Alignment on cards to bump up speed on Kalka-Shimla track
The railways is planning to realign the Shimla-Kalka narrow gauge track, a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNSECO) world heritage site, to accelerate the speed of the trains, Union railway minister Piyush Goyal said on Monday.
The Union minister, who is on a tour to Himachal to review ongoing and proposed railway projects in Himachal, said efforts were being made to boost the speed of trains running on this track. At present, it takes trains around five-and-a-half hours to cover a 96.6km journey between Shimla and Kalka.
“Efforts are made to increase the speed from the exiting 25 kmph but it has not be achieved so far becaused of a steep gradient and sharp curves,” said the Union minister adding that the railways would soon conduct a survey to realign the track.
Railway authorities have been directed to replace old coaches, which will enhance the tourist experience, he said, adding two ‘hop in-hop off’ coaches will be added on the track.
Survey for rail track between Paonta Sahib-Jagadhri
The railways minister said a a fresh survey will be undertaken for a proposed railway line to be laid between Poanta Sahib and Jagadhri. The survey will be conducted with a focus on freight expected from the industrial area in Paonta Sahib and a study would be conducted by RDSO to examine if the Kalka-Shimla track could be strengthened to improve the speed of trains plying on this track. This was decided in a meeting held between Union railways minister Piyush Goyal and chief minister Jai Ram Thakur.
Goyal said budget on infrastructure and other railway services in Himachal had been increased from ₹108 crore in 2009- 2014 to ₹280 crore in 2014 – 2019. A provision of ₹770 crore has been made in the 2021-22 budget for different projects, a 613% increase as compared to 2014-19, he said.
The chief minister said that coaches of the Kalka-Shimla Railway should be designed and manufactured to enhance the tourism experience. He also urged the minister to provide vista-dome type coaches so that the tourists can get a panoramic view of the beautiful valleys along the route.