Travel, transport and taxi business units in Shimla affected by the monsoon fury await the completion of the restoration works on the 96-km British-era Kalka-Shimla railway line that was damaged during the rains.
The train services on the over 120-year-old heritage railway line that meanders through the hilly terrains of the Himalayan region had been hampered due to landslides, floods and heavy rain for almost two months.
As a result, the transport, travel and taxi business units that were completely dependent on the train have been jobless for over two months now.
Speaking on the issue, a local taxi driver, Sohan Lal said, “Our job is almost over, we have not done any job for over two months now. Tourists have started arriving here but we are completely dependent on the train services. It will take 8 to 10 more days for the complete restoration of the train services. We are eagerly awaiting for it to resume.”
“The transporters are paying salaries to drivers and clearing EMIs and are not earning anything. Now these business units are looking forward to the restoration and resuming of the train services on the heritage railway track,” he added.
Another transporter Vijayant Sharma expressed his concerns and said, “Shimla is a tiny city and there are several taxi unions present, it has been about two months since a train arrived here. We all anticipate that the train will begin running here from October 1 onwards. Paying loans and the drivers’ salaries is getting more difficult. I’ve been in the travel industry for more than ten years, but have never encountered such an issue.”
“We come here clean and take care of our business and go back home. Some of the vehicle owners and drivers could not even come to check the cars, the batteries are dying and it is becoming difficult for everyone,” Sharma further added.
The foreigners have also become disappointed as the toy train on the Kalka-Shimla Railway is a preferred choice of travel for foreign tourists but due to the bad track and railway line, they are not able to avail this facility.
“I wanted to travel through Kalka to Shimla by the toy train but the road was damaged and I had to travel by taxi, it was very expensive for me. Shimla is a beautiful city, with nice buildings and tasty food. I hope the train services on the railway line resume so I can travel through the hill state on it,” said Alexander a tourist from Russia.
Built during British rule, the 96-km Kalka-Shimla railway line is an architectural marvel of Himachal Pradesh.
The railway line provides a glimpse of the sheer beauty of nature and breathtaking vistas of the hill state while passing through 18 stations, 102 tunnels and 988 bridges on the way.
The Kalka–Shimla Railway was built between 1898 and 1903 to connect Shimla, the summer capital of India during the British Raj, with the rest of the Indian rail system.
UNESCO on 8 July 2008, added the Kalka–Shimla Railway to the mountain railways of India’s World Heritage Site.
The repair work on the railway line started in July at the 352 damaged locations, of which 327 have been repaired and work is going on at the remaining 25.
The Railways Ministry had sanctioned ₹15 crore for the repair and restoration of the track.
The Kalka-Shimla narrow gauge railway, a UNESCO world heritage site, is expected to be functional again from October 1 after services were halted due to damage at 352 locations following heavy rainfall in the state.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.