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Oldest locomotive Fairy Queen to offer new package
November 09, 2005 13:38 IST
Encouraged by the public response to Fairy Queen -- the oldest locomotive engine on track now being used to promote 'steam tourism', the railways plan to offer more facilities and flexibilities to attract more tourists.
The new facilities proposed include booking of tickets through the Internet and making the tour package more flexible.
"We are exploring these features. We may start these facilities soon," Sandeep Mehra, director of Indian Rail Museum, said.
The train is on a joyride venture running from Delhi to Alwar in Rajasthan twice a month from October to February every year.
Mehra says the Queen takes guests from Delhi to the picturesque town of Alwar, from where the visitors are taken to Sariska forest for an overnight stay. The two-day package costs Rs 7,500.
"About 127 tickets were sold in 2002-03, while the next year, the sale of tickets remianed almost same. But last year it increased to about 300, showing that steam-tourism has a long way to go," he said.
This year, the train started its first journey on October 29. About 21 tourists, including two overseas visitors travelled in it, Mehra says.
In fact, Fairy Queen is a first generation train. It was started by East Indian Railways in 1855, at a time when people here were banking on animals for transportation.
The train, when first introduced, ran from Howrah to Raniganj covering a distance of about 190 km. It stopped service in 1908. It was brought to National Rail Museum in 1971.
It witnessed a complete overhaul in 1997 and resumed its service. The engine is looked after by a team of technical persons in the museum.
"The Queen has never fallen sick since 1997. We feel happy to maintain such a hertiage," says Nathuram, the chief of maintaining staff.
Chairman of Railway Board J P Batra has recently announced a reward of Rs 25,000 for the staff maintaining the locomotive engine.
"Fairy Queen has become a heritage for the Railways. We take special care for the engine," he said.
British engineers Kitson Thomson and Hewitson are the main architects of Fairy Queen. The 27-ft-long engine weighs 26 tons and consumes two tons of coal at a time to generate steam to haul the coaches.
Mehra says the engine has brought laurels to the railways as it has found place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest train in the world on main line. It has also bagged the National Tourism Award.
Bouyed by the response, railway will rope in more locomotive engines for steam-tourism, he said.