WP 7200 ready for its 1st light test run
The revival of the Steam locomotives at the Rewari Steam Shed has given a new lease of life to the niche segment of Steam Tourism in India which still is an untapped sector with immense potential. The shed locomotives, after their revival to mainline fitness, underwent several trials as light engines and under load to ensure their roadworthiness. All these trials created large scale euphoria amongst the steam lovers who would get a wind of any steamer coming alive on the tracks and thong the venue, The media too took great interest in these trials with several reporters covering the runs extensively in national dailies.
The team with its first success
The first engine trial took place on the 4th of September 2010, when we tested the iconic WP 7200 between Delhi cantonment and Rewari, the mood was actually quite tense as a lot was at stake on this trial being successful. The smiles only got wider as the steamer whistled into Rewari station in under 2 hours. We then ran load trials with the same engine on the 18th of Sept. and then on the 10th of Oct. 2010, the day we opened the shed gates to the world.
The WL 15005 on its first trail run, 6 Dec. 2011
The trials with the WL 15005 had more at stake, this engines on its last run had met with a boiler malfunction that had unfortunately resulted in the sad demise of the driver and an inspector on board. The event had left ugly scars on everyone's conscience, the apprehensions were quite apparent. as It was advised by many not to set on this adventure again, as any incident with this locomotive, no matter minor, will be blown beyond proportions. The final clearance to run commercial runs between Delhi and AIwar came by, and this loco was choosen to make the first run.
The first mainline trial was conducted on the 6th of Dec. 2011, which coincidently also happened to be the anniversary of the event when the same Loco had run the last Steam hauled passenger train in India between Firozepur and Lohia Khas in Punjab. This trial run was well patronized by railway officers from the division. The run was also coveded by several leading newspapers. The festivity that a steam run brings about wasclearly evident, also evident was the love and nostalgia that these machines evoke amongst Railway men of yore. The WL ran beautifully between Delhi and Rewari and gave many photo opportunities to its passengers on way, when we stopped in route to give way to othertrains. General public at the stations and passengers on other trains also clicked pictures on their mobile phone cameras to keep as souvenirs. The trials was finished with elan and flying colors.
On the eve of the new year on the 31st of Dec. 2011, the WL15005 became the first big steamer to haul a commercial run with the broad gauge steam locomotive, apart from the acclaimed Fairy Queen. There were only 5 passengers on board during this run, but this did not dampen our sprit. The very fact that the big steamers were back on the track again was enough to keep our spirits soaring high. The WL lived upto its name and the train finished its return run without a glitch. It was a great feeling to see the WL gently roll into the Delhi Cantt, Station at 1745 hrs on schedule.
An ex Rewari shed employee flags off the train
The second run took place on the 14th of January 2012, This time the majestic WP7161, named Akbar, was heading the train. This run had 43 passengers on board. The Media had also caught wind of this run and reporters from major newspapers and TV channels had thronged the venue. It was a delight to see the Chittranjan built beauty in full steam with its train. The crew and Rewari staff was also on it's toes to ensure that everything was in order. The WP rolled out of the station to a huge applause at 0915 hrs. The run was spot on and the train arrived at Alwar 30 minutes before time.
Welcomed with cheers at Rewari Jn.
The next day all the leading newspapers carried news of this great run and the TV channels ran the piece on prime time. It was for sure that the Steamers were back with a bang !! The WP arrived to a rousing welcome at the Rewari station, The local crowd that had assembled at the platform was delighted to see a steam engine with Rewari written on it rolling in. Everyone wanted to have a picture clicked with the steam engine, which the security prevented for a while but the free sprit of India soon prevailed and the entire group was on the Locomotive.
The Rewari Steamers had proved their worth and in the process also reiterate the fact that a thing of beauty is a joy forever !!