UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Himachal – Kalka Shimla Railway
On 8 July 2008, UNESCO added the Kalka–Shimla railway to the mountain railways of India World Heritage Site.
The Kalka–Shimla Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-gauge railway in North India which traverses a mostly-mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. The railway was built in 1898 to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the rest of the Indian rail system. During its construction, 107 tunnels and 864 bridges were built along the route.
Its early locomotives were manufactured by Sharp, Stewart, and Company. Larger locomotives were introduced, which were manufactured by the Hunslet Engine Company. Diesel and diesel-hydraulic locomotives began operation in 1955 and 1970, respectively.
The idea of connecting Shimla by rail was first raised by a correspondent to the Delhi gazette in November 1847.
Shimla became the summer capital of British India in 1864 and was the headquarters of the Indian army. This meant that twice a year it was necessary to transfer the entire government between Calcutta and Shimla by horse and ox-drawn carts. In 1891 the 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) broad-gauge Delhi–Kalka line opened, which made the construction of a branch line up to Shimla feasible.
Construction of the Kalka–Shimla railway on 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge tracks was begun by the privately funded Delhi-Ambala-Kalka Railway Company following the signing of a contract between the secretary of state and the company on 29 June 1898.
The Chief Engineer of the project was H.S. Harlington.
The 95.68 km (59.45 mi) line opened for traffic on 9 November 1903 and was dedicated by Viceroy Lord Curzon.
Due to the high capital and maintenance costs and difficult working conditions, the railway was allowed to charge higher fares than on other lines. Nevertheless, the company had spent 16,525,000 rupees by 1904 with no sign of the line becoming profitable, which lead to it being purchased by the government on 1 January 1906 for 17,107,748 rupees.
Since July 1987, the line has been managed by the Ambala Division from Ambala Cantt.
On 7 July 2011 Indian Railways opened the Baba Bhalku Rail Museum in Shimla to document the history of the railway line and to display related artefacts.
Trains plow on track are;
- Shivalik Deluxe Express: Ten coaches, with chair cars and meal service
- Kalka Shimla Express: First and second class and unreserved seating
- Himalayan Queen: Connects at Kalka with the express mail of the same name and the Kalka Shatabdi Express to Delhi.
- Kalka Shimla Passenger: First and second class and unreserved seating
- Rail Motor: First-class railbus with a glass roof and a front view
- Shivalik Queen: Ten-carriage luxury fleet. Each carriage accommodates up to eight people and has two toilets, wall-to-wall carpeting and large windows. Available through IRCTC’s Chandigarh office.