Apr 13, 2018

Ceremonial run on April 14; CR also plans to have revolving restaurant, special packages for foreign tourists

The Central Railway (CR) is planning a series of measures to make the Matheran toy train service popular. Key among them is to reintroduce the heritage steam engine. The CR is conducting trials and will be holding a ceremonial run on April 14 between Aman Lodge and Matheran.

Divisional Regional Manager S.K. Jain said, “We want to attract as many tourists as possible. We shall be conducting a ceremonial run of the steam engine with two coaches on April 14.”

The reintroduction of steam engines is part of the Indian Railways’ plan to promote its heritage and attract tourists. Apart from Matheran, steam engines will be introduced in other hill station routes such as Darjeeling-Siliguri, Kalka-Shimla, and Kangra Valley. The steam locomotive will not be coal-fired, but will be powered by diesel.

The CR has increased services on the three-km Aman Lodge-Matheran section since March 30. It is currently running 21 services on Fridays and 22 on the weekend. On Mondays, it operates 17 trains and during the remainder of the week, it runs 14 services daily.

Railway officials said their weekend earnings have nearly tripled after introducing the shuttle service. Soon, one will be able to book tickets of the toy train on the IRCTC.

Among the other proposals is a revolving restaurant, where a coach will be placed on a turntable. The other plan is to renovate British-era bungalows. The CR also plans to have a heritage gallery, food plaza, and rest rooms.

The CR will be teaming up with the IRCTC to prepare packages aimed at foreign tourists. The packages will include booking of resorts at the hill station. “We have noticed that most foreign tourists either start their India tour in Mumbai or end it here. We are looking to target these tourists and give them an experience,” Mr. Jain said.

The train services were shut in May 2016, after two derailments. The CR restarted the toy train in October 2017 between Aman Lodge and Matheran. The line was opened in 1907, and railway officials are hoping to have it included in the UNESCO heritage list.

Source - The Hindu

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