By : Mohan Verma
About 109 years old British Raj day locomotive engine rolled over Kalka-Shimla heritage track loaded with 12 passengers, mostly foreigners on board, railway officials said at Shimla on Saturday.
Considered to be an engineering marvel, locomotive KC 520, the only narrow gauge steam engine which dates back to 1905, operated two and fro between Shimla and Kathlighat, commercial inspector (railways) Amar Singh Thakur told media.
The one-way 22 km journey between the two stations, located on the Shimla-Kalka rail line that figures in UNESCO World Heritage site list, takes more than one hour.
The steam engine-hauled train, being handled by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a wing of the Indian Railways, with two chartered coaches was booked for Rs. 96,000, including taxes, he said.
The Indian Railways in February last year rolled out the indigenously built coal-fire steam locomotive for the first time in over six years. This was for the second time since then that it was hired.
Frank, a tourist from the US, said he had specially come here to enjoy the ride on the locomotive.
“I really enjoyed the rhythmic chiming of ‘chuff-chuff-choo-choo’ of the engine. I really enjoyed the ride in the cool hills coated with Himalayan cedars,” he said.
Another tourist Sandy said travelling on a coal-propelled engine was really memorable.