A grim and important book on the precarious state of India's wild spaces and animals
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These are fast-moving times. Metros are the new norm in cities, and the futuristic Hyperloop is inching closer to reality by the day. In this age, when steam engines have been relegated to history books and period films, seeing one chugging along on a short track in Gurugram is a unique experience. Tarun Thakral, the owner of Heritage Transport Museum, says he acquired the 1953 Jung Steam Locomotive after three strenuous years of tackling red tape. Indian Railways was reluctant to allow the acquisition of its properties by private museums, he adds. Famous steam engines like the 1855 Fairy Queen have been restored and displayed in government museums, but the 1953 Jung is the country’s first privately-owned, fully-functional steam engine.
Built in 1953 by the Arnold Jung Lokomotivfabrik (Arnold Jung Locomotive Works) in Germany, the locomotive stands 12.5 feet tall and 31 feet long, and weighs over 47 tonnes in service. It can carry 1,320 gallons of water and over four tonnes of coal. Previously inoperable, the locomotive was lying on the tracks of Rohtas Industries in Bihar for over 20 years after the steam locomotive industry closed down. After three months of repair and restoration work by a special team of retired engineers from Chennai, the locomotive coughed back to life in May this year. The total cost of acquisition and restoration came up to ₹9.5 lakh.
Now, the vintage steam engine stands proudly in the gardens of the museum’s premises in Gurugram on a 100-foot-long broad-gauge track with old-fashioned wooden sleepers made especially for the engine, along with signal lights for complete immersion into colonial nostalgia. The engine has been fired up only thrice since May, a task that takes five hours, says Tarun. The museum plans to fire it up again on August 15 next.
The Heritage Transport Museum is located onthe Bilaspur-Taoru road, off NH8, Gurugram.See heritagetransportmuseum.org.
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