The Central Railway authorities on Friday began testing the viability of plying the popular toy train at Matheran during the monsoon.
The two-day trials are being conducted from Aman Lodge station (uphill from Neral station) to Matheran station and will test a combination of factors including the number of coaches and locomotives, as well as the speed of the train that might ply during the rains.
“The step has been taken owing to popular public demand and a decrease in the severity of rain this year,” said a senior railway officer.
Six trials were conducted on Friday under the supervision of both track and coach engineers to test the train’s feasibility in the difficult and landslide prone terrain of Matheran (see box). The train service is suspended during the monsoon.
Officials are also testing the option of increasing the number of coaches from six to eight. To enable this, a trial train is being run with two locomotives, one at the front of the train and one at the end.
The report of the trials will be sent to the commissioner for railway safety and a decision will be taken by August 20.
Officials at the site are hopeful that the conclusion will be positive and increase the footfall at the tourist destination during the lean season.
Once functional, the diesel-run train will allow tourists to avoid the the exorbitantly priced horse carriages or two-kilometre walk they currently undertake.