Jan 27, 2009

India - ‘Shahanshah’ on heritage run

Aloysius Xavier Lopez

CHENNAI: A collective effort for 45 days to rehabilitate ‘Shahanshah,’ the 62-year-old locomotive by a team of railway employees of Perambur Loco Works culminated in a ‘Heritage Steam Run’ from Royapuram to Tambaram on Monday.

“Steam was our past. This is a way of showing people the railway heritage,” said Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Chopra, who travelled by the train.

Mr. Chopra flagged off the train at Royapuram, the oldest station in the Southern Railway limits. “The railways has taken special care to restore and preserve our historic landmarks without altering their essence and architecture,” he told reporters at the station.

As hundreds of children accompanied him in the journey, thousands of people in various parts of the city along its path watched the heavy, humongous and smelly train rock the rails as it moved.

“CME Southern Railway V.Carmelus and Chief Workshop Manager N.K. Toppo were our guiding force,” said R. Paranthaman, a member of the team involved in the restoration. The 102-tonne locomotive, built in 1947, was one of the largest streamlined trains ever built in the world. Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia, built it and handed it over to India on August 15, 1947.

Capable of running at 110 kmph, it was the mainstay of broad gauge passenger train operations decades ago.

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