A 109-year-old British-era steam engine restarted operations over the weekend on the Kalka-Shimla heritage track with over 12 passengers, mostly foreigners on board, railway officials said. Considered to be an engineering marvel, locomotive KC 520, the only narrow-gauge steam engine that dates back to 1905, operated between Shimla and Kathlighat, Amar Singh Thakur, Commercial Inspector (Railways), was quoted as saying in an IANS report.
The one-way 22-km-long journey between the two stations, located on the Shimla-Kalka rail line that figures in UNESCO World Heritage Site list, takes more than one hour. The steam engine-hauled train, being handled by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a wing of the Indian Railways, with two chartered coaches was booked for Rs 96,000, including taxes.
IRCTC officials said under the plan, any company or individual can hire a steam train comprising two to three coaches with a capacity to accommodate up to 40 people between Shimla and Kathlighat at a cost of Rs 80,000 plus 20 per cent Service Tax. Food is provided on board.