By steam!

Riding the rails with a beast of old.

Starting a journey without knowing where it will end has its problems. When I set out with Nick Lera, a remarkable cameraman-director and an authority on railways, to make a film called Steam's Indian Summer, we could not be sure where steam engines still ran.

The last known steam-hauled express had run from the railway junction of Jalandhar, in Punjab. The only steam we found there was a wonderful Heath-Robinson contraption, a coal crane with no coal to lift any longer, operated for us by a railway worker who explained, 'I am the superintendent of steam locos without a loco.' Standing on a rusty turntable on which the majestic steam locomotives that hauled historic trains such as the Frontier Mail and the Punjab Mail had changed direction, a former steam driver talked scornfully of diesel and electric locomotives. 'Anyone can drive one of those,' he said. 'To drive a steam engine you need four eyes, two in the back of your head as well as the two in the front, there's so much going on all the time.'

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Himal Southasian