AFTER REMAINING suspended for seven months, a daily ‘toy’ train will resume service on the Kalka-Shimla railway track starting Wednesday, the Northern Railways said.
The Kalka-Shimla Express Special, whose number has been revised to 04515/04516, will depart from Kalka at 12:10 and arrive in Shimla at 17:20 after stopping at 10 other stations en route. The down train will depart from Shimla the next day at 10:40 and reach Kalka at 16:10, said railway authorities. The train has seven coaches and will run daily.
An official said that the train service is being resumed keeping in mind the festival season rush. Train services on the track were suspended in March when the country went into lockdown to battle the coronavirus.
On September 6, a special train was run from Solan to Shimla for the benefit of candidates appearing for an examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. Ultimately, it had carried only two passengers — a candidate and his parent — while the down train ran without any passengers.
The Kalka Shimla Railway, part of the Mountain Railways of India, was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2008. The 96 kilometre-long railway line from Kalka in Haryana to Shimla passes through 102 tunnels, 988 bridges and 917 curves some of which are as sharp as 48 degrees, according to the Indian Railways. The longest tunnel near Barog is 1,143 metres long.
‘Lack of train services affecting hospitality industry’
According to Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association Shimla, the continued suspension of trains from Kolkata to Kalka has a direct impact on the occupancy of hotels and homestays in Shimla, especially during the Durga Puja holidays when tourists from Bengal come to Himachal in large numbers. The occupancy in hotels is 15 to 20 per cent this year as compared to usual 70 to 80 per cent during the festive season, said Mohinder Seth, president of the association.
Seth said tourists from Gujarat and Maharashtra also come to Himachal in large numbers during the Navratri holidays around Diwali, but are being deterred this time due to various reasons.
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