Wednesday 29 January 2014

India's only steam loco shed

This is as near Delhi as it comes but lakhs of tourists and visitors tend to either give it a miss or they are totally unaware of this unique museum.
The museum is easily accessible by both road and rail and at one point of time it was an important junction when metre gauge railway lines dotted the length and breadth of the country.
Today, this junction stands mute testimony to the bygone era of the Railways. However, it has not entirely cut off the umbilical cord connecting to the past. It still has strands that tell us of its rich and nostalgic connection to the past and this is in the form of  India’s only Heritage Steam Locomotive Museum.
The museum is located in the only surviving steam loco shed in India and it showcases some of Indian Railway’s last surviving steam locomotives.
The loco shed and the heritage museum is in Rewari in Haryana which today is a bustling major junction for trains on the broad gauge.
The loco shed in Rewari, which is just 80 kms from Delhi, was constructed more than a century ago and it was located on the erstwhile Delhi-Peshawar line (Peshawar is now in Pakistan). For decades after it was commissioned in 1893, Rewari was the only loco shed in north India. At one point of time, it housed 85 steam engines and a staff of 500 to care for it. Today it has a dozen engines and a staff of 25.
After Independence, the loco shed played an important part and it was after steam engines were phased out by 1990, that the decline began. It was only in December 2002 that the Railways under Nitesh Kumar, now Chief Minister of Bihar and then the Railway Minister, decided to revive Rewari loco shed as a heritage museum.
Since then, the museum has been showcasing many of India’s  magnificent steam giants. What is more, the museum when it opened on October 9, 2010, also lets us take a peek into Railway equipments and devices, including the old signalling system, gramophone and even seats.
There is even a huge 30-tonne steam crane that the Railways used during earlier years. Another exhibit is a special carriage with a renovated restaurant car which was meant for Edward, Prince of Wales. This was built when the Prince visited India in 1921.
What makes the loco shed more unique is that the engines are also available for live demonstrations. An engine takes visitors around the shed for a once in lifetime experience.
The Rewari Steam Loco Shed is situated on the Delhi-Jaipur railway line and it once had the distinction of being called the largest metre gauge shed in India.
Rewari was first connected by Railway in 1873 when the first metre gauge track in India was opened between Delhi and this place. The first metre gauge line at Rewari was converted to broad gauge in 1995 an since then all the six major railway lines are broad gauge.  
Thankfully, the new developments have not erased the old from Rewari and the loco shed is looked after by many employees who are all veterans in the steam engine upkeep. Many of these engines can be easily identified as they have appeared in many Bollywood films such as Amir Khan’s Rang De Basanti, Gadar: Ek Prem Kahani starring Sunny Doel and Amisha Patel, Guru starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai and Gandhi-My father and Veer Zaara starring Salman Khan.
The Railway engines have names such as Virat, Angadh, Rewari King, Akbar, Sindh, Sahib, Sultan, Azad and Sher-e-Punjab. Akbar, a WP model steam engine, ran on the Delhi-Kolkata main line. Virat is an imported American engine. It is a AWE 22907 of 1943 vintage, built at the Baldwin Locomotive Co. Philadelphia, This is one of the biggest engines not only in Rewari but in India.
The Sher-E-Punjab saw a lot of service in south India. This WL 15005 was originally manufactured by Vulcan Foundry UK in 1955. It was based at the Shoranur shed and then at Bhatinda, Ludhiana and finally at Firozpur shed.
The Rewari King is the only surviving and working class YP locomotive still in working condition. Though 870 of them were built between 1952 and 1972, this is the only one in operation.  Sindh, Sahib and Sultan are 3 YG class locos.
However, the oldest among them is Angadh, a broad gauge loco vintage IRS class XE 3634, manufactured in 1930. It came to Rewari from the National Rail Museum in Delhi, where it was donated by the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board. The MP electricity Board operated the engine at its thermal plant at Kobra for several decades.
Angadh like other broad gauge engines consumes 25,000 liters water and 18 tonnes of coal. Compare this to a metre gauge engine which consumes 12,000 liters water and 12 tonnes of coal. Impressive as these figures may be, the efficiency of a steam locomotive is just 38 per cent as against 65 per cent in a diesel and 98 per cent in electric locomotives.
Among the workmen engaged to keep the steam giants operating are painters, fitters, turners, boiler makers, machinists, loco cleaners, boiler-maker khalasis and fitter khalasis. All of them work in tandem to get the steam engines fit and going.
The workmen clean the engine parts, refill the huge boilers with water and empty coal from fireboxes. Every Saturday at midnight, the ritual of  firing up the engine takes place. It takes hours to get the engine up and running. If it is a broad gauge engine, it can take upto eight hours to get the engine to start.
If the engine is Angadh or any of the other four broadgauge engines, 2 tonnes of coal and 20 kilograms of wood are filled into the firebox. Then, jute grass soaked in kerosene oil is put into the firebox along with a lit matchstick. This is on Saturday.
On Sunday (next day), the engine driver of the locomotive lifts the regulator handle and the engine then is ready for its journey. The shed is open from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m.
The loco shed also houses a cafeteria, library and museum.
No entry fee is charged to see these steam engines.
There is a rail package tour from Delhi to Rewari and more details can be had from the Railways.  


  1. Very informational blog post. Rewari, the ndustrial city, armed with the rugged Aravalli ranges, has carved a niche for itself in the business and industrial market of India. Click here to find out about famous hotels in Rewari.

  2. Wow..thanks for sharing such amazing information. When it comes to tourist places in Rewari, one can visit the Steam locomotive shed and Rail museum. Click here to know about hotels in Rewari.