The International Steam Pages

Steam in India 2010 - Rewari Revival Part 2

Rewari Steam Shed Revives 6 Steam Locomotives in 6 Months by Vikas Arya, Sr. Divisional Mechanical Engineer/ Indian Railways. 

Rewari officially re-opened on 9th October 2010 - click here for a report of the days events.

In my last update regarding the revival of the Steam Loco Shed at Rewari, in May this year, I had informed that we first planned to bring the entire fleet of 9 steam locos lying at various places across India to Rewari and fix them so that the entire fleet can be put on steam in a phased manner by year end.

Taking over the charge of Rewari in Feb’ 2010, I found that out of the 9 steam locomotives based at Rewari, only 2, one BG AWE-22907 and one MG YP-3415, were in some kind of working order, rest of the locos were in a complete state of rust in peace. 2 broad gauge locos, belonging to this shed, WP-7200 and WP-7161 were lying at Kolkata (Calcutta) and Siliguri, at nature’s mercy, stabled in the yards, unwanted, unguarded and providing man’s best friends shelter at night. Rewari shed itself was in a state of total neglect, with crumbling walls and leaky roofs, wild vegetation was all over and the spirits of the last 25 men standing guard to the 117 year old locomotive shed and the rich steam heritage of Indian Railways, was on a depressing low.

The first task was to give the men a sense of purpose and instil a sense of pride in them, here the infectious zeal of Ashwani Lohani, the Railway Manager of Delhi division and the steam man of India came handy. Offered a cup of tea on his maiden visit to the shed by the staff, he refused to take it saying- “no one has a cup of tea in a graveyard.. get the locos running and then we can have a feast here”, the words had the required emotional impact that was needed. On my subsequent visit two days later, a hammer could be heard at a distance. An hour long chat session with the old guys of steam, had them committed to the task that the skies of Rewari will soon see smoke puffing out of loco chimneys and the whistle will be heard once more !!

It was an odious task to have the 2 WP locos, stationed in Eastern India hauled back to Delhi on one of busiest Railway routes on the Indian Railway system. Finding a vacuum braked vehicle to be attached with the locos and getting a vacuum braked enabled Diesel loco on a system that is now 99.9% on air brakes was the easier of the task then getting the necessary clearances to run the steam locos at restricted speeds. “How do expect us to haul these locos at 30 Kmph over a distance of 1490 km, that too between Kolkata and Delhi?” was the standard question in Railway board’s corridors. Somehow after I had spoken to literally the who is who on the eastern railways system and my men had stayed put for over 3 weeks in waiting halls of Calcutta/ Howrah station the perseverance paid off, the movement order was finally released in July 2010 and loco 7200 WP left its rusty confines of Calcutta yard and moved towards Delhi, on way to Rewari. Getting 7161 out of the cooler confines of Siliguri, farther east of Kolkata was relatively easier.

By now the remaining 2 YP locos had been reconditioned by my men, by July end 3 out the 4 meter gauge locos were on steam and the work on WP 7161, that had reached Rewari in mid July, was on at a brisk pace.

Another Loco, WL15005 that had been involved in a freak accident 2 years earlier, that had unfortunately killed its driver, had been sealed as a case property by the police. This magnificent locomotive was also lying inside Rewari shed. We could not even touch this loco till the honourable courts in Delhi would release it from being a piece of evidence in an accident case. I moved an application in the honourable court stating that the locomotive was a National heritage and the only such class of locomotive in India and if left unattended, a priceless piece if history will be lost. To our good fortunes, the learned judge in the very first reading could gauge the significance of the matter and released the stay on the locomotive. With this order we were free to bring this lovely machine back to life.

Today we have 3 big locos in hand, 25 men and just 45 days to make them puff, the good news is that the first big black beauty, the majestic WP 7200 has been put on steam and tested. The latest news that comes to my desk is that the staff of Rewari has taken it on a spin at 1400 hrs out of the shed confines, WP 7200 is whistling and its chimney is stamping the over clouded sky over Rewari with steam and smoke, announcing the re-birth of Black Beauties to one and all.

On 31st of Aug the second locomotive WP 7161 will also be put on steam and on the 14th of Sept WL 15005’s whistle will be heard in Rewari shed.

My boss, the never tiring Mr. Ashwini Lohani, had been asking me time and again to post the happenings and the good work our men at Rewari, on your website. I had however, decided that my next update will only go out the day one of my big engines comes back to life. I'm writing this at the same time as WP 7200 is still steaming and the eyes of my 25 steam men at Rewari glitter with pride and joy, seeing a thing of beauty, that is a joy for ever !!

By the way, Mr. Lohani accepts his cup of tea now, while in Rewari Loco shed.

Rob Dickinson