Matheran’s popular mini train could be back on track by the end of 2022 after a break of more than three years: Newsdrum


Mumbai, July 24 (PTI) The iconic mini train at Matheran station near Mumbai is set to resume operations by the end of this year, more than three years after services were suspended following extensive damage to its narrow-gauge railway tracks due to heavy rain. .

Once this more than a century old heritage train starts blowing again after the completion of restoration works worth Rs five crore, traveling by this train will be safer and more comfortable compared to the period before 2019, Central Railway (CR) officials said. .

The 20 km long narrow gauge Neral-Matheran train came to a standstill three years ago as the railway line was badly damaged due to torrential rains and landslides.

The train is currently only operational between two stations – Matheran and Aman Lodge – out of a total of five stations. Between Neral and Aman Lodge, there are two stations named Jummapatti and Water Pipe.

Officials said the CR has undertaken track renewal and other related works, which are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The Neral-Matheran Line was built in 1907 as a family business of the Peerbhoys and is now on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tentative list of World Heritage Sites .

This little train is one of the major attractions among tourists, especially children, visiting the hill station of Matheran, which is located about 100 km from here in Raigad district.

Besides carrying passengers, the train helps local residents carry essentials and other things.

Track renewal works include replacement of old rails with new ones, replacement of old steel, iron and wooden sleepers with concrete sleepers, installation of crash barriers, erection of walls in gabions and the construction of drains, among others, they said.

According to the CR, it has already installed cement sleepers on the nearly 12 km stretch of the route.

Matheran hill station is located at an elevation of approximately 2,600 feet above sea level.

Since the train is passing through a ghat (hilly) section with sharp turns, the railway authorities are also installing new anti-collision barriers at dangerous spots overlooking the deep valley.

To prevent damage to the tracks during the monsoon, CR built drains along the road in some sections, erected gabion walls in some places, and bolted rocks in some places to prevent landslides.

According to officials, the estimated cost of the works is around Rs five crore.

“The renewal of the Neral-Matheran Way and other safety works will help make travel safer, more comfortable and better. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year,” said CR Public Relations Officer Shivaji Sutar.

Officials said that during the 2019 monsoon, the railway line was badly damaged and breached in more than 20 places.

In a few places, the tracks loosened up and even started dragging when the embankment below was washed away.

Sutar said replacing the sleepers and rails will improve the experience of the train ride as passengers will not feel the shocks. Anti-collision barriers will make journeys safer, he said.

A small section between Aman Lodge and Matheran was restored in December 2019 and has been functional since then.

Normally, tourists can reach Matheran either by using this train or by road. Since the mini-train service is currently closed between Neral and Aman Lodge stations, passengers must rely on taxis or private vehicles to reach the hill station.

But vehicles are only allowed as far as Dasturi Naka, the entry point to Matheran, and only ambulances are allowed to continue.

In the absence of the mini-train service to Matheran, tourists as well as local residents have to shell out a considerable sum for the road journey.

Also, after reaching Dasturi Naka, they either have to walk or hire a horse ride or handcart to get to their desired destination in Matheran. In this situation, luggage transportation becomes a difficult task.

Thus, the mini train is the only mode of transport that takes tourists to Matheran market from Neral village, and perhaps the most convenient one that also offers an enchanting view. PTI KK NP GK GK

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