Coimbatore

Nilgiri mountain train gets a cool, new look

The Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchirappalli has modified NMR-87, a 25-year-old Nilgiri Mountain Railway coach in line with world-class standards while retaining its heritage value. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Golden Rock Workshop in Tiruchirappalli has modified NMR-87, a 25-year-old Nilgiri Mountain Railway coach in line with world-class standards while retaining its heritage value. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Themed vinyl wrappings, reclining chairs, LED illumination and two-floor luggage racks among added attractions

When it comes to the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) — which figures in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites — Southern Railway seems to prefer pride to profit. And the latest in its efforts to add to the allure of the train service is the addition of a refurbished 25-year-old coach, which promises an uber cool ride for the passengers.

The coach (NMR-87) has been crafted by the Golden Rock Workshop in Ponmalai, Tiruchi, with world-class amenities without its heritage value being compromised. To start with, the aesthetics of the coach has been improved by fitting it with seats similar to those that are used in the Uday AC double-decker trains. Themed vinyl wrappings, chairs with reclining facility, LED illumination, two-floor luggage racks and decorative vinyl stickers on the exteriors symbolising the charm of the NMR are some of the new features to improve the look and feel of the coach. The makeover has come at a cost of ₹1.8 lakh.

The coach, officials believe, will attract more tourists to the Nilgiris, a perennial favourite given its magnificent hills, valleys and waterfalls, not to mention the scenic tea estates, rich flora and fauna and pleasant weather.

As part of value addition, the Udhagamandalam, Coonoor and Mettupalayam stations had been identified and developed as heritage stations, officials said. The stations, served by the NMR, will also get a facelift, with landscaping, new benches and view points. These stations have already gone through a makeover with alteration to the buildings and an improved circulating area, gardens, platforms and approach roads. Further, for the benefit of passengers, Wi-Fi has been provided at Udhagamandalam, Coonoor and Mettupalayam.

The Heritage NMR museums at Mettupalayam and Udhagamandalam are also a hit among tourists. Plans are afoot to open ‘Coachteria,’ a restaurant, in one of the coaches at Udagamandalam, besides catering stalls at the Udhagamandalam and Hillgrove stations.

Chartered services

The NMR trains are operated by oil-fired X-Class steam locomotives between Mettupalayam and Coonoor. Acceding to the demands of rail enthusiasts, 56 summer special services christened as ‘Heritage Steam Voyage’ were operated between Mettupalayam and Coonoor from March 31 to June 24 at weekends.

Southern Railway is ready to offer chartered services by a coal-fired steam locomotive-hauled train between Mettupalayam and Coonoor for corporates and tour operators.

In order to increase services, in the first phase, two additional steam locomotives and 15 coaches are getting ready at the ICF, Avadi.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 11:42:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/nilgiri-mountain-train-gets-a-cool-new-look/article24514002.ece

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