The Kangra Valley Railways was commissioned in 1929, and is a major tourist draw with its picturesque route through mountains.
T HE Indian Railways’ Pathankot- Jogindernagar narrow gauge rail corridor, commonly known as Kangra Valley Railway, may soon become a world heritage. The 164- km corridor passing through the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas is in the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage site and a decision could be taken soon.
At present, three narrow gauge corridors — Kalka- Shimla, Siliguri– Darjeeling and Nilgiri Mountain Railway — have been accorded the world heritage status by UNESCO. Northern Railway General Manager AK Puthia said that an application has been submitted to UNESCO seeking world heritage status for the Kangra Valley Railway. “ We have applied to the UNESCO. A decision will be taken after inspection of the corridor,” Puthia said while inspecting the Kalka– Shimla corridor along with senior officials of Northern Railway which is observing the ‘ heritage fortnight’ for the 113 years old Kalka- Shimla Railway.
“ The Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Feats has described Kalka- Shimla Railway as the greatest narrow gauge engineering in India. In recognition of the heritage value of Indian Mountain Railways, the UNESCO has created a special heritage list which includes the Darjeeling Hill Railway and Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Recently, Kalka- Shimla Railway was included in the list. We are hopeful to get the world heritage status for Kangra Valley Railway soon,” said Northern Railway CPRO, Neeraj Sharma. Officials said a team of UNESCO would inspect the corridor and necessary amendments would be made accordingly. If approved, this would be the second world heritage corridor falling under the northern railway.
Railway officials said maintaining the heritage value of the rail corridor was the biggest challenge before them.
While seven pairs of trains run daily on the Kalka- Shimla corridor, maintenance of the permanent assets is done manually by 152 trackmen who are deputed round the clock. Keeping in view the need to preserve the ecology, northern railway has also introduced a green train on the section. All coaches of ‘ Himalayan Queen’ train have been provided with solar panels on the roof.
The batteries used in the train are selfcharging with a life of nearly 7 days.
Trial of trains with solar- panel on rooftop is also underway on kangra Valley railway.
The Kangra Valley Railway lies in the sub- Himalayan region and covers a distance of 164 km from Pathankot in Punjab to Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh. The Kangra valley railway falls under the Firozpur division of Northern Railway. The railway line was planned in May 1926 and commissioned in 1929. Currently all the services are passenger trains i. e. the trains stop at all stations of II- class and some trains also have FC- class of accommodation. Some specials are run during the holiday season. Chartered trains can also be booked. From Pathankot one can travel by a narrow gauge train till Nagrota Bagwan or Kangra to reach Dharamsala.
An application has been submitted to UNESCO seeking world heritage status for Kangra Valley Railways