Hills feel the heat, heritage trains to get AC, fans

The searing heat of the plains seems to have found its way to the hilly areas too. And Indian Railways is the first to have taken a cue and has initiated the process to equip one of the coaches on the Kalka-Shimla heritage track with an air-conditioner. Proposals are also on the anvil to install fans in some of the coaches on this hilly route.

Officials at the more than 100-years-old railway workshop at Kalka confirmed that it is for the first time that they have undertaken such a task. The coach being equipped with the air-conditioner is known as the inspection coach. While it is used by the officials when they come to the section for inspections, the other passengers too can book it.

Jitendra Singh, Additional Divisional Mechanical Engineer, Kalka, said that the work on the coach is on in full swing. "Once the coach is ready it would replace the already existing coach (that does not have an air-conditioner)," he said.

The Railways had a few months back installed solar panels on the toy trains on the Kalka-Shimla track. It has now been proposed that fans in coaches can be made operational using solar power. Officials said that the passengers have raised the demand for fans on some stretches of the track. Since operating the fans consume battery, these were not considered feasible as the trains run on conventional generation system.

A railways official said, "Over the past few years the passengers have raised the demand for installing fans in the trains. The weather has undergone a change with the temperatures going marginally up. Keeping this in mind, it was proposed to install the fans."

The trains on the Kalka-Shimla stretch - it has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO have been given a facelift over the past few months. Whether it is the Rail Motor Cars or the popular toy trains, several measures have been taken to keep these century-old trains in step with the changing times.

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