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States » North


'Vistadome' coach on Kalka-Shimla Railway route will boost tourism

'Vistadome' coach on Kalka-Shimla Railway route will boost tourism

By Nikhil Vyas

Shimla, Dec 5 (UNI) Tourists going to Shimla can now experience snow and rainfall as well as relish Himachal's scenic landscape through glass-enclosed 'Vistadome' coaches, being introduced on the heritage Kalka-Shimla rail section.

To give a boost to tourism on the popular rail section, Northern Railways has taken a host of initiatives such as introduction of a new Hop-on Hop-off service, Joy-ride train service for tourists besides the introduction of glass-enclosed 'Vistadome' coach on this route.

The five-and-a-half-hour journey on a narrow gauge line from Kalka to Shimla takes one through 102 tunnels, several arch bridges and the picturesque stations of Koti, Dharampur, Barog, Salogra, Kandaghat and Tara Devi.

Now commuters travelling on the Kalka-Shimla Railway route will enjoy the panoramic scenic view with Railways' stunning see-through 'Vistadome' coach (Glass Dome) is all set to debut on this route in the next 10 days, a Railway official said.

Northern Railway's aim is to enhance tourism on this Kalka-Shimla World Heritage Railway Section.

The coach, with a seating capacity of 36, having a glass roof, modified windows and air conditioning system will comprise designer LED lights, window blinds and cushioned window interiors.

The aesthetically-designed 'Vistadome' air conditioned coach CT-15, also known as 'Nihaar', is a first-of-its-kind in this Kalka-Shimla Railway section.

The 'Vistadome' coach has been modified and furnished at the Carriage and Wagon Depot at Kalka.

'The cost of preparing the coach was around Rs 10 lakh and it took 100 days to complete it. The coach is an old, second class coach which has been upgraded with AC. It will be the first AC coach on the Kalka-Shimla section,' DRM Ambala, D C Sharma told visiting newspersons.

The new coach has no toilets at present, he said.

The coach will be flagged off by December 10, he said.

The fare for a single seat in the 'Vistadome' coach is likely to be more than Rs 500, however, final decision on the exact fare is yet to be taken, an official said.

At present, the lowest fare is Rs 25 per seat in a general coach in an ordinary train on this section while Rs 500 is the fare in the Shatabdi-type Shivalik Deluxe Express on this section.

The route of this section is 96.54 kilometers and six pair of train services runs on this section on a daily basis.

On the Kalka-Shimla section, all the tunnels are fully lined as they pass through shale and soft rocks. Barog tunnel is named after engineer Barog, who was incharge of the construction of tunnel.

The main station, Dharampur, is at height of 4,900 ft and 20 miles from Kalka.

Among the special attributes of the rail line is that there are 102 tunnels and 887 major and minor bridges with 917curves with maximum degree of curve is 48 degree. As per 'Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Feats', the Kalka-Shimla Railway line has been described as 'The Greatest Narrow Gauge Engineering in India'.

Keeping in view the necessity to preserve the ecology of the heritage Kalka-Shimla railway, Northern Railway has introduced a green train on this section. All coaches of 'Himalayan Queen' have been provided with solar panels on the roof. The batteries used are self-charging, having a life of almost seven days.

To encourage tourism, a number of new coaches have been introduced in this section such as CT-12, CT-13, CT-14, Lounge car, RA-200 and FCQ coaches. A special steam engine run train is also made available in this section from Shimla to Kaithleeghat and back on charter basis. Being a heritage section, the heritage items of the section have been preserved in the Baba Bhalku Rail Museum at Shimla.

Travelling by rail on this section has added attraction due to availability of various luxurious options such as special coaches RA-100, RA-200, Jharokha, CT 12 and CT-13 and Steam Special.

Kalka-Shimla Narrow Gauge Railway section, which is a UNESCO declared World Heritage site since 2008, listed under 'Mountain Railways of India'. This is about 115 years old railway section which was commissioned in the year 1903.

Hop-on Hop off service was introduced on this section from October 25 for convenience of rail passengers' especially tourist passengers. This facilitates tourists to board/deboard any station on the section on a single ticket. Joy-ride Train Service was introduced between Shimla-Shoghi as tourist attraction for the holiday season between January-February 2017.

Ambala Division, Northern Railway has introduced a new Hop-on Hop-off service for tourists visiting over world famous Kalka-Shimla heritage Railway section so that they could see all places of tourists' interest on purchase of single ticket which can be purchased from any station of Kalka-Shimla section.

A passenger can board any coach of any train subject to availability of seats. The passenger can board/deboard any train from at any station subject to scheduled stoppage of train at the said station. The passenger is not entitled to avail other paid/value added services in the train.

Fare structure per passenger (full) on one calendar day is Rs 500 and for child is Rs 250. For two calendar days, per passenger (full) it Rs 800 and for child it is Rs 400. For three calendar days, fare structure per passenger (full) is Rs 1,000 and for child is Rs 500.

The above fares are inclusive of 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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