Rail cars refurbished, to be back on tracks next month

With new interiors from flooring to the roof, two rail cars plying on the UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla track have been completely refurbished. The revamp of the remaining two rail cars is also on the anvil. Currently off the tracks, the rail cars are likely to be restarted by next month.

The rail cars have been plying on the track since 1927. The interiors had worn out over the years. While minor alterations had been made earlier, it is for the first time in many years that the rail car has completely been overhauled. Wooden flooring now adorns these. Seats for the passengers have been changed and new plum- coloured seats have been installed. Instead of curtains that hung from the windows and the ceiling, aesthetic blinds have been put up. Sun-protection roof has been installed.

Work manager Rattan Lal Khullar say, "The rail cars are a major tourist attraction. Apart from domestic tourists, a large number of foreign tourists come here to experience the journey on this heritage track. Keeping this in mind, it was felt that there was a need for refurbishing the interiors to make these world-class. The safety aspect is of paramount importance and the rail car is being upgraded keeping this in mind."

An amount of Rs 2 lakh per rail car has been spent during the revamp. An interior decorator from Chandigarh was hired for the purpose.

Apart from the interiors, the brake system has also been changed. To increase efficiency, the earlier system of manual brakes has been replaced by the air brake system. The trial run of this system was done and at present is disconnected with the clearance pending. The driver of the rail car has also been provided with a comfortable car seat.

The rail motor car passes through 864 bridges and 102 tunnels as it runs between Kalka and Shimla. The operation of the rail cars had been stalled due to the wear and tear of their tyres. With the technology becoming obsolete, the Railways was finding it hard to find a company that would make the tyres. Since the tyres have finally been made available, the rail cars would become fit to run on the tracks once these are installed.

Station Superintendent at the Kalka Railway Station Vinay Kumar Arora says the rail cars are very popular with the tourists and there are frequent queries about when these would be back on track. "During the summer season, the rail cars as well as the toy trains run to packed capacity. The rail car is likely to become operational by next month," he adds.

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