Kapurthala, January 8
People taking the train on the Kalka-Shimla heritage line may soon get to travel in advanced vistadome narrow gauge coaches which will have glass roofs and large windows and offer a panoramic view of the scenic route.
The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) here has commenced production of these coaches, which are expected to be ready by next month. These coaches will have a trial run on the Kalka-Shimla route before they are put into service, officials said.
The production of the vistadome narrow gauge coaches commenced following successful oscillation trials of two prototype coaches on the Kalka-Shimla heritage track in December last year.
The RCF is likely to roll out four of these coaches by the first week of February, its general manager Ashesh Agrawal told PTI here.
Initially, the four coaches -- AC executive car (12 seats), AC chair car (24 seats), non-AC chair car (30 seats) and one power-cum-luggage and guard car -- will be manufactured and handed over to the Research Designs and Standards Organisation for further trials on the 96-km Kalka-Shimla railway track, he said.
After clearance from the commissioner of Railway Safety, these coaches would be put into service. The date of their flagging off would be decided by the Railway Board, he said.
Agrawal said the Railway Board has asked the RCF to manufacture 30 vistadome coaches for the Kalka-Shimla line and has also given its nod for manufacturing these coaches for the Kangra Valley line.
The British laid the first rail link to connect Shimla in 1903. In 2009, the Kalka-Shimla rail track was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
There are 103 tunnels on the rail line, 800 bridges, 919 curves and 18 railway stations.
Agrawal said the vistadome coaches would look like those of Switzerland's Bernina Express which runs on a mountainous rail track.
These coaches will have panoramic windows, a lightweight shell with an upgraded bogie and improved braking system. They are also equipped with modern safety features like CCTVs and fire alarms.
Besides, these coaches will have aesthetic plush interiors, windowpanes with anti-UV coating, power window in upper class, powered doors, heating-cooling package, linear concealed fans, linear LED lights, modular seating, restaurant seating with luxury seats for executive class and mini pantry, among other things.
Each vistadome coach will cost approximately Rs 1.3 crore, Agrawal said.
Replying to a question, the RCF general manager said these coaches are capable of running at a higher speed as compared to the existing coaches (25 kmph) on the narrow gauge but due to sharp curves and the old track, speed could not be enhanced much.
The RCF is also working to manufacture 20 cargoline double-decker coaches which can carry more than 50 passengers and six tonnes of cargo in a chamber beneath the seats.
It would help in the fast movement of cargo and prove economically viable during the lean travel season. The prototype coach would be rolled out by April this year, Agrawal said.
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