Glass-roof train chugs off on UNESCO heritage track

Glass-roof train chugs off on UNESCO heritage track

A view of a coach of the railways which is scheduled to run glass-enclosed vistadome coach in Kalka-Shimla route in next 10 days, in Kalka on Saturday. PTI

The Indian Railways on Tuesday rolled out a glass rooftop coach on the UNESCO world heritage narrow gauge track between Kalka in Haryana and picturesque hill town Shimla.

The train provides a near 360-degree panoramic view of the mountainous route that meanders through serpentine forested belts and deep gorges. The luxury coach that chugged off on the 2.6 feet narrow gauge on Tuesday has 36 passenger seats and drew large crowds.

Extended glasses windows all around the Vistadome coach adds to the charm of the glass rooftop. Wooded seats and timber interiors with comfortable cushions have been designed keeping in view the topography of the route. It also has LED lighting.

In July 2008, UNESCO added the Kalka-Shimla track on its world heritage site category. The Railways is optimistic of the response the facility will get from tourists, especially from the United Kingdom and other international tourists. The Railways at times runs the century-old steam engine on this UNESCO track on chartered bookings by international tourists. 

The Vistadome coach sans toilet has been built at an estimated cost of Rs 10 lakh. Unfortunately, the railways failed to introduce online booking for the facility on its day of launch leaving tourists disappointed.

Officials said they could not do it today for technical reasons. Sources said, online bookings will begin soon. Passenger tickets have been reasonably priced at Rs 130 for an adult and Rs 75 for children. The train journey will take 5.30 hours from start point to its destination at a gentle speed of 25 km per hour.