Mountain Railways or The Toy Trains In India Presented By: Chitranshi Srivastava (Diploma in Tourism Management) Banaras Hindu University Guided by Dr. Pravin S Rana Lecturer-Tourism Banaras Hindu University
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway , nicknamed the "Toy Train", is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway from New Jalpaiguri (6 km from Siliguri) to Darjeeling in West Bengal, run by the Indian Railways.
It was built between 1878 and 1881 and is about 86 kilometers long.
The elevation level is from about 100 m (328 ft) at Siliguri to about 2,200 meters (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling.
It is still powered by steam locomotives. Modern diesel engines are used for Darjeeling’s mail train.
Since 1999 the train has been a World Heritage List as listed by UNESCO.
New Jalpaiguri - the railway was extended to the south in 1964 to meet the new Broad gauge to Assam. Where the two met, New Jalpaiguri was created.
Siliguri Town - original southern terminus of the line.
Sukna - this station marks the change in the landscape from the flat plains to the wooded lower slopes of the mountains. The gradient of the railway changes dramatically. Loop no. 1 and 2 were removed after flood threats.
Loop no. 3 is at Chunbatti. This is now the lowest loop.
Reverses no. 2 & 3 are between Chunbatti and Tindharia.
Tindharia - this is a major station on the line as below the station is the workshops. There is also an office for the engineers and a large locomotive shed, all on a separate site. Immediately above the station are three sidings; these were used to inspect the carriage while the locomotive was changed, before the train continued towards Darjeeling.
Agony Point is the name given to loop No.4. It comes from the shape of the loop which comes to an apex which is the tightest curve on the line.
Gayabari. Reverse No.6 is the last reverse on the climb.
Kurseong - there is a shed here and a few sidings adjacent to the main line, but the station proper is a dead end. Up trains must reverse out of the station (across a busy road junction) before they can continue on their climb. It is said that the station was built this way so that the train could enter a secure yard and stay there while the passengers left the train for refreshments.
Above Kurseong station, the railway runs through the bazaar. Trains skirt the front of shops and market stalls on this busy stretch of road.
Ghum - Summit of the line and highest station in India. Now includes a museum on the first floor of the station building with larger exhibits in the old goods yard.
The furthest reach of the line was to Darjeeling Bazaar, a goods-only line and now lost under the road surface and small buildings.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operates a number of tourist train services:
Daily Train Services - historic diesel and 'B' Class steam locomotives with various combinations of first and second class carriages.
Joy Rides - 'B' Class steam locomotives which take passengers on short trips from Darjeeling to Ghum return, and Siliguri Junction to Sukna return.
Jungle Safari Holiday Trains - locomotives which run from Siliguri to Tindharia return, with the highlights being views of the picturesque Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and "Z" reverses (where the train zigzags forwards and backwards up the slope).
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Interiors of the Toy Train
The main daily toy train service to Darjeeling departs from New Jalpaiguri at 9 a.m. and arrives at 4.15 p.m. There's also a service from Kurseong to Darjeeling at 3 p.m. arriving at 8 p.m. In addition, during the tourist season there's a train from New Jalpaiguri to Kurseong at 8.30 a.m.
Joyrides depart from Darjeeling daily at 10.40 a.m. and 1.20 p.m., and Siliguri Junction daily at 10.30 a.m. Each journey lasts for around two hours.
Jungle Safari trains run on the weekends and public holidays. The trains depart from Siliguri at 11.15 a.m., with the return trip taking approximately five and a half hours.
The daily toy train service to Darjeeling costs 247 rupees in first class, and 47 rupees in second class, one way. First class joyrides cost 240 rupees return.
Reservations for travel on the toy train (both daily services and joyrides) can be made at Indian Railways computerized reservation counters, or on the Indian Railways website . It's advisable to book in advance, as the trains fill up quickly.
The station code for New Jalpaiguri is NJP, and Darjeeling DJ. For joyrides from Darjeeling you'll have to book with DJ as the "From" station and DJR as the "To" station.
Tickets for the Jungle Safari holiday trains are available at Siliguri Junction Station. Phone: (91) 353-2517246.
Kalka and Shimla are located just north of Chandigarh, in India's mountainous northern state of Himachal Pradesh. The captivating train route connects both places. The route offers a panoramic feast of the picturesque Himalayas from the Shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as:
Shimla at an altitude of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft).
It runs for 96 kilometers though 20 railway stations, 102 tunnels, 800 bridges, and an incredible 900 curves. The train's speed is greatly restricted by the steep gradient that it has to climb, but this allows for plenty of fascinating sightseeing along the way.
The Kalka Shimla Railway runs through 103 tunnels (one is not in use; so only 102 in service). The longest tunnel is at Barog, and is named after the engineer in charge of construction. The tunnel is 1143.61-metre-long.
Besides the Barog tunnel, other 3 big tunnels on this route are Koti - 2,276 feet, Taradevi - 1,615 feet and Tunnel no. 103 - 1,135 feet.
The rail track rises from Kalka at 640m to the freezing zones of Shimla at 2,060 m.
Other important stations on this route, distance wise from Kalka include Dagshai–38.4 kilometres (23.9 mi), at an elevation of 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) and Solan.
In addition to the normal train services, there are two special luxury tourist carriages that can be booked. These are:
Shivalik Palace - is designed to be like a hotel room for parties of up to six people. The carriage has its own attendant, folding cushioned bed, refrigerator, on-board kitchen, and dining table. It can be attached to any train on the Shimla-Kalka route. Meals are provided.
Shivalik Queen - especially for honeymooners. Compartments offer privacy in a luxurious environment, with wall to wall carpets and huge curtained windows. Meals are provided.
