Plan is to increase speed of Kalka-Shimla toy train to 30-35 kmph from current 22-25 kmph. This will mean passengers won’t be able to alight from train during transit.
New Delhi: With the Northern Railway looking to increase the speed of toy trains and shorten the six-hour journey on the iconic Kalka-Shimla route, passengers will no longer be able to alight from the train through the transit.
A source from Northern Railway told ThePrint that the Shimla-Kalka toy train, which covers the 96.6 km distance in approximately five-and-half to six hours will take one hour less if the speed is increased.
At present, the speed of the train is 22-25 kmph and the plan is to increase it to between 30 and 35 kmph.
Many would remember getting on and off from the slow moving toy train while traveling between Kalka and Shimla — a narrow gauge rail route awarded UNESCO’s world heritage site status 10 years ago.
In 2018, Northern Railway had got the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) to assess if the speed of toy trains could be increased.
“Following this, the RDSO had found that to increase the speed of the coaches, some modification in the suspension system was required. RDSO had advised the Northern Railway about the modifications required, including a damper and a rubber component in the coaches,” said NK Sinha, spokesperson of RDSO.
The suspension system of a bogie comprises springs that help in the train’s movement.
“After that advice, all those modifications were carried out by the railways and an improvement was brought in the suspension system in no time,” said Sinha.
“The RDSO in return supervised the fitments of those modifications. Those modified designed of the coaches were to be validated through trials. Some instrumentation was going on in the past some time but now these coaches have started undergoing trials by RDSO This is called oscillation trial.”
The first such trial was conducted on 20 February.
According to RDSO officials, no major cost was incurred in improving the suspension system of the coaches.
“The trials will be done in different conditions — empty and loaded; different speeds — 30 kmph and 35 kmph — and in different situations — curvature, straight line,” said a source from the commission of railway safety.
RDSO conducts trials by putting sensors on the coaches as well as on the locomotives and by checking how much vibration and how much force are generated at various speeds.
“On the basis of the results, we assess them and after assessment we check what kind of forces, vibrations and accelerations are within the acceptable limits or not and up to what speed, they are under acceptable limits,” he added.
Asked how far the maximum speed of a toy train can be increased, the RDSO spokesperson said that is difficult to predict because it depends on the condition of the tracks. He said no matter how good the coaches and how modified they are, the train’s speed cannot be increased if the tracks are not in good condition.
“What we are testing is the interaction between the coaches as well the tracks, and ultimately this interaction will result into certain vibrations and forces. This measurement will help us to analyse if the speed can be increased,” Sinha said.
The team headed by the executive director of the RDSO, Hamid Akhter, will be submitting a report to the Northern Railway next week.
This will decide how far the speed can be increased — 30 kmph or 35 kmph.
From Kalka to Shimla
The Kalka-Shimla route boasts of toy trains like the Kalka Shimla passenger, Shivalik express, Kalka Shimla express, Himalayan queen and Rail motor. Around 20 stations are covered on this route and the trains navigate through around 900 curves.
There are 103 tunnels, where the train speed varies between 22 kmph and 23 kmph.
According to Northern Railway officials, the current plan is to increase the speed of the toy trains only on the Kalka-Shimla rail route.
There are three other narrow gauge routes where toy trains run, including Darjeeling, Pathankot and Ooty.
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