Steam locomotive set to return on Neral-Matheran route

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THE steam locomotive will come back to life on Neral-Matheran Hill Railway by June 10.

Although the service will not be regular, its return is good news for those fascinated by the old-world charm of a whistling steam engine. It will be included in a fleet of toy train services between Neral and Matheran. Passengers can experience the picturesque terrain of the region.

The steam engine B-794 has been converted from coal-fired to oil-fired. "Flames from coal in steam engines would burn trees along railway tracks. There will be no flames from oil-fired engines," a senior CR official said.

Last month, B-794 was sent to Golden Rock Railway Workshop (GOC), Tiruchirapalli, for fuel conversion. GOC, adjudged the best workshop in Southern Railway, overhauls diesel locomotives and coaches, apart from manufacturing steam locomotives and wagons.

"The fuel conversion work is over. We will dispatch the engine by road and it will reach Neral in four-five days," said P Mahesh, chief works manager, GOC.

"There will be some trial runs between Neral and Jummapatti stations," a CR official said.

On May 7, 2002, a heritage run was organised on the occasion of mini railways completing 100 years. It then became a hill charter service for foreign tourists on Neral-Matheran route. After the 2005 floods, services on this section were suspended till 2007. In 2010, the engine was brought to Parel workshop for repairs.

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