upper Assam is (almost) a genuine working railway.
You can read the report of my latest visit
(February 2008) and our
DVD covering it. The coal mine has not operated for some years although
visitors have been able to charter trains.
2018 broadly saw a repeat of 2017's limited activity
although the season at both Purwodadi and Pagottan was cut short at the
begging of September (10th October 2018).
2016 saw a dramatic reduction in working steam, with just
Purwodadi using conventional steam locomotives, with Semboro and Pagottan
using firelesses. 2017 appears similar (10th July 2017),
any news will appear in the main Indonesian
section of this site, there being insufficient activity to justify a
separate page. Visitors in August confirmed the firelesses to be active along
with two out of the three serviceable steam locomotives ar Purwodadi (23rd
The sugar mills of Java (in season, roughly June to September)
represented the greatest concentration (then about 25) of working narrow gauge steam
locomotives in the world. What was left was but a pale shadow of activity 20
years ago but was still very special in my book. For the information on
the scene in the final years, check out the Java 2014
reports (last report, 1st November 2014) and the Java
reports, (final verdict 28th September 2015). In summary, there was very
little real steam in 2015, not much more than the firelesses at Semboro and
And if you can't get there, why not consider buying a
copy of Sweet
Spot - the story of the steamiest sugar mill in Java.
There are occasional private steam charters on the Burma Mines Railway -
check out my own report of a
There were very occasional private steam charters on the Janakpur Railway,
which must now have ceased as the railway has been ripped
up for broadgauging (14th August 2014).
The Changa Manga Forest Railway still uses steam - click here for the most
recent report, confirmed operational again by Aya Kakuma and Chris Jeffery
in February 2006.
One or two steam locomotives are held in reserve at Hawaiian-Philippine
and La Carlota on Negros island - see the Asia
East page on this site..
The narrow gauge out of Colombo is defunct but I believe the steam railcar
and one of the 4-6-4T are still steamable for visitors to Dematogoda shed.
Hsin-Ying Sugar Factory has repaired 762mm gauge Tubize 370 to run tourist trains on the
Wushulin Sugar mill system and now 346 at Xihu sugar mill is also a runner. These days
3 Shays at Alishan are 'runners' but only on special occasions. For a March
2015 review of the steam scene see 'Preserved Steam (and more) in Taiwan 2015'
(4th April 2015)
See also http://www.taiwanrailways.com/
for a comprehensive set of maps and pictures of the 'modern' narrow gauge
of Tourist and Heritage Rail Australia (ATHRA) - www.athra.asn.au.