Azad, Angadh & Akbar

Broad gauge steamers of the Rewari Steam Locomotive Heritage Shed

WP 7200, renamed Azad WP 7200, also known as Azad, was comissioned in the year 1947 to Baldwin Locomotive Works, U.S.A.Rewari Steam Loco Centre

In the late 1920s, after years of manufacturing non-standardised and British standard locomotive designs, the Indian Railways came up with their own set of design specifications. These Indian Railway Standard or IRS designs were made post World War I, for the Indian Government by British consulting engineers.  

WP 7161, renamed Akbar WP 7161, at the Delhi Cantt Railway Station.Rewari Steam Loco Centre

The classifications were done as follows - X and W class (for broad gauge locomotives), Y class (for meter gauge), Z and N class (for narrow gauge). Of these, all broad gauge locos have been completely withdrawn from service, with the exception of steam specials like Angadh, Akbar, Azad, currently housed at Rewari Heritage Steam Loco Shed.

Locomotive WP 7200Rewari Steam Loco Centre

Azad - WP 7200

In the mid 1940s, after World War II, upon experiencing a shortage of locomotives in the system, Baldwin Locomotive Works (BLW), Philadelphia, USA, was awarded the task of building the first sixteen prototype WP class locomotives. These were numbered from 7200 to 7215 and went to Great Indian Peninsular Railway, Bombay Baroda & Central India Railway and East Indian Railway. The initial locos were called WP/P, the extra P indicating prototype. After being taken off service in May 1987, it received a full overhaul at the Amritsar Railway Workshop in April 2015. 

It is believed that WP-7200 was the first WP class of engine that was handed over to Indian Railways, on the 15th of August 1947, India's Independence Day, inspiring them to name the locomotive Azad.

Azad back in serviceRewari Steam Loco Centre

On 15th September 2018, Azad also became the chosen locomotive to run the first ever time tabled, weekly steam service between Farukh Nagar and Gadi Harsaru, in Haryana.

It had been a long standing demand of the people of Farukhnagar to have a train service on Sunday. Using a steam engine for this service is an attempt to fulfil not only that demand but also boost tourism related activities and attract steam enthusiasts from all over the world to visit these places.

Azad back in serviceRewari Steam Loco Centre

It will be the first time in nearly 25 years, since the last steam engine ran on the Indian Railways, that such a weekly service in steam is being made available.

For Azad too, this will be a new lease of life since being withdrawn from service 30 years ago, in May 1987.

The locomotive has gotten a complete physical as well as mechanical renovation at the Rewari Heritage Steam Loco Shed in order to prepare for this service.

Azad back in serviceRewari Steam Loco Centre

The Chairman of Railway Board, Mr. Ashwani Lohani, made the announcement on the same day as the commencement of 'Swachta Hi Sewa' or Mission Clean India Week. The decision was met with a lot of enthusiasm from people everywhere, during the first ever run of this new train service.

Angadh locomotiveRewari Steam Loco Centre

Angadh - XE 3634

The only surviving X class steam locomotive in India, the XE 3634 was built in 1930 by the then Lancashire based British locomotive builder - Vulcan Foundry. It was an Indian Railway Standard design, used for hauling passengers between India and Pakistan. In 2013, the locomotive was rehabilitated at the Amritsar Railway Workshop and is now stationed, in full working condition, at the Rewari Railway Heritage Museum, also known as Rewari Heritage Steam Loco Shed, in  Haryana, India.

Angadh locomotiveRewari Steam Loco Centre

Named after the mythological monkey prince from the legend of Ramayana, who was immovable when his feet were firmly placed on the ground, the locomotive Angadh is one of the heaviest amongst all steam locomotives so far to haul a train.

Its engine weight is 198 metric tonnes and is 14 feet 8 inches in size, making it one of the biggest locomotives of its time.

Angadh locomotiveRewari Steam Loco Centre

In its time, the XE 3634 was used to move heavy freight loads. During restoration, it underwent a massive overhaul which included rebuilding of the tender, axle replacement, and re-fitting of leaf springs, brake-gear, cattle guards and other sections.

Walschaerts valve gear systemRewari Steam Loco Centre

The wheel arrangement of this locomotive was 2-8-2 which represents the number of pilot wheels, driving wheels and trailing wheels respectively.

It is a typical British design, easily distinguishable because of its heavy plate frame, on which all the other running parts are bolted. This makes the structure, bulky and quite slow.

Another significant design element of this locomotive is the wheels. They are solid, heavy with bulky spokes. This again, adds to the overall weight of the locomotive.

'Akbar' front viewRewari Steam Loco Centre

Akbar - WP 7161

Quite a celebrity of sorts, the WP 7161, also known as Akbar, was one of the final models made for this class of locomotives. Built in 1965, it was manufactured by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, India. It was restored to full working condition at the Amritsar Railway Workshop in October 2012. 

Akbar locomotiveRewari Steam Loco Centre

With the British manufacturing works diverted towards the war, American manufacturers got a headway in the locomotive market in India. It was well suited as the American designs were not only lighter and faster, but also this class was specifically designed for the low-calorie, high ash Indian Coal.

The WP design hence marked a new era of locomotives, marking the change from X to W as classification code.

As opposed to bulky, British models, the WPs were a much lighter and faster class of locomotives.

All WP class locomotives can be easily recognised by their standard cone-shaped bulging nose, usually with a silver star painted on it.

WheelsRewari Steam Loco Centre

The American WP locomotives were made on bar frames instead of the plate frames used by the British manufacturers. This reduced the weight of the locomotive considerably.

Chassis detailsRewari Steam Loco Centre

Instead of a plate, which had all the components screwed on, the WP had bars to which the parts were attached. This made the structure much lighter, open, as well as easy to repair.

Wheels of the locomotiveRewari Steam Loco Centre

Another design detail that added to the WP's lightness was in the wheels. They have a 4-6-2 wheel arrangement.

The wheels were made of two plates joined at the edges, leaving a hollow space between, making the wheels lighter than those in the British models. Some rail enthusiasts also prefer its softer visual aesthetics over the others!

List of Indian filmsRewari Steam Loco Centre

Today, Akbar's major claim to fame would be its appearance in some of the most popular period movies made in Indian cinema. Movies like Gadar-Ek prem katha, Bhaag Milkha bhaag, Gangs of Wasseypur are just a few from the list of films in which the locomotive has been featured.

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