The Ministry of Railways has set up a committee to suggest measures for the upkeep of the handful of steam locos left in the country.
The five-member committee called ‘Steam Traction Expertise and Maintenance Committee’ will comprise senior railway officials as members and retired personnel who have persistently strived to save the ‘queen of rails’ from going obsolete, senior railway ministry officials said.
Headquartered in New Delhi, the committee is expected to submit its report within a period of six months.
It will suggest methodology for meeting the requirements of trained inspectors, running staff and maintenance staff, the ministry officials said.
The officials noted that the worst part is that there are few running staff who can keep the locos running. Worse still is the dearth of steam loco pilots, making it more difficult to ensure the safety of the locos.
“The committee will also seek to prescribe the revised maintenance schedules of the locos and work content of each schedule which is of utmost importance keeping in view the reduced level of running of these locomotives,” they added.
At present, an estimated 30 locomotives are left in the country in running condition, the regulars hauling the sought-after tourist trains in intervals and toy trains to hill stations.
With the Rewari shed holding the last remaining steam locos, the committee would suggest organisational structure and responsibilities at Board, zonal railway and divisional level for sustaining steam traction.
The other key aim of the committee would be to assess the skills available in railway sheds and workshops for proper maintenance of critical assemblies, the ministry officials said.
As repairs and maintenance forms a critical component of these locos, including upkeep of the boiler, the committee is also expected to place its suggestion on these issues, they said.