AC Coach for Kalka-Shimla Toy Train

For the first time in its 110-year history of, an air-conditioned railcar will be added to the Kalka-Shimla heritage train. According to railway officials, the two new railcars – a luxury coach and a lounge car – would be fitted with a compact pantry and sofas to make the 97-km scenic ride more comfortable.

A senior official said that while the eight-seater lounge car would not be air-conditioned, the nine-seater luxury coach be fitted with air-conditioners. The two cars will be made available on demand from next weekend.

Added facility for tourists on Kalka-Shimla heritage track

Unesco World Heritage Kalka-Shimla rail line is going to have two new added attractions for tourists as catering to the need of high-end tourists, Indian Railways has decided to introduce chartered lounge card and tourist coach facility. Attached with compact pantry, these two coaches have been fitted with sofas, that would make the 97-km journey from Kalka to uphill Shimla more comfortable.

Popularity of rail journey on the 97-km heritage track having 917 sharp curves, besides 102 tunnels and 988 bridges, could be gauged from the fact that during holidays Northern Railways is forced to run special holiday trains to cater to the high demand. According to senior officials at Ambala, trial for the luxury coach has already been done while the trial of lounge car would be done after June 12. Sources said that facilities created inside these new chartered coaches match the quality of “palace on wheels”.

While the lounge car would be 8-seater, the coach would be 9-seater. “Since long there was demand from high-end tourists to have such a facility and finally we are going to provided them the best experience,” added the official.

Assistant mechanical engineer, Ambala division, Jatinder Singh said that these two coaches were being introduced as added attraction for tourists on the heritage track. “Compact pantry car would be fitted with refrigerator and heating system,” he said.

Officials said that special attention has been paid to the interiors of these two new coaches. They said modern lights, good quality PVC wall paneling and aesthetic flooring has been done to enhance the experience of passengers. Officials said that the lounge car and the luxury coach would be stationed at Kalka railway station from where they may be hired by families are groups. “We have yet to work out the charges,” officials added.

Slow and steady

While the bus journey takes three hours to reach Shimla from Kalka, the toy train takes over five hours for the same journey. To reduce journey time, the railways had mooted a proposal to increase the speed of toy train but a study suggested that it was not feasible. Kalka-Shimla rail line was laid in 1903 and since then the toy train on this track is chugging off at a speed of 25-30 km.

Group travel? Charter a train to Shimla

Planning a break this summer with your clients or staff for company? A picturesque journey in a chartered train on the century-old Kalka-Shimla rail line could be just the answer, especially for corporate honchos.

Northern Railway is running a chartered train service on the Kalka-Shimla section. Under the plan, any company or individual can hire a train comprising six coaches with a capacity to accommodate up to 180 people.

“A one-way trip between Kalka and Shimla for a chartered train would cost from Rs.20,000 to Rs.60,000, depending on the class you are travelling in. However, for a film or serial shooting, you have to shell out more – Rs.1.8 lakh,\” commercial inspector (railways) Amar Singh Thakur told IANS.

According to him, the added attraction while travelling on the chartered train is that the tourists can decide the number of stoppages on the 96-km-long rail track, which has been chosen by Unesco as a world heritage site.

“During the five-hour journey, tourists can select the stoppages. But the journey has to be completed within the stipulated time,\” Thakur said.

Shimla railway station superintendent G.S. Rajput while speaking to IANS said: \”The response of the tourists is good. In a year, three to four parties generally hire the chartered train.\”

He said foreign tourists, particularly from Britain, are keen to enjoy a joyride on this track because of a coal-fired steam engine. But right now a diesel- powered engine is in use.

The steam engine-operated train runs between Shimla and Kathlighat. The fare is Rs.59,000 for a round-trip and the one-way journey between the two stations is 22 km.

\”We have a 1903-made heritage steam engine but for over a year it has not been in operation. It has been sent to Amritsar (in Punjab) for repair. We are getting a good number of enquiries regarding its re-introduction,\” Rajput added.

David Brown, a British tourist who travelled on the Kalka-Shimla rail track, said: \”I was keen to listen to the chuff-chuff-choo-choo rhythm but sadly the engine is not in use these days.\”

The chartered trains are being handled by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a wing of Indian Railways.

The journey on the narrow-gauge rail line is an exhilarating experience.

The Kalka-Shimla rail track was built by the British in 1903 to ferry Europeans to and fro this hill town, the erstwhile summer capital of British India.

The ascent begins from 640 metres (2,100 ft) above sea level at Kalka in Haryana and crosses Dharampur, Barog, Solan and Kandaghat before it reaches Shimla at 7,000 ft.

There are 102 tunnels on the rail line. Initially, there were 103, but tunnel number 46 does not exist any more.

A train takes about three minutes to cross the longest tunnel at Barog (5,000 ft). The other big tunnels en route are at Koti (2,276 ft), Taradevi (1,615 ft) and tunnel number 103 (1,135 ft), which is near Shimla.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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‘Honeymoon coach’ in Kalka-Shimla train

It may be better to travel than to arrive, with the railways putting the ‘honeymoon special’ bogey for newlyweds back on track on the Kalka-Shimla route from next week!

“A Kalka-Shimla train will again have a special bogey – Shivalik Queen – for couples from next month,” Shimla station superintendent G.S. Rajput told IANS. The service, by Northern Railway, had been discontinued for the last few months due to renovation.

“The newly renovated compartment, of course, offers more privacy for couples in a luxurious environment with wall-to-wall carpeting and curtained windows,” he said.

At least four couples can travel in a bogey at a time and the fare per couple is Rs.750 one way, he said.

According to the railway manual, the Shivalik Queen would be attached to 241 ‘A’ Duplicate Shivalik Express that departs from the Kalka railway station at 6.30 a.m. every day.

“The honeymooners’ bogey would be attached with the train only as per reservation. It generally operates regularly during the tourist season. In summer, the season begins April 15 and continues till June 15,” commercial manager (railways) Amar Singh Thakur said.

However, if three couples want to travel jointly, they can also hire the Shivalik Palace bogey, but its fare is slightly on the higher side.

“Shivalik Palace is designed like a hotel room for six people. The bogey has folding cushioned beds and seats, wide glass windows that open, a refrigerator, on-board kitchen, a library and a dining table. It can be attached to any train on the Kalka-Shimla route. An onboard helper will be there to assist the travellers,” he said.

According to him, the Shivalik Palace fare is Rs.4,970 from Kalka to Shimla and Rs.3,595 from Shimla to Kalka.

“The Shivalik Palace is also suitable for a family or friends who want to travel together,” Thakur said.

However, the Shivalik Queen and Palace can only be booked through the Kalka and Shimla railway stations.

The journey from 640 metres above sea level at Kalka meanders through deep ravines, verdant forest of pines, deodars, oak and maples, to the ‘Queen of Hills’ Shimla, which is 2,060 metres above sea level.

The century-old rail line has been chosen by Unesco as a world heritage site in 2008.

This rail route also features in the Guinness Book of World Records for offering the steepest rise in altitude in a space of 96 km. More than two-thirds of the track is curved, sometimes at angles as sharp as 48 degrees.

Seven trains run between Kalka and Shimla during peak tourist season. Each ‘toy train’ – the popular name for it – has about seven coaches and can accommodate nearly 200 passengers.

There are 102 tunnels on the rail line. Initially, there were 103 tunnels, but tunnel number 46 does not exist any more.

“A journey by the Shimla toy train is one of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas. In fact, the entire journey covered in around five hours is almost incredible,” said John Philips, a US citizen, who travelled for the first time on the Kalka-Shimla rail line.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at