Eastern Railway runs century-old steam locomotive

August 16th, 2009 - 11:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 16 (IANS) The Eastern Railway (ER) Sunday ran a heritage train pulled by a century-old steam engine to commemorate the trip of the first passenger train from Howrah station 155 years back during the British rule.
The engine, called Shahenshah (WP-7,200), chugged out from Howrah at 11.55 a.m. billowing out smoke, as people crowded on both sides of the railway track to have a glimpse of the ‘old beauty’.

The guard, the driver and the firemen feeding the boiler hot with regular supply of coal were all dressed in the same type of clothes worn by their predecessors 150 years back.

The train completed the 40 km journey at 2.10 p.m. when it steamed into the Bandel junction, after halts at Rishra, Sreerampur and Hooghly stations on the way.

Nearly 150 children, a few of them physically challenged, boarded the 17-compartment train. The railway officials explained to the children the history and specification of the train that had heralded the start of the first passenger train service of ER 155 years ago.

“On Aug 15, 1854 the first train of ER was flagged off from Howrah station with 300 passengers. Of the 3,000 applications only 300 people were selected for the first ride on the train,” ER general manager Dipak Krishna said.

A set of commemorative postal stamps were unveiled to mark the occasion of the heritage run. Four postal stamps were unveiled by Minister of State for IT and Communications Gurdas Kamat.

The programme was also attended by Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed, Minister of State for Shipping Mukul Roy and senior ER officials.

The WP-7,200 class engine was build by Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia.

The steam locomotive, with a gauge of 5.6 feet and of 102.4 tonnes of weight, was one of the 16 prototypes that were handed over by the US to the Indian ambassador Aug 15, 1947.

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