Wednesday, December 2, 2015

R. RAJARAM

The Swiss-made oil-fired locomotive getting finishing touches at the Golden Rock Railway workshop in Tiruchi on Tuesday.— PHOTO: B. VELANKANNI RAJ


A 60-year-old Swiss-made locomotive has been given a fresh lease of life to chug yet again in the scenic Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) system.

Thanks to the technical expertise of the Golden Rock Railway Workshop here, the oil-fired loco has been completely refurbished for operation in Mettupalayam-Coonoor metre gauge hilly terrain.

Manufactured by Winterthur Swiss Locomotives and put into service in 1952, the “X”- class loco came for periodic overhaul sometime ago at the Golden Rock workshop which has manufactured and despatched new oil-fired locos for the NMR section.

Originally, the locomotive was coal-fired equipped with riveted type boilers, cast iron cylinders, and mild steel water tank.

During the second overhaul carried out in 2007, the loco’s firing system was converted into oil- firing.

Workshop authorities told The Hindu that this was the third overhaul of the loco at the Golden Rock workshop, which is engaged in a slew of activities including overhaul of diesel locomotives and passenger coaches.

As part of the revamp, the loco weighing nearly 50 tonnes has now been fitted with all–welded boiler for better hauling capacity and improved performance.

The mild steel water tanks had been replaced with a couple of non-corrosive stainless steel tanks with its total capacity being 4,000 litres, officials said.

The cabin has been fitted with speedometer — another new feature in the loco which had been given a fresh coat of polyurethane painting in its exteriors to give it an aesthetic look.

The loco had been provided with twin beam lighting in the front and the rear sides for better illumination and visibility for the loco pilots replacing the dome lights earlier.

A team of technical personnel had worked for nearly eight months to refurbish the loco without disturbing its heritage look, said officials and added that trial runs had been conducted inside the workshop.

The refurbished loco was expected to be despatched on Friday by road to Mettupalayam. The loco would be put on trial at Mettupalayam before it is operated on the 27-km stretch between Mettupalayam and Coonoor.

The loco could chug at a speed of 30 km an hour on plains and 13 km an hour in the gradient.

Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the 46-kilometre NMR is a unique metre gauge hill railway with rack and pinion system in place.

The rack and pinion system helps the loco to climb the extremely steep gradient in its journey from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam.

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