Ooty: While the Southern railway (SR) administration is gung-ho about taking Nilgiris Mountain Railway(NMR) to the line of modernity with designing of new ‘swanky coaches’, the Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC), an NGO here, has called to keep NMR Heritage in mind while going for modernization of NMR.
Hill veteran, Dr Dharmalingam Venugopal, director of NDC, said that the new ‘swanky’ coaches for the NMR appears befitting a railway saloon more than a heritage mountain railway.
The NMR carries with it more than a century of history, heritage and mountain culture. European capital, engineers, technology as well as Indian labour and railway staff have contributed to keeping the legacy going. The new coaches should reflect some of this rich heritage. Otherwise, the four hour journey in a luxurious glass case, could be monotonous, he noted.
The changing mountain air as the train climbs and the sound of train chugging are very much part of the enjoyment NMR. Closeted in sound proof coach may not appeal to the connoisseurs of heritage or steam trains. Information like altitude, gradient, tunnel number and length, station names and their meaning should be displayed inside the coaches. Making announcements will only divert the attention of the passengers, who should be left to themselves to enjoy the ride, he pointed out. The NMR should be promoted as a global cooperative venture surviving time and change, besides as a global legacy under the care of the Indian railways, he advocated.As the UNESCO Heritage Committee noted, “NMR was a unique example of construction genius employed by Railway engineers in the later part of 19th century. As an example of the transfer of rack railway technology to remote locations outside Europe, the NMR is certainly the outstanding remaining example in the world, in terms of its scale, authenticity, continuity and pres entation.
As anensemble, with its impeccably maintained permanent way; its elegant, original stations and associated buildings, and its large proportion of old rolling stock and locomotives, it is genuinely outstanding, even unique”, he explained....