Ooty: With tourists and Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) enthusiasts singing, "Happy birthday NMR…laa, laa, lalalaa", the NMR train which is popularly known as the Ooty toy train celebrated its 111th anniversary on Tuesday.
The NMR, which is a world heritage site has grown to become a much sought after tourism attraction now-a-days. Tourists love to have a feel of a steam locomotive ride in the racked NMR section between Mettupalayam and Coonoor and bio-diesel powered loco ride between Coonoor and Ooty.
At a cheerful function organized by the Heritage Steam Chariot Trust (HSCT), an organization of NMR aficionados at the railway station here, Levit Dwivedi, a three-year-old tourist from Kanpur, cut the cake to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the NMR. Railway officials, staff and functionaries from various organisations including the Citizens' Forum of Ooty, joined the celebrations.
Though the hill train service between Mettupalayam in the foothills of the Nilgiris and Coonoor in the hills began in 1899 itself, the hill train services were extended up to Ooty only on 15-10-1908. Hence the NMR day celebrations are held on October 15.
Considered as an engineering marvel of the 19th century, the NMR which starts its upward journey in Mettupalayam at an elevation of about 330 meters, ascends up to Ooty located at an elevation of 2200
meters above MSL chugging along the scenic mountains amidst the challenging slopes.
In its course of 45-km to Ooty, the hill train crosses 108 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges.
K.Nataraj, founder of HSCT, said that it will be appropriate if the railways came forward to operate a few coal-powered steam locomotives in the NMR.
The railway administration should be lauded for their recent efforts to introduce picnic trips in the NMR and special fare special trains during the weekends, he added.