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Maharashtra: Neral to be turned into a tourist hub

Updated on: 28 October,2022 04:10 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

As full services resume from Neral to Matheran, railways to now develop state-of-the-art tourism-friendly stations on heritage line

Maharashtra: Neral to be turned into a tourist hub

The Neral-Matheran line was built in 1907 as a family enterprise of the Peerbhoys. File pic

Maharashtra's popular Matheran Hill Railway is on track to get a further boost. After resuming full-fledged train services on the 21-km Neral-Matheran stretch last week, railways is focusing on developing state-of-the-art tourism-friendly stations on this UNESCO-listed tentative heritage mountain railway line.

The line has been restored after three years with a train that possesses a vistadome coach and has been receiving an overwhelming response from day one. The idea now is to develop the Neral-Matheran line into a major tourist attraction, and the mainline station at Neral from where regular trains are linked to the narrow-gauge hill railway is being developed as the first phase of the project.

“The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation is working on the improvement of Neral station at a cost of '60 crore. We are developing the station at two levels. The elevated deck will have connectors and walkways that will seamlessly link regular train passengers to the narrow-gauge station,” an MRVC spokesperson said. The improvement of the station involves the provision of new foot overbridges, an elevated deck, skywalks and green spaces, improving entry-exit points and the lux (unit of illuminance) level.

A six-metre-wide foot overbridge will come up at the Karjat-end of Neral station
A six-metre-wide foot overbridge will come up at the Karjat-end of Neral station

An official said three key elements have been planned for the elevated level—a six-metre-wide foot overbridge at the Karjat-end with a deck space for circulating area, a seven to nine-metre-wide deck connecting the foot overbridge on platform one where trains from Mumbai arrive and another six-metre-wide bridge at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-end. At the ground level, the plan involves relocating railway office buildings and a ticket booking office and setting up railway staff quarters and a separate parking area, he added.

Also Read: Maharashtra: Central Railway working on plan to start suburban trains between Neral and Matheran

The complete stretch of the popular Neral-Matheran train had been shut since 2019 after damage occurred during the monsoon. Three instances of monsoon damage took place in 2022 as well but everything has been fixed. Old iron sleepers have been replaced with concrete ones and double rails have been fixed along the track for additional safety. “The embankment was strengthened by providing a retaining wall and gabion walls and stone pitching has been done beneath the track for stability. Anti-crash barriers and side drains have been provided so as to divert water towards waterway bridges while box and pipe bridges have been installed so as to strengthen the track,” an official said. 

The Neral-Matheran line was built in 1907 as a Peerbhoy family enterprise and is now on the UNESCO tentative list for Mountain Railways of India.

Year Neral-Matheran line came into being

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