The International Steam Pages

The Matheran Hill Railway, India, 1976

This page illustrates examples of articulated steam locomotives - click here for the introduction to Klien Lindner locomotives.

The 610mm (2') gauge railway from Neral to Matheran was one of the joys of a visit to India in the 'Good Old Days'. The traditional power consisted of four OK 0-6-0T equipped with 'Hayward' axles, essentially Klien Lindner hollow axles which allowed them to negotiate the sharp curves necessary on this mountain line. During the course of two visits in 1976, I saw three of them at work - the missing one, 740, is now based on the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway in the UK, the others have all been preserved in India and 739 is in Delhi, 741 is at Matheran and 738, which was in Bombay, has now been restored to some kind of working order. These days it's a world heritage site and somehow it's survived washaways and all sorts of misadventure including the attention of Indian Railway accountants. I last visited in 1994 by which time the diesels ruled supreme and I could park the cameras, lay back and enjoy the scenery.

The first two pictures show 738 at Neral in January 1976 and 739 at Matheran in November 1976:

There was a nice mix of traditional coaching stock on the line:

Modern traction was present too in the form of this articulated diesel built by Jung and railmotor 898, a converted bus. Its smaller sister 899 is now in the Delhi Railway Museum, I was amazed to discover it had a 'steering wheel' which should have been redundant. "It's for the brake!" explained the staff, which makes a lot of sense if you think about it...

The great thing about this railway is that speeds were (and no doubt are) so slow that I could lineside the train while travelling on it, I just had to look out of the window and pick a spot. 741 had a wonderful 'consist' on the second trip:

This is the sharpest curve on the line, which gives some idea why articulation was needed:

The 'toy' train is totally lost in the countryside:

This is my favourite picture of the line, I remember dropping a lens cap just before this curve and having time to jump off, recover it and still make it to the photspot ahead of the train...

The reason I have included so few pictures of 738 on my first visit is that it had a rake of modern coaches which are more or less concealed in this picture of it approaching the top station through the forested area.

Rob Dickinson