India Business
Chhuk-Chhuk trains to add 'steam' to India's tourism blitz
Feb 2, 2007 - 1:50:23 PM

New Delhi, Feb 2 - Adding a bit of 'steam' to India's tourism blitz, rather literally, the railways plan to deploy at least 15 locomotive engines of the era bygone to promote heritage tourism in and around the national capital.

'We will be collaborating with Delhi Tourism to deploy some 15 steam locomotive engines which will ferry tourists in and around Delhi under specially designed packages,' said V.N. Mathur, general Manager of Northern Railways.

'We intend to call it 'steam tourism' and the packages will fulfil the needs of tourists visiting Delhi who want to capture a slice of India's rich heritage in their memories by travelling in these iron-horse beauties,' Mathur told IANS.

The senior railway official said India has as some 58 locomotive engines - also called 'chhuk chhuk' trains - across the country that use the same invention of Thomas Alva Edison and will be used in a phased manner for tourism purposes.

Even though most of India's tracks have already been converted into broad gauge, there are still some left in places like the national capital and the northeast where these locomotives can run on narrow gauge and meter gauge, officials said.

In fact some engines like WP-7200 named Shenshah and WL-15005 named Sher-e-Punjab run on a broad gauge. These were retired in 1995, but 'Shenshah' has since been redeployed as heritage special in Delhi, ferrying tourists on weekends.

Another train 'Fairy Queen' that was built in 1855 holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's oldest locomotive in working condition and is running between Delhi and Alwar, close to the famous Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.

Fairy Queen had even hauled troops during the 1857 war of independence 150 years ago, which the government is commemorating this year with series of events, officials explained.

Another pride of Indian Railways is the XE-3634, also called 'Pawan Doot' built in 1930 and commissioned a year later to marked the second stage of evolution of the rail network in the country.

All these locomotives, and more, were also showcased at the grand parade steam engines in the capital Friday, which was inaugurated by Railways Minister Lalu Prasad.

A special photo exhibition was also put up at the Rail Museum here, showcasing the journey of the Northern Indian Railways, right from the Fairy Queen Steam Loco and WL-15005 of yesteryears to the Jan Shatabdi and the Rajdhani Express of today.

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