Heritage tag benefits elude Kalka-Shimla rail track

SOLAN: The 111-year-old Kalka-Shimla railway track constructed during the British Raj was included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 2007, but its inclusion in this prestigious list has failed to bring much-needed funds for its maintenance.

Heritage tag benefits elude Kalka-Shimla rail track

A view of toy train near Shimla. A file photo

Ambika Sharma

Tribune News Service

Solan, December 25

The 111-year-old Kalka-Shimla railway track constructed during the British Raj was included in the Unesco World Heritage List in 2007, but its inclusion in this prestigious list has failed to bring much-needed funds for its maintenance.

Though the Ministry provides funds from time to time, they are insufficient to carry out repair and maintenance of this 96-km track. Also it has failed to make adequate engines available to run its 10 trains on a daily basis.

An official admitted that they require 14 engines to run 10 trains — five uphill and an equal number downhill — everyday.

Though nine new engines were purchased in 2008, seven old engines were still being used, which often cause breakdowns.

Cases of breakdown of engines have become a routine affair and passengers commuting during summers have to face inconvenience, as the train gets stranded for hours.

Passengers were stranded for two hours in June this year, after the engine developed a snag while chugging through the Jabli railway crossing.

This also halted the traffic on the National Highway-22 for several hours thereby inconveniencing hundreds of passengers.

Considered to be an engineering marvel, this 96-km track is the lone narrow gauge steam engine which is operational in the country.

With the track failing to meet its operational costs, plying these trains has become a loss-making proposition for the railways and therefore adequate funds are not available for its upkeep. Though it is a major tourist attraction especially during summers, frequent breakdown of its engines especially in summer months deters tourists.

Divisional Railways Manager AK Kathwal said they were receiving funds for its repair and maintenance only from the Ministry of Railways.

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