Himachal’s 108-year-old heritage railway station gutted (Lead)May 3rd, 2011 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS
Kandaghat (Himachal Pradesh), May 3 (IANS) A heritage railway station here made entirely of wood and built by the British in 1903 was gutted in a fire early Tuesday, police said. No one was injured.
The station was a junction for the Kalka-Shimla rail line, but traffic has been normal on the route.
A railway official in Shimla said communication and electricity were restored at the Kandaghat station, some 25 km from Shimla, by Tuesday evening.
The entire station — located on the Kalka-Shimla track in Solan district — was destroyed in the fire that broke out in the dead of night, Inspector General (railway traffic) Pradeep Kumar Sarpal told IANS.
Five fire engines took more than five hours to control the blaze which, he said, may have been caused by an electrical short-circuit.
All the records, rail gadgets and furniture at the station were destroyed, a railway official said.
Officials of Northern Railway from Ambala division have reached the place to evaluate the situation.
Divisional Railway Manager P.K. Sanghi told reporters that an inquiry has been ordered.
Shimla Station Superintendent G.S. Rajput said all communication and control systems have been restored.
“Even temporary lights have been installed and the electricity restored.”
The century-old Kalka-Shimla rail line, a 96-km-long narrow gauge railroad built to ferry Europeans to and from Shimla — then the summer capital of British India — was chosen by the Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 2008.
The rail line was opened to traffic in 1903 by Indian Viceroy Lord Curzon. At that time, only Europeans were allowed to use the rail link.
The ancient communication and track-control system, called the Neals Token Instrument System, is still in use on this rail section.
Only “toy trains”, as they are popularly called, run between Kalka and Shimla. Each train has about seven coaches and can accommodate nearly 200 passengers.
The journey from Kalka, 640 metres above sea level, meanders through deep ravines, verdant forest of pines, deodars, oak and maples, to the “Queen of Hills” Shimla at an altitude of 2,060 metres.
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Tags: british india, early tuesday, fire engines, heritage railway, himachal, instrument system, kalka, lord curzon, narrow gauge railroad, night inspector, northern railway, pradeep kumar, railway manager, railway official, railway station, railway traffic, rajput, sanghi, toy trains, world heritage site