Solan, September 20
Train services resumed on the Kalka-Solan track, a UNESCOworld heritage site, after 72 days on Wednesday with two trains plying on the first day.
The first train which left Kalka at 4 am and reached at Solan at 7.15 am had no passenger. The second one which started around 12.10 pm from Kalka and reached Solan around 3 pm was beaming with passengers, including 35 foreigners.
The railway staff welcomed the passengers by applying vermillion on their forehead on their arrival at Solan.
An Israeli couple which travelled till Solan described the journey as amazing where the scenic splendour captivated them. “The ride was safe, seamless and beautiful. We are happy to be among the first to travel on the train after it resumed its service after days and will head for Shimla and Manali for a spiritual purpose,” said Tomma, a paediatrician who was accompanied by his wife.
Being in north India for the first time Tomma added, “I connect to this place and am excited to be here in spiritual India.”
The rail services were suspended on the 96-km track since July 9 after colossal damage was caused at 175 locations on the track owing to major hill slips, embankment slips, fallen trees and heavy boulders.
Despite suspension of the rail services, there was no let-up in inquiries received by the staff from the passengers. Since the Kalka-Shimla National Highway was damaged due to landslides in July and August, the residents were eagerly awaiting for the rail services to resume. “Tickets worth Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 are sold on a daily basis from Solan railway station,” said a rail official.
Seven up trains ply on the track from Kalka to Shimla and an equal number ply from Shimla to Kalka on a daily basis. The train services are being resumed in phases with trains initially having plied up to Koti from Kalka on September 10. The officials said they proposed to resume the service till Shimla by September 30.
Trains have remained suspended on the track since July 9 when a major part of the track was inundated between Dharampur and Parwanoo at Koti and Sanwara following incessant rain. Fifteen passengers had travelled on July 9 in the first uphill train which took off from Kalka at 4.30 am and reached Solan at 7.20 am. The service was suspended thereafter.
About the track
A passenger experiences an extreme elevation from 655 metre at Kalka to 2,076 metre by the time he reaches Shimla traversing through the narrow gauge track meandering across 102 tunnels after one was discontinued. With 864 bridges the track is an engineering marvel constructed during the British era to connect to its summer capital at Shimla.
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