Heritage locomotive back on Matheran toy train route | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Heritage locomotive back on Matheran toy train route

May 18, 2024 09:04 AM IST

CR officials said the idea of rebuilding the locomotive was to make the mountain railway travel experience more exciting

Mumbai: Railway enthusiasts and steam engine lovers can rejoice as the Central Railway (CR), for the first time, remodelled the look of the existing diesel engine of the Matheran toy train into a steam locomotive, to retain its original charm from the year 1907 when it first started.

Heritage locomotive back on Matheran toy train route
Heritage locomotive back on Matheran toy train route

Despite the steam engine look, it will continue to run on diesel and will start from the month of June, covering a distance of 21-km cutting a swathe through forest in the Western Ghats from Neral to Matheran. The mini train has a total of six coaches—three-second class, one vistadome coach and two second class-cum-luggage vans. The ordinary class fare ranges between 50 and 160, while the luxury class fare at 1,352.

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On May 16, the locomotive was sent to Matheran by road for assembly. CR officials said the idea of rebuilding the NDM-1 locomotive (narrow-gauge locomotive) was to make the mountain railway travel experience more exciting and also to add a touch of heritage to the iconic toy train.

“A special team of engineers and technicians at Parel workshop have modified the steam engine hood and made necessary changes so as to ensure smooth running of the engine, and at the same time maintain the heritage look as well. The engine has been painted in red and green to retain its original look,” said a CR official.

The process of giving the heritage look involved a lot of technical processes, including removal of hoods of existing engines, manufacture and fitting of new heritage steam loco-like hood, modification in the present diesel engine, fitting of steam vapour and sound-producing system. The Neral-Matheran toy train is popular among tourists and it runs at a speed of 10-15 kmph and takes three hours to cover the 21 km route. The CR officials said that summer vacations make these toy train services very popular.

“In the last week 1,481 passengers have travelled between Neral and Matheran registering occupancy of 99% while 1,304 passengers have used it on the Matheran-Neral route with an occupancy of 88%,” said another CR official.

As a precautionary measure, the line remains closed during the monsoons, however, shuttle services between Aman Lodge and Matheran continue to run.

Over the years, CR authorities have taken up infrastructural works by changing the tracks and improving the barricading and walls along the rail lines for safe and comfortable rides to passengers. Sources said that they are all set to introduce sleeping pods for tourists in Matheran. It will be designed to offer comfort and privacy, equipped with modern amenities such as mobile charging facilities, locker room services, fire alarms, intercom systems, deluxe toilet and bathroom facilities.

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