The Central Railway (CR) is conducting trials to run the toy train between Matheran and Neral stations using eight coaches for the entire 21-km stretch. This will help add passenger capacity to the heritage train service, which runs with six coaches.
Last week, a team from the Research Designs and Standard Organisation (RDSO) conducted trails of train with eight coaches. Presently, the train takes shuttle services between Matheran and Aman Lodge stations with eight coaches.
As there is a steep climb between Neral and Aman Lodge stations, railways is conducting trials to check if they can easily ferry the train with eight coaches for the entire route.
According to senior railway officials, engines will be attached to either sides of the train that will help power its capacity to pull additional coaches.
“There are many factors which are helping us conduct the trials successfully. Last year, air-powered brakes were fitted into the train instead of manual powered brakes. This has helped its capacity to the great extent. We have also installed safety nets and wall along the hill to ensure safety,” a senior official said. The CR is adding coaches to the train after passengers demanded addition in seating capacity of this service.
“During the weekend, the service remains extremely popular. Crowds queue up at the ticket booking windows and we are required to deploy railway police to manage the crowd,” a senior railway official said. Two second class coaches, each having 30 seats, are likely to be added to the toy train. After the RDSO approves of the trials, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) will approve of it. Senior railway officials said that the train will run with eight coaches in the coming four months.
Also, the CR would add modified coaches to the train service including one air-conditioned coach.
In 2016, the train services of the toy train were suspended after twin derailments on the route. Last year, the CR resumed services of the toy train which runs at 10 kilometer per hour on the section.
According to sources, while CR spends close to Rs.1 crore 10 lakh on an average to run this train service every month, its average ticket fare earning is close to Rs. 20 lakh.
It sees great demand among tourists in the weekend. Locals, who cannot take the train use cab services to reach Aman Lodge station from Neral station.’