The Mettupalayam-Ooty passenger train of The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) with scores of passengers, including a few foreigners, suffered a delay of about two-and-a-half hour due to a boulder falling on the track on Thursday.

Enquiries made by The Hindu revealed that four rack bars and two rails had been damaged. While the boulder had rolled further down fragments were strewn on the spot. Railway employees from Mettupalayam and Coonoor cleared the spot and set right the damage.

Meanwhile, residents in general and NMR enthusiasts in particular regretted that a natural calamity had marred the resumption.

Pointing out that the NMR has for long been considered as the Pride of the Blue Mountains, they expressed concern over problems in the form of natural calamities and technical snags plaguing it. They hoped that the problems would not get out of hand and threaten the continuance of the mountain train services.

However, sources well versed with the running of the NMR said that if appropriate changes are made in the manner in which the NMR is now being maintained, the technical problems can be tackled and the even the line can be shielded from natural calamities.

Pointing out that the heart of the NMR is its steam locomotive, they said that the experience which it facilitates makes travel over thousands of kilometres worthwhile. There are now about nine steam locomotives and sufficient number of drivers and firemen.

Pointing out that most of the locomotives have been converted into oil burners, they opined that they must revert to coal and the system of buying coal through contractors should be given up. It will ensure that the Nilgiri Mountain Railway gets good quality coal.

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