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Dear friend's,finally after a long interval(a pretty long one at that) A.J and I have finalised the Script for Chugging High.I have posted it here and please do let me know of your comments. Editing is due to start in a few days.

Chugging High-An ode to a mountain train

Atop these 700 million year old blue mountains known as queen of hill staions,the sun shines with a splendour that delights the eye.Nature paints a landscape of her own design beneath a canopy of bright blue sky.
Welcome to the niligiris one of the most reputed and sought after hill resots in soth India.In the early days of the british raj these hills were a paradise for britishers looking to get away from the harsh south indian sun.The cantonment town of Wellinton named after the hero of waterloo is the home base of the Madras regiment,the oldest unit in the Indain army.
Like a glittering necklace adorning the Queen chugs a magnificient instance of workmanship that challenged human the todas,the indigenious natives of the hill station,it is known as Koresheh.the united nations calls it a world heritage the world it is better known as the Niligiri mountain railway,an amazing example of engineering excellance in the east.
This feat was accomplished with great skill and precision,so much so, that it’s still functional one hundred and ten years after its inception.Sit back as we take you on a romantic odyssey, examining this unique piece of engineering marvel.
It begins its daily journey in the misty dawn in the plains and ends in the hills about five hours later, chugging its way through southern India's dense shola forests, tunnels and steep curves - an ascent that the Nilgiri heritage train has faithfully been climbing for the last 97 years.
Covering a distance of 46 km , the Nilgiri Mountain Railway takes tourists from Mettupalayam to Ootacamund, popularly known as Ooty.Running through the high mountains and thick forest cover of Nilgiri Hills, this Heritage train remains the cynosure of tourists, particularly foreigners. They cherish the thought of travelling on this century-old train,that only steam enthusiasts all over can only dream about.
It is an amazing journey, that takes passengers from a height of1069 feet to 7228 feet.
The history of this train is as interesting as the journey itself.It was in 1818 that Mr. John Sullivan, the collector of Coimbatore, raised the curtains on these Blue Mountains to an European audience.
The opening up of the Suez Canal,shortned the distance between europe and the brithish isles.
This resulted in an influx of tourists,many of whom were intrested in the nilgiris,it's subtle cliamte and the suitable conditions for growing tea.Many profitable palntations were set up all over the hill station.Even today a visitor to nilgiris will be reminded of the surrey country side of victorian england.
During these days, the only means of transport up these hills were tongas, dollies, and bullock carts, which were woefully slow.The need for a much faster means of transport for transporting essential commodities like mail and other goods to the hill station was imminent.Further the Teas grown in the plantations had to be brought to the plains for processing into tea powder. Hence the proposal for a railway up the Nilgiris was mooted in 1875.
Mr. Riggenbach, a Swiss inventor offered to construct the railway on his patented Riggi system. But his persistent offers were rejected as they were considered financially extravagant.In 1885, a company named the Nilgiri Railway Company was formed by Mr. Richard Woolly.He has been credited as the pioneer of N.M.R.Work started on this challenging mountain railway line with a capital of 25 lakhs, an exorbitant amount at that time.
The Mettupalayam - Coonoor section was opened for traffic on the 15th of June, 1899. Later, the line was extended up to Ooty and opened for traffic on September 15th, 1908.
Both financially and technically,the NMR was a formidable challenge.Laying a track through deep forests, across steep gorges, ravines, wild rivers and cutting through miles of rockswas no meagre task. A great deal of determination, hard work, and sacrifice went into it. The 61st and 64th Pioneers of the Indian Army carried out the greater part of the earthwork on contract.The work force was mainly comprised of people of the Arcot district in south India.To serve their religious needs, a church called the Arcot Mission Church was built in Coonoor. It is now called the CSI Wesley church.An interesting aspect of this church is that it still stands without a foundation.
An ideal way to begin a holiday in the Nilgiris would be a journey on this little toy train, a journey that is laden with enthralling scenic beauty en route.
It takes the traveller into some of the most breath taking scenery in the world,across neatly planted areca nut groves,spine tingling ravines, bamboo thickets,vast, green stretches of tea estates and eucalyptus plantations. This steam train literally climbs its way-up through some of the steepest gradients to the east of the Alps.
It starts from Mettupalayam at an altitude of 330 metres above sea level reaching an altitude of 2200 metres above sea level at Ooty.This train is extremely slow by modern standards,clocking a journey time of 4 hours and 50 minutes.It crosses 250 bridges of which 32 are major, snakes its way through 16 tunnels,manoeuvring 208 curves, most of which are sharper than 10 degrees. It negotiates gradients as steep as 1 in 12. The average speed is 30 km per hour in the non-rack section, between the Mettupalayam and Kallar stations.
The climb starts from the Kallar station, where the rack section beings.Here it chugs at an average speed of 13 km per hour.Traditional steam engines literally push the train from Mettupalayam to Coonoor.The section between the Coonoor and Ooty stations is again a non rack section, handled by modern diesel enginesrunning on Bio-Diesel. The stations along this route are remnants of the British Raj, evident from their quaint names. Of these, the Adderley, Katary, and Fernhill stations have been closed down over the years.
