Thursday, August 5, 2021

Indian Railways gears to offer mesmerizing view of the hills on Kalka-Shimla Railways

Offering the view of the sky and making the train experience comforting for the passengers, the newly introduced vistadome coaches by the Indian Railways were launched in India last year.

The German-made Vistadome Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) railway coaches are a part of those trains that pass through tourist locations where the passengers can indulge in sightseeing. Apart from various routes where these coaches have been installed, the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala gears up to manufacture 30 narrow gauge, vistadome coaches, for the Kalka-Shimla Railway. The RCF has been advised by the Ministry of Railways to manufacture these coaches in the next few months with upgraded state-of-the-art passenger interface areas. Currently, such types of coaches are being manufactured by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.

Equipped with a see-through glass rooftop for mesmerizing views and aesthetically textured interiors, these coaches are configured to meet passenger demands and aspirations. The RCF will undertake the manufacturing of Executive AC chair car, AC 2nd Class Chair car, General sitting, and SLR coaches.

LHB integrated technology for world-class experience:

Germany-based technology coaches, Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) are the passenger coaches of Indian Railways which are currently produced by Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala after the transfer of technology. LHB coaches have higher carrying capacity and they are designed for an operating speed up to 160 km/h and could go up to 200 km/h. This indicates a higher passenger capacity and a higher speed potential. Besides, these coaches are considered ‘anti-telescopic’ and boast ‘anti-climbing features which means that during train accidents or in case of collision, these coaches will not get turned over or flip.

As compared to conventional rakes, these coaches are lighter as they are made of stainless steel and the interiors are made of aluminum. Each coach carries an advanced pneumatic disc brake system for efficient braking at higher speeds, modular interiors that integrate lighting into the ceiling, and luggage racks with wider windows. In terms of noise produced, LHB coaches are relatively quieter as each coach produces a maximum noise level of 60 decibels while conventional coaches can produce 100 decibels.

Salient Features of Vistadome Coaches

The vistadome coaches are an observation lounge with large windows extending the enriching traveling experience of passengers with the scenic beauty of the hills. The 180° rotatable seats ensure that the passengers enjoy the view from both windows placed to their right and left. There are automatic sliding doors at both gates of the coach and the glass rooftops offer a panoramic view.

Vistadome coaches can be said a flight ride on the track. The coach has foldable snack tables similar to what is provided in flights, seat numbers with Braille language, an in-built entertainment system integrated with digital display screens and speakers along with a GPS-based public-address-cum passenger information system, access to ‘content on demand’ for passengers through Wi-Fi facility on their personal gadgets, a mini pantry with coffee maker, water cooler, hot oven and refrigerator, separate multi-tier luggage compartment, along with a separate cabin for train staff who will brief passengers regarding the coach in each ride.

The coaches will also be equipped with CCTV surveillance, a fire alarm system, and an LED destination board. So far, some of the routes where these coaches are installed by the Indian Railways are Dadar and Madgaon, Araku Valley, Kashmir Valley, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway, Kangra Valley Railway, Matheran Hill Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

About Kalka-Shimla Railway Track:

Known for its scenic view of the hills, the Kalka–Shimla Railway is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow-gauge railway 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. The route consists of 919 curves, and the sharpest is 48°.

On 8th July 2008, Kalka-Shimla Railway was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage under the name “Mountain Railways of India”.

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