The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - India 1980
The Southern Railway - Part 2

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Click here for the Case Notes Index.

For other Indian tales in this series, please see:

16th January 1980, approaching Trichy (Tiruchirappalli) temples could be seen and the countryside took on a tropical appearance. This was to be mainly a tourist visit with a chance to see a depot with a large steam fleet, I particularly wanted to see the American built AWC 2-8-0s, allocated here for shunting.

Late afternoon/evening traffic was busy with many local passengers hauled by a fleet of clean YPs, there was some tender first running and the station suffered from the mass of carriage watering points; but it was good fun to see so much activity. 

Trichy on `19th January 1980 was where I met the only other fan I saw in the five weeks I was in India, we were both disappointed not to see one of the three AWC allocated for shunt work in action.. The broad gauge evening passenger to Erode was shunted into the station by its train engine, a none too clean WP. Departure time was 17.15, after the winter sun had gone down. 

Early morning was spent at the station where I saw 2 departures behind clean YPs and MAWD 1604 was kept busy as station pilot. The MAWD had a headlight positioned in the centre of the smokebox door which was fitted with low handrails, giving it a smiling face. The rest of the morning was spent visiting a temple complex. 

Women and children sift ashes whilst a MAWD lays a smokescreen over the control tower.

Early afternoon was set aside for a visit to the large depot. A lone YL 5034 was placed at the head of the metre gauge breakdown train, which included two steam cranes. The YL class whilst fairly modern had little work left as YGs had taken over much of their duties. (See also Wilson Lythgoe January 1985 YL class).

Another modern class that was also losing its duties on the S.R. was the WL class light pacifics. 15014 was waiting a call to duty on the broad gauge breakdown train. In 1981 most of the S.R. WL class were transferred to the N.R. Some were sent to the E.R. to replace HPS class, but were quickly withdrawn.

In the small broad gauge shed I found the three AWC 22620, 22632 and 22658 in various states of disrepair. All the locos were in clean condition in the attractive passenger livery; a contrast to a rather grubby WP 7477 at the front of the shed had come in on the overnight passenger from Erode.

Near the turntable, were a couple of YPs including one with the headboard for 199/200 Tirupathi express, a long distance train still powered by steam. Most of the other YP/YG types based here were for passenger workings. Throughout India the YGs had virtually no freight work left having been displaced by diesels.

Two recently arrived ST class 2-6-4T in blue livery were seen including 37366, they were likely to have arrived from Mangalore. The branch working they had been allocated for was now part of an extension opened to Bangalore on the 27th December 1979. The ST class along with other non-standard designs were listed for early withdrawal, their next stop was probably Golden Rock Works in Trichy, for scrap.

The metre gauge repair shop was a filthy cesspit with partly flooded pits providing opportunities for reflection shots and desperate conditions for fitters to work in. January was supposedly part of the cool season. In the South it was still hot and the working conditions here must have been appalling in the hot season! Fitters who had been working barefoot and in their underwear vainly washed themselves down under standpipes before attending their next tasks. A number of MAWD class were seen in the shop, one outside just repaired and another couple in the yard in steam, thus finishing an interesting visit.

MAWD class 1606 in the metre gauge. repair shop:

Rob Dickinson