MATHERAN – AN ECOLOGICAL SENSITIVE HILLSTATION IN INDIA WITH POOR ROAD-INFRASTRUCTURE AND MASSIVE POLLUTION; TRANSPORT-SCHEMES; Part III By Dr. F.A. Wingler, February 2019

Matheran is ailing under poor road-access, poor road and trail conditions, air-pollution by stirred-up latertite-dust mixed with horse-dung and under waste-littering.

Programmes have commenced to bring betterments and to improve the road and cleanness situation. “Clean-Up Marshalls” advise now tourists not to litter the eco-sensitive zone and the beauty of the nature of Matheran.

After abolition of the brake porters on the 2 feet Narrow-Gauge Toy-Train, the introduction of the dual pipe, graduate release and indirect working compressed air-brake system in combination with the old 1903 bumpy tramway coupling system has resulted in hazardous train-set jerk and jolt movements, especially on down-gradient runs, that increase the derailment proneness. Therefore, the train-speed had to be reduced, which hampers a frequent train-service between Neral and Matheran. The Train-Drivers have to run trains, especially on down-gradient and on the poor aligned tight curves, in a snail`s pace with upmost vigilance, to avoid the risks of a derailment caused by train-set jerks. On 21th October 2018, a parcel-van of the shuttle service derailed on a turnout at Amman Lodge with a lucky narrow escape for the passengers in the adjacent coaches. Luckily the derailed parcel-van did not pull the passenger coaches from the track. Within the next 10 weeks 4 more coach derailments happened. Under modern Safety and Risk Management aspects, those unwanted bad events have to be investigated and treated as “NEAR MISSED BAD EVENTS” and therefore as “ACCIDENTS”. Lessons have to be learned.

The author suggests installing jerk- and jolt-movements free force locking railway couplers, as in use on the other Indian narrow gauge railways and on other narrow gauge heritage railways around the globe.

LUXURY is not needed; but