Fairy Queen – World’s Oldest Steam Locomotive – set to Chug again on Indian tracks

‘Fairy Queen’ will depart from Delhi on Saturday for an under three-hour journey to Rewari, Haryana. It was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest steam locomotive still in operation.

NEW DELHI: The world’s oldest working steam loco ‘Fairy Queen’ is all set to chug again after a gap of nearly five years. The locomotive will haul a heritage train starting on Saturday.

The ‘Fairy Queen’ will haul the train from New Delhi to Rewari in Haryana, departing from the Delhi Cantt. Station at 10.30 am. After reaching Rewari at 1 pm, the train will return to Delhi, departing from Haryana at 4.15 pm and reaching Delhi Cantt. at 6.15 pm.

The ‘Fairy Queen’, the oldest surviving functional steam engine in the world is once again ready in this season to haul a heritage train from National Capital Delhi to Rewari, Haryana after a gap of 5 years. This train, which is a great attraction among steam engine lovers across the globe, will run between Delhi Cantt. Station and Rewari from tomorrow i.e. 11th February 2017 for a single day trip.

The locomotive was constructed by Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson at Leeds, in England, in 1855, and reached Kolkata, then known as Calcutta, in the same year. On arrival, it was given fleet number “22” by its owner, the East Indian Railway Company, not receiving a name until 1895. Initially, the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) gauge locomotive was used to haul light mail trains in West Bengal, operating between Howrah and Raniganj, and during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 hauled troop trains. It was later consigned to line construction duty in Bihar, where it served until 1909.

It was restored and given a special spot in the newly built National Rail Museum at Chanakyapuri, in New Delhi which was opened to public 40 years back on 1st February, 1977. The locomotive was restored to full working order in 1997, in preparation for its first mainline journey in 88 years and its return to commercial service on 18 July. It was certified by the Guinness Book of Records in 1998 as the world’s oldest steam locomotive in regular operation. The following year, the train received a National Tourism Award for the most innovative and unique tourism project from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India.

ALL ABOUT THE FAIRY QUEEN

  1. She was was constructed in 1855 by Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson at Leeds, England.
  2. After a long sea journey she reached Calcutta, late 1855.
  3. On arrival, she was given a fleet number – “EIR -22” by its then owner, the East Indian Railway Company.
  4. The loco operated without a name till 1895.
  5. To start with “EIR – 22” broad gauge (5 ft 6 in) locomotive was used to haul mail trains in what was then Bengal. She commuted between Howrah and Raniganj.
  6. During the 1857 struggle for independence “EIR – 22” was converted into a troop trains.
  7. It was christened ‘Fairy Queen’ in 1895.
  8. She was then consigned to line construction duty in Bihar till 1908, when she retired from active duty.
  9. She was exhibited outside the Howrah station for about four decades before being moved to Chandausi near Moradabad and then being shifted to the National Rail Museum in Delhi in 1971-72.
  10. She was completely restored and given a special spot in the newly built National Rail Museum at Chanakyapuri, in New Delhi which was opened to public 40 years back on 1st February, 1977.
  11. The locomotive was brought out of retirement on February 1, 1997 and was restored to full working order in preparation for its first mainline journey in 88 years and its return to commercial service on 18 July of the same year – between Delhi and Alwar in Rajasthan, with a stopover at the Sariska tiger reserve.
  12. Fairy Queen was certified by the Guinness Book of Records in 1998 as the world’s oldest steam locomotive in regular operation.
  13. In 1999 she received a National Tourism Award for the most innovative and unique tourism project from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister of India.
  14. In late July 2004 some almost irreplaceable parts of the ‘Fairy Queen’ was stolen. Although police recovered some of the stolen parts it had to go through a restoration.
  15. In April 2011 thieves again made off with crucial parts that were irreplaceable. The Perambur loco workshop in Chennai stepped in and custom made the missing parts, some 32 pieces in all to ensure that the Fairy would run once again. The retrofitting was completed in 2013.
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