Fairy Queen: The Oldest Working Steam Locomotive

The Fairy Queen is one of the world’s oldest working steam locomotives, built in the year 1855. In the same year, the train saw its first journey for the former East Indian Railway. In 1998 the Fairy Queen Train was listed in Guinness World Records for being the oldest locomotive in regular service. Till 1908, it used to run on the Howrah-Raniganj line and later in Bihar. After a period of halt, in July 1997, its operation was restarted by the Indian Railway as a heritage train running from Delhi to Alwar and back.

History Behind the Train

The Fairy Queen saw its inception in 1855 when it was first developed by Kitson, Hewitson, and Thompson in Leeds, England. After its construction, the train set on a journey to reach Calcutta. It was labelled as EIR-22 by the East Indian Railway Company on arrival. Initially, the Fairy Queen locomotive was used to haul light mail trains in West Bengal that operated between Howrah-Raniganj. Later it was consigned to line construction duties in Bihar, where it stayed till 1909. It was displayed outside Howrah Station for 34 years. In the year 1943, the locomotive was moved to the Railway Zonal Training School at Chandausi in Uttar Pradesh.

In 1972, Fairy Queen was bestowed with a heritage status and declared a natural treasure by the Indian Government. Later in 1997, this locomotive was launched as the Fairy Queen train, which undertook two-day excursions from Delhi to Alwar, and from there, the tourists were taken to the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary. In 2011, this train was extensively destroyed and looted at a railway shed in Delhi. The locomotive was replaced with a WP 7161 steam engine known as Akbar, which kept the train functioning. This train is housed at Rewari Railway Heritage Museum and is used for special day trips by the Steam Express.

The Fairy Queen train
Royal train to Alwar

The Unique Features of the Train

Fairy Queen is a broad gauge locomotive that weighs 26 tons. It has a power output of 130 horsepower that enables it to reach a maximum speed of 40 km/h. It has a 60-seater air-conditioned carriage. The seats are made up of cloth upholstery that is quite comfortable and are located in pairs on either side of a wide aisle. The carriage is designed with a large glass window at the front that exposes travellers to the views of the locomotive. It also offers a scenic observation lounge that overlooks mesmerising views of the countryside. There is a pantry car for on-boarding catering that serves food to the guests.

The train operates on the Delhi-Rewari-Delhi route. Before boarding the train back to Delhi, the passengers get to spend a few hours at Rewari Railway Heritage Museum. The museum houses the world's 10 oldest restored steam locomotives, signalling systems, gramophones, seats, and vintage railway equipment. Other attractions here include a 3D steam loco simulator, a documentary about the history of railways in India, a 3D virtual reality coach simulator, an educational yard model train system, a toy train, a cafeteria, a century old-dining car, and a souvenir shop.

Departures and Accommodations

Every year, Fairy Queen operates on the second and fourth Saturdays between the months of October and March. The train departs at 10:30 a.m. from Delhi Cantonment Railway Station and reaches the museum in Rewari at 1 p.m. On return, it leaves Rewari at 4:15 p.m and arrives in Delhi at 6:15 p.m. the same day. Make sure you arrive at the station before an hour to see the locomotive being fired. You can also snap a picture or two with and of the marvellous train.

Rani Mahal
Rani Mahal Facade

The journey on the royal train to Alwar is a day journey, and there is no overnight stay on the train. For a restful night, guests are advised to book a comfortable room at one of the many hotels in Alwar. Passengers can stay overnight at Tijara Fort Palace, a heritage property where they can have a peaceful weekend getaway from Delhi. The hotel offers regal accommodations and lavish restaurants for guests to enjoy a splendid sojourn!