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Matheran-Neral toy train resumes run after 17 months

“While we had a mere ten percent room occupancy, on Monday, the number increased by at least 60 per cent. The train has attracted tourists to the area, which saw a dip due to absence of the train,” said a hotel owner

mumbai toy train, matheran toy train, Matheran-Aman Lodge toy train service, mumbai tourism, mumbai heritage toy train, mumbai to maheran trains, latest news, indian express The train will run between Matheran and Aman Lodge railway stations for now. Deepak Joshi

SEVENTEEN months after the toy train stopped chugging between hill station Matheran and Neral following two successive derailments, the heritage train on Monday started partial operations between Matheran and Aman Lodge railway stations, and made 12 trips. Locals welcomed the restoration of the tourist attraction at the popular hill station but demanded that services be soon resumed on the complete 21-kilometre stretch between Matheran and Neral.

The Central Railway (CR) inaugurated the 2.5-kilometer stretch between Matheran and Aman Lodge and the shuttle services took 25 minutes to cover the distance. According to railway officials, the services ran at full capacity on Monday. “The response was so great that the return journey from Matheran to Aman Lodge was fully booked within 20 minutes. The resumption of services on this section will greatly benefit thousands of tourists who visit Matheran,” a senior CR official said.

Locals in Matheran urged the authorities to resume services on the complete route upto Neral at the earliest. Commuters now use cab services after Aman Lodge to travel to Neral. “We are happy that the toy train has started. However, services till Neral station should also start soon. It (services till Aman Lodge) is of no immediate benefit to local residents as we are used to walking or using our personal mode of transport,” Rohidas Karare, a resident of Matheran said.

Hotel owners, delighted at an increase in occupancy on Monday, attributed it to the toy train restarting operations. “While we had a mere ten percent room occupancy, on Monday, the number increased by at least 60 per cent. The train has attracted tourists to the area, which saw a dip due to absence of the train,” Prasad Sawant, owner of Horseland Hotel in Matheran said.

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The train is also used by traders to transport material. Many of them expressed happiness that they can resume it, at least part of the way, with the re-introduction of the train. “We are planning to develop the roadway from Aman Lodge station area till the train so that material can easily be loaded on to the train. We are hopeful of covering the entire stretch within the coming months,” Sawant added.

The train runs with four second-class coaches, or three second-class coaches and a first-class coach, with a total seating capacity of 114 passengers. The fare for second class is Rs 40 for adults and Rs 30 for children. The first-class fares are Rs 300 for adults and Rs 180 for children. It is equivalent to the fare when the train plied between Matheran and Neral. “The fares are too high considering the commuter also has to pay for cabs after Aman Lodge station toward Neral. Tourists liked to ride horses in the absence of the train in the past one year. Though our business will be affected a bit now, interested riders will always be there,” Santosh Arhade, who runs a horse riding business, said.

Officials said that it might take at least four-six months for the train to resume running on the entire route. “As work on completing the safety work in the remaining stretch is on, the same may take time,” an official added.

First published on: 31-10-2017 at 01:17:30 am
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