Indian Railways takes a nostalgic trip to steam-run trains
Marking the solemn occasion of 69th Republic Day, the Indian Railways took its distinctive evocative trip to yonder years of steam-run trains on the national soil. Bringing alive the magic of steam-hauled trains, Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways took a ride on the 'Fairy Queen' hauled a two coach train from New Delhi railway station to Delhi Jn. station amidst popular elation and enthusiasm with colourful fanfare as the Ganrajya Express chugged off from the platform.
Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, Railway Board, General Manager, Northern Railway, Vishwesh Chaube, Divisional Railway Manager, Northern Railway, RN Singh and Principal Heads of Department, Northern Railway were also present on the occasion along with a huge cheering crowd and railway personnel.
On the occasion, Ashwani Lohani also launched "Rail Yatri Guide" kiosk at New Delhi railway station. Delhi division has developed "Rail Yatri Guide" touch screen kiosk as a single point enquiry station for answering all the queries of passengers including guidance/navigation for accessing various facilities/amenities available at the station. The system comprises touch screen kiosks with a 40-inch screen display of 3D digitized railway station map which will help the passenger at the touch of a screen. "15 such kiosks will be provided at New Delhi station over the next two months and gradually, this system will be proliferated over major railway stations of Indian Railways," asserted Lohani.
The 69th Ganrajya Express celebrates the preservation of the rich heritage of Indian Railways giving a delightful glimpse of the past era. "Steam locomotives which spearheaded the transformation of the economy have their distinctive place in the annals of rail heritage. To preserve this sense of identity and continuity, the Indian Railways has created a dedicated heritage directorate," a railway official said in a statement.
To capture the rich heritage of Indian Railways with a special focus on Northern Railway, an exhibition is also being held in the Capital.
The exhibition is divided into five different sections – the cosmetic restoration of the 'Fairy Queen'; bridges, buildings and black beauties of the Northern Railway; a philatelic journey celebrating steam locomotive of India; the hill railways of Indian Railways with a special focus on Kalka – Shimla Railway, and the plinthed locomotives of Northern Railway and the Rewari steam centre.
Engine No. ER 22, popularly called as the 'Fairy Queen' was built in the year 1855 and is the oldest working steam locomotive in the world. After a remarkable inning of 54 years, the locomotive was rested at the National Rail Museum and was restored after a long hiatus in 1997 through a committed team. The first commercial run took place on July 18, 1997, and in January 1998, its status as the world's oldest working locomotive was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.
In January 1999, the 'Fairy Queen' was awarded the National Tourism award by then Prime Minister of India for the most innovative and unique tourism project. 'Fairy Queen' now hauls as a steam express between Delhi and Rewari. The frequency of the express has also been enhanced to twice a month from the current financial year.