Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Nilgiri Mountain Railway
The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR) is a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in) metre gauge railway in Tamil Nadu, India, built by the British in 1908, and is operated by the Southern Railway. NMR is the only rack railway in India.
The railway relies on its fleet of steam locomotives. For the past several years, diesel locomotives have taken over from steam on the section between Coonoor and Udhagamandalam. Local people and tourists have led a campaign to return to the use of steam locomotives in this section.
In July 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The site then became known as Mountain railways of India.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway History
The construction of NMR started in 1908. Initially, Coonoor was the final station on the line, but in September 1908 it was extended to Fernhill, and eventually up to Udagmandalam by October 15, 1908.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Operators
The NMR and all its movable and immovable assets, including the authentic railway stations, the line, and the track vehicles, belong to the Government of India and are entrusted to the Ministry of Railways. The Southern Railway handles the day-to-day maintenance and management but several programs, divisions and departments of the Indian Railways are responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing the NMR. This includes technical as well as non-technical work.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Rack and Pinion is the only Rack in India
Between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, the line uses the Abt rack and pinion system to climb the steep gradient. Thus NMR is the only rack railway in India.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Rolling Stock
On the rack, section trains are operated by 'X' Class steam rack locomotives manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland.
These steam locomotives can be used on any part of the line (either with or without the rack section), but the newer diesel locomotives can operate on the entire section, between Mettupalayam and Udagamandalam. This signals the beginning of the process to phase out the coal-fired vintage Swiss engines that took scores of passengers on the rack and pinion track to Coonoor and Udhagamandalam, covering 45.8 kilometres (28 mi), 108 curves, 16 tunnels and 250 bridges.
Hence, the Southern Railway decided to replace the coal-fired locomotives. The work was entrusted to Golden Rock Workshop of Southern Railway at Tiruchirapalli. Each of the new engines weighs a little over 50 tonnes and cost Rs.10 crore.
The new engine has been provided with pilot and primary burners with separate tanks to hold about 850 litres (190 imp gal; 220 US gal) of diesel and 2,250 litres (490 imp gal; 590 US gal) of furnace oil. The hauling capacity of this new engine is 97.6 tonnes (96.1 long tons; 107.6 short tons) and it can run at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour (19 miles per hour) in plains and at 15 kilometres (9.3 miles) an hour on a gradient. The arrival of the new engines has eliminated the disruption in service that occurred frequently over the last few years.
For long, the X Class locomotives manufactured by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland lent that distinct charm to NMR. These locomotives are six to eight decades old, railway officials said
The steam locomotives are always marshalled at the downhill (Mettupalayam) end of the train. The average gradient in this rack section is 1 in 24.5 (4.08%), with a maximum of 1 in 12 (8.33%). Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam the train is operated by a YDM4 diesel locomotive using conventional rail adhesion principles. On this section, the locomotive is always at the Coonoor end of the train as although the line is not steep enough to need a rack rail, the ruling gradient out of Coonoor is still very steep at 1 in 25 (4%).
The majority of repairs to the locomotives are carried out at the Coonoor shed but many of the steam locomotives have been rebuilt at the Golden Rock Workshops. Carriages are repaired at Mettupalayam but, like the locomotives, are taken to one of the big railway workshops for major work.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Route
Dist.                Station                        Code       Elev.
to                    Coimbatore Junction   CBE        1348 ft     410.9 m 
0                      Mettupalayam              MTP       1069 ft     325.8 m 
8 km 5 mi       Kallar                                            1260 ft     384 m 
13 km 8 mi     Adderly                                         2390 f t    728.5 m 
18 km 11 mi Hillgrove                         HLG       3580 ft    1091.2 m 
21 km 13 mi Runneymede                                4612 ft    1405.7 m 
25 km 16 mi Kateri Road                                   5070 ft    1545.3 m 
28 km 17 mi Coonoor                         ONR       5616 ft    1711.8 m 
29 km 18 mi Wellington                      WEL       5804 ft    1769.1 m 
32 km 20 mi Aravankadu                    AVK        6144 ft    1872.7 m 
38 km 24 mi Ketti                                 KXT        6864 ft     2092.1 m 
42 km 26 mi Lovedale                         LOV        7000 ft     2133.6 m 
44 km 27 mi Fernhill
46 km 29 mi Udhagamandalam        UAM      7228 ft      2203.1 m
