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Steam locomotive power tourism and nostalgia among foreign tourists to India

Steam locomotive power tourism and nostalgia among foreign tourists to India

The pounding of pistons, the rhythmic chuff of a locomotive and storybook names such as “Fairy Queen” are all part of the allure of India’s old-fashioned steam railroad, particularly for tourist from India’s former ruler, Great Britain. UK’s IB Times reports “The presence of raw fire that fires raw power in the belly of steam locomotives attracts tourists, and the unique sound, the rocking gait, the shrill whistle, the throbbing body and an open design…are features that impart an irresistible charm to these black beauties,” quoting Ashwani Lohani of the Indian Railways who used to manage National Rail Museum in New Delhi.

“There was a time when foreign travelers would be interested to travel only by luxury tourist trains of India such as Palace on Wheels,” said Ashok Sharma at travel firm Real India Journeys. “Now there are hard-line steam railway travelers and photographers who come in huge groups every week. We refer to them as ‘narrow-gauged’ or ‘single-tracked.'” 80 foreign tourists rode the Fairy Queen during its last season of roughly 12 to 14 runs, while more than 1,200 visited the National Rail Museum from October to December last year.

The Indian Steam Railway Society, established in 1999, has earmarked 53 routes for steam heritage train journeys in India. Many of the journeys include scenic train routes such as Darjeeling, Niligiri and India’s erstwhile hill capital of Shimla, all likely to be popular with tourists.

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