Toy trains stranded as weather plays rough | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Toy trains stranded as weather plays rough

The sinking of tracks during heavy monsoon in Himachal Pradesh has restricted the narrow-gauge "toy" trains running from Punjab to a small station 91 kilometres before the final destination.

punjab Updated: Aug 13, 2013 20:58 IST
Vinay Dhingra
Vinay Dhingra
Hindustan Times

The sinking of tracks during heavy monsoon in Himachal Pradesh has restricted the narrow-gauge "toy" trains running from Punjab to a small station 91 kilometres before the final destination.

The trains, an economical link between the hill state and Punjab, earlier ferried people from Pathankot to Baijnath and Joginder Nagar and now only go up to Guler, a stop after Nagrota Surian in Himachal Pradesh and 62 km from here. The maximum speed of 40 kilometers an hour is down to 10 because drivers have to be cautious about weak sections and bridges.

The "toy" train introduced in 1931 once moved soldiers during World War 2 and now it's a battle to commute without it. "I shell out Rs 200 a day for bus journey to Kangra and back, while earlier this train solved the purpose in just Rs 40," said Onkar Singh of Birta in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, who travels daily to his business in Pathankot. "After the suspension of the train, it's hard on the pocket."

"The track has sunk at many a places and the damage over a 100-metre section at Kapalardh near Kangra is so bad that it may be long, maybe a year, before the Pathankot train can go up to Baijnath again," said Northern Railway deputy senior superintendent SD Sharma, who looks after the narrow- and broad-gauge trains at Pathankot junction. The tracks are covered with muck and boulders and drivers have been warned of falling rocks.

Railways are running six of the seven trains up to the maximum possible distance, yet beyond Guler, the risk is too high. "We could have run all seven trains but the power engine is stuck in Baijnath," said Sharma. "The repair of Bridge 109 between Nurpur and Talara is almost complete and trains are running over it. There is no damage to the track because of trees falling over," he said.