The 'Nilgiri Passenger' train covers a distance of 26 km (16.2 mi), travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and across 250 bridges. The uphill journey takes around 290 minutes (4.8 hours), and the downhill journey takes 215 minutes (3.6 hours). It has the steepest track in Asia with a maximum gradient of 8.33%.
As of 2007, there is one train a day over the rack section, which starts from Mettupalayam at 07:10 and reaches Udhagamandalam at noon. The return train starts from Udhagamandalam at 14:00, and reaches at 17:35. The train is scheduled to connect to the Nilgiri Express, which travels from Mettupalayam to Chennai via Coimbatore. A summer special service is also run during the months of April and May, starting from Mettupalayam at 09:30 (AM) and from Udhagamandalam at 12:15 (PM). Between Coonoor and Udagamandalam, there are four daily trains each way.
Even though the NMR stations have networked computerised ticketing systems for onward journeys, it still issues Edmondson style manual tickets for the Udhagamandalam-Mettupalayam journey to preserve the 'World Heritage Site' status of the railway. However, ticket booking is similar to other conventional trains and can also be done via this website. It is advisable to book tickets for this railway well in advance, especially during peak season.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Stations
Mettupalayam Railway Station
Station with the 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) line near to Coimbatore Junction. Passengers cross the platform to board the Nilagiri Passenger train (NMR). There is a small locomotive shed here and also the carriage workshops for the line. Leaving Mettupalayam, the line is adhesion worked and actually drops for a short distance before crossing the Bhavani River, after which it starts to climb gently.
Kallar Station
Closed as a passenger station, this is where the rack rail begins. As the train leaves the station, the gradient is 1 in 12 (8.33%).
Adderly Station
Closed as a passenger station but is still a water stop.
Hillgrove Station
Block post and water stop, also has refreshments for passengers.
Runneymede Station
Closed as a passenger station but is still a water stop.
Kateri Road Station
Closed as a passenger station, trains do not stop here.
Coonoor Railway Station
Main intermediate station on the line at the site of the locomotive workshops as well as the top end of the rack rail. Trains must reverse a short distance before continuing their climb to Udhagamandalam. It is normal for the locomotive to be changed here with diesel traction, being normal for all trains to Udhagamandalam.
Wellington Railway Station
Aravankadu Railway Station
Ketti Railway Station
Lovedale Railway Station
From a short distance before Lovedale, the line descends into Udhagamandalam.
Udhagamandalam Railway Station
Udhagamandalam railway station, has preserved much of its equipment from the railway heyday of the Raj. In addition to the original 1908 building, it still has an operational water dispenser for steam locomotives, and a weighing scale made in 1907 by Hendry Boomley & Son of Birmingham.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Popular Culture
Nilgiri Mountain Railway in Film
  • Coonoor station was one of two used as locations in David Lean's film A Passage to India.
  • You can also see Coonoor station and its heritage locomotive in many of the Indian films.
  • Wellington station always finds a place in most of the films casting the Indian army or army training storyline mainly due to the MRC Indian Army Regiment, Defence Services Staff College, the Cantonment and the Cordite Factory.
  • Ketti station was used as the location in a Malayalam film Summer in Bethlehem.
  • Lovedale station is very picturesque and has featured in many popular films including the famous Tamil hit, Moonram Pirai.
  • The famous Hindi song Chaiyya Chaiyya from the film "Dil Se.." featuring Shahrukh Khan & Malaika Arora Khan was shot on the roof top of NMR.
  • Udhagamandalam station has featured in many of the Tamil and other South Indian language films.
  • It is also prominently featured in some of the Bollywood films.
  • One of the X Class locomotives on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway is modelled for Ashima in the film Thomas & Friends: The Great Race.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway on Television
  • In the UK, the BBC made a series of three documentaries dealing with Indian Hill Railways, with the NMR being featured in the second programme shown in February 2010.
  • The first film covers the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway and the third the Kalka-Shimla Railway.
  • The films were directed by Tarun Bhartiya, Hugo Smith and Nick Mattingly, and produced by Gerry Troyna.
  • The series won the UK Royal Television Society Award in June 2010.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Operational Detail
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Terminus: Udhagamandalam
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Operated by: Southern Railway
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Stations: 13
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Length: 46 km
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Preserved Gauge: 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in)
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Opened: 1908
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Headquarters: Mettupalayam
Nilgiri Mountain Railway UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Criteria: Cultural: (ii), (iv)
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Reference: 944
Nilgiri Mountain Railway Inscription: 2005 (29th Session)

