National Steam Congress XV

XVth. National Congress on Dec. 2nd. 2017. 

We had an excellent Congress this year and I would like to thank all members of the ISRS, Director NRM, Railway Board and particularly Northern Railway for the cooperation and support given.

The attendance was very good and we had quite a few members attending who we were seeing after a long time.

The Invitation card, a colourful one prepared by Ajay Singh, was probably the best we have had with a painting of a Rewari WP steaming over a culvert; painted by the late V.K.Bhargava, an IR Mechanical Officer.

For the first time we had the Congress in the afternoon instead of the usual morning and it turned out to be a very good change.

Iqbal Ahmed, a model engineer, had come all the way from Nagpur and had an exhibition of his miniature working steam locomotives. These included a 1 /16th.  Scale Fairy Queen steaming away on a circular track laid by him with Iqbal and his granddaughter driving and firing with a cue little shovel, followed by carriages to carry 3 passengers.  Another more powerful working miniature steamer, the Indian Glory, was also there, though not steaming.

But the showpiece was a miniature steam engine fuelled by alcohol which can fit on his fingernail; a Guinness Book of Records holder.

Another outstanding exhibit was by Raghunandan from Bangalore. He exhibited his steam locomotive built from Cardboard. The detailing and craftsmanship was amazing. He also exhibited components of the locomotive, like the underframe, with which the finished locomotive was built.

After a Group Photograph in front of the real Fairy Queen, in full steam and tooting away with Amar Singh on the Driver’s (Now called the Pilot) seat, we moved on to the Auditorium for the formal session.

As usual, we had Vikas Arya as the MC. Ashwani Lohani, Working President who is also the current Chairman of Railway Board gave the welcome address, tracing back the history of ISRS from the day at Hotel Kanishka in 1999 when a group of Steam Locomotive enthusiasts met to discuss how to avoid steam locomotives going into oblivion from India and formed the Friends of National Rail Museum, which was later named Indian Steam Railway Society. He lauded recent efforts of Rewari Steam Shed and mentioned that very soon we will be adding WP 7000 and WP 7015 to the fleet in full working order and steaming away. After that in a short speech, I welcomed the delegates and gave a brief introduction to the speakers of the day. I also mentioned that ISRS has now started sending members abroad to participate in International events. It started with Vikas Arya participating in DHRS AGM in UK, then J L Singh and Ishwar attending the APTHRO in Bangkok. This year Rajinder Jain went to the DHRS AGM in UK and gave a much appreciated presentation on Heritage of Indian Railways.

Apart from the usual release of the ISRS Calendar and the Magazine, this time we also released an excellent compilation in Book form of selected articles from the past issues of the ISRS magazine, a wonderful effort by J L Singh and Mani Shaunik; a collector’s item.

Amongst the Awardees this year we also honoured Amit Jain, DyCME (SSB), under whose charge the Rewari Heritage Shed falls. The shed is in very good shape as was seen the following day after the Steam Run.

The Keynote address was delivered by Mr. Richard Peck of the A1Steam Locomotive Trust, UK, who recounted how in 1990 a group of Steam Locomotive enthusiasts got together and decided to build a brand new Steam Locomotive; it was in 1960s that Steam Locomotive building had been stopped in the UK. The work was taken up at the Darlington Locomotive Works and finally in 2008, the brand new A1 Peppercorn Tornado made her first steam run on the main line. The locomotive is cleared for hauling Passenger trains on Network Rail and is fit to run at 100 mph.

Ravindra Gupta, our Chief Patron and the current Member Rolling Stock, addressed the gathering thereafter. He lauded the efforts of Steam Locomotive enthusiasts like Richard Peck and Tarun Thakral who were instrumental in building of a brand new Steam locomotive, the Tornado, and reviving 2 scrap steam locomotives respectively. He also praised the model making skill of Iqbal Ahmed in building working models of Fairy Queen and Indian Glory. While UK has more than 1000 working steam locomotives, we have hardly 25. He said that his support will always be there in ISRS’s efforts to put more steamers on line.

The Technical session started after a short beak

Raghunandan gave a presentation on how he makes Staem Locomotives and other models from Cardboard. The ingenuity, detailing and workmanship was amazing.

Tarun Thakral, the owner of the Heritage Transport Museum at Gurugram,  is well known to the  ISRS, this being his 3rd. presentation in our Congress.  We visited his museum after our last Congress in Nov. 2016 after the Steam run to Rewari. He had then only acquired 2 condemned steam locomotives from Dehri on Sone, a 1953 Jung and a 1921 Kerr Stuart which were lying in the Srap Yard for 20 years. With the help of a team of retired Railway engineers from Chennai, both the locos are steaming and running on the short track at the Museum. He recounted how they had achieved this with limited facilities at the Museum.

This year we had decided to include presentations on other forms of traction on Railways. M. Jean-Luc Verset of Alstom was next and gave us a glimpse of today’s Electric Locomotives, including the one being built for IR at Madhepura in Bihar.

The last presentation was an excellent one by ICF. Train Sets are now the main form of fast passenger train operations all over the world. Unfortunately Indian Railways has still to adopt this, but after seeing what ICF is doing, this is not far. The presentation brought out what is in the pipeline and with this sleek state of art trains, IR will graduate to a new era.

In the end, Shanker gave a Vote of Thanks to the many who contributed to the success of the Congress.

The Congress included a run behind the Fairy Queen from Delhi to Rewari behind the Fairy Queen followed by a visit to the Rewari Steam Shed.

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