The Nilgiri Mountain Railways, a UNESCO Heritage Railways, is one of the oldest Railway Systems in Indian Railways dating as back as 1899. This 120 years old Hill Railways is unique in many ways including the pinion and racked meter gauge track between Mettupalayam and Coonoor that boasts of coaches being hauled by nostalgic X Class Steam Locos albeit with a modern tech added to it.
The coaches that are currently being used at the NMR are more than 4 decades old and have been refurbished and retrofitted time and again. For the first time, the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai has come forward and taken up the task of designing and developing new age steel bodied coaches for the Heritage NMR Railway system. These have a lighter but sturdier frame design with larger windows for panoramic views of the beautiful vistas that the Nilgiri ranges provide. All the coaches have cushioned seats and LED lights for passenger comfort.
The luggage cum second class coach also has enough space and wider door to enable wheelchair access. The coaches have meter gauge bogies with rack and pinion arrangement in their leading axles. There is also a covered space for the Brake man in every coach apart from having a inter vehicle coupler to enable a mic and speaker arrangement for Driver-Guard-Brakeman communication on the go.
Totally, 15 coaches are being planned to be manufactured by ICF for NMR over the next few months. Of these 15 coaches, 12 of them will make 3 rakes comprising of 1 first class coach with a capacity of 32 seats, 2 second class seater coaches with a capacity of 44 each and 1 luggage-cum-passenger car with a capacity of 26, together form one rake. The remaining 3 coaches will be spare coaches in case of any maintenance or replacement needs.
The first formation of 1 rake comprising 4 new all steel stainless steel coaches for the NMR have been just rolled out from ICF and they are now on their way to Mettupalayam by rail.
The first dispatch of 4 coaches will shortly reach Salem Division of Southern Railway for operation in NMR section. These coaches will undergo extensive tests on the line for at least a couple of weeks before being introduced for public usage.