The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - India, Round 2
Farewell to Metre and Broad Gauge steam

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.

This is, as the title suggests, the last title in this series. The next tales will cover Cuba. Click here for the Case Notes Index, which includes many earlier Indian tales.

Metre Gauge Steam Farewell Udaipur

YP 2508 at Debari station, 14th January 1995

In January 1985 I made my farewell to metre gauge steam. Only a few depots remained open, but the strenuous route from Ahmadabad to Udaipur remained steam. I had ridden this line in 1984, however it was diesel hauled due to coal shortage. I had similar bad luck in 1995 to find it diesel hauled due to a water shortage, incredibly steam was rostered back on a few days later; but the end was near.

In 1984 I had travelled the route from Delhi to Udaipur using the Chetak Express, a long distance steam run with multiple engine and crew changes. Getting a ticket for the return journey proved difficult but I secured a reservation for New Year’s Eve. I was happy to see in another year riding on a steam hauled train. The climb out of Udaipur had the engine working hard and the sound of the exhaust amplified from the surrounding hills. It was that memory which brought me back as steam still worked passenger trains out of Udaipur to Chittaurgarh, although the Chetak Express was now diesel hauled.

The area near Debari Gate became a favourite spot although linesiding was problematic for video as there was a lot of noise from a road project, but hillside views were on offer. One morning I climbed a wall for a shot of the train of the climbing out of Rana Pratapnagar. The YG was clattering out of town station with a lengthy smoke trail behind as it wound its train through S curves towards me. As the train grew close the road workers detonated a dynamite charge which was carelessly calculated and though well away from the road it caused the wall to collapse and hurtling me to the ground where I was hit by several hefty stones. I was hurt and a bit bloody, but no bones were broken, the video received a dent but still worked. I was able to hobble down the slope to the taxi to go to Una to see the Ahmadabad train which had reverted to steam haulage that day. Being in pain the lengthy walk and climb up a steep hill to reach a photo spot disguised that I was in shock. Whilst waiting I started shivering, the still camera seemed to wobble in my grip, but the scenery was amazing and unlike much of India there was no visible habitation.

On 14th January 1995, YP 2813 leads the Ahmadabad express downgrade from Una, the train seemed lost in the wilderness.

After a final day on the lineside I returned to Udaipur station for the Chetak Express to take me to Delhi. The sun was down as a YP at the head of the express from Ahmadabad drew alongside, I started filming the activity in the cab knowing this was my last glimpse of a YP. The crew waved me over and mindful that my own train was due to depart I joined them on the footplate as they readied the engine to go to the shed. With cab lights on and an open firehole door it was quite atmospheric. The driver signed the guard’s book and sounded the whistle, I made my farewell.

A YG rushes out of Debari on a passenger to Chittaurgarh on 14th January 1995

A YG sweeps rounds a curve to pass through Debari Gate and head downgrade to Udaipu,.15th January 1995

Broad Gauge steam farewell Jalandhar

On 2nd January 1994, a WL departs from Jalandhar Cantonment

On 3rd January 1994, the crew of this WL gets a clear signal sighting as the early morning fog lifts. The Sikh with the bike was not amused! 

WL 15065 receives some of the last coal from the dump. Jalandhar depot was about to close and bg steam was almost extinct, but was then reprieved for another few months, 10th January 1995

On 10th January 19/95, WLs 15099 and 15100 are ready to be turned, both have seen better days.

On 9th January 1995 a wet morning was spent at Nawan Shahar Doaba, on the line to Jaijon Doaba. The crew of 15092 are having a miserable time servicing the engine.

WL 15083 prepares for departure.

In August 1968, as real UK main line steam drew its last breath the Illustrated London News, asked what future had railwaymen following the end of steam? I asked myself the same question about the ash collectors, who were just scratching a living from the steam dinosaurs

Other Round 2 Indian Tales:

Rob Dickinson