Matheran is a hill station and a municipal council in Karjat Tahsil in the Raigad District of the Indian State of Maharashtra. It is the smallest hill station in India and it is located on the Western Ghats range at an elevation of around 803 m (2,636 feet) above sea level. It is about 90 km from Mumbai and 120 km from Pune. Matheran’s proximity to many metropolitan cities makes it a popular weekend getaway for urban residents.

Matheran is connected by road and train via Neral. Visitors like the joy ride on a 2 ft. gauge mini or toy train.

Matheran, which means “forest on the forehead” (of the mountains), is an eco-sensitive region, declared by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. It is Asia’s only motor-vehicle free hill station.  There are around 38 designated look-out “Points” (viewpoints) in Matheran, including the Panorama Point, which provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding area and also of the Neral town. From this point, the view of sunset and sunrise is dramatic. The Louisa Point offers a crystal clear view of the Prabal Fort. The other points are the One-Tree Hill Point, Heart Point, Monkey Point, Porcupine Point, Rambag Point and more. 

To stay in Matheran, there are plenty of hotels and resorts. There are many Parsi bungalows. Beautiful old British-style architecture is preserved in Matheran. The roads are not tarred and are made of red laterite gravel earth or clay blocks. Matheran is very interesting for  horse riders, trekkers, hikers and nature lovers. The One-Tree-Hill Trek, Rambag Trek and Dhodhani Trek are interesting for their bio-diversity, also during monsoon season.

Special features of Matheran Hill Station are deliciousness of Chikki and Fudge productions, collections of pure natural uncontaminated Honey, attractive and cheap availability of Shoes, Chapels and other leather products and as well restaurants offering homely and healthy vegetarian Guajarati Food. The honesty and hardworkness habit of the local peoples help to attract tourist.

For more information download for free the PDFMATHERAN HILLSTATION 


Swiss SBB and Pandrol Procedures

By F.A. Wingler, April 2022

Booted Rail-Support Block technology for Non-Ballasted Tracks (NBT) is of interest in India for the new Katra-Banihal Line of the USBRL Project. The demand has been for a system with straight and as well curved Non-Ballasted Track (NBT), which allows adjusting, repairing and retrofitting of tracks. The NBT technology with rubber booted single rail support blocks fulfils those demands. Swiss Federal Railway, SBB, and as well Pandrol have developed procedures to retrofit booted block NBT with concrete blocks. Swiss SBB has given its heavy used Zurich Airport Line a second life with its procedure. For retrofitting the Barcelona, Spain, Metro, Line 5, the Pandrol procedure has been used. Both procedures are described in the following PDF paper, which can be free downloaded:NEW LIFE FOR BÖTZBER-STEDEF, LVT, SONNEVILLE NBT

USBRL KASHMIR RAIL LINK PROJECT 2002-2020 – The Gap in the missing Rail Link Katra – Banihal

By Dr. F.A. Wingler, June 2020 with Update September 2022

ith the partition of 1947 India has lost the direct access to the Kashmir Region.

1994, the Railway Minister declared the need for a rail line to Baramulla, well beyond even Srinagar.

This Jammu–Baramulla Railway Line had been planned to connect the Kashmir Valley in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir with Jammu railway station and hence to the rest of India`s rail grid. The 356 km rail route, once fully completed, will start from Jammu and will end at Baramulla in the Kashmir Valley.

The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) is the biggest project undertaken by the Indian Railways in the Himalayan Region since Independence. In 2002 it had been declared as a national project, funded entirely by the Central Government. The Government stated that an unbroken rail link is imperative.

In 2005, the 53 km long Jammu-Udhampur section finally opened, 21 years after its beginning. The line, which cuts through the Shivalik Hills, has 20 major tunnels and 158 bridges. Its longest tunnel is 2.5 km in length and its highest bridge is 77 m (253 ft).

The isolated 119 km Kashmir Valley Railway became completely operational in October 2009. It connects Baramulla in the western part of the valley via Srinagar to Qazigund at the other end.

In June 2013, the rail service commenced through the longest Indian Railway Tunnel of that time, the Pir Panjal Summit Tunnel at 1670 m above sea level between Banihal and Quazigund. The 8.4 m wide tunnel is also of military strategic importance, since it can be used as military road for army vehicles when needed in a military conflict.

In July 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the much-awaited 25 km Udhampur Katra train service, that will benefit millions of devotees, who visit the Vaishno Devi Shrine every year. The devotees will directly be able to travel to Katra in 8 hours by a luxury semi-high speed train to reach the base camp of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.

Katra-Banihal is the only missing rail link between Jammu and Baramulla, which passes through the Reasi District, the most challenging stretch of geologically unstable and unpredictable terrain with poor infrastructure and access besides the harshest and steepest Himalayan faces.

