Ooty: Hill train aficionados want the railways to reconsider its decision to withdraw stops of passenger train services in Hillgrove station located on the racked Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR). They appealed for promotion of train tourism to Hillgrove to make this scenic hill station, the only existing station in the racked sector of the NMR, a popular train tourism spot.
While southern railway, as it announced earlier, has withdrawn the stoppage of passenger trains at Hillgrove station and stopped issuing tickets at that station since Monday, Mr K. Natarajan, founder-president of the Heritage Steam Chariot Trust (HSCT), an organisation of NMR-lovers, said this was unacceptable.
“Hillgrove railway station is the only railway station now in existence on the racked section of NMR between Coonoor and Kallar as the racked section is unique to the NMR. It gives passengers a little time to relax and enjoy the nature around when the train stops there. For various reasons, railways closed Katteri, Runneymede and Adderly railway stations in the racked sector in the past. This new attempt is the beginning of final death of railway stations in the racked section.
Since NMR is a world heritage site, the railway administration should reverse its decision and come forward to stop passenger trains and issue tickets at Hillgrove railway station,” he pleaded. Mr G. Janardhanan, president of the Ooty Town Public Awareness Association, said, “We must respect the hard work of our ancestors who braved hostile conditions in the mountain terrain to establish NMR and railway stations along the racked sector.”
Saying that the railway think-tank should explore ways and means to bring people to Hillgrove instead of looking at avenues to close it, Mr Rajeshkumar James, secretary of the Coonoor Citizens’ Forum, suggested that the railway administration come forward to at least operate heritage special picnic trips either between Mettupalayam and Hillgrove or between Coonoor and Hillgrove to promote hill train tourism in this sector and keep Hillgrove station alive. Railway sources said as of now, only issue of tickets at Hillgrove railway station is stopped and the train stops there for a while to fill water for the steam locomotive.