Normally, gradients in railways across the worldare only as steep as 1 in 500. That is, for every 500 feet of travel, the height increases by one foot. Even mountain railways have slopes no steeper than 1 in 40.
But the NMR negotiates gradients as steep as 1 in 12. That is, for every 12 feet of travel the height increases by one foot. Such unusually steep gradients are found only inthe Nilgiris and the Swiss Alps and negotialble only by traction railway systems such as cog railways.The average gradient is 1 in 24 .This calls in for a metre gauge layout fitted with a special traction mechanism called the rack and pinion system.This system is unique to the NMR and the only other place in the world where it’s found, is the Alp's in Switzerland.
This rail system is also called the Alternate Biting System - A.B.T.Interestingly, the name of the inventor is also Michael 'Abt'. A special, toothed-rack rail is mounted on the sleepers between the running rails. The train is fitted with cog wheels,which mesh with the rack rail. This enables the train to pull itself up. This arrangement also protects the train from sliding back on the way up or rolling down, on its way downhill.
The locomotives themselves are as unique as the rails.They have two distinct functions: first, that of traction by adhesion as in an ordinary loco and second, that of traction by pinions acting upon the rack rails. It consumes up to 4 tons of coal for its journey uphill and 1 ton of coal for the journey down hill. Frequent water filling at every station is vital.
Another speciality on this train is the brake system. Every carriage has a skilled brakes man who operates the Chatelier brakes in tandem with other carriages and the engine. The age old system of using whistle codes from the engine driver is still followed. This is particularly necessary during downhill descent and for manoeuvring curves.
The brakes on the engine are four in number -two hand brakes act by friction and two engine brakes act by using compressed air in cylinders.The hand brakes are used for shunting. A combination of the hand and engine brakes is used for descending steep gradients.
Even after a century, the brake system on the Nilgiri locomotives is as intricate and cumbersome as it was in 1898.
Through its one hundred and ten years of service, the N.M.R has never suffered any major disaster,except for just one accident involving a goods train. This can be credited to the frequent maintenance and upkeep of the racks and the locomotives. The locomotives are maintained at the loco shed in Coonoor.Over a century ago, the tracks were designed to suit steam engines which weighed about 85 tonnes. But now, diesel engines that weigh over 100 tonnes are being used between Ooty and Coonoor.This calls for the exercise of greater precaution and more frequent maintenance in this section.
It is interesting to note that the indigenous natives of the Nilgiris, the Todas have glorified this railway by dedicating a song to it.This song is attributed to a man named penthaol of the kars clan belonging to the kandalmund near ooty.This song is believed to have been composed in circa 1900, when the railroad had been extended to Ooty.The song personifies the N.M.R as a buffalo.The Todas affectionately call this iron buffalo as "Koresheh". To some this may spring a surprise butthe buffalo is an integral part of their livelihood.Every buffalo is revered as a gift from their deity and named after an elaborate ceremony befitting its characteristics.
Though the todas have accepted the N.M.R as a part of the landscape of thier blue mountain,it has never integrated into the cultural strata of their society.
Travelling along this world heritage track would be a great way to experience nature.It takes you through breathtaking views of a varied landscape. From areca nut and palm groves, deep valleys, spine tingling ravines and gorges, water falls, wild rivers, tall thickets of bamboo, and tea gardens to eucalyptus plantations. It is without doubt nature at its best. This railway, which was a mode of transport to a destination, has now become a destination by itself,attracting a large of number of tourists,especially foreigners and railway enthusiasts,who just love the exhilarating ride.These tourists strike rapport with the native population and local tourists, leading to a momentous and joy full ride.
Without doubt, the N.M.R is one of the most photographed railways in the world.During the late 19th century, it presented early European photographers an excellent opportunity, next only to the exotic tribes on the hills. Some of these rare photographs have survived, a few of which you might have spotted in this documentary. It was featured in David Lean’s "A Passage to India", an academy award winning film. A number of films, commercials and song sequences have been shot on this location ever since. More recently, this train is the subject of a documentary by the Swiss National Television.They travelled the world,tracing the trail of Mr.Riggenbach,one of the early pioneers of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.2007 also happens to be the 190th birth anniversary of Mr.Riggenbach.
The UNESCO has conferred on this mountain railway the status of world heritage Site. In spite of the enchanting beauty of this train, it has always been a loosing proposition in terms of revenue, due to restrictions in the number of carriages it is able to pull on this mountainous terrain. Never the less the N.M.R staff are compelled to run extra trains during the tourist seasons to compensate for the increase in passengers.
This charming mountain railway, with blue and cream coaches and large windows is widely regarded as an enthralling visual treat. Surely, the engineers who built it must have been lovers of nature. It is amazing to imagine that this mountain railway made in an era when India had no telephones, electricity or airplanes could still be working and giving yeoman service in the 21st century.
Through out the journey the exhaust beat of the loco never falters, maintaining a deafening staccato which echoes for miles around.
Truly, a journey to remember.