TREC-STEP has been awarded the ‘Best Innovation Award 2002’ by the India Railway Board for converting the historic steam locomotive of the Nilagiri Mountain Railway from coal firing system to oil firing one. The Nilagiri Mountain Railway (NMR), is one of the famous few surviving steam heritage railways in the world, over 100 years old and this is a UN heritage site now. The Indian Railways had been facing a problem of non-availability of good quality coal for nearly 2 decades coupled with other problems such as tough manual labour required for shoveling 4 tonnes of coal per trip and also the implications of environmental pollution, that threaten the very existence of the steam locomotive, which is a major Tourist attraction, in the Nilagiris.
TREC-STEP with a group of its own entrepreneurs has taken up this unique and challenging project of upgrading the heritage steam locomotive. The steam loco conversion by TREC-STEP has given highly successful results for Indian railways by eliminating the fuel problem by introducing oil firing, eliminating the grueling labour and improved the emission levels considerably for preserving the environment. The project therefore rightfully, is an important milestone technology development project for TREC-STEP and Indian Railways. The project has won for TREC-STEP the “Best Innovation Award by India Railway Board”, for the year 2003.