Passengers may soon get to travel in advanced Vistadome narrow-gauge coaches which offer a panoramic view of the scenic route on the Kalka-Shimla heritage line.
Manufactured at Rail Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala, these coaches with glass roofs and large windows will have a final trial run on the Kalka-Shimla route before they are put into service.
The production of the Vistadome narrow-gauge coaches commenced following successful oscillation trials of two prototype coaches on the Kalka-Shimla heritage track in December last year.
The RCF at Kapurthala in Punjab is slated to roll out four of these coaches by the first week of February, said a senior RCF official. Each Vistadome coach will cost approximately Rs 1.3 crore.
The four coaches — AC executive car (12 seats), AC chair car (24 seats), non-AC chair car (30 seats) and one power-cum-luggage and guard car — will be manufactured and handed over to the Research Designs and Standards Organisation for further trials on the 96-km Kalka-Shimla railway track.
After getting due clearance from the commissioner of railway safety, these coaches would be put into service for which the date of launch is yet to be finalised by the Railway Ministry.
According to the RCF, a total of 30 Vistadome coaches would be manufactured for the Kalka-Shimla line.
Besides, these coaches would also be manufactured for the Kangra Valley line.
These coaches will have panoramic windows, a lightweight shell with an upgraded bogie and improved braking system. They are also equipped with modern safety features like CCTVs and fire alarms.
The coaches will also have aesthetic plush interiors, windowpanes with anti-UV coating, power window in upper class, powered doors, heating-cooling package, linear concealed fans, linear LED lights, modular seating, restaurant seating with luxury seats for executive class and mini pantry, among other things.
The British laid the first rail link to connect Shimla in 1903. In 2009, the Kalka-Shimla mountainous rail track was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
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