Over 70 years ago, the locomotive manufacturers in Britain began supplying its last main line steam locomotives for Indian Railways – steam traction was still in abundance at home and abroad, but diesel and electric traction was making rapid progress. UK based manufacturers like English Electric and Metropolitan Vickers were early exploiters – mainly in what were then British colonies. Prior to World War II, more than 95% of steam locomotives were built in Britain and exported to India, for use on the various railways – which were then a range of state/privately owned companies – and on top of this, with different gauges.
During the steam era, both pre and post nationalisation, the North British Locomotive Co., in Glasgow, and Vulcan Foundry, in Newton-le-Willows, were heavily involved in the design, construction and export of steam locomotives to the Indian sub-continent. But the British builders had to contend with competition from other countries, including the USA, Canada and Europe before, during and after World War II.
New Indian Standard loco designs were developed in India, to cater for the poorer quality coal, which the previous British standards struggled with. That said, Vulcan Foundry, North British Loco and others built examples of these new designs, including some of the last for India after 1945, and the Indian Government’s rail nationalisation of 1951.
Britain secured a number of orders after the Second World War, and construction continued within India after 1951, with the opening of the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, where many steam engines were built.
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Useful Links & References:
- The Indian Railways Fan Club
- Indian Railways – Steam Locomotive Classes
- “Steam in India” – Hughes, Hugh (1976) Pub; D. Bradford Barton Ltd. ISBN 0851532586.
- “Indian Broad Gauge Steam Remembered” – Marshall, Lawrence G (2009); Pub: Taverner Publications. ISBN 9781901470154.
- “Indian Locomotives: Part 1 – Broad Gauge 1851–1940” – Hughes, Hugh (1990) Pub: The Continental Railway Circle. ISBN 0-9503469-8-5.
- “Indian Locomotives: Part 4 – 1941–1990” – Hughes, Hugh (1996) Pub: The Continental Railway Circle. ISBN 0-9521655-1-1.