* Read also our other many web pages on India Rail Transport:
Railways of India

Luxury Rail in India
Palace on Wheels
Royal Orient
Deccan Odyssey
Mahaparinirvan Express
Royal Rajasthan on Wheels
Golden Chariot
Maharajas' Express

Mountain Railways of India - Chhotey Lines

Mountain Railways of India
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Kalka-Shimla Railway
Matheran Hill Railway
Kangra Valley Railway
Jammu-Baramulla Line
Lumding-Sabroom Section

Mountain Railways of India Institution

Darjeeling Mail

Indian Railways

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC)
The Tatkal Scheme

High Speed Rail in India

Proposed New Mountain Railways of India
Bilaspur-Mandi-Leh Line
Jammu-Poonch Line
Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Line
Chota Char Dham Railway

Urban Rail Transit in India

Train Numbering in India
Wagon Numbering System in India

List of Railway Companies in India
List of Named Passenger Trains in India
List of Trains Run by Indian Railways
Longest Non-Stop Trains on Indian Railways

Rewari Railway Heritage Museum
Fairy Queen Locomotive

Trams in India


*Information on India:

  Information on India  
India Hotel Reservations
Visit India Guide
Kalka Hotel Reservations
Visit Kalka Guide
Pathankot Hotel Reservations
Visit Pathankot Guide
Badarpur Hotel Reservations
Visit Badarpur Guide
Karnataka Hotel Reservations
Visit Karnataka Guide
Rajasthan Hotel Reservations
Visit Rajasthan Guide
Baramulla Hotel Reservations
Visit Baramulla Guide
Lumding Hotel Reservations
Visit Lumding Guide
Rewari Hotel Reservations
Visit Rewari Guide
Darjeeling Hotel Reservations
Visit Darjeeling Guide
Matheran Hotel Reservations
Visit Matheran Guide

Sabroom Hotel Reservations
Visit Sabroom Guide
Delhi Hotel Reservations
Visit Delhi Guide
Mettupalayam Hotel Reservations
Visit Mattupalayam Guide
Shimla Hotel Reservations
Visit Shimla Guide
Gujarat Hotel Reservations
Visit Gujarat Guide
Mumbai Hotel Reservations
Visit Mumbai Guide
Siliguri Hotel Reservations
Visit Siliguri Guide
Jammu Tawi Hotel Reservations
Visit Jammu Tawi Guide
Neral Hotel Reservations
Visit Neral Guide
Udhagamandalam Hotel Reservations
Visit Udhagamandalam Guide
Joginder Nagar Hotel Reservations
Visit Joginder Nagar Guide
New Delhi Hotel Reservations
Visit New Delhi Guide
Rail Holidays
Rail Vacations
Luxury Trains
Luxury Tours
International Trains
International Tours
home Rail-Pass & Train Tickets & International Rail Holidays Hotel Booking & Hotel Reservations & Hotel Accomodation B&B Booking & B&B Reservations & B&B Accommodation Hostel Booking & Youth Hostel Reservations & Hostel Accommodation Chalet Rental & Holiday Homes & Vacation Homes Ski Pass Booking & Ski Pass Reservations & Ski Lift Pass Flight Tickets & Airline Reservations & Flight Booking Ferry Tickets & Ferry Booking & Ferry Reservations Car Rental Booking & Car Hire Reservations Excursions & Days Out & Day Trips & Theme Parks Rail Pass Booking & Rail Pass Reservations & Eurail & Interrail Rail Tickets & Rail Reservations & International Train Tickets Weekend Trips & Weekend Breaks & Weekend Away  Travel Insurance & Business Travel Insurance Eurotunnel Tickets & Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Reservations