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New Delhi, July 8 The passengers and ‘fans’ of 105-year old Kalka-Shimla Railway (KSR) that chugs in the picturesque mountains in Himachal Pradesh, have a reason to smile.

On Monday, after a UNESCO meeting in Canada, KSR, fondly called the ‘toy train’, officially made the cut to UNESCO’s list World Heritage site status.

It joined other mountain railways of India – Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in West Bengal and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway near Ooty in Tamil Nadu – which already enjoy the status. Another Indian Railways site in the UNESCO’s World Heritage site list is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (earlier known as Bombay Victoria Terminal) in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

The Kalka-Shimla Railway (KSR) line was opened to traffic on November 9, 1903.

The KSR during its six hour-journey on 96-km narrow gauge route from Kalka to Shimla runs through 102 tunnels, many arched bridges and several picturesque stations such as Dharampur, Barog and Solan.

The KSR was commissioned initially with modified version of steam locomotives used in the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway but soon more powerful, larger and compact locomotives were included.

It was only on this railway that the earliest version of petrol driven cars resembling the Royal Char-a-banc carriages became commercially successful and also witnessed a plethora of technology changes with steam, petrol and diesel power for trains running on its hilly terrain.

The 30-inch gauge rail line was constructed in 30 years by a private company at a cost of Rs 1.6 crore. Currently, each ‘toy train’ has about seven coaches and can accommodate nearly 200 passengers.

Everyday, five trains run between Kalka and Shimla. During the morning session, the Committee also approved the extension of the Mountain Railways of India with the inscription of the Kalka Shimla Railway, a 96-km long, single-track working rail link built in the mid-19th century to provide a service to the highland town of Shimla, said UNESCO release.

Now charter a whole train from Kalka to Shimla
A steam odyssey

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 9, 2008)
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