Built by the British in 1908 and operated by the then Madras Railway, the Nilgiri Mountain Railway was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. The railway operates from Mettupalayam in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district to Ooty, the headquarters of the Nilgiris district, and covers a distance of 46 kilometres, making 10 station stops in all. The railway has the steepest track in Asia with a maximum gradient of 8.33%. The railway operates on the rack-and-pinion system, designed by Swiss locomotive engineer Roman Abt. From Mettupalayam, the train is hauled by Swiss-made ‘X’ Class steam rack locomotives. At Coonoor, a diesel locomotive takes over and pulls the train into Ooty. PAWAN KOPPA, a railfanner and a member of the Indian Railways Fan Club, recounts a memorable journey on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
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