The ‘Fairy Queen’,
the oldest surviving functional steam engine in the world is once again
operational to haul a heritage train from National Capital Delhi to Rewari, Haryana after a gap of 5 years. This
train, which is a great attraction among steam engine lovers across the globe,
runs between Delhi Cantt. Station and Rewari for a single day trip.
The locomotive was constructed by Kitson, Thompson and
Hewitson at Leeds, in England, in 1855, and reached Kolkata, then known as
Calcutta, in the same year. On arrival, it was given fleet number
"22" by its owner, the East Indian Railway Company, not receiving a
name until 1895. Initially, the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) gauge locomotive was used
to haul light mail trains in West Bengal, operating between Howrah and
Raniganj, and during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 hauled troop trains. It was
later consigned to line construction duty in Bihar, where it served until 1909.
It was restored and given a special spot in the newly built National Rail Museum at Chanakyapuri, in New Delhi which was
opened to public 40 years back on 1st February, 1977. The locomotive was
restored to full working order in 1997, in preparation for its first mainline
journey in 88 years and its return to commercial service on 18 July. It was
certified by the Guinness Book of Records in 1998 as the world's oldest steam
locomotive in regular operation. The following year, the train received a
National Tourism Award for the most innovative and unique tourism project from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then Prime
Minister of India.