The first of the four new oil-fired steam locomotives meant for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is expected to roll out from the Golden Rock Railway Workshop here before February.
Manufacture of the new steam loco is currently apace at the workshop with 80 per cent of the work already completed. The ‘X' class metre gauge locomotive has been provided with pinions to operate on the Rack & Pinion system that is in vogue in the hilly NMR section that has been declared as a World Heritage Railway system by the UNESCO.
With eight coupled and two pony wheels arrangement, the new loco has two high pressure and low pressure cylinders. Though no major changes have been made to loco design and other aspects, minor changes have been incorporated in the manufacture of the new engine, say workshop authorities.
Weighing nearly 50 tonnes, the engine has been provided with pilot and primary burners with separate tanks to hold about 850 litres of diesel and 2,250 litres of furnace oil. The exterior portion of the engine will be given a coat of polyurethane painting to give it an aesthetic look. The hauling capacity of the engine will be 97.6 tonnes and it can run at a speed of 30 km an hour on plains and 15km per hour on gradient.
The Railway Board had entrusted the over 80-year-old Golden Rock Railway Workshop, which is engaged in a slew of activities, including periodic overhaul of diesel locomotives, with the task of manufacturing four new oil-fired steam locos for the NMR at a total cost of Rs. 40 crore.
This is the first time that the workshop has embarked on the task of manufacturing oil-fired metre gauge steam locomotives, a senior workshop official said, adding that the first of the four locos is expected to roll out before February.
The new engines in a phased manner will replace the existing locos, that were manufactured in Switzerland, which are at present being operated between Mettupalayam and Coonoor covering a distance of 28 kilometres. From Coonoor to Udhagamandalam (18 km), the train is hauled by a diesel locomotive. The second new steam engine is expected to roll out from the workshop in June, the authorities add.