MORE than six months after the Neral-Matheran toy train service was suspended following two derailments, the delay in sending a tender report to the Railway Board has stalled its restoration. The tender is for building a safety mechanism, which include a retaining wall and restoration of tracks..
In May, the Central Railway had called for a change in design of the coaches and establishment of safety mechanism before resuming the service.
The toy train remains a major mode of transport for Matheran locals and a popular tourist service. Residents complained that tourist footfall at the hill station has reduced by half after the service was stopped.
According to senior CR officials, the report includes a tender worth Rs 20 crore to build the retaining wall along important sections of the 20 kilometer route and additional requirement for tracks. Though the report was prepared a long time ago, its sanctioning has been withheld in the headquarters at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus due to some internal issues.
“Due to a few unsought deliberations on the changes in requirements of the tender, the report remains to be sent to the Board,” said a senior CR official.
Twenty six coaches and three engines on this route have been fitted with air brakes while officials confirmed that work on the tracks is underway. What remains is upgradation of tracks, re-design of coaches and the wall.
“Till now, coaches to run sufficient services between Neral-Matheran route have been retrofitted with air brakes. The tender also includes buying more rails and coaches which can have air brake system on it. We are also facing problems with transporting rocks for tracks due to unavailability of any mode of transport,” said a senior CR official.
Sources confirmed that considering the need to connect Aman Lodge station and Matheran stations by train is much more urgent at present, services between the same can resume by March if the sanction of other required things is approved. One of the walls will primarily be built near the Aman Lodge junction, where the coaches had derailed, and adjacent to which is a steep valley.
“After financial commission is through, we will await the Commission of Railway Safety sanction for the train to begin. Services could first resume between Aman Lodge-Matheran belt by March if all clearances and approvals are through,” an official confirmed.