Matheran toy train to get AC saloon coaches
This comes at a time when Matheran continues to be one of the favourite tourist destinations for Mumbaiites. On this narrow-gauge line of CR, passenger figures in 2022 have surpassed 3 lakh with the total revenue from April to December 2022 generated by running the toy train standing over ₹2.2 crore
Mumbai: For the first time since the toy train on the Matheran Hill began operational in the year 1907, it will get an air-conditioned saloon coach. The Central Railway (CR) will run this in order to provide passengers with a luxurious experience.
According to CR officials, the coaches will be attached to the train based on the request by the passengers who are willing to shell out ₹44,000 plus for the experience.
For instance, an eight-seater ride between Neral to Matheran would cost ₹32,000 on weekdays and ₹44,000 on weekends. The cost would go up if it’s an overnight stay.
This comes at a time when Matheran continues to be one of the favourite tourist destinations for Mumbaiites. On this narrow-gauge line of CR, passenger figures in 2022 have surpassed 3 lakh with the total revenue from April to December 2022 generated by running the toy train standing over ₹2.2 crore.
“The facility will be available for booking from Neral to Matheran and back on a round trip basis for the same day as well as for overnight stay,” said Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, CR.
The authorities defend this steep price on grounds that the AC saloon coach will ensure that the group can enjoy privacy inside this luxury coach. “People who want to book the AC saloon will have to make an advance payment of 20% of the total fare of the plan chosen, at least 7 days prior to the date of the journey along with a refundable security deposit of ₹10,000. Bookings for the same can be done at any station on the Central Railway,” explained an official.
The balance of 80% of the amount will have to be paid 48 hours prior to the date of the journey, failing which the advance amount and security deposit will be forfeited and the booking will be treated as cancelled. No refund will be given if the booking is cancelled within 48 hours. The Neral-Matheran toy train, which is more than 100 years old, is one of the few mountain trains in India.
The CR authorities have divided this into four different trips (see box) wherein the first train would depart Neral at 8.50am and the last train service will depart Matheran at 4pm; specially for the AC Saloon coach services. Sources said that the fare structure for a round trip that will be completed on the same day would differ from the one staying overnight. The fares will also depend on whether it’s a weekday or weekend (see box) and they would be also charging ‘detention charges’ of ₹1,500 to ₹1,800 per hour depending on when the AC Saloon is being booked.
This 21-km corridor has been riddled with problems especially during monsoon owing to mudslides, derailments and other technical issues. Over the past few months, the Central Railway has put in efforts to restore the Neral-Matheran track which was washed away in the heavy downpour in 2019. The entire stretch of narrow-gauge line was finally ready, and services were resumed on October 22, last year. Prior to this only shuttle services between a small 2-km stretch of Aman Lodge and Matheran were in service carrying passengers and parcels.