Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Coonoor is at the corner of Nilgiri plateau and is about 6,000 feet above the sea level. Coonoor has been the terminus for the Nilgiri from last 8 years. The government did the extension of Coonoor to Ootacamund and this line became functional from September 15, 1908. This line is used a lot and numerous travelers can now travel easily by it.
Unique rack System was the most important feature of this line. It was quoted in Sir Guilford L. Molesworth's report : 'The locomotive which works on Abt System has 2 different functions: first is of traction by union as in an usual loco and second is that of traction by pinion.
There are 4 brakes in number out of which 2 are hand brakes which act by friction and the other 2 which act by checking the free escape of air and compressing the air in holding back the progress of the engine. The former are utilized for shunting while the latter ones are used for descending vertical gradients. One of the hand brakes is suppose to act on the tyres which are put on the wheels in the most ordinary way and the second one which acts on the grooved surface of the pinion axle. This can be used in any place where the rack is laid down. The brake system on Nilgiri locomotives is very complicated even after hundreds of years as it was in the year 1886.
It takes 17 hours to reach Metupalaiyam from Chennai by train. The expenditure on this travel is of about Rs 20 first class. The left over 33 miles can be which goes up the vertical mountain is another 20 rupees. For this purpose the tongas can be taken and the heavy luggage can be sent by a bullock cart. The best alternative here was to take on a pony and arrange for the luggage which can be taken up by individual baggage carriers.
The Current Scenario
In today's time, the travelers from Ootacamund leave the Chennai station at 9.00 p.m. and reach at Mettupalaiyam at 7.10 in the morning, after completing a journey of 10 hours. There the platform is hardly crossed to join the meter gauge train which leaves the station at 7.25 am. The train reaches Udagamandalam in the morning at 11.40 a.m. The Nilgiri Railway (NMR) is one of the achievements made by the engineers.
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