These are excerpts from National Geographic’s “The Great Indian Railway”(1995), probably the best documentary ever on the Indian Railways. As a young boy, I used to travel to Grandma’s place by the Howrah Mail from Madras. In 1989, on one such trip, My dad pointed out to a gigantic engine puffing smoke in the shed at Madras central as our train was leaving and said: “Manu, look, that’s a steam engine”. I forgot about steam engines later. In 1999(10 years later), I watched the National Geographic’s special screening of this documentary on TV. I remembered my encounter with the puffing beasts in 1989. I couldn’t stop crying by the end of this documentary. Starting in the early 80’s the Steam engines of the Indian Railways have been slowly phased out of all the main lines in favor of Electric and Diesel locomotives due to economic pressures. By the turn of the 90’s, it had become a rare sight to see a Steam-driven train. You can buy the DVD or VHS of this 115 minute documentary on nationalgeographic.com. It costs $15 including US local postage.

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22 thoughts on “India: Running out of Steam (part 5 – Final) – Death of the main line steam & the lone survivor

  1. My grandfather was also the loco pilot of steam engine , Till my grandfather left us , he always talk about that black booty and How proud he feel when he use to ride it it , Though I had never Witness any of those steam Engine on track since my birth in late 90s . But I can imagine how people literally love this engine and had some deep attachment with it .

  2. My grandfather, and my dad both worked on the IC — Illinois Central USA Railroad. It was Steam Loco. Dad used to say as a boy he loved hanging out the window and letting the smoke a cinder blow at him. At 12 yrs of age he started to work at 25¢ a day. Alot of money back then. I can understand the attachment to the earlier years. I could see it in my Dads face. Isaiah 11:9

  3. Nothing is permanent in this life but some of these beauties can be restored and kept alive to show our children the glorious steam engines Indian railways had

  4. Honestly speaking, steam engines still have a HUGE fan following even in the present times! One guy, who is also a steam fan like myself said: "There is A LOT to look at when it comes to steam locomotives. And as far as diesel and electric are concerned, there is basically nothing much that appeals to you." Another friend of mine said: "I also like steam, it has the best pulling power, it has the best design, I will always love steam!" The steam engine still has the look of true power even when it is not moving! Oh, by the way, the United States of America has recently restored one of their steam engines to operating condition. This steam engine is called the ''Big Boy'' and the number of that steam engine is 4014. This engine was used to pull heavy goods up steep gradients. Now, if another country can do this, then why not our India? I do really hope…….I really really pray that India also should restore her steam beauties to operating condition. As an Indian, I strongly believe we as a nation are NOT LESS than any other people or country. Come on Mother India, you can do it. I believe you can!

  5. I Love steam engine.. my grandpa work in SR.. am also travel in steam engine 2 times.. it's a beautiful journey no words of happy momeries…. Such a beautiful thing

  6. I wonder why none of Indian film makers could make such touching story..script, story telling, auditions…perfect to tear Ur heart apart😪😪

  7. WHEN I SERVED MY TIME AS A RAILROAD MACHINIST APPRENTICESHIP I WAS PRIVELIGED TO WORK WITH MACHINISTS THAT WORKED IN THE STEAM ERA!
    THEY ALSO TAUGHT ME WHAT WAS DONE ON THE STEAM POWER AS WELL AS DIESELS!!
    BROTHER RAILROADERS IN INDIA,
    TAKE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF STEAM AND PASS ALONG TO THE YOUNGER INTERESTED MECHANICS AND DRIVERS!
    YOU WILL BY DOING SO, BE DOING AN HONORABLE DUTY!!
    KEEP THEM ROLLING BROTHERS!
    👍👍

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