The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
The Big Engines of the Indian Broad Gauge

Wilson Lythgoe has been circulating friends with some steam pictures taken some time back and with his permission and encouragement they are reproduced on these pages and will be added to from time to time. Click here for the index.

The WP class 4-6-2 and the WG class 2-8-2 were big in both size and class numbers. 755 WP had been built from 1947 until 1967 for passenger service and 2450 WG were built between 1950 and 1970 for freight. When these pictures were taken in October 1981 both classes of loco could be found on the 'stopping all stations' type of passenger train. All of the WP shown here were North American built in 1949 by either Baldwin, Canadian Loco or Montreal Loco but I am unable to glean more exact information from my loco lists.

These pictures were taken during the same period as the previous tale's Satpura Narrow Gauge ones......when nothing was happening on the narrow I could concentrate on the broad and vice versa. I always got the impression though that the larger engines never had to work particularly hard.....they always seemed to have everything under control and would just roll along effortlessly compared with their, what seemed like much harder working, counterparts on the NG.

At the Central Railways Jabalpur shed a well polished WP 7426 poses for its photograph with the shed hierarchy. At the time I could get annoyed by folk posing in my shots and to my mind ruining them. Looking back I now actually prefer those pictures that have people in them!

Still at Jabalpur only this time it's the cleaning and servicing guys getting in the act with a much plainer WP 7235 and WG 8523 (Henschel 1955-56) .

WP 7342 rolls into Gondia on 321 Passenger with a light load of only six cars. 7342 belonged to the South Eastern Railway and like most of their engines had a nice big number on the tender so there was no need to take notes at the time.

I spent that night in the Railway Retiring Rooms at one end of the island platform at Gondia. Anyone familiar with Indian Railways would have tried Retiring Rooms at some stage of their travels! Gondia's cost 6 Rp, which was the equivalent of about one New Zealand dollar back then, and consisted of four beds in a room - with cold shower and toilet - and a bearer outside to keep the unauthorised out. I got back to the room after dinner to find all the beds apart from mine covered by mosquito nets; mine was completely covered in bugs and other nightlife! Now that I had returned the bearer considered it a suitable time to make a big show of getting the bugs off my bed and rigging the mosquito net.....all for a suitable monetary reward of course! I slept well though and the next day travelled on the broad gauge through to Nagpur.

Early the next morning WG 10449 makes a smokey departure from Gondia on a long passenger train. 10449 was Indian built by Chittaranjan Loco Works in 1967. The track on the right, where my audience of two is standing, is the 2' 6" line that will soon diverge from the 5' 6" and head south to Nagbhir and Chanda Fort over 200km away.

WG 10045 was another Chittaranjan Loco Works product, this time from 1962, and is seen here heading east from Itwari Junction.

A short time later WP 7371 heads in towards Itwari passing some local washerwomen on the way. The nine total train would be little challenge for the loco.

Just outside of Nagpur was the Central Railway Shed of Ajni which I didn't have permission to photograph! I did manage this photo of six WG in the late afternoon sunshine though.

WP 7369 waits in the rain at Nagpur for the off.

Engine details taken from 'Indian Locomotives Part 4 - 1941-1990' by Hugh Hughes published by The Continental Railway Circle in 1996.

Rob Dickinson