Kalka - Shima Railway Line - an amazing world heritage site

Kalka-Shimla toy train. HM The Best India Tours - blogger

The 114-year old Kalka-Shimla Railway (KSR), that chugs through the breath-taking landscape of  lush green wooded areas dotted with pine and oak trees and intervening tunnels in the majestic  lower Himalayan mountains in Himachal Pradesh, is a popular mountain train and enjoys the  UNESCO world Heritage site status. It is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-gauge railway laid in the most difficult mountain terrain. The mountain railways of India – Darjeeling Himalayan Railway  (Siliguri- Darjeeling) in West Bengal  and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (Mettupalayam - Coonoor - Ooty) in Tamil Nadu are the other ones recognized as the UNESCO world Heritage sites. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal (earlier known as Bombay Victoria Terminal) in Mumbai, Maharashtra is also a  UNESCO’s World Heritage site, but it is not a mountain railway. KSR is fondly called Toy Train as the track is a narrow one 

Kalka-Shimla -Himalayan Queen train. en.wikipedia.org

covering 96 kilo meter and passing through 102 tunnels, numerous bridges, etc. The line has as many as 864 arched bridges and 919 curves, the sharpest being 48 degree.  The running time is six hours as the train has to negotiate gradients at many places  on the hill. The train with seven coaches can carry 200 passengers. The picturesque stations are Dharampur, Barog and Solan. In the early stages, the trains were hauled by steam engines like the ones being used in DHR between Siliguri and Darjeeling. It took 30 years to complete the project and The Chief Engineer of the project was H.S. Harington.The project executed  by a private contract company cost Rs. 1.5 crores then. A note-worthy feature in the   
Kalka-Shimla Railway  line is the almost non-use of Girder bridges. In lieu of them, multi arched galleries like ancient roman aqueducts were built over the ravines between the hills spur. The exception being 60 feet plate girder span in a Pinewood near the old engineer’s bungalow at Dharampur and a steel trestle via duct (replaced in 1935).

Kalka-Shimla Toy train, incredibleindia2.blogspot.com

The Kalka-Shimla Railway (KSR) line that was opened to traffic on November 9, 1903 during the colonial period is a popular train and is a major tourist attraction as it connects Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. To day five trains are available daily between Kalka and Shimla. The line was inaugurated by Viceroy Lord Curzon also had a particular liking for Shimla and the beautiful surrounding mountains. During the British Raj, in 1864 Shimla (altitude:7,116 feet (2,169 m) became the Summer capital of British India and also the HQ of the Indian Army. 

Kalka-Shimla toy train. HM YouTube

The diesel and diesel-hydraulic locomotives were introduced in 1955 and 1970 respectively to handle more passengers and freight. Modified versions of two class "B" 0-4-0ST steam locomotives made in England were first used to haul the train (taken  from the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway). Later in 1902, much heavier B Class Steam locomotives (weighing 21.5 long tons) made by Sharp, Stewart Company of Manchester  were used. Between 1904 and 1910, still  much larger locomotives were introduced (weighing 35 long tons), made by Hunslet and the North British Locomotive Company. The engines were well built to work in the hot ae well as very cold conditions. The The 700 HP B-B type diesel engines work well energetically in all weather conditions in this most difficult terrain where adverse weather conditions prevail - temperatures ranging from 0 to 45°C, heavy snowfall - average recording 2 feet during winters, and the annual rainfall of 200-250 cm, in the valley.

 The Guinness Book on 'Rail Facts and Feats' placed on record the Kalka-Shimla Railway is the greatest narrow gauge engineering achievement in India.The KSR is truly a British engineering legacy.


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