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113-yr-old steam engine attracts tourists on Shimla-Kalka track

The engine was built by North British Locomotive Company for Rs 30,000. Now, it costs over Rs 1 lakh for the ride.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2018 13:07 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Shimla
113-yr-old steam engine,tourists,Shimla-Kalka track
The heritage steam engine during its trial run at the Shimla railway station.(Deepak Sansta/HT)

A 113-year-old heritage steam engine has become the centre of attraction for tourists in Shimla as they have been booking a ride to enjoy the curvy Shimla-Kalka Heritage track.

British tourists especially book the train from Shimla to Kaithlighat, which crosses over a dozen tunnels during its journey. “Travelling on the heritage track, that too in a heritage train, is intriguing and very exciting,” said a British tourist, Steven Caddis, who was on his first visit to India.

Around 30 tourists travelled in three coaches connected to the steam engine. The northern railways is offering a ride on the Kalka-Shimla heritage line and bookings are open for the same.

Barbara Davis, a tourist from the United Kingdom, after travelling on heritage track, said, “It was a wonderful journey. The track was developed by the British and coming back here to experience this was really great.”

Shiv Nath Sharma, the locomotive pilot who first drove this engine in 1980, said, “Driving this heritage engine is a matter of pride. I have a lot of memories attached to it.”

This heritage engine KC520 was commissioned in 1906. Steam engine was used to drive trains till 1970 before being replaced by diesel engines.

This heritage engine KC520 was commissioned in 1906. Steam engines were used to drive trains till 1970 before being replaced by diesel engines. The steam engine was withdrawn from service in 1971 and rehabilitated in 2001.

The engine was built by North British Locomotive Company for Rs 30,000. Now, the engine serves high-end tourists. It costs just over Rs 1 lakh for a short trip and is mostly hired by foreign tourists.

The British laid the first rail link to connect its summer capital Shimla in 1903. In 2009, the Kalka-Shimla railway was declared a World Heritage site by the UNESCO. It takes around five hours to complete a one-way journey between two terminals. There are 103 tunnels on the rail line besides 800 bridges, 919 curves and 18 railway stations.

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 13:06 IST