Tourism: Ooty-Coonoor train services likely to be resumed by January-end

Southern Railway braving odds to restore NMR line; donkeys pressed into service to transport stones

Udhagamandalam: The Southern Railway authorities are braving a variety of odds to ‘re-rail’ the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) which had been ‘de-railed’ by the large number of landslides which occurred on the line during last month’s heavy rain.

Treacherous path: Donkeys transporting stones to a badly-damaged part of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, near Aruvankadu.

Since the normal functioning of the NMR (a major tourist attraction) usually went a long way in reassuring visitors that all was well on the tourism front in this vacation destination, the railway authorities are working overtime to resume services at least on the Ooty-Coonoor stretch. Even donkeys have been pressed into service to transport stones to a badly damaged part of the line near Aruvankadu.

Railway sources told The Hindu here on Tuesday that a few days ago a diesel engine had been taken on a trial run from Coonoor to the damaged spot. It was to ensure that the track was fit to transport men and materials, including 60 feet long girders to the breach spot. Simultaneously a trolley run had been carried out between Ooty and the breach spot.

The slopes were being strengthened.

To a query, they said that by January-end services between Ooty and Coonoor would be resumed.

Compared to the Ooty-Coonoor section the job of clearing the Coonoor-Mettupalayam section was much harder because huge boulders were lying on the track.

For the past two days efforts were being made to break a boulder weighing about 400 tonnes near Kallar.

Meanwhile, with less then three months to go for the 2009 Summer tourist season in this disaster-hit vacation destination various sections of society particularly those dependent on tourism for a livelihood are wondering what was in store.

They are keeping their fingers crossed hoping that restoration works along the NMR and the national highway would be completed soon and total normalcy restored.

D. Radhakrishnan From THE HINDU

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