Kochi: The world’s oldest running steam locomotive ‘EIR 21 Express’ will chug through the division catering to foreign and domestic tourists from Thursday.
Built in 1855, the introductory run of the locomotive with a 40-seat heritage coach will be held from Nagercoil Junction to Kanniyakumari. “Thereafter, a sequence of heritage steam runs will be held at different sections before the locomotive is deployed in the Edappally-Valla-rpadam route by this month-end. It will traverse through the country’s second-longest railway overbridge there for nearly four months before the locomotive is handed over to another division,” said a senior railway official.
A couple of trial runs using the steam engine, brought to the division from neighbouring Madurai and held in the last two days, have turned out to be successful, he said.
The name ‘EIR 21 Express’ was given to the loco by its creators Kitson, Thompson & Hewitson of England who built it in 1855. It was shipped to the country and was in operation for 55 years for the erstwhile East Indian Railway.
However, the loco service was discontinued in 1909 following which it was displayed at Jamalpur Workshops and Howrah station for over a century. In 2010, the locomotive was overhauled and retrofitted with modern gadgets at Perambur Loco Works, Chennai.
“The first trip is fully booked by a group of foreign tourists through IRCTC for which they have paid up Rs 1,500 for a single seat. We plan to deploy the steam locomotive for a longer duration in the nine-km Edapally-Vallarpadam section and the eight km Ernakulam-Cochin Harbour Terminus as a tourist train,” the official said.
The railways plan to co-ordinate with shipping agents so as to cater the service to foreign tourists arriving in luxury ships. “The tourists could enjoy the scenic beauty of Vembanad backwaters with the train chugging over the 4.62- km overbridge,” he said....