Kalka Shimla Train Holiday Services:
In addition to the normal train services, a number of extra trains run during the busy holiday seasons in India. This is usually from May to July, September and October, and December and January.
The Rail Motor Car is also a temporary service that only operates for part of the year, to serve the holiday rush.
Shivalik Deluxe Express - is timed to connect with the Howrah-Kalka Mail train, which comes from Kolkata via Delhi. It departs Kalka at 5.30 a.m and arrives in Shimla at 10.15 a.m.
Himalayan Queen - connects with the Himalayan Queen train from Nizammudin station in Delhi. It departs Kalka at 12.10 p.m. and arrives in Shimla at 5.20 p.m. However, in reality the journey can often take up to seven hours.
Rail Motor Car - is for early risers! It departs Kalka at 5.10 a.m. and arrives at 9.35 a.m.
To Kalka, trains depart from Shimla in the evenings.
Shivalik Palace - 4,790 rupees from Kalka to Shimla and 3,495 rupees from Shimla to Kalka. The fare is for the whole carriage, and includes accommodation in two retiring rooms at Shimla for the day and meals during the journey.
You can make a reservation for travel on the Shivalik Deluxe Express, Himalayan Queen, and Rail Motor Car services on the Indian Railways website or at Indian Railways booking offices. It's recommended that you book your tickets as early as possible (up to 90 days in advance), especially during the summer months from April to June.
The Indian Railways codes for the stations are Kalka "KLK" and Simla (no "h") "SML".
The Shivalik Queen and Palace can only be booked though the Divisional Railway Manager's Office, Rail Vihar, Ambala. Ph: (91-171) 264-5500.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udagamandalam (Ootacamund or Ooty), in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India.
It is the only rack railway in India and uses the Abt (alternate biting) rack and pinion system. In this system, between the two conventional rails, there are two rack bars, out of step with each other, on which the pinions of the locos and coaches 'climb' in a similar manner as a person climbing a ladder using his feet alternately.
Established in the early 19th century by the British as the summer headquarters of the Chennai government, Ooty is now a soothing place for visitors to escape the summer heat.
The historic railway line was completed in 1899, 45 years after the first plans were drawn up.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway was inscribed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2005.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway :
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Rack and Pinion System
The 'Nilgiri Passenger' train covers a distance of 26 mi (41.8 km), travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels , and 250 bridges. The uphill journey takes around 290 minutes (4.8 hours), and the downhill journey takes 215 minutes (3.6 hours) It has the steepest track in Asia with a maximum gradient of 8.33%.
Mettupalayam - 0 km, 1,069 ft (325.8 m) above sea level - Junction with the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) (Indian Gauge) line from Coimbatore. Passengers cross the platform to board the Nilgiri Passenger train (NMR). There is a small locomotive shed here and also the carriage workshops for the line.
Leaving Mettupalayam, the line is adhesion worked and actually drops for a short distance before crossing the Bhavani River, after which it starts to climb gently.
Kallar - 8 km, 1,260 ft (384 m) - Closed as a passenger station, this is where the rack rail begins. As the train leaves the station, the gradient is 1 in 12 (8.33%).
One toy train operates along the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalayam to Ooty. The engine is an 'X' Class steam locomotive, made in Switzerland. It pulls quaint blue and cream wooden carriages with large windows.
The engine is commonly changed for a diesel powered one at Coonoor, to provide greater traction for the steep climb up to Ooty.
Both first class and second class seating are offered on the toy train, and it's worth buying a first class ticket to have a more peaceful journey away from the crowds.
Presently all traffic on the rack section is ably handled by the eight X class locomotives built by SLM of Switzerland.
These locomotives have four cylinders instead of the conventional two. The main cylinders of the locomotive use high-pressure steam and drive the wheels of the loco while the smaller cylinders using low-pressure steam drive the rack system of the Nilgiri Railway system.
Another interesting thing associated with the Nilgiri Railway is that the youngest X class loco is over 50 years old and the oldest is 80 years old!
There's only one toy train departure daily. It leaves Mettupalayam at 7.10 a.m. and arrives in Ooty at noon. Coming back, the train leaves Ooty at 3 p.m. and reaches Mettupalayam at 6.35 p.m. The train is scheduled to connect to the Nilgiri Express , which travels from Chennai to Mettupalayam.
An additional toy train service does run during the peak summer tourist season in April and May. It usually starts from Mettupalayam at 9.30 a.m. More frequent train services also run from Coonoor to Ooty.
The area receives rain from both the south-west and north-east monsoons, and this sometimes disrupts train services.
The train fare is 24 rupees in second class and 142 rupees in first class, one way.
Reservations for travel on the toy train to Ooty can be made at Indian Railways computerized reservation counters, or on the Indian Railways website. It's advisable to book as early as possible, particularly during peak season, as the train fills up weeks in advance.
The station code for Mettupalayam is MTP, and Udagamandalam (Ooty) UAM.
The World Heritage UNESCO recognition to three of the five Mountain Railways of India has been stated as for being "outstanding examples of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain”. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was recognized first in 1999, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway followed suite as an extension to the site in 2005, and in 2008 the Kalka–Shimla Railway was further added as an extension; and the three together have been titled as Mountain Railways of India under Criteria : ii, iv under the region in the Asia-Pacific. The claims of the Matheran Railway, the fourth hill line, is pending acceptance by the international body.
The Guinness Book on 'Rail Facts and Feats' included Kalka-Shimla Railway as the greatest narrow gauge engineering achievement in India.
We just had a joyride on the mountainous terrain of India by the way of this presentation. These toy trains take us on a ride of the scenic places and the classic Indian feeling of the beauty of nature. If the presentation which only had facts and figures was so interesting, the trips will definitely be more gripping. So, that definitely calls for a tour on these toy trains…