The International Steam Pages

Xth National Steam Congress of the Indian Steam Railway Society
gives fillip to the cause of steam locomotives in the country

This report comes from Ashwani Lohani Working President:

The Xth National Steam Congress organized on the 24th of February 2013 at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi was a resounding success. This annual event of the Indian Steam Railway Society organized in partnership with Delhi Tourism was attended by over 200 delegates and issues and developments relating to steam locomotives in India and overseas were presented and discussed in a lively environment. The presence of David Barrie and Cedric C Lodge steam enthusiasts from the UK, eminent writers Mark Tully and Bill Aitken, the doyens of Indian tourism Amitabh Kant and Subhash Goyal, G.G.Saxena the Managing Director of Delhi Tourism and Keshav Chandra, the Member Mechanical of the Railway Board. S.K.Misra, who retired as the PS to PM and brought Haryana Tourism centre stage also graced the occasion. 

Ashwani Lohani Founder Member and the Working President of the society welcomed the gathering and highlighted the genesis of steam heritage tourism in the country and also the vision for the future. He talked about the historic run of the Fairy Queen steam locomotive on the 17th of October 1997 and the conferment of a Guinness World Record on the 13th of January 1998, events that marked the birth of the niche steam heritage tourism segment in the country. Lalit Sinha President of the society regretted the large scale destruction of steam locomotives that followed their phasing out from the railway system and expressed the desire that steam locomotives should run on all zonal railways. Cedric C Lodge, steam locomotive expert from the United Kingdom delivered the keynote address highlighting the salient features of steam operations on the Welsh Highland Railway. Mr David Barrie, Co-Chairman of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (UK) in his address brought out that over 1000 steam locomotives are running on various tourist railways in the UK and that steam heritage tourism has over time emerged as a prime tourism segment in the country. Padamshri Sir Mark Tully of BBC fame and Bill Aitken, a renowned writer also addressed the gathering.

A very special session was organized in remembrance of Romesh Sethi the founder President of the society who had been instrumental in the resounding success that the society achieved during the last 13 years of its existence. The session began with lighting of lamp by the dignitaries and Anita Sethi the wife of Romesh Sethi. Sir Mark Tully and Navneet, Shagun and Sanjay family members of Romesh Sethi paid their tributes. Anita Sethi was presented with an Honorary Life membership of the society by Lalit Sinha, the President of the society.

A technical presentation was made by the Director of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway covering salient features of steam operations and proposed development measures on the entire line. Deputy Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Golden Rock Workshops also made a detailed presentation on the manufacture of X class metre gauge steam locomotives for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. On the sidelines of the conference an exhibition on stamps on railway themes was put up by Anil Kumar of Amritsar locomotive workshops. The workshop also put on display many steam locomotive models and a working miniature of WG class of locomotive. A photo exhibition on the steam locomotives of Rewari was also on display. The website of the society was also launched by the Chief Guest.

Keshav Chandra, Member Mechanical Railway Board and the Chief Guest on the occasion lauded the efforts of the society and assured all help in keeping the steam locomotive movement alive in the country. He also presented awards of excellence to the Amritsar workshops of the Northern Railway, G Shankar the secretary of the society and eleven other individuals for their committed contribution to the cause of steam locomotives.

The conference ended with the presentation of mementoes and a vote of thanks by Shankar, the secretary of the society. Thereafter a group photo with a steaming WL 15005 marked the happy ending of the congress.

Rob Dickinson