May 26, 2017
3068 INDIA (Tamil Nadu) - Nilgiri Mountain Railway - part of Mountain Railways of India (UNESCO WHS)
The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. The Mountain Railways of India are examples of hill railways which exhibit an important cultural and technologicaly transfer in the colonial setting of the period of its construction. Opened between 1881 and 1908, and still fully operational, they applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty.
This site includes three railways: the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and the Kalka Shimla Railway. The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway (NMR), a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908 by the British. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326m to 2,203m, represented the latest technology of the time.
The 'Nilgiri Passenger' train covers a distance of 26km, travels through 208 curves, 16 tunnels, and across 250 bridges. The NMR track is 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge, and between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, the line uses the Abt rack and pinion system to climb the steep gradient. On this rack section trains are operated by X Class steam rack locomotives manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works of Winterthur in Switzerland.
For long, these locomotives, which are six to eight decades old, lent that distinct charm to NMR, but the Southern Railway decided to replace them with newer diesel locomotives, which can operate on the entire section, between Mettupalayam and Udagamandalam. The new engine can run at a speed of 30 km / hour in plains and at 15 km / hour on a gradient. The arrival of the new engines has eliminated the disruption in service that occurred frequently over the last few years.
About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting B R Ambedkar, is part of the definitive series Builders of Modern India, about which I wrote here. The second stamp is part of the series Headgears of India, about which I wrote here.
Mountain Railways of India - UNESCO official website
Nilgiri Mountain Railway - Wikipedia
Sender: Mansoor B. (direct swap)
Sent from Bolar, Mangalore (Karnataka / India), on 12.05.2017
Photo: Stephan Niewolik