Historic steam locomotives to chug again on DHR tracks soon
The steam locomotives that used to be the sheen of the heritage status Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) are all set to back on track.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) on Friday signed a Memor-
andum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ranchi-based Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) Limited, a Government of India enterprise design, to manufacture and supply the 41 critical spares for making the steam locomotives operational on the tracks which was given a World heritage site status by the UNESCO in 1999.
If everything goes as planned, the steam locomotives will run on the narrow gauge of the DHR soon, said general manager of the NFR Chahatey Ram after taking part in the MoU signing ceremony at the NFR headquarters in Guwahati. “Both the NFR and the HEC has decided to join hands together to keep alive the pride and glory of the DHR,” he said.
The small steam locomotives known as B Class engines and referred to as Iron Sherpas are more than 100-years-old and it is the mainstay of the DHR. It is also the major tourist attraction.
“Keeping them operational and with the original features of the locos intact pose a big challenge for the DHR as most of original manufacturers no more produce such locos or spares. The mission of the NFR is to conserve the DHR heritage by keeping the steam traction alive for people to get a feel of the glorious past,” said the senior NFR official.
“The NFR is trying to locate general drawings for 11 items so that it can be developed. The signing of the MoU will ensure steady supply of spares for the steam locomotive fleets, which inturn will ensure optimum and efficient utilisation of the locomotives for sustainability of DHR and it will go a long way in turning DHR towards making it commercially viable,” he added.
It may be mentioned here that timely availability of the spares for steam locomotives has been one of the major problems for the DHR, which often resulted in suspension of operation and loss for it.
“The HECL had already collected a list of 41 critical spares to study from the Tindharia workshop of NFR. Out of the 41 critical spare parts, 13 items and manufacturing drawings for these were developed by the HECL,” he said adding that the HECL has requested NFR for supply of components as samples to HECL for generating drawings from reverse engineering.
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