Train hauled by 163-year-old engine set for a rerun on EKM-Kochi line

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Kochi: Ten days after hundreds of people thronged the Ernakulam South railway station to watch the trial run of a heritage steam locomotive, another run is set to take place. On February 23 and 24, the 163-year-old steam engine with the number 'EIR 21' will run again on popular demand.

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'EIR 21' conducted its trial run from Ernakulam South to Cochin Harbour Terminus after a special run from Kanyakumari to Nagercoil.

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It was a tough task for the Railway personnel to bring the engine from Ponnurunni marshalling yard to the South railway station. The boiler of the engine has a maximum capacity of 3,000 litres. The engine, that holds two tonnes of coal, can achieve a speed of up to 40 kmph.

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The official heritage service of the steam locomotive will take place on Saturday and Sunday. The first trip starts from Ernakulam South at 11 am to Harbour Terminus. The ticket fare is Rs 1,000 for foreigners, Rs 500 for Indian citizens and Rs 300 for children. Tickets are available at the reservation office. A special coach with 40 seats will be attached to the steam engine for the trips.

According to station manager K P Balakrishna Panicker, more trips will be conducted depending on the demand.

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Officials who were involved in the trial run included divisional mechanical engineer M K Subrahmaniam, Sasikumar, Pichayya, M R Sreevalsan and P K Shaji. K B Bineesh Kumar and K Vinod were the loco pilots.

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The engine built by Kitson Thompson and Hewitson in 1855 in England was literally shipped to India. After 55 years in service, the engine was on display in several museums for over a century, where it was exposed to natural elements. The workers at Perambur Loco works had taken it upon themselves to mend the engine.

The train is conducting heritage services at various divisions in Southern Railway. After the run in Kochi, the steam locomotive will travel to Palakkad and Salem divisions. However, it is pointed out that conducting the service regularly in Kochi would earn significant revenue for the Railways as the place is a major tourist spot. Moreover, as there are no other train services to Harbour Terminus, numerous trips can be conducted along the route.

Station manager (commercial) M I Joseph said that several enquiries were being made for tickets on the heritage train.

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