Friday, 18 March 2011

The age of steam

Fantasy Bob shares the sadness of trainspotters the world over at the announcement yesterday that no longer can they stand at the end of the platform expectantly waiting for the Rawalpindi Express to roar into the station.  The railway authorities have announced that the Express will be retiring from service at the end of the Cricket World Cup.

The Rawalpindi Express has been the fastest engine in the shed for many years, the last of the great steam engines, but a series of technical problems requiring surgery on his pistons and discipline problems when he refused to stop at all the stations required by various Fat Controllers, limited his international service to 46 Test outings and 158 one day trips to the seaside.  But what outings.  For Pakistani engines, his strike rate is second only to Younis.  But there was always a doubt in Controllers' minds whether this engine would oblige them by pulling the carriages, but at his peak he was magnificent regularly topping 90mph and recording 100mph in 2003.  There was no finer sight to trainspotters than the Rawalpindi Express him pounding the rails up to the wicket, steam streaming behind him, balanced and coiled, all raw power and aggression.

His very first appearance on the international track was exceptional - bowling Dravid and Tendulkar in successive balls.   Many similar demolitions followed, and when fit and focussed the Express was truly destructive. 

FB hopes that trainspotters will be lucky enough to see one last burst from this magnificent old engine in the next stages of the Cricket World Cup before he joins all the other giants of the golden age of steam as fading memories.  Trainspotters will just have to make do with a bland diet of diesel and electric units from now on.  It is the passing of steam, the end of an era.

Passing of the age of steam