EIR 21 has been meticulously maintained by adoring engineers at the Loco Works in Perambur

At the age of 156, the world's oldest steam locomotive showed heritage buffs in Chennai why she is no mere showpiece.

The EIR 21 coal-and-steam-powered loco hit the rails once more to turn the clock back to a bygone era during a heritage run organised by Southern Railway to mark Independence Day. The loco was flagged off from Chennai Egmore at 11 a.m. amid fanfare. And, en route to the Guindy station, the grand old loco made several heads turn.

Meticulously maintained by adoring engineers at the Loco Works in Perambur, EIR 21 showed her ability to clock a maximum speed of 30 kph.

Designed and built by Kitson Thompson and Hewitson Leeds in the United Kingdom, the loco was shipped to India in 1855. She served the erstwhile East Indian Railway till 1909 and was later consigned as an exhibit in Jamalpur and Howrah for over 100 years.

The loco is regarded to be older than the Fairy Queen (EIR 22) and the two locos share the legacy of transporting troops from Howrah to Raneegunge to quell the uprising during the 1857 mutiny.

The 130-HP EIR 21 has been given a makeover at Perambur to boast of modern technological touches such as a GPS-based speedometer and a wireless video monitoring system.