Constructed during the British Raj in 1908, the famous ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ is located in Tamil Nadu, India. This railway line was included in UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage Sites’ list in June 2005. It is managed by Southern Indian railway. This unique and vintage railway line, passes through the Nilgiri mountains and is a ‘joy ride’ in the true sense.
The basic ‘History’ of the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line:
The construction of this unique ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line began way back in 1908. The initial plan was to start from Coimbatore Junction, and make Coonoor the final destination of this railway line. However, it was in September 1908 that it was extended to Fernhill. Finally though, by mid October it was stretched to Ooty. And as of today, this fascinating railway line is operated right up to Udhagamandalam (Ooty).
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The ‘Abt Rack and Pinion’ system used in the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line:
The “Nilgiri Mountain Railway” line is known for a track system known as the ‘Abt Rack and Pinion System’. This system basically helps the locomotives used to climb over a steep gradient. Furthermore, this system is mainly found in between the Mettupalayam and Coonoor railway stations. This line is also considered to be the only “Rack Railway” in India.
The ‘route’ used and the ‘major stations’ in the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line:
‘Uphill and downhill’ are two types of journeys undertaken by locomotives along the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line. It takes 4.8 hours (290 minutes) to complete an uphill journey while, during the journey downhill it takes about 3.6 hours ( 215 minutes). Apparently, this unique track is said to be one among the ‘steepest’ in Asia with a gradient of 8.33% found to be the maximum. The major railway stations on this line include Mettupalayam, Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Ketti, Lovedale, and Ooty.
The ‘locomotives’ used in the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line:
‘Steam and diesel locomotives’ are used along the fascinating ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line. The steam locomotive can be used in any section in this line. However, the diesel locomotive can only be used in between Coonoor and Ooty. The engines mainly used belong to a brand known as ‘X Class steam rack locomotives’ which is manufactured by the ‘Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur’.
The ‘Edmondson Style’ ticketing system used in the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line:
An old ticketing system known as ‘Edmondson’ is used in the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line. It is mainly in operation during the Ooty to Mettupalayam journey, essentially to maintain its “World Heritage Site'”status. In addition, computerized ticketing is available for most of the routes in this railway line.
The ‘effect’ of the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line on popular culture:
A number of films( including international) have used the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway’ line as location. For example, a David Lean movie titled ‘A Passage To India’ has used Coonoor station as a live location. The famous Bollywood song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ has been choreographed and shot on top of a Nilgiri railway locomotive. In addition, three BBC documentaries were shot on Indian Hill Railways of which one covered the train services provided in the Nilgiri Mountain.
If you truly wish to enjoy an lush green landscape and fresh air, then you must travel, at least once in your lifetime, via the ‘Nilgiri Mountain Railway line.