Tram-like train will cut tedious trek to Matheran

Travellers lamenting the lack of an efficient transport system to reach Matheran have reason to rejoice. By the end of 2012, tourists who had to make an arduous 3-km trek, will be able to travel from Dodhani Village till Sunset Point in the comfort of a funicular train. The Mumbai Metropolitan
Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will float tenders next week for setting up the system, which will cost more than Rs 100 crore.

“The project will boost tourism and improve connectivity to Matheran, the most important tourist attraction in the region.” Joint Metropolitan Commissioner Ashwini Bhide said. The project will cover a route of 1.3 km from Dodhani Village near Panvel to Maillot Sunset Point. Currently, travellers can access the hill resort through a narrow-gauge railway line connecting Neral and Matheran on the Central Railway’s Mumbai-Pune route.

This line is 20-km long and takes about two hours of travelling and is sometimes closed during the monsoon. The other option is the road route from Neral, which is 9 km of hilly terrain to Dasturi Point. It takes 30 minutes and as motor vehicles are not allowed in Matheran, visitors have to undertake a 3-km walk that takes about 45 minutes.

Once the funicular railway is in place, the distance will reduce to 15 minutes. During non-peak hours, the funicular railway can also be used for transporting goods.

MMRDA officials claimed they are likely to finalise tenders by the year-end and passengers can use the service by December 2012.