Are beautiful train rides something you take pleasure in? If that’s the case, you may have pondered the history of trains or entertained fantasies about traveling on the oldest train in existence. Since their invention, trains have greatly impacted daily travel, the world economy, and human advancement. From the first steam train to journey over the railroads to the futuristic bullet trains that carry thousands of passengers at incredible speeds, trains have aided in the progress of mankind.
Even with our modern, fast-paced lives and the pressure to get where we’re going quickly, there is still something dreamy and dramatic about train travel. Train rides are a treat for any travel vlogger or anyone who loves to travel, as they allow for whistle-stop exploration of uncharted places, the countryside, and various terrains like deserts, snow, and forest tracks. Which brings up the question: what is the oldest running train in the world? This article answers.
What is the Oldest Running Train in the World?
As the Guinness Book of Records documented, the Fairy Queen in India is the steam locomotive with the oldest running history worldwide. The Fairy Queen has aged enough to put antique trains like those operated by the Heber Valley Railroad in Provo Canyon to shame. Even though the “Fairy Queen” was first commissioned in 1855, you would never guess from looking at her that she is already 167 years old!
Fairy Queen’s Incredibly Ancient History
The Fairy Queen was created for the first time by Kitson, Hewitson, and Thompson in Leeds, England, in 1855. That same year, the train left after being built to travel to Calcutta. Upon arrival, the East Indian Railway Company marked it with the designation EIR-22. Her initial responsibilities at East Indian Railways were to haul light mail trains around Howrah and Raniganj in West Bengal. At a leisurely pace of 25 miles per hour, it took 5 hours to travel 121 miles.
Throughout the first Indian War of Independence in 1857, the old train was used to transport troops. She was given the 92 and 101 numbers in 1881 and 1884, respectively. And a year later, she was officially dubbed “Fairy Queen.”
As a construction locomotive on the Bihar (an Indian state) lines, The Fairy Queen finished her journey in 1909. After leaving service, she spent many years dormant before receiving a thorough overhaul. Eventually, the train was transferred to the Railway Zonal Training School at Chandausi, where the learners found her to be somewhat of a curiosity.
Fairy Queen was identified as a national treasure and granted heritage status in India in 1972. However, she could not claim the distinction of being the oldest operating locomotive until 1997 because another engine, the “Tweed,” created in 1873 by Dubs of Glasgow, Scotland, was still consistently chugging and wheezing at Uttar Pradesh.
On February 1, 1997, the locomotive was brought out of retirement and fully repaired in anticipation of its first mainline trip in 88 years and came back to commercial operation on July 18, 1997, between Delhi and Alwar in Rajasthan with a side trip at the Sariska tiger reserve. Finally, the Guinness Book of Records acknowledged Fairy Queen as the oldest steam locomotive still in continuous use in 1998.
What Are the Features of the Fairy Queen?
Having a 26-ton weight, Fairy Queen is a wide gauge locomotive, and it can move at a top speed of 25 mph thanks to its 130 horsepower powertrain. Despite its age, it boasts a 60-seater, air-conditioned carriage, and the seats, which come in pairs on either side of a wide aisle, have comfortable cloth upholstery. The front of the carriage features a sizable glass window that allows passengers to see the locomotive. It also features a picturesque observation lounge with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Additionally, food is served to the guests from a pantry car used for onboarding catering.
The train travels the Delhi-Rewari-Delhi route. The Rewari Railway Heritage Museum accommodates visitors waiting for their train back to Delhi. The museum is home to the world’s ten oldest restored steam locomotives, signaling devices, gramophones, seats, and antique railroad machinery. A 3D steam locomotive simulator, an educational yard model train system, a history documentary on Indian railroads, a cafeteria, a century-old dining car, and a gift shop are also on-site.
Although some said the locomotive needed restoration, nothing actually needed to be done because everything in it was still original and in perfect working condition, including the steam regulator and copper boiler furnace. A shockwave from the old whistle never fails to cause onlookers of all ages to stop, gawk, and wave enthusiastically as the locomotive chugs through the Indian countryside.
When Does Fairy Queen Operate?
Every year, the second and fourth Saturdays between October and March are when Fairy Queen operates. The train leaves Delhi Cantonment Railway Station at 10:30 AM and arrives at the museum in Rewari an hour after noon. It departs from Rewari at 4:15 PM and reaches Delhi at 6:15 PM the same day for the return trip. If you want to see the locomotive being fired, make sure to get to the station an hour before. You can also take a few pictures of the amazing train while waiting.
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- Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_Queen_(locomotive
- Aaron Spray, Available here: https://www.thetravel.com/fairy-queen-the-oldest-working-locomotive/
- B Sumangal, Available here: https://www.pitara.com/science-for-kids/5ws-and-h/which-is-the-worlds-oldest-working-locomotive/
- Neemrana Hotels, Available here: https://www.neemranahotels.com/blog/fairy-queen-the-oldest-working-steam-locomotive.html
- Arindam De, Available here: https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/fairy-queen-worlds-oldest-steam-locomotive-set-to-chug-again-on-indian-tracks-960108-2017-02-10