The International Steam Pages

Almost No Steam in India 2009/10

The following depressing report by Alex Jesserer was first circulated in the CRC Yahoo group in December 2009. For more information on the Ooty situation see below (updated 10th February 2010)..

I am the person who tried to run a special train from Metupalayam to Ooty a week ago; this was denied due to "security reasons"??? Anyway, we were booked seats on the service trains but we were informed that a cyclone had hit the line on approximately 15th November 2009, the road and the railway had been severed and there may be no train 'for about two years'. Then we can have a look and see what pushes the trains up the rack... The track on the lower section was upgraded quite a while ago as the dreadful diesels have to be brought down via the rack to MTP so that is not new.

Tipong: There was an explosion in the mine and all mining is abandoned at the moment; when they start again it will probably be opencast. [This is not new information. RD]

Riga: Steam engine still serviceable but no freight. Special steaming possible.

Delhi Railway Museum Monorail: Out of service, in miserable condition, firehole door broken, looks like it hasn't run for about two years but freshly painted....

Neral - Matheran: No steam charter possible there, both engines out of order now.

Shimla: KC 520 dismantled in the workshop, maybe it will be a runner again next year.

ZB at Pathankot: Also waiting for repairs, loose tyres. Not allowed to go on the line. [I have never seen a report of the ZB actually going out on the line. Can anyone confirm it ever turned a wheel in steam here? RD]

Rewari: All YG and YPs and WP 7015 there are waiting for repairs, none serviceable.

Fairy Queen: Was reported still in the workshop at the end of November, maybe it has returned now.

Siliguri: WP 7161 waiting for repairs, no charter possible. The line from Siliguri to Bagdogra is closed with 'broad gauging' in progress, all the abutments of the bridges I saw had been dug out.

DHR: About 10 engines serviceable, but they constantly (re-)build coaches that look more like a bus than a railway vehicle. I have also seen new corridor (!!!) stock there.

Nepal: No engine serviceable, all are reported to need repairs.

More news on Ooty. The works train(s), maybe two will have been steam powered...

The following appeared in the Hindu on 3rd February 2010


NMR: damaged bridges pose a challenge

With normality on the landslip-hit Mettupalayam-Ooty national highway having restored and the summer tourist season in this holiday destination round the corner, all eyes are on the Mettupalayam-Coonoor section of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) where restoration works are in full swing. In the deluge of November 2009, the section was one of the worst-affected. Having restored traffic between Coonoor and Udhagamandalam on January 5, Southern Railway is going all out to get the Mettupalayam-Coonoor section ready as early as possible. A team headed by the Divisional Engineer, Salem, Narayanan is taking care of the restoration works. The Public Relations Officer, Salem, Om Prakash Narayan said that since there is no access to many of the affected places on the 27-km-long Mettupalayam-Coonoor rack section, nearly 18,000 cubic metres of debris had to be removed from the track by using material trains. Since the Coonoor-Runneymede section has also been cleared a material train will soon be pressed into service from the Coonoor side. The restoration works have reached a crucial stage between Hillgrove and Runneymede stations, he said. Three bridges have to be built. 
For construction of Bridge No.66 at Km 18/7-8, materials will be moved by train from Mettupalayam side to build 3 spans of 18 metres each. For construction of Bridge No.63 at Km 18/1-2, two girders of 8.5 metres have to be fabricated and moved to Mettupalayam. On Bridge No.72 at km 19/1-2, one girder of 4.57 metres has to be moved and placed. Whereas there is absolutely no access to all these bridges except through the track, for Bridge No. 56 at Km 17/1-2 there is the additional challenge of extreme height. It has made the task daunting. Debris on the track between Runneymede and Hillgrove stations will be cleared in a week’s time.

The following appeared in the Hindu on 10th December 2009

Tamil Nadu

Ooty-Coonoor train services likely to resume by January-end

D. Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam: The Southern Railway authorities are braving a variety of odds to 're-rail' the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) which had been 'de-railed' by the large number of landslips, which occurred during last month's heavy rain. Since the normal functioning of the NMR (a major tourist attraction) usually went a long way in reassuring visitors that all was well on the tourism front in this vacation destination, the railway authorities are working overtime to resume services at least on the Ooty-Coonoor stretch. Even donkeys have been pressed into service to transport stones to a badly damaged part of the line near Aruvankadu. Railway sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday that a few days ago a diesel engine had been taken on a trial run from Coonoor to the damaged spot. It was to ensure that the track was fit to transport men and materials, including 60 feet long girders to the breach spot. Simultaneously a trolley run had been carried out between Ooty and the breach spot. The slopes were being strengthened. To a query, they said that by January-end services between Ooty and Coonoor would be resumed. Compared to the Ooty-Coonoor section the job of clearing the Coonoor-Mettupalayam section was much harder because huge boulders were lying on the track. For the past two days efforts were being made to break a boulder weighing about 400 tonnes near Kallar. Meanwhile, with less then three months to go for the 2009 Summer tourist season in this disaster-hit vacation destination various sections of society particularly those dependent on tourism for a livelihood are wondering what was in store. They are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that restoration works along the NMR and the national highway would be completed soon and total normalcy restored.

To which Chris Jeffery adds:

"I and Aya were in the area from 1-4 Dec (we booked before the landslides and it was too late to cancel). A works train of one coach and two open wagons leaves Mettupalayam every morning with X class 37389, reaching about km 17 so far."

According to Wikipedia, the actual distance between Metupalayam and Coonoor is some 28km and 17km would correspond to just before Hillgrove which is the traditional journey break point on the climb. This picture appeared in the Hindu and shows the works train on 10th December 2009, following successful repairs to a bridge (added 17th December 2009):

Rob Dickinson