110-year-old toy train chugs back to life
Matheran toy train’s original error-prone manual brakes have been replaced with a safer air system
After nearly 18 months, the 110-year-old Matheran Toy Train resumed partial services, yesterday. It was suspended in May 2016 following several derailments, a top official said.
“The train resumed services on the critical MatheranAman Lodge sector, around 3.5km distance. We are planning to restart services on the entire 21km Neral-Matheran route as soon as possible,” Central Railway (CR) CPRO Sunil Udasi said.
So the CR started 12 shuttles daily on the route. It started from Matheran at 8.50am and returned from Aman Lodge at 9.25am, in what is Asia’s only automobile-free hill station nestled in the Western Ghats, around 110km from both Mumbai and Pune. To ensure passenger safety, the CR has introduced enhanced safety features in the toy train Phul Rani, and replaced the original manual brakes with the safer air brakes system.
In the original system, there was a manual braking system, in which six brake porters applied the brakes in sync; any time lag would cause an accident.
Easy to stop
Under the new air brake system, the train driver can now slow down or apply the brakes as required without the involvement of the brake porters.
Udasi said that the final trials to check the safety and operational issues before top officials were conducted on Sunday before giving the green signal to resume operations.
The narrow gauge toy train ascends in a zigzag from Neral to Matheran, around 762-metres from sea-level.
Matheran toy Train ascends in a zigzag from Neral to Matheran, around 762-metres from sea-level.