The International Steam Pages

Steam in India 2010 - Rewari Revival

Rewari – Rekindling the Steam Era in India by Vikas Arya, Sr. Divisional Mechanical Engineer/ Indian Railways. 

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Being among a handful of steam enthusiasts in India, it is disheartening to read Alex Jesser’s report regarding the state of steam traction in India on your website, where he reports that this traction has more or less finished 10 years ago. Though, factually the statement is correct because India has very few Main Line steam operations confined to the Hill Railways and only a handful of working BG and MG steam locomotives. But the efforts of a few serving and retired Railway Engineers to rekindle the old era of steam locomotives still persists, in spite of the heavy odds and the top management keen to put electric wires on every railroad.

Among this web of overhead wires (read OHE) that now covers all major routes, there is a puff of black smoke at a small town called Rewari situated about 80 Kms. north of India’s capital city New Delhi. In Rewari exists the one and only Steam loco heritage shed which dates back to 1893. Declared as a heritage steam loco shed in 2002, the shed saw little progress and activity in intervening years and would have surely gone into oblivion but for a sizeable and timely sanction of financial granted by the Ministry of Railways to reviving this grand old Steam Loco shed, Coupled with the fortune appointment of the iconic steam enthusiast in India named Ashwani Lohani as Divisional Railway Manager of Delhi Division under which Rewari is located. This twin inputs have given a new lease of life to this virtually dead Steam shed that homed 10 vintage Steam Locos.

The shed presently holds 5 MG and 5 BG steam locos. There are 4 YG class Meter Gauge locomotives and 1 YP class Meter Gauge locomotive. Of the BG locomotives there are 2 WPs, 1 WL, 1 AWE and 1 XE, the shed also holds a 30 Tonne capacity BG steam crane.

With a staff of about 25 workmen, the shed presently endeavors to put back on steam all the existing locomotives by the end of July’ 2010. Out of these, 3 YG class MG locomotives have already been put on steam till date and 2 BG locomotives have also been lit up. In the next 60 days, the entire fleet of locomotives will be put on steam and these grand black beauties shall be huffing and puffing, proudly on display during the Common Wealth Games in New Delhi. Apart from this, the unique and grand attraction, the Fairy Queen, the oldest working steam loco in the world is also slated to run services on the Ring Railway around Delhi during the Games. The bigger BG engines viz WPs, WL, XE and AWE shall also be available at strategic locations in New Delhi for steam enthusiasts to savor their beauty.

The heritage Shed building at Rewari which dates back to 1893 is also slated for a major facelift, keeping its soul intact. Apart from major repair works, the shed gets an uplift by the form of manicured lawns, a spruced up museum, display of old antique furniture dating back to British era, old signages, semaphore signals, old permanent way equipment, old telephones, lanterns etc. on display. The attempt will be to take the visitor back to the Victorian era. This first phase of renovation also endeavors to provide a modern lounge, wash room and Cafeteria facilities for the steam enthusiasts visiting to see the black beauties.

As the Engineer in-charge to put the locos on steam, I’m fully optimistic that Rewari will be a centre of excellence in steam loco maintenance and operation in India and carve a place of its own in the Steam map of the world in times to come.

Rob Dickinson