Belching titans falling off the tracks

Belching titans falling off the tracks

Three heritage locomotives in Hubballi town, which virtually ruled the region connecting the urban and rural areas, are now drawing the attention of rail enthusiasts. 

One of these three locomotives, manufactured in America, carried tonnes of goods and passengers for decades. Even after the South Western Railway (SWR) pulled them out of service, the 12153WG4 stationed at the Hubballi railway station, the YD30243 at divisional railway manager office premises at Keshvapur and the S-3512 at the Rail Soudha speak volumes about the legacy and heritage of the Indian Railways mirroring magic of steam-hauled trains.

Horsepower locomotives

The 12153WG4 was rolled out of Diesel Locomotive Works at Varanasi on March 29, 2008. The Railway Board spent Rs 14.63 crore on reconstructing this two-stroke, turbo-charged, 16-cylinder, 45-degree locomotive. It was designed in V shape. Its total weight came to 126 tonnes. It could pull goods weighing 4,840 tonnes and can run at a speed of 120 kilometres per hour. Its rotational ability came to 904 revolutions per minute.

The SWR primarily used it extensively to ferry goods. It mostly travelled across all sections of the SWR zone. Whenever it developed technical glitches, it was brought to Hubballi for its annual maintenance as well as for other repair works. This locomotive shares a close bond with Hubballi.  

The maximum life span of locomotives is three decades. However, they may run for an additional period of five years. After that, the Railways may pull out such locomotives from the service. In rare cases, the Railways due to repair cost factors and safety reasons might give locomotives a compulsory retirement. The 12153WG4 suffered one such glitch making it necessary for the SWR to pull it out of service. By then, it had run extensively all over the country. Instead of keeping it as a showpiece, the SWR used its parts and fixed the glitches of other locomotives.

Painted in dark blue and white, with the Indian flag on its front and rear portions, the locomotive has been stationed near the abandoned tonga stand at the entrance of the Hubballi railway station. 

The second locomotive, YD30243,  has been stationed at divisional railway manager office premises at Keshvapur. It was pulled out of service before the SWR was commissioned.

The YD30243 steam locomotive was rolled out of the Vulcan Foundry in the UK in 1951.

Its maximum speed was 56 kilometres per hour. The 62-feet-long locomotive weighed 97.3 tonnes. It has a round face and a lion capital and the deep brown colour adds to the beauty of the locomotive.

The Railways ran it on Londa-Castle Rock-Mormugao line. It was also used for the journey of the then Maharaja of Mysore. The locomotive was pulled off from functioning in 1998.

Pulled off the line

The third heritage locomotive steam crane S-3512 was in service for specific purposes. It was built in 1983 at Izzat Nagar in Bareilly district, Uttar Pradesh by the North Western Railway zone. It weighed about 70 tonnes and could pull weight of 35 tonnes.

It was extensively plied on the Gadag route. It was also used to restore normalcy of tracks during emergencies, natural calamities and accidents.

After the Indian Railways converted narrow gauges into broad gauges, this was used to ferry engines and relocating coaches. However, its rich journey ended when it was pulled out from service in 2006. Currently, it has been stationed at the Rail Soudha premises.