The International Steam Pages

Once upon a time, long ago,
East and West of Delhi, January 1985

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.

I had two choices: stay in Delhi or head west about eighty kilometres to Rohtak along a secondary line which seemed to have a better than average number of stopping passenger services using it. Now stopping passenger trains meant a good chance of finding steam workings and by heading to Rohtak there was a possibility of a more rural setting than would be found in India's tumultuous capital so really it was quite an easy decision to make.

WG8416 gets underway from Rohtak with a train heading towards Delhi. This is Northern Railway territory and most locos had attractively painted smoke boxes with their shed code painted on the door and in this instance the shed symbol. GZB stands for Ghaziabad: a major shed on the outskirts of Delhi. January is midwinter and this far north in India it was sufficiently cold to need a warm jacket on all day. A plus though was you could get good steam effects.......

 .......which were made even better the following morning by the thick mist. So heavy in fact you couldn't see the train coming until it was almost upon you. Now you've got to admit I've got both semaphore signals well positioned in the shot! The one on the left was planned but the one coming out of the funnel is not supposed to be there. I'm sure we've all got pictures like this in our collections though. WG8710 belongs to the Jind depot; on my visit to India in 1981 Jind had been using older CWD class locos for passenger trains on this line but none were seen this time. More diesels on main lines meant the CWD's withdrawal and replacement by the more modern WG class no longer needed on the main lines.

Another shot in the mist as WG9914 gets underway with train 341 the all stations stopper to Firozpur and I mean all stations. The train still runs today, diesel naturally, and takes just over 13 hours to cover the 384 kilometres from Old Delhi to Firozpur with fifty eight passenger stops. That's an average of 29km/hour: I wonder if it is any faster than in the days of steam. Regrettably I never kept a timetable from back then I can do a comparison with.

Heading south from Rohtak was the branch to Bhiwani and a connection with the metre gauge. For lack of other trains I travelled on the mid morning service seen here during the stop at Bamba. From any angle, and especially looking up, a WG with rods down is a large, powerful looking beast. The locals are hoping the crew will fill their buckets with hot water while others gather around the tanker behind the loco for cold.

At Bhiwani metre gauge YP2310 gets underway with a passenger train bound for its home base of Rewari.

After Rhotak it was off to Kalka for the narrow gauge line to Simla; a diesel operation that turned out to be a worthwhile experience which I'll cover sometime soon. Then the plan was train to Amritsar and another on to Pakistan but that didn't work out due to security problems in the Punjab. So I ended up back in Delhi and whilst waiting for a flight to Lahore made a day trip sixty kilometres east to Hapur. There wasn't much there: it was just a stop on the main line with minor lines coming in from the north and south. Probably its main claim to fame was serving the most inedible non-veg meal I have ever had at an Indian Railways restaurant. Most of their food was passable but this meal set new standards and is remembered without affection to this day!

I travelled out from Delhi on train 4MD: a Delhi to Moradabad service. WG10338 was in charge seen here getting underway from Hapur.

I soon realised Hapur's most interesting feature were the semaphore signals seen in this shot of WG8545 leaving......

 ......and from the reverse side as WG8883 arrived. Engines seen at Hapur were all were all Moradabad based as per the MB on the bottom of the smoke box doors. The NR at the top stands for Northern Railway 

Two thousand four hundred and fifty WG class 2-8-2 locomotives were built for the Indian Railways between 1950 and 1970 by a number of builders with the most prolific being the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works in West Bengal. I never took many photos of the broad gauge WG and WP locos, then again I never took many photos of metre gauge locos either. They were going to be around for a while yet and I was busy tracking down more interesting narrow gauge locos. It was always my intention to go back before steam finished but that never happened so these are the last pictures I ever took of steam in India.

(My Indian Bradshaw for December 1975 shows the same train 341 taking 12 hours and 50 minutes for the journey, so today's train is even slower....I well remember 'mutton bone curry'... RD)

Rob Dickinson