The ‘Summer of 2011' will witness an increased number of trips between Mettupalayam and Coonoor on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), according to the Divisional Manager, Southern Railway, Salem, P.N.Ram.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Wednesday, he said that if the move produces the desired results vis-à-vis performance of the locomotives and response from the tourists the extra trips will be continued even after the tourist season.

Stating that the proposal to increase the number of trips has been mooted because four new oil-fired locomotives are getting ready for the NMR at the Golden Rock Workshop of the Southern Railway at Trichy, he said that the first engine is likely to reach Coonoor by December.

The remaining will join the fleet by April 2011.

When asked about the problems like the engines catching fire which have of late been plaguing the NMR, Mr. Ram said that the new engines will not encounter such problems.

Crew members have been asked to exercise utmost care in operating the locomotives, he said and claimed that technical problems will not place the passengers in jeopardy.

Stating that old age and resultant wear and tear were the main reasons for the locomotives developing mechanical problems frequently, he said that despite an annual loss of Rs. 10 crore, the railway ministry is keen on keeping the NMR going because of its immense heritage value and enormous tourism potential.

The running of chartered services and special trains will be encouraged.

There is a proposal to re-open the Runneymede station below Coonoor and convert it into a halt station.

The Southern Railway will consider reviving freight services if the tea industry and others are ready to patronize it.

Pointing out that the NMR is as much the pride of the Salem division as it is of the Nilgiris, he said that the railway employees are as enthusiastic as the people of the Nilgiris in ensuring that it runs smoothly.

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