History was revived in the Queen of Hills as the heritage KC 520 steam locomotive engine ran on the Shimla-Kalka Heritage Route
Recently, the Indian Railways threw up a surprise for tourists visiting Shimla, when it announced that the 113-year-old KC 520 steam locomotive engine, a relic of a bygone era, would ply on the 22-km Shimla-Kaithlighat section of the Shimla-Kalka heritage track. Built by the North British Locomotive Company for Rs 30,000, the heritage engine KC 520 was commissioned in 1906 and used till 1970 before it was replaced by a diesel locomotive. Since then, the engine has been taken out of regular service, but plies on the track on a few occasions, especially for joyrides during the peak tourist season. The heritage locomotive weighs 41 tonnes and can pull double its weight.
The heritage engine was back on the tracks to repeat the history of those bygone days. So, on October 17, 2018, it was an unusual morning for tourists at the Shimla station, when they got to experience this slice of history, which is an iconic symbol of Shimla. That day, the engine, with the two coaches attached to it, ferried 28 foreigners from Shimla to Kaithlighat and returned, covering 44km. Everyone seemed pepped up about the engine’s historic run and were curious to know about its next run.
The Shimla-Kalka rail track was started in 1903 by the Britishers. In 2009, the track was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. There are 103 tunnels, 919 curves, 800 bridges, and 18 stations on this route. It takes about 5 hours to complete the journey on one side. The Summer Hill station was used by the Viceroy of India and his contingent of people to have an easy access to Viceregal Lodge. One of the most famous sites on this route is Barog Station and Tunnel no. 32. This station offers railway lodges to spend a night or two for experiencing the old -world charm at close hand.