Ever wondered how old the oldest operational train is? The answer is really old. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest steam locomotive anywhere in the world is the Fairy Queen in India. The Fairy Queen is old enough to put vintage trains like those of Heber Valley Railroad runs between Heber City and Vivian Park in Provo Cayon in Utah to shame.
Anyone who travels in India today will see how trains are central to India's transportation network and are used by countless millions every year. It is not hard to see why the Fairy Queen is a particular national treasure for India. India is a country with a very intimate history with trains. Arguably the greatest locomotive treasure for Canadia is the historic and stunning Rocky Mountaineer.
The Old Old History of The Fairy Queen
The Fairy Queen was built in 1855 and is today housed at the Rewari Railway Heritage Museum. It occasionally runs between New Delhi and Alwar in India. It is hard to understand just how old that is in the age of rail. 1855 is only just two years after the railways started operation in India.
- Age: Over 160 years Old
She is so old that she even saw service in the Indian Mutiny (or Rebellion) of 1857 when the British very nearly lost control of India. In that war, she was used as a troop transport.
In 1972 she was given heritage status in India and was declared a national treasure.
The industrial revolution began in the United Kingdom, so at this time, it was Britain that was the industrial powerhouse of the world. The Fairy Queen was manufactured in northern England by Kitson, Thompson and Hewitson in the city of Leeds. She was shipped out to be one of India's first locomotives in the same year. She was imported to Kolkata (then Calcutta), India.
- Built: In Leeds In England
Her first tasks were to haul light mail trains in West Bengal but soon found other responsibilities in British India. She was retired from service in 1909 and was inactive for many years until she had a complete overhaul. She spend her inactive time firstly on a pedestal outside Howrah station before being moved to the Railway Zonal Training School at Chandausi where she was something of a curiosity for the students.
- Retired: In 1909
- Designated: Designated a National Treasure In 1972
Later the Fairy Queen was restored by Loco Works Perambur, Chennai in 1996 and resumed commercial operations in 1997. Her first mission was to complete a 2 day / one-night tourist circuit from Delhi to Alwar stopping for an overnight stay in Sariska Tiger Reserve
The Specifics Of The Fairy Queen
She had a broad (5'6") gauge locomotive, weighs only 26 tons, has a power output of 130 horsepower, and can reach speeds of up to 40km/hr or 25 mph - much faster than the horse, oxen, or by foot alternatives of the day.
- Route: She Runs a Tourist Route Between Delhi and Alwar
- Certified: As The Oldest Working Locomotive By the Guinness Book of World Records
- Name: Officially Known (Boringly) As East Indian Railway Nr. 22 or East Indian Railways' EIR-22
- Weight: 26 Tons
- Horsepower: Her Power Output Is Only 130 Horsepower
- Max Speed: She Can Reach a Speed of Up to 40km/hr or 25 mph
She is not alone as there are other similar locomotives preserved that were also built by the British manufacturers during this time. These include the Express which is a contender for the oldest operating steam locomotive in the world (also in India.) But for simplicity's sake, we are only going with what the Guinness Book of Records says on this one.
- Express: The Sister Locomotive That May Actually be Older
Rewari Railway Heritage Museum
"This place is a goldmine for railway historians. I will try to cover different aspects of the museum. Engines - many engines are in working condition but are not fired with any regularity. However, in season from October to March there is a very likelihood one or more will be fired every fortnight or so. Please call and check."
Her home is the Rewari Railway Heritage Museum in Haryana in India (it was formerly called the Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed). The facility itself is history and was built around 1893 and is the only surviving steam locomotive shed in India.
Location: Around 2 Hours From New Dehli By Road
Today it houses some of India's last surviving steam locomotives - it is just across from the entrance to the Rewari railway station and 50 miles from India's National Rail Museum in New Delhi.
- Days Open: 7 days a week
- Opening Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Entrance: free
- Time Needed: 2 to 3 hours
- Photography: Permitted at no charge.