Train services back on Kalka-Shimla heritage track

With Covid-19 curbs lifted to a large extent in Himachal Pradesh, Northern Railway has resumed train services on the Kalka-Shimla heritage track to cash in on the summer tourist rush.

Shimla station superintendent Joginder Singh said that four trains, including the Shivalik Deluxe Express and the Kalka-Shimla Express, resumed running on the British-era narrow gauge track on Monday.

Nearly 250 passengers availed the services on Day 1, barring the vistadom coach with a glass roof that found no takers.

Services were suspended in April

The train services on the Kalka-Shimla route were suspended for the second time in April 2021 after the second wave of Covid-19 prompted Himachal Pradesh and neighbouring Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh to impose a lockdown.

“We are expecting to see a rise in the number of passengers in the coming days as the Himachal Pradesh government has lifted the requirement of the RT-PCR test report to enter the state,” Joginder Singh said. “If needed, the railway will introduce more trains to facilitate tourists,” he said.

Unesco heritage site since 2008

The 96.6-km narrow gauge track was built by the British in 1903. It is seen as an engineering marvel in India with 103 tunnels (102 existing) and more than 800 bridges built in just three years.

It was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site on July 10, 2008.

The train services on the route were first suspended in March last year after the Covid-19 outbreak only to be restored in October 2020.

The journey on the Kalka-Shimla toy train is said to be one of the most scenic railway rides.