Mountain Railways of India: Facts at a Glance
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, and the Kalka–Shimla Railway collectively got the status of World Heritage Sites in 1999. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (West Bengal) was opened in 1881. The formation of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single railway track was completed in 1908. The 96-km long single track of the Kalka Shimla Railway opened for traffic on November 9, 1903.
A. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
1. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is the first marvelous example of a hill passenger Railway.
2. It was constructed by the Darjeeling Steam Tramway Company in 1881.
3. Its work started on the recommendations of a Committee appointed by Sir Ashley Eden ( then Lt. Governor of the Government of West Bengal) and the request of Franklyn Prestage (the Agent of the Eastern Bengal Railway Company.
4. Work of this railway line commenced in 1879 and completed by July 1881.
5. Title of the company was changed to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company On September 15, 1881.
6. On Oct.20, 1948, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company was taken over by the government of India.
7. Sir John Lawrence, the then Viceroy of India, had mooted the idea of a phased colonization of the hills in 1844.
8. This Railway runs for 88 kilometers (55 mi) between Siliguri and Darjeeling in the West Bengal.
9. This mountain line in India was the first to get the status of World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999.
10. It runs on narrow gaze.
B. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway
1. The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a single track, 46 kilometers (29 mi) long metre gauge single line.
2. It covers around 46 kms and got completed in 1908.
3. It connects the town of Mettupalayam with the hill station of Udagamandalam (Ootacamund), in the Nilgiri hills, popularly known as the 'Blue Mountains' of Southern India (Tamil Nadu).
4. It is the ‘only ‘rack railway’ in India.
5. It uses the Alternate Biting System (ABT) commonly termed as 'rack and pinion' rail system operated with steam locomotives.
6. The trains that run on this line cover a distance of 46 kilometers (29 mi), travel through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges.
7. The uphill journey takes around 290 minutes (4.8 hours), and the downhill journey takes 215 minutes (3.6 hours).
8. It is the oldest and the steepest ‘rack and pinion technology’.
9. This line has a metre gauge section for 7.2 kilometers up to the foothill station of Kallar and passes through 12 tunnels.
10. It got the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2005.
C. Kalka–Shimla Railway
1. Kalka Shimla Railway located in the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh (Northwest India).
2. The Kalka–Shimla Railway constructed on 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge tracks by the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company started in 1898.
3. The 95.66 kilometers (59.44 mi) long, opened for traffic on November 9, 1903.
4. In 1905 the line was regauged to 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) to follow the criteria set by the Indian War Department.
5. This line is located at the height of 7,234 feet (2,205 m).
6. The Chief Engineer of the project was H.S. Herlington.
7. It was inaugurated by Viceroy of India ‘Lord Curzon’.
8. Its estimated cost was Rs. 86,78,500 but the cost doubled during construction.
9. On 1 January 1906, this railway was purchased by the government for Rs. 1,71,07,748 from the construction company.
10. It became UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.