Passage to India – The Ooty Train, Part I

This is unashamedly for my railway friends, but you’re welcome to read it too.

From the hot plains of Tamil Nadu to the “hills” the Ooty train rises to over 7000′ on a spectacularly built rack railway. Properly called the Nilgiri Hills Railway, it was built by the British over a hundred years ago to allow the administrators from Madras (now called Chennai) to escape the heat by heading up into the mountains.

It is a meter gauge, rack railway.

Rack rail

The teeth between the rails are engaged by a set of matching teeth in the locomotive. Although the locomotive looks somewhat normal, it has special gears inside the frame driven by separate cylinders.

Engine Teeth

Engine Teeth

Steam Engine

Steam Engine at Mettupalayam

Rack Gear

Oooty Engine Deck 2

Engine Footplate

The railway grades are too step for regular adhesion (steel on steel) working hence a rack system is necessary. Here is part of the 8% grade.

Steep Gradient

Steep Gradient 1in 12.5

The three coaches are pushed by the locomotive and there is a guard on the front platform signaling and whistling as needed. He can also engage the emergency brakes.

Guard's Platform at the Front of the Train

Guard’s Platform at the Front of the Train

Part Two coming up. In the meantime check out this YouTube I uploaded.

Safe travels everyone,


Posted from Chennai, India

This entry was posted in India, Rack railway, Railroad, Railway and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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