Millennium Post

Railway Ministry to empower top brass of Hill railway in bid to boost tourism

Darjeeling: To enhance the tourism potential and preservation, the Indian Railway Ministry has decided to bestow more powers to Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) and the directors of the heritage Hills Railways of India.
There are five Hill Heritage Railways, namely the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), Kalka Shimla Railway (KSR), Kangra Valley Railway (KVR) and Matheran Light Railway (MLR).
UNESCO has accorded world heritage status to three Indian Railway systems, collectively labeled as Mountain Railways of India.
The DHR was the first to be accorded the World Heritage status. The DHR became operational in 1881. It was inscribed as a World Heritage site on December 2, 1999.
The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu, started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. The Kalka Shimla Railway, a 96-km long, single track working rail link was built in the mid-19th century. All three railways are still fully operational.
Subrata Nath, executive director, Heritage of the Railway Board, in a directive issued recently, stated that local communities within the operational areas of these railway systems should be encouraged to participate in promoting tourism. This can be done by providing opportunities to these communities to showcase their art, crafts, culture and cuisines, recommended the directive.
The directive states that respective DRMs, under whom these railway systems operate, can treat these Hill Railways as separate activity and profit centres of the concerned divisions.
"The DRMs are empowered to approve all regular and seasonal train services, including joy ride trains, chartered trips and holiday special train trips, to meet tourist and local demand," stated a release.
The release further states that the division under which these trains operate, can engage any suitable agency for designing, packaging and marketing of tourist packages on these railways.
Incidentally, Ashwini Lohani, chairman, Railway Board, during a recent visit to Darjeeling to take stock of the DHR, had instructed that directors of Hill Railways be empowered to process and grant permission for shooting of films, along with publicity of these railways, to attract more tourists.

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