Nilgiri Mountain Railway X class

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Nilgiri Mountain Railway X class
NMR 37385 in Delhi 05-02-17 M49.jpeg
Nilgiri Mountain Railway locomotive No.37385 preserved in the Delhi Railway Museum.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Builder Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Winterthur, Switzerland (17)
Golden Rock Railway Workshop, Golden Rock, Tiruchirappalli, India (4)
Build date 1914, 1920, 1925, 1952, 2011-2014
Total produced 21
Configuration 0-8-2T
Gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in)
Driver dia. 815 mm (32.09 in)
Fuel type Coal or Oil
Fuel capacity 2011: 850 litres (190 imp gal; 220 US gal) of diesel and 2,250 litres (490 imp gal; 590 US gal) of fuel oil
Cylinders Four, outside, compound
High-pressure cylinder Adhesion: 450 mm × 410 mm (17.72 in × 16.14 in)
Low-pressure cylinder Rack: 450 mm × 430 mm (17.72 in × 16.93 in)
Valve gear Walschaerts
Performance figures
Maximum speed Adhesion: 30 km/h (19 mph)
Rack: 15 km/h (9 mph)

The X class locomotives are a class of metre gauge 0-8-2T rack and pinion compound locomotives working on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. They are used on the 20 km section between Coonoor and Mettupalayam where the gradient of the track can be as steep as 1 in 12.5. At these steep sections, the railway uses the Abt system. The X class locomotives are compound locomotives with two high-pressure and two low-pressure cylinders. All cylinders are outside the locomotive's frames. The two low-pressure cylinders drive the rack wheels. These cylinders are positioned above the two main high-pressure cylinders, which drive the main wheels.

Engines of this class were first brought as replacements for the line's original Beyer-Peacock 2-4-0 engines whose traction power was too weak for the traffic.[1][2] The X class locos were bought in two batches from the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Winterthur, Switzerland. The first batch (12-nos.) were brought into operation over the years between 1920 and 1925 and the newer batch (5-nos.) in 1952.[1][3]

Table of SLM orders[4][5]
SLM Works Nos. Year Quantity NMR No. All India No. Notes
2456–2459, 2469–2470 1914 6 1–6 37384 ex-No. 1
2734–2736, 2733 1920 4 7–10 37385–37388
3000–3001 1925 2 11–12 37389–37390
4069–4073 1952 5 13–17 37391–37395

New builds[edit]

Four new oil-fired steam locomotives have been ordered to ease the load on the existing X class locomotives. They are basically the same design as the older locomotives. The first of these, No. X 37396, arrived in Feb 2011 and entered service on March 24, 2011. The second oil fired steam engine, No. X 37397, was rolled out at Golden Rock in Feb. 2012, and is to enter service on NMR in March 2012. The third indigenous steam engine built by Golden Rock Workshop, Trichy, X 37398 entered service in March 2013. The last of four oil fired steam engines of X Class 0-8-2T rack and pinion compound engine bearing road number X 37399 was rolled out on March 5, 2014 at the Central Workshop, Ponmalai, Tiruchirapalli. It is expected to join the fleet after trials on the rack railway.

Conversion to oil[edit]

Nilgiri Mountain Railway locomotive No.37395 at Coonor Shed, February 2005

One locomotive, No. 37395, was modified from being coal to oil-fired in 2002, another has been modified and the Railway is looking to retro-fit further locomotives to oil-firing. Conversion to an oil-fired system has the potential to reduce the danger of forest fires that could be caused by ashes flying out from the locomotive. Additionally, the effort involved in the manual lifting of coal and putting it into the boiler is eliminated. The current oil-fired locomotives need only one fireman to accompany the driver, while coal-fired engines need two firemen. However, X 37395 was reconverted to coal-burner in August 2009 for no reasons.[6][7]

In fiction[edit]

In the 2016 Thomas & Friends movie The Great Race, a character named Ashima was based on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway X Class.[8] She was played by Tina Desai, an Indian actress and model.[9]


  1. ^ a b Bhandari, R. R. (2008). "Steam in history". IRFCA. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Blue Mountain Railway". India for Visitors. 2003. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "National Railway Museum". Rail in India. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Hughes 1992, p. 98
  5. ^ Hughes 1996, p. 58
  6. ^ Rajaram, R. (21 December 2009). "Work for manufacturing four new oil-fired steam locos begins". The Hindu. Chennai, India: The Hindu Group. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Oil fired Steam engine on Nilagiri Railway , India". HighBeam. 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Meet Ashima, and Her Impact on Child Product Sales to India, retrieved 7 Sep 2016
  9. ^ Thomas the Tank Engine to make new international friends, retrieved 7 Sep 2016
  • Hughes, Hugh (1992). Indian Locomotives, Part 2 – Metre Gauge 1872–1940. Harrow, Middlesex: Continental Railway Circle. ISBN 0-9503469-9-3. 
  • Hughes, Hugh (1996). Indian Locomotives, Part 4 – 1941–1990. Harrow, Middlesex: Continental Railway Circle. ISBN 0-9521655-1-1.