The Neral-Matheran toy train is yet to return to tracks because of upgrades needed to the second engine to meet the required safety norms, senior railway officials said. Having missed the Railway Board’s deadline of June 1 to restart the facility, the pace of servicing has been increased in the past one month .
The Railway Board asked the Central Railway (CR) to complete track and other maintenance work of the popular train by May 31 and restart its services partially between Aman Lodge stations and Matheran by June 1. In an inspection carried out by CR officials on May 30, work related to safety of the engine and tracks was found pending, officials said.
“Two locomotives have been retro-fitted with air-brakes to reduce chances of accident. However, one of them was sent back to the Parel workshop in mid-May to fulfill certain added norms as requested by the safety team of the railways. While the deadline was May 31, we now expect it to take another few days,” said senior railway official.
The toy train’s services were suspended after two derailments between Aman Lodge station and Neral. In January, the railways sanctioned Rs 6 crore to repair the tracks and coaches. “In the preliminary set of trials, the single engine powered with new coaches has performed well.
Since May 29, the service has been back on tracks to ferry staff or material. Another round of trials, after the new engine is obtained, should prove sufficient for the service to begin,” added the official. Officials said light drizzles in the past week have also slowed down the process.
“As major works are complete, rain slows down the pace but may not affect the overall schedule,” he said. CR authorities said safety is more important than meeting the deadline. “Certain engine revisions have made us miss the deadline. As we need to ensure that the service runs smoothly, we are taking the required precautions,” he said.
Work on the remaining stretch after Aman Lodge could gain speed from October, and restarting the entire service on the 21-kilometre route could take more time, officials said.