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World’s oldest working steam engine on heritage run, draws huge crowds

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Railway lovers looked on with  happiness and broke into thunderous applause, as the world’s oldest working steam loco, 162 year old Express EIR 21, arrived at Kodambakkam on September 10. The world’s oldest working steam engine, pulling a single coach, successfully completed a “heritage run” between two railway stations, drawing huge crowds along the route. The Heritage Special Locomotive EIR-21 was run from the Egmore to Kodambakkam railway stations, covering two stations in between.

The name ‘EIR 21 Express’ was given to the loco by its creators Kitson, Thompson & Hewitson of England, who built it in 1855. The EIR 21 is also known for effortlessly adapting to modern day gizmos such as GPS based speedometer. It has now has been externalized like its twin sister loco, Fairy Queen EIR 22, which also won the Guinness Book of World Records Title, ‘The World’s Oldest Working Steam Loco.’

The loco service was discontinued in 1909. After withdrawal from service in 1909, this loco was exhibited at Jamalpur Workshops and Howrah Station for over 101 years. Later Loco Workshop, Perambur, took the challenge of reviving the ‘Express EIR 21’ in 2010. Several parts of the locomotive got rusted or went missing while some were found broken. After its revival, the engine went on its first heritage run in 2010.

After the revival of the loco, the first heritage run of EIR 21 was conducted on August 15, 2010 from Chennai Central to Avadi with two coaches as a part of Independence Day celebrations. The second heritage run of the EIR 21 was conducted on August 15, 2011 from Chennai Egmore to Guindy, covering a distance of 11km in 35 minutes. The third heritage run was conducted on January 26, 2012 from Chennai Egmore to Guindy as part of the 63rd Republic Day celebrations. It hauled one coach having 60 seats. It covered 11 kms in a maximum speed of 45 kmph. The fourth heritage run in commemoration of its 157th anniversary was conducted on February 6, 2012 from Chennai Central to Perambur with one coach having 60 seats covering 5km. The fifth heritage run was conducted on January 26, 2013 as part of the 64th Republic Day celebrations, from Chennai Egmore to Guindy with one coach having 60 seats covering 11km.

It is still functioning as a 60 seater functional two-coach luxury tourist train between the two cities.

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