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Historic Kalka-Shimla Rail line expected to resume services from October 1

Services were halted due to damage at 352 locations following heavy rainfall leading to flash floods and landslides in HP

CHANDIGARH: The 120-year-old Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge railway, a UNESCO world heritage site, is expected to be functional again from October 1 after services were halted due to damage at 352 locations following heavy rainfall leading to flash floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh.

The toy train, which runs on this 96-km track, passes through 18 stations, 102 tunnels and 988 bridges thus offering a majestic view for most of the route, as the passengers see breathtaking valleys, covered with pine, oak, and deodar trees .Repair work started in July at the 352 damaged locations, of which 327 have been repaired and work is going on at the remaining 25. The section between the Jutogh and Summer Hill stations, just before Shimla, was washed away and now the railways are rebuilding the bridge there. On July 8, piles of mud, boulders and trees fell on the tracks at 135 places and then in mid-August, the track was damaged due to heavy rains. The Railways Ministry had sanctioned Rs 15 crore for repair and restoration of the track.

Talking to The New Indian Express, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ambala, Mandeep Bhatia said, “We are expecting that the British era railway line would be restored till Shimla by September 30 and the train service will start from October 1. Meanwhile, train services till Koti have already been started from September 5.”

He said, “Now, retaining walls at different locations to strengthen the railway line, as well as longitudinal and cross drains are being constructed. Besides, short treating and rock bolting is being done and long term measures like slope protection and tunnel grouting are being carried out on this track so that in the future it can be saved from natural disasters,” adding that the work is going on at a war footing.

The railway line was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on July 8, 2008 since it offers picturesque views of lush green trees and valleys as it winds its way up from Kalka in Haryana at an elevation of 2,152 feet above sea level to Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, at 6,808 feet.

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