31 January 2019

Restoration of India's WCG2 class Direct Current Locomotive at heritage gallery in Mumbai

FINALLY!!! One of India's last Direct Current locomotives -the WCG2 class - has now been saved at the heritage gallery at Mumbai CSMT by Central Railway Had been personally trying for this for quite some time time. 
My report in MiD DAY today. Click HERE 

By Rajendra B. Aklekar

One of the most versatile and common locomotives on the Ghat mountain ranges of Mumbai-Pune and Igatpuri inclines, one of the last of the Direct Current (DC) powered electric engines from the WCG-2 class, fondly called as Howlers for the noise they made, is back at Mumbai CSMT, this time as an exhibit on permanent display to the place where it started all. The other mixed class WCM-1 served till the end of the DC era.

The engine, formally withdrawn from service on 2010, arrived on a trailer truck by road all the way from Kalyan Electric Loco Shed on Wednesday. In its last days, it also hauled a few local trains in Mumbai during the motormen's  strike

"Used mostly to haul freights, do banking duties on the Bhor and Tull ghats (push climbing trains from behind) and rarely haul express trains, the once-common loco with its blue and cream livery with little red stripes was first manufactured in the 1970s," a Mumbai division official said.

Officials said they were the heaviest engines (132 tonne), and powerful ones when launched. 

They were manufactured at Chittaranjan Locomotive Works (CLW) and all the 57 that were built were assigned to Kalyan shed of Mumbai division of Central Railway.

"As of today all these Howler locomotives have been scrapped except one (20158) which had been originally earmarked for preservation at the National Rail Museum, New Delhi.But since Central Railway Mumbai now has its own gallery, the loco has been brought here in the heritage gallery," Central Railway chief public relations officer Sunil Udasi said

This is the second electric loco to arrive at the CSMT heritage gallery after India's first electric locomotive Sir Leslie Wilson was brought here, besides other steam engine from Barsi Light Railway and a few old wagons.

28 November 2018

Narrow Gauge Barsi Light Railway loco in Mumbai

A 1928 vintage Narrow Gauge steam locomotive that once used to run on the 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) Barsi Light Railway (Miraj-Latur) arrived at Mumbai CSMT heritage gully near platform 18 on Tuesday. It has been manufactured by Nasmyth Wilson & Co, Patricroft, Manchester, UK. This is the second engine to arrive at the site, the first one being the first series of electric engine Sir Leslie Wilson that was brought from Kalyan here, besides other artefacts.

17 November 2018

The legacy of Jackson and his railway bank

It was an honour and privilege to accompany Richard Campbell Jackson around the Churchgate heritage gallery and the WR GM bungalow 'Bombarci' as he was nostalgic about his birth city. 

Richard is the grandson of Sir Ernest Jackson, the Agent or the General Manager of Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway, now Western Railway, back in 1925-1932 and founder of the Jackson Co-op Bank used by railwaymen today. 

Sir Ernest was the one who started the Frontier Mail train to give tough competition to the GIP Railway's Punjab Limited.  It was during Sir Jackson's time that the Colaba station was shut and Mumbai Central station was built as it stands today. Also the time when the railway was first electrified.

His grandson Richard, born in the city is today 81, was about 9 years' old when he left Mumbai in 1947. My article on him and some pics.

Click HERE to read complete text of his visit.

If the link did not open, you may read the entire article here:

CAN I see the garden in the backyard? I know there is one," smiled a nostalgic Englishman visiting the spacious bungalow of Mumbai's Western Railway General Manager.

Richard Campbell-Jackson, grandson of Sir Ernest Jackson, who built the then Bombay Central station as the General Manager of the Western Railway, was visiting the city with his wife. "The road in the front was much farther then," the 81-year-old (born in 1937), exclaimed as he took an emotional tour of the bungalow that he lived in decades ago. Named Bombarci, after the old name of Western Railway - Bombay Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) - the spacious bungalow located on Altamount Road, was built in 1925. Sir Ernest Jackson was the General Manager for Western Railway between 1925 and 1932, when he got the (now) Mumbai Central station built along with starting the iconic Frontier Mail train, playing a crucial role in electrification of railways and founding the railway co-operative credit society.
Calling himself a Bombay boy, Richard Jackson, in his first visit to the city since he left it at the age of nine, said that he has vivid memories of the place. "I was born at Malabar Hill and have pleasant memories of the city. I remember the road in front of the bungalow was much farther ahead. It looks so closer now. I also remember the sprawling backyard garden. This has been such a vibrant city and I see that it still remains so," he said. His wife Alison was equally excited. "It's so magical to come here. Richard always wanted to be back in the city he was born in," she told mid-day. Earlier in the day, the two also visited Churchgate and met General Manager Western Railway A K Gupta who showed him old photographs of his grandfather in the railway journals. After looking at the steam engine exhibit in the heritage gallery, Jackson expressed delight. "It is good to know that India is reviving steam engines. It is a very strong movement in England," he said.

 "It is a huge honour for me to revisit [the place] where my grandfather was building the BBCI [now Mumbai Central] and to meet Mr Gupta and his staff. A truly outstanding visit and a unique experience," Jackson wrote in the visitor's book.

Sir Ernest Jackson (also known as Edward) was born in 1876 and arrived in India in 1900 with a posting on the East India Railway and later the Calcutta Port Trust. In 1911, he took the post of Chief Auditor on the Bombay, Baroda and Central India (BB&CI) Railway that is today's Western Railway and later went on a tour of America and Canada as member of Railway Accounts Commission until 1925 when he was appointed as the Agent (now called General Manager) of the Western Railway.

That was a crucial time when the railway was seeing radical changes like getting electrified and quadrupled. The line was cut down from Colaba to Churchgate and a new station building was built at Mumbai Central. Sir Ernest Jackson oversaw all this, but he is more famously known for a bank in his name, the Jackson Co-op Bank at Grant Road that is popular among the railway employees.

He was also instrumental in the rebuilding of the Vasai creek bridge and the iconic Frontier Mail train in 1928. It was started to give a healthy competition to the Punjab Limited run by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway (now CR) playing between then Bombay Victoria Terminus and Peshawar. The Frontier Mail was faster at 72 hours and on its return to Churchgate, the station building was lit to welcome it, again an idea of Jackson.

Jackson’s great granddaughter, Polyandra Stokoe and Richard's second cousin, had visited Churchgate in January 2018. "We were happy to welcome the descendents of Sir Jackson, which evoked much nostalgia. We took them around the heritage gallery and the general manager's bungalow and they were overawed by the legacy," Western Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Ravinder Bhakar said.

rajendraa (@) gmail.com

28 June 2018

Old British design at Mumbai railway stations

Design features of old British railway stations can still be found at a number of Mumbai stations.

20 April 2018

Sir Leslie Wilson arrives at Mumbai CSMT

What a day today! They say life comes a full circle and was a witness to the momentous event today when the Sir Leslie Wilson or EF/1, India’s first electric freight locomotive class that was introduced in 1928 returned home at Mumbai CSMT or formerly Bombay Victoria Terminus station.

I say home because the engine was in active service till 1992 and had spent its lifetime here and after retirement shifted to Kalyan electric loco shed. The engine has now been brought here to be a part of the ‘Heritage Alley’ on World Heritage Day 2018 and will be on permanent display. Sir Leslie Orme Wilson was the Governor of Bombay in 1928 who inaugurated the loco and hence named after him.

It was transported by road, splitting it into three parts that were later assembled here. It features the original livery of India’s first railway company, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, now Central Railway. EF/1 20067 is one of the two remaining of the class, the other one being at National Rail Museum in New Delhi.