On this challenging route, two deep river gorges have to be crossed in an earthquake prone zone:

  • With the Anji Khad Bridge at a height of 189 m above the river and with an a span of 265 m
  • and with the Chenab River Bridge at a height of 359 m above the river and with an arch span of 467 m and with an overall length of 1.3 km.

The present alignment of the route from Udhampur via Katra to Quazigund goes back to a survey of Mr. J.S. Mundrey and his company “Consultants Combine Private Limited” in the years between 1994 and 1996; see J.S. Mundery (Rail Consult India) et Navin Chandra: “A TOUGH ROUTE CHOICE PROVEN RIGHT”,  RAIL BUSINESS Vol. 10, January 2019. RITES had proposed a shorter direct route from Udhampur to Banihal, however with steeper ruling gradients of 1 in 40 and tight curvatures up to 6 Degree. J.S. Mundrey, who had personal experience in building the scenic mountainous Visakhapatnam  – Koraput Line, opted for a more easy to operate railroad via Katra with curvatures not tighter than 2.75 Degree and ruling gradients not steeper than 1 in 100.

111 km of the Katra – Banihal rail track will have to pass 27 tunnels of a summarised length of 97 km, the longest becoming the Sumber Tunnel T-49 with 12.75 km, longer than the 11.21 km long Pir Panjal summit tunnel between Banihal and Quazigund.

Once it had been envisaged to open the Katra- Banihal section in August 2007. The difficulties and imponderability’s to carve a railroad through this hostile terrain under Indian specific conditions had been underestimated and own strength overestimated.

Between Dream and Reality there had and there is still a big gap. The almost insurmountable gap 359 m above the Chenab River between the two bridge steel arch elements got closed April 2021 and the deck closed August 2022.

The longer chosen alignment route for less steeper ruling gradients via Katra and through the Reasi District had to be threaded through the Chenab River Bridge and Anji Khad Bridge needle eyes.

There had been also a hurdle about the Anji Khad Bridge, which had delayed the the works. It had been decided only recently to bridge the gorge by a cable stayed suspension bridge, the first kind of this in India. The bridge will be supported by a single 193m tall reinforced concrete pylon, latter had been completed in January 2022. The two gorge slopes are geolocigally too instable to carry an arch bridge. The cantilevered assembly of the roadway elements by a Derick like crane is in progress. 96 cables have to get fixed. To complete the bridge will need about another two years.

The worksite of the Chenab River Bridge is in a remote area with only poor road access, without infrastructure, electricity and water, and in a seismological fragile zone. No longer steel elements than 12 m could be transported over the poor supply roads, since the rail link to Katra had been not ready with the Anji Khad Gorge not bridged. The steel girder, box and desk bridge elements had to be engineered at site in 4 workshops.

Legal cases, strikes and financial disputes between the main contractor Konkan Railway Corporation (KRCL) and the bridge engineering formed CBPU with AFCONS, and then the COVID-19 crisis, have prevented, that this steel arch bridge, to be screwed together with high tension bolts out of shorter elements free pending over the gorge as originally planned for 2009.

The Chenab River Bridge has become a marvel and landmark in India comparable with the Gustave Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Not only there is a height relation, there is also a structural steel design and engineering relation with Gustave Eiffel of the 19th century, who engineered in 1882 – 1886 the steel arch Garabit Railway Bridge in the Massif Central of France in an earthquake prone zone. This bridge has become the grandmother of many steel arch deck bridges around the globe.

As Mr. J.S. Mundrey reports in his book BULLOK CART TO BULLET TRAIN, Chapter 27, Mr. Birdsall of the well known Bridge Design Consultants “Steinman Boynton Gronquist & Birdsall” suggested for the Chenab River gorge a fixed Steel Arch Bridge; similar to the 1977 constructed New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia, Appalachian Mountains, USA, latter with a Central Arch Span of 518 m, which also goes back to the structural steel elements of the Gustave Eiffel 1884 Garabit Railway Bridge in France. The German Bridge Engineering Consultant LEONHARDT, ANDRÄ and PARTNER had prepared the structural engineering design for the Chenab River Bridge.

Update 2022: On April 04th 2021 the last segment could be launched to close the arch of the Chenab Bridge. After the arch closure the supporting cables could be removed and the concreting of the 8 m long chambers of the arch started. The concrete will give the arch additional stability. The Chenab Bridge will achieved its final stability after pushing the decks from both side ends over the arch construction. This could be successfully achieved on August 14th 2022 with the “Golden Joint Ceremony”.

Still there is a lot of work for the other major 37 bridges, 97.57 km main tunnels and 66.4 km of escape tunnels (no. of tunnels: 38), 7 railway stations, the track alignment (111km) and infrastructure. The recent successful closure over the Chenab Gorge has produced a certain amount of politically motivated euphoria and “bright weather reports” as if trains could run end of the year 2023 from Katra to Banihal. The scope and difficulties of the challenging works ahead tells us that at least another 3 years will be needed to close the railroad transport gap in the missing rail link to Kashmir.


Chenab Bridge, September 2022


Anji Khad Bridge, August 2022


The technical paper deals with the two principal categories of ELASTIC Rail FASTENING or RAIL FIXATION SYSTEMS, which we find on railways around the globe:

  1. Bolted or screwed Clamp Systems, where the Clamping or Down-Hold Force is generated by tensioning a Clamp through applying a torque on a quenching screw bolt; so-called “Threaded Clamp Systems”.
  2. Screw-less self-tensioning driven Clip Systems, where the described Clamping or Down-Hold Force is generated by Deflection, when the Clip gets deflected through driving it in a cast-in shoulder, housing or anchor insert; so-called “Screw-less Non-Threaded Self-tensioning Clip Systems”.

To the Group A belong the French RN and Nabla Fastening, the Japanese Shinkansen 120 Fastening (Kowa) and Spring-Steel-Leaf Fastening, the Pandrol SD Fastening, and the German evolution of the Epsilon shaped Tension Clamps from Vossloh developed at the Technical University of Munich under Prof. Hermann Meier (HM Clamps; Germany), produced by Vossloh, Schwihag (Germany Switzerland, USA), Voest Alpine (Austria), Pandrol, Agico (China) and by some other Chinese Rail fastener suppliers, and some Steel-Spring Leaf Fasteners developed in the former UDSSR.

To the Group B belong the Brands of the Pandrol PR and “e” Series Clips, the Fast-Clips, the Indian RDSO Pandrol modifications of the Mark I to VI Series Clips and Logwell G Clips, the Deenik Style long range Clips trading with a wider deflection range (developed in the 1950-tees in Netherlands) under the Brands “SAFELOK”, further developed my Ralph McKay, (Austria) – now Pandrol, Voest Alpine and Progress Rail –  and the Ukraine KPP 5 Clip/Vossloh SB V 4 VK Fastening.

In answer to reports on fractures of SKl 15 Tension clamp fastenings on monolithic Rheda 2000 non-ballasted tracks, Vossloh has modified the spatial bend of its SKl 15 Clamp. The new SKL 15 HF tension clamp has a significantly higher natural frequency, which means that it has an increased vertical fatigue limit.

Worldwide the Pandrol Fast-Clip is superseding the self-tensioning Pandrol PR and “e” Series Clips on ballasted tracks.  On non-ballasted tracks for High-Speed Rail the screw-tensioned SKl Clamps dominate over the self-tensioning Clips.

To learn more about the spectrum of advanced rail-fastenings, download the PDF:Quo Vadis

Road embedded Rail Tracks for City Tram, Light Rail Transit and Metro-Lite

The origin for LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT or “METRO-LITE” is based on electric City Trams,

that started worldwide at the end of the last but one century. Light Rail Transit is becoming a further mainstay for urban and suburban public transport in India under the term “METRO-LITE” . In India, we find a City Tram relic of the last century in Kolkata:

LIGHT RAIL TRANSITS, LRT, including City Trams, experience worldwide a renaissance. LRT is currently the fastest-growing passenger rail mode, employing a full range of technologies and operational practices. Around the globe, light rail systems, or LRT, have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their lower capital costs and increased reliability compared with heavy rail systems.

In Central European countries, LRT/city trams remained operating since hundred years uninterrupted as the backbone for urban, suburban interurban and regional public transport.

Be it the tram in the classical sense or the suburban and interurban railways, which combine features of underground railways and trams, the global future of urban transport is on the rail with Light Rail Transits. While the construction and running of underground or elevated systems incur huge costs, tram and light rail transit systems can be constructed and integrated into the city-scape at a comparatively lower cost.

The Light Rail Systems can share their ways with road traffic, blending in the surrounding road surface, and as well use their own dedicated tracks on reserved corridors.

The conventional way of track laying had been to lay the rail grids with gauge distance bars bolted to the web without support of cross-ties (sleepers) direct on a aligned and resilient planum, consisting of compacted gravel, metal, bitumen, asphalt, cement, mortar or concrete, or nowadays on elastic noise and vibration attenuation mats. Normally, height adjustment of such tracks takes place by insertion of wedges, and by pouring compounds under the track panel.

In modern ground borne noise vibration mitigating and electric stray current insulating systems the polymer encapsulated rails are laid in prefabricated concrete grooves. In some towns the rails are fixed on sleepers embedded in ballast-less track structures.

To learn more, download PDF:Road embedded Rail Tracks for City Tram, Light Rail Transit and Metro-Lite

Ribbed Base-Plate Rail Fastenings in Pictures By F.A. Wingler, March 2001

The bearing ribbed base-plate for rail fastenings had been designed in Germany by the engineer Döhlert and introduced on German Railway in 1926. It is the most successful base-plate for indirect rail fastenings on wooden-, steel-, concrete-, composite-, polymer sleepers and ballast-less slab tracks around the globe. The KPO fastening from 1926 on wooden sleepers superseded the direct and indirect dog-, cut- and screw-spike fastenings and had become the conventional rail-fastening in most Central and East European countries, in Central Asia and as well in Turkey for wooden sleepers. Together with an epsilon shaped elastic tension clamp, SKl (“Spann Klemme”, patented 1967 by the German Engineer Professor Hermann Meier at the TU Munich and manufactured for the world market by Vossloh, Germany) it entered also India as a standard elastic fastening for Metro Rail on concrete plinth tracks and for modern turnouts.

Indirect elastic SKl Rail Fastening of Bangalore Metro with canted Ribbed Base-Plate on Plinth Track; System Vossloh

To learn more, download the PDF: RIBBED BASE PLATE RAIL FASTENINGS 20. 03. 21

Advanced Rail Fastenings in India By Dr. F. A. Wingler, February 2021

With advanced Turnouts, Metro Rail, Ballast-less Rail Tracks, Regional Rapid Transits and High-Speed Line new impetus has been given to the Indian rail fasting market and applications. The spectrum of advanced rail fastening assemblies has become wider.

The promotion of indigenous manufacture of advanced rail fastening components under “Make in India” will give an impetus to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Initiative under the self reliant Indian campaign making better use of the domestic economy and industries.

To know more about advanced Rail Fastenings download the PDF:Advanced Rail Fastenings 2

Characterisation of self-tensioning elastic Rail Clips, ERC, of PANDROL Type By F. A. Wingler, February 2021

Rail Fastening on concrete sleepers with the RDSO designed MARK III Elastic Rail Clip, ERC, has become standard in India.

The self-tensioning or self-stressing elastic Pandrol-type rail clips are manufactured by giving a spatial bend to Silicon-Manganese alloy spring-steel rods. Their advantage is the simple installation parallel to the rail. The ERCs are pushed with their leg from right to left parallel to the rail into the tunnel/housing of the shoulder plate/insert with the help of a standard hammer or a puller device. When inserted the clip deflects and develops a clamping force fixing the rail foot:

The rod-end structural element, which is pushed into the tunnel/housing of the shoulder plate, is called “CENTRE LEG”. The other structural rod-end element is called “TOE”. The “HEEL” is the middle structural element between the “FRONT ARCH” and the “REAR ARCH”.

The rail clip panted in 1957 was invented by Per Pande-Rolfsen, an employee of the Norwegian State Railway, and the person from whom the Pandrol clip draws its name.

Worldwide there are two types of self-tensioning Pandrol Clips in use:

  1. The original PR Clip with an anti-clock-wise bended geometry, shaped as the letter “e” and
  2. The e-Series Clip with a clock-wise bended geometry, shaped as the letter “G”.

For more information download the PDF:Classification of ERC`s

The World of Urban Transport; a Picture Kaleidoscope – From the Once-Upon-a-Time Bullock-Sulky to the modern Low-Speed Urban and Regional Maglev Transit By F.A. Wingler, January 2021

The Journey of the Transit Kaleidoscope begins in India with a once–upon-a-time privileged Bullock-Sulky personal Transport and ends in Germany and China with the Max Bögl Low-Speed Maglev for Urban Transport.


Flash-Butt welded Long Rolled Rails, LRR, of Prime Steel Quality help to lower the Risk of fatal Train Accidents in India By F.A.Wingler, January 2021

Long Rolled Rails, LRR, of prime steel quality, already tested in the manufacturing plant, and with Flash-Butt Welds of higher strength than that of Alumino Thermic, AT, welds, provide far better alignment and continuity parameters with less alignment perturbations for far smoother train runs with less dynamic response of rail vehicles, that lower the risk of in-service rail failures, which had led in past decades to nasty, unwanted and fatal train derailment accidents in India. The mutual impacts of rail and running wheel governed by Newton`s Laws of Motion ( = dynamic response) are on tracks consisting of  flash-butt welded long rolled rail panels far lower than on tracks consisting of AT welded short 13 m rails.

The recent Indian evolution of indigenous manufacture of Flash-Butt Welded Long Rolled Rails of prime Steel Quality is a MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT for INR of the last decade on the way to avoid nasty, unwanted and fatal train accidents and to extend the service life of rails in track and that of the other track components resulting in lower overall Life Cycle Costs.

Long rolled and flash-butt welded rails are a prerequisite for 160 kmph Semi-High Speed Lines in India.

To learn more, download PDF: