On August 15th, 2011, Southern Railways ran a 156 year old steam locomotive, EIR 21. It was flagged off by Shri V. Gopiraam, the senior guard at Chennai Egmore Railway Station, and went up to Guindy with a 20 minute stop at Kodambakkam Railway Station to ensure that the engine was not experiencing any strain or other technical problems.
This engine, built by KitsonThompson and Hewitson of England was brought to India by the British in 1855. The engine was retired at the Jamalpur Loco Works in Bihar and exhibited there for nearly 100 years. The engine was restored at Perambur Loco Works in 2010. The capacity of the engine is 130 HP.
The world’s oldest steam locomotive which took the heritage run on 15th August, 2011 was to show our rich railway heritage to the young and also gave a chance to the older generation to reminisce about the olden days. Most of us now would not have heard the loud, distinctive whistle of a steam engine.
The engine had run from Chennai Central to Avadi in 2010 and a few technical glitches were observed by the railways since it had run a longer distance. But this, year the technical glitches were fixed and the pulling power increased. Several trials were conducted and all problems experienced in 2010 run were sorted out.
Several people and children present at the station were thrilled to see the engine and were amazed at the restoration done by the Railways to the preserve the world’s oldest steam engine.