Matheran Rly back on track in its 100th year
The line will open to passenger traffic in a month's time in March, reports Rajendra Aklekar.Updated: Feb 02, 2007, 03:42 IST
The Matheran Light Railway is finally on track. The narrow gauge mini train took its first successful trial run all the way to Matheran on Tuesday after a period of 16 long months. The line will be opened to passenger traffic in a month's time in March.
Coincidentally, this is Matheran Railway's centenary year and the railway board's heritage directorate is awaiting its restoration to get it nominated as a World Heritage Site at the UNESCO.
"The track had not been damaged, but an entire section had been washed away and we had to build the line all over again. There is no change in the distance or the new alignment, but we are confident of opening the line by March," SC Mudgerikar, CR's chief PRO said.
"The line was restored till Jummapatti, that is 5 km from Neral station, last December and this is the first time that the train has now reached Matheran," a railway official said.
"The Railway completes a centenary this year. It is about 19.97 km long and has a gauge of only two feet. The construction of the line, built by Abdul Hussain Peerbhoy, began in 1904 was finally opened to traffic on March 22, 1907."
The railway has already made it to the Unesco's tentative heritage list for India. In a letter dated December 15, 2005, Director of Unesco World Heritage Centre Francesco Bandarin, states, "The Matheran Light Railway has been included in the tentative list for conservation."
Justifying that the line is of outstanding universal value -- one of the criteria for the nomination - the official said, "The Matheran Light Railway (MLR) is one of the best preserved heritage Railways in India and remains much as it was at the time of its completion in stations, signals, rural environment. Such railways are rare and it deserves conservation and global recognition of its qualities."