Gathering steam


The Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed, the only surviving steam loco shed in the country, is being revamped in time for the Commonwealth Games, when it hopes to transport visitors to the Victorian era

Amarnath's face lights up as he shoves burning coal into the furnace with practiced hands and tells his friend to take charge of the steering wheel. The majestic red engine blows a shrill horn, billows steam and paces a few metres forward.

At the Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed, the only surviving steam loco shed in the country, the 27-member staff is hoping for a revival. After a decade of inactivity at the shed, Radhe Shyam, who has been working here since 1975, and his colleagues, are excited about the renovation project, which may even entail special runs on the Delhi Ring Railway route.

Prefabricated platforms had quickly been erected and a rare steam locomotive swiftly swung into action when actor Anil Kapoor and his team came to shoot sequences for Gandhi, My Father four years ago. Over the last decade, the shed has seen infrequent moments of glory. Steam locos from the shed were hired for Gadar, Veer, Sholay and Love Aaj Kal, and now and then a foreign tourist comes by to see some of the world's last surviving steam locomotives.

Rewari is an hour from Delhi by train, and to reach the shed, one has to walk a few kilometres with no signboards to provide directions. Workers at the shed admit that the lack of road connectivity might be a deterrent for visitors.

Though the Railways had first designated it as a heritage shed in 2002 and year after year announced promising plans to revive and restore it, work at the site never got past cleaning up a dusty loco or repairing a decaying one.

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