|Mountain Railways of India*|
|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Inscription||1999 (23rd Session)|
|* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
The collective designation refers to the current project by the Indian government to nominate a representative example of its historic railways to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway had been recognized in 1999, while UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the site in 2005. They won recognition for being outstanding examples of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain.
Both the Kalka-Shimla Railway and the Matheran Hill Railway made the tentative nomination list for that site.
A standard gauge railway connected Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Siliguri in 1878. Siliguri, located at the base of the Himalayas, was connected to Darjeeling by a cart road (the present day Hill Cart Road) on which tonga services were available. Franklin Prestage, an agent of Eastern Bengal Railway Company approached the government with a proposal of laying a steam tramway from Siliguri to Darjeeling. Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, formed a committee to assess the feasibility of the project. The government accepted the proposal in 1879 following the positive report of the committee. Construction started the same year.
Gillander Arbuthnot & Company received the responsibility of construction. By March 1880, the line extended to Tindharia. Lord Lytton, the first Viceroy to visit Darjeeling rode in the train up to Tindharia. The stretch from Siliguri to Kurseong opened on August 23, 1880. The Siliguri to Darjeeling track inaugurated on July 4, 1881. The name of the rail company promptly changed to the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company. Initially the alignment of the railroad followed Hill Cart Road. It became apparent that in some areas the steepness of the road proved too difficult for the locomotives to maneuver easily. In 1882, the company constructed four loops and four reverses (zig-zags) between Sukna and Gayabari to ease the gradient.
In 1886, the line extended a quarter of mile to Darjeeling Bazar. The Darjeeling station underwent renovation in 1891 while Kurseong got a new station building and storage shed in 1896. Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) suffered from an earthquake in 1897 and a major cyclone in 1899. By 1909–1910, DHR carried 174,000 passengers and 47,000 tons of goods annually. The first bogie carriages entered service, replacing the extremely basic four wheel carriages. DHR extension lines underwent construction to Kishanganj in 1914, and Gielkhola in 1915. At Tindharia the railway works relocated from behind the loco shed to a new and extensive site.
The Batasia loop, constructed in 1919, eliminated problems by creating easier gradients on the ascent from Darjeeling. DHR started to face competition from bus services that started operating in the Hill Cart Road, and took less time than the railway to reach Darjeeling. In 1934, a major earthquake in Bihar shook all of Northeast India. Many buildings in Darjeeling suffered heavy damage, the railway also badly damaged, although it soon recovered and played a vital role in transporting repair materials. During World War II, DHR played a vital role transporting military personnel and supplies to the numerous camps around Ghum and Darjeeling.
After the Independence of India, the Indian Government purchased DHR, absorbing it into the Indian Government Railways organization. DHR came under the management of the Assam Railways organisation. In 1952, Assam Railway, including DHR, became part of the North Eastern Railway Zone and later in 1958, a part of the Northeast Frontier Railway Zone of Indian Railway. In 1962, the tracks realigned at Siliguri, extending the line by nearly 4 miles (6 km) to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to meet the new broad gauge line there. It opened for freight that year and for passengers in 1964. The loco shed and carriage depot at Siliguri Junction relocated to NJP.
DHR remained closed for 18 months during the hostile period of Gorkhaland Movement in 1988–1989. UNESCO declared DHR a World Heritage Site in 1999, becoming only the second railway in the world to have this honor bestowed upon it, the first one being Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has long been viewed with affection and enthusiasm by travellers to the region, and the Earl of Ronaldshay gave the following description of a journey in the early 1920s:
Siliguri is palpably a place of meeting. […] The discovery that here the metre gauge system ends and the two foot gauge of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway begins, confirms what all these things hint at. […] One steps into a railway carriage which might easily be mistaken for a toy, and the whimsical idea seizes hold of one that one has accidentally stumbled into Lilliput. With a noisy fuss out of all proportion to its size the engine gives a jerk—and starts. […] No special mechanical device such as a rack is employed - unless, indeed, one can so describe the squat and stolid hill-man who sits perched over the forward buffers of the engine and scatters sand on the rails when the wheels of the engine lose their grip of the metals and race, with the noise of a giant spring running down when the control has been removed. Sometimes we cross our own track after completing the circuit of a cone, at others we zigzag backwards and forwards; but always we climb at a steady gradient—so steady that if one embarks in a trolley at Ghum, the highest point on the line, the initial push supplies all the energy necessary to carry one to the bottom.
Loop No. 1 lay in the woods above Sukna. Removed after flood damage in 1991, the site has been lost in the forest.
When the company removed Loop 2 in 1942 following flood damage, they added a new reverse, No.1, creating the longest reverse run.
Loop No. 3 sits at Chunbatti. That now constitutes the lowest loop.
Loop No. 4 has been named Agony Point, deriving from the shape of the loop coming to an apex, the tightest curve on the line.
All the steam locomotives currently in use on the railway have the "B" Class rating, a design built between 1889 and 1925. A total of thirty four had been built; by 2005 only twelve remained on the railway and in use (or under repair).
No. 787 has been rebuilt with oil firing, originally installed to work on the same principle as that used on Nilgiri Mountain Railway No.37395. To operate the oil burner and an electrically driven feed pump, mechanics fitted a diesel-powered generator; a diesel-powered compressor fitted and to power the braking system. Additionally the locomotive had been fitted with a feed water heater. The overall result proved a dramatic change in the appearance of the locomotive.
In March 2001, the company transferred No. 794 to the Matheran Hill Railway to allow a "Joy Train" (Steam-hauled tourist train) to be operated on that railway. The train entered service there until May 2002. Only one DHR steam locomotive has been taken out of India, No. 778 (originally No. 19). After many years out of use in an American museum, an enthusiast in the UK bought the train, restoring to working order. Now based on a private railway in Oxfordshire, the traqin has run on the Ffestiniog Railway.
Two diesel locomotives, Nos. 604 & 605, both belong to the NDM6 class. Both had been originally intended for use on the Matheran Hill Railway, identical to the four locomotives actually delivered there. In 1910 the railway purchased the third Garratt locomotive built, a D class 0-4-0+0-4-0.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has long been viewed with affection and enthusiasm by travellers to the region, and the Earl of Ronaldshay gave the following description of a journey in the early 1920s:
Siliguri is palpably a place of meeting. […] The discovery that here the metre gauge system ends and the two foot gauge of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway begins, confirms what all these things hint at. […] One steps into a railway carriage which might easily be mistaken for a toy, and the whimsical idea seizes hold of one that one has accidentally stumbled into Lilliput. With a noisy fuss out of all proportion to its size the engine gives a jerk—and starts. […] No special mechanical device such as a rack is employed—unless, indeed, one can so describe the squat and stolid hill-man who sits perched over the forward buffers of the engine and scatters sand on the rails when the wheels of the engine lose their grip of the metals and race, with the noise of a giant spring running down when the control has been removed. Sometimes we cross our own track after completing the circuit of a cone, at others we zigzag backwards and forwards; but always we climb at a steady gradient—so steady that if one embarks in a trolley at Ghum, the highest point on the line, the initial push supplies all the energy necessary to carry one to the bottom."
The trip up to Darjeeling on railway has changed little since that time, and continues to delight travellers and rail enthusiasts, so much so that it has its own preservation and support group, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.
Several Bollywood movies have portrayed the railway. The song Mere sapno ki rani from the film Aradhana where the protagonist Rajesh Khanna tries to woo heroine Sharmila Tagore who rode in the train proved especially popular. Other notable films include Jhumroo, Parineeta, and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. Director Wes Anderson directed a film called The Darjeeling Limited. The movie will follow three brothers, (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman), as they travel throughout India on the railway.
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udagamandalam, in the Nilgiri Hills of southern India, both in the state of Tamil Nadu. The only rack railway in India, the NMR uses the Abt system.
The Nilgiri Mountain railway stands as one of the oldest mountain railways in India. Under consideration since 1845, the British finally opened the line in 1899. Initially operated by the Madras Railway Company, the railway numbers among a hand full in the world that depends on steam locomotives.
The Palghat division of the Indian Railways, which operates the NMR, incurs an annual shortfall of Rs 4 crores, (~1 million USD). During the Centenary celebrations of Nilgiri Mountain Railway in 1999 Railway Minister Nitish Kumar announced that the line would soon be electrified. In July 2005, UNESCO added the NMR as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway after it satisfied the necessary criteria, thus forcing abandonment of modernization plans.
The NMR track uses 1,000 mm (3 ft 3⅜ in) gauge, isolated from other narrow gauge lines. Below Coonoor the line uses the rack and pinion system to climb the steep gradient. Steam rack locomotives operate on the rack section trains manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland, always marshaled at the downhill (Mettupalayam) end of the train. The average gradient in that rack section measures 1 in 24.5, with a maximum of 1 in 12.
As of 2007, one train a day passes over the rack section, starting from Mettupalayam at 7.10 a.m. reaching Ooty at noon. Return train starts from Mettupalayam at 3 p.m. and reaching Ooty at 6:35 p.m. The train has a scheduled trip both ways connecting it to the Nilgiri Express (Mettupplalayam-Chennai) with the following time schedule:
The railway recommends booking tickets for NMR in advance especially during peak season. Ticket booking, similar to other conventional trains, may be done via official website also.
Station code : UAM
Official name of the train: Udagamandalam-Mettupalayam Passenger
Fare - 1st class : Rs. 135
2nd class : Rs. 25
Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam the train is operated by a YDM4 diesel locomotive using conventional rail adhesion principles. On this section the locomotive is always at the Coonoor end of the train as although the line is not steep enough to need a rack rail the ruling gradient out of Coonoor is still very steep at 1 in 25.
Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam (in 2005) there are four daily trains each way.
The diesel locomotives can only operate on the upper section. The steam locomotives can be used either with or without the rack section when required.
The majority of repairs to the locomotives are carried out at Coonoor shed but many of the steam locomotives have been rebuilt at the Golden Rock Workshops. Carriages are repaired at Mettupalayam but, like the locomotives, are taken to one of the big railway workshops for major work.
The train covers a distance of 46 km (28 miles), travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges. The uphill journey takes around 290 minutes and the downhill journey 215 minutes.
The Kalka-Shimla Railway, a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway in North-West India, travels along a mostly mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. Known for breathtaking views of the hills and surrounding vilages, the KSR haves the greatest incline over its 96 km stretch. The British discovered Shimla shortly after the first Anglo-Gurkha war. By the 1830s, Shimla had already developed as a major base for the British. It became the Summer Capital of British India in 1864.
Bhalkoo, the "illiterate genius" had played a vital role in the construction of the Kalka-Shimla rail line. In 1898, the Delhi-Umbala Company won the contract for construction of the railroad at an estimated cost of Rs 86,78,500. The cost doubled during execution of the project, finally purchased by the state in 1906 for Rs 1,71,07,748. The 96.54 km (60 mi) line opened for traffic November 9, 1903. Because of the high capital and maintenance cost, coupled with peculiar working conditions, the government allowed the Kalka-Shimla Railway allowed to charge fares higher than the prevailing tariffs on other lines. Even that failed to sustain the company, the government stepping in to purchase it on January 1, 1906.
For about a week starting on September 11, 2007, an expert team from UNESCO visited the railway to review and inspect the railway for possible selection as a World Heritage Site. After the team submits its report, the status of the railway's selection would likely be made in July 2008. If wining the selection, the railway would become the fourth rail property in India for UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. In mid-August 2007, the government of Himachal Pradesh declared the railway a heritage property in preparation for its review in September.
The government built the Kalka-Shimla Railway to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the Indian rail system. Now, Shimla serves as the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, while the town of Kalka lay within the Panchkula district of Haryana. Spectacular scenery along the whole route, and the marvels of its construction, keeps the traveler on the line spell bound. On leaving Kalka, 656 meters (2,152.2 ft) above sea level, the railway enters the foothills and immediately commences its climb.
The route offers a panoramic feast of the picturesque Himalayas from the shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Summerhill and Shimla at an altitude of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft).
The Kalka Shimla Railway runs through 103 tunnels (one out-of-service; so only 102 in service). The longest tunnel exists at Barog, named after the engineer in charge of construction. Mr Barog apparently committed suicide after making a mistake in laying the alignment. That tunnel measures 1,143.61 meters (3,752 ft), remaining for a long time the second longest tunnel on the Indian Railways. A straight tunnel, it passes through fissured sandstone.
The line has 864 bridges, one an 18.29 meter (60 ft) plate girder span and steel truss. The others have been constructed as viaducts with multi-arched galleries like the ancient Roman aqueducts. Bridge No. 493, historically known as the "Arch Gallery," situated between Kandaghat and Kanoh stations, has been constructed as an arch bridge in three stages, using stone masonry. Bridge No. 226; between Sonwara and Dharampur, an arch gallery bridge having five tier galleries of multiple spans, has been constructed with stone masonry and bridging a deep valley surrounded by high peaks.
The railway has a ruling gradient of 1 in 25 or 4 percent. It has 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degrees (a radius of 37.47 m or 122.93 feet). Climbing from 656 meters (2,152.2 ft), the line terminates at an elevation of 2,076 meters (6,811 ft) at Shimla.
The first locomotives to arrive were two class "B" 0-4-0ST from the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. These were built as 2 ft 0 in (610 mm) gauge engines, but were converted to 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) gauge in 1901. They were not large enough for the job, and were sold on in 1908. They were followed by 10 engines with a 0-4-2T wheel arrangement of a slightly larger design, introduced in 1902. These locos weighed 21.5 tons (21.85 tonnes), and had 30" (762 mm) driving wheels, and 12" x 16" (304.8 mm x 406.4 mm) cylinders. They were later classified into the "B" class by the North Western State Railways. All these locos were constructed by the British firm of Sharp Stewart.
Larger locomotives were introduced in the form of an 2-6-2T, of which 30 were built with slight variations between 1904 and 1910. Built by the Hunslet and the North British Locomotive Company, these locomotives were about 35 tons (35.56 metric tons), with 30" (762 mm) drivers and 14" x 16" (355.6 mm x 406.4 mm) cylinders. These locomotives, later classed K and K2 by the North Western State Railways, subsequently handled the bulk of the railways traffic during the steam era. A pair of Kitson-Meyer 2-6-2+2-6-2 articulated locomotives, classed TD, were supplied in 1928. They quickly fell into disfavor, as it often took all day for enough freight to be assembled to justify operating a goods train hauled by one of these locos. Shippers looking for a faster service started to turn to road transport. These 68 ton (69.09 metric tons) locomotives were soon transferred to the Kangra Valley Railway, and subsequently ended up converted to 1,000 mm (3 ft 3⅜ in) gauge in Pakistan.
Matheran Hill Railway, a heritage railway in Maharashtra, India, had been built between 1901 and 1907 by Abdul Hussein Adamjee Peerbhoy, financed by his father Sir Adamjee Peerbhoy at the cost of Rs.16,00,000. The railway covers a distance of 20 kilometres (12.67 miles), over large swathes of forest territory connecting Neral to Matheran in the Western Ghats hills near Karjat and Mumbai.
The railway, part of the Central Railways, uses a 2 ft 0 in (610 mm) narrow gauge railway; Neral also has a broad gauge station on the busy Mumbai-Pune route. UNESCO currently has Matheran Hill Railway under consideration as a World Heritage Site.
|MHR No.||ISR No.||Builder||Builders No.||Date||Current Location|
|1||738||O & K||1766||1905||Bombay|
|2||739||O & K||2342||1907||Delhi|
|3||740||O & K||2343||1907||U.K. (LBR)|
|4||741||O & K||1767||1905||Matheran|
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway No. 794 transferred to Matheran Hill Railway in 2001
|ISR No.||Class||Builder||Builders No.||Date||Current Status||Notes|
|500||NDM1||Jung||12108||1956||Not Known||From Kalka Shimla Railway|
|501||NDM1||Jung||12109||1956||In Service||Originally No.750|
|502||NDM1||Jung||12110||1956||Not Known||Originally No.751|
|504||NDM1||Jung||12105||1956||Not Known||From Kalka Shimla Railway|
|505||NDM1||Jung||12107||1956||Dismantled||From Kalka Shimla Railway|
|505||NDM1||Jung||12107||1956||Not Known||From Kalka Shimla Railway|
|600||NDM6||?||?||?||In Service||visible in Railworld photos|
Currently Class NDM1 and NDM6 locomotives serve the route.
All links retrieved October 25, 2018.
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