The locomotive was originally shipped to India from England in 1855.

WRITTEN BY London Swaminathan

 Date: 18 AUGUST 2019  

British Summer Time uploaded in London – 9-27 AM

Post No. 6896

 Pictures are taken from various sources.  ((posted by AND

Nostalgic longing for the Olden Golden Days

When I was a college student in Madurai, I used to walk along the railway line with friends to enter the Madura college through its back yard. On our way we used to pick up the fallen coal bits from the steam engines and throw at each other as part of a game.

When I was a school student in Madurai Setupati High School, I used to sit at the play ground with my classmates and enjoy coal smoke coming from the Goods Shed Railway Yard just behind the school.

My aunty in Madras, now Chennai, used to tease me whenever I entered her house with black spotted white shirt which happened because of my overnight travel from Madurai to Madras. In those days only coal fired steam engines pulled the train compartments.

All those days are gone.

When I came to London I tried to buy ticket for annual steam engine ride from Amersham to outer London destination; the tickets were sold out. Great disappointment!

Money making Ideas

If India restores one coal fired steam engine in every city they can mint money from foreign tourists. They are crazy about it.

Please restore at least one coalfired steam engine train in every town to teach our children the history and development of science.

All these thoughts came to me when I read the news that the oldest working steam engine ran successfully in Chennai on 15th August 2019.

Read the news item taken from the Hindustan Times:–

World’s oldest working steam engine makes heritage run. It’s 164-year-old

The locomotive was originally shipped to India from England in 1855.

The railways conducted a heritage run of a 164-year-old locomotive, which is the world’s oldest working steam engine, to mark the 73rd Independence Day. A heritage special service hauled by EIR-21, the world’s oldest working steam locomotive, was successfully operated from Chennai Egmore to Kodambakkam, the railways said on Saturday.

The heritage special with a single coach with railway officials left Chennai Egmore around noon on August 15.  Many rail and steam enthusiasts turned up at Chennai Egmore and Kodambakkam railway stations to see the heritage special.

These steam heritage runs are operated to showcase the heritage value of Indian Railways. The Express EIR 21, which is similar to Fairy Queen in appearance, is 164 years’ old. The locomotive was originally shipped to India from England in 1855. After withdrawal from service in 1909, this loco was kept as an exhibit at Jamalpur workshop and Howrah station for over 101 years.

During this period this loco was in the sun and rain; many parts were corroded, some were missing, some were broken and some were not fit for use.The Perambur Loco Works took the challenge of reviving the engine in 2010.

See the Railways stamps of India


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  1. Rail journey is romantic, compared to other modes of Transport. Plane might be faster, but plane journey lacks character. Things are mechanical around an airport, but the train is more human, and down to earth, in more senses than one. The train does not lose touch with the earth. We enjoy the sights and sounds of our countryside on a train journey.
    A train journey connects people- co passengers pick up conversation, and eatables, among themselves, and these associations, though short are often sweet. Such warmth and friendliness are wanting in a flight. Now a days, trains are getting sleek and mod and fast and super fast, but the old charm of the steam engine hauled journey still lingers in memory-we seem to relive that experience every time we think about it.
    Of course, we meet all kinds of people on a train. The expression “Kumbakonam business” got into the Oxford dictionary when a British passenger had an unpleasant experience at the hands of an English-educated Indian in a train , alighting at Kumbakonam!

    Just think- a train takes you into a city or town or the edge of a village, while the plane leaves you far away from a regular human habitation! This is how the train connects people. And an airport requires from 500 to 1000 acres of land, and usually all this is highly productive arable land which is rendered useless. Some internal flights are of short duration, but the commuting to and from the airport and the stipulated reporting time take ridiculously long time- an aspect of the way we have conquered time, as pointed out by Alvin Toffler in ‘Future Shock’
    One might say the steam engine is polluting; this is true, but the diesel and electric locos are also polluting, which is not apparent. The soot and coal dust were unpleasant aspects of a journey by a train hauled by a steam engine, but even a flight has unpleasant aspects. And the plane contributes tremendous noise pollution, and plane passengers face heightened radiation- which they are not aware of!

    In those days, they built things to last, unlike now when obsolescence is deliberately built into every product in the interests of commercial profit and greed capitalism. E.F.Schumacher and Ivan Illich have commented on this. This results in such wanton waste of natural resources. I do not think a modern diesel or electric loco will last a century!
    And let us not forget- some of the old Railway stations were picturesque, though small. They should surely get the heritage tag!

    All over the world, steam engines are popular still. There are many channels on YouTube which feature some old steam engines restored and used to run short hauls as joy rides along old routes in the States. As you have said, this could be a money-spinner in India if imaginatively introduced. For instance, such short hauls could be combined with temple visits in Tanjore-Trichy area which would be heritage hauls in the real sense.

    The train and the postal service really connected people. Alas, the railways are becoming more mechanical and less human-friendly, and postal services are dwindling.
    N.S.Krishnan sang a song in some old Tamil movie about how a train journey was creating equality among people of different classes! Mahatma Gandhi said famously that he travelled by third class because there was no fourth class! And the youth Venkataraman was shown the way to Tiruvannamalai by a Moulvi on a train, on his way to becoming Ramana Maharshi!

  2. Very interesting information. Thanks.

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