After spending five years in the maintenance shed the world record breaking Fairy Queen is back on the tracks and picking up passengers in Delhi. If you want a ticket move quick: there’s only a few available.
On Saturday 11th February 2017 the Fairy Queen steamed out of Delhi Cantt Railway Station on a round trip to Rewari for the first time in years.
The world’s oldest operating steam locomotive had been stuck in the maintenance shed for the past five years after being looted and vandalised in late 2011.
Built in Leeds, England in 1855, the Fairy Queen is the world’s oldest operating steam engine. She was first put in service by the East Indian Company hauling passenger and goods between Howrah and Raniganj in West Bengal.
At that time she was simply named Loco 22, it was in 1895 that she became known as the Fairy Queen. Fourteen years after being re-christened, she was pulled from service and retired from the tracks.
But thanks to the super stars at Indian Railways she came back into life as a tourist train in 1997, before vandals struck, taking valuable, irreplaceable parts and leaving us without this iconic engine.
Thankfully the story doesn’t end here. Indian Railways don’t take things like this lying down. Three cheers to the engineers in Chennai who managed to recast looted parts considered irreplaceable and brought the Fairy Queen back to the tracks of capital.
If you want to ride this iconic steam engine move quick. There’s only two more trips taking place this year, on the 11 March and 8th April 2017. Round trips to Rewari and one way tickets are available.
They are not cheap (67,000 INR for a round trip), but for those that hark back to the days of steam,
For more information and to book a seat online, click here for IRCTC website and log in, or go to the IRCTC Tourist Train site directly (non registered users can log in using guest pass). Alternatively, rush down to any railway station reservation office and reserve a seat.
Wondering whether to book a ticket: Here’s ten facts about this fascinating engine.
1) Built in 1855 by Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson in Leeds, England, Loco 22 as she was known entered service in West Bengal travelling between Howrah and Ranigarj.
2) In 1909 she was withdrawn from service and put on display at Howrah, nr Calcutta until 1943.
3) With a 130 horsepower the Fairy Queen can hit a top speed of 60km an hour. On her return to the tracks this February, she touched a look more leisurely 40km.
4) In 1972 the Indian Government announced that the Fairy Queen was to be given Heritage status
5) In 1977 she was brought to Delhi to be part of the National Rail Museum, a museum that celebrated its 40th birthday on the 1st February 2017. It was her that she was restored to her former glory
6) In 1988 the Guinness Book of Records confirmed that the Fairy Queen would enter the record books as was the world’s oldest steam locomotive in regular operation
7) Restored to working condition and ready to meet the public, the Fairy Queen, came back to commercial life in 1997 – 88 years after she had retired. She steamed her way between Delhi and Alwar twice a month during the winter and spring tourist season taking 60 tourists a time on a trip of a lifetime.
8) In late December 2011 tragedy struck. Over 30 valuable parts were found to have been stolen from the iconic engine and was no longer able to move. The wonderful people at Indian Railways refused to give up hope and the talented team down at Chennai recast the parts and helped to put the Fairy Queen back together again
9) The Fairy Queen train is back and two more trips are taking place on the 11 March and 8th April. With only 60 places available you’ll need to move quick to secure a seat.
10) At Rewari there’s workshop and museum dedicated to steam engines where you can learn more about the Fairy Queen and other steam locomotives that used to run on the tracks.
What are you waiting for? Surely it is time to book a seat?
Photo credit: Thanks to Ramesh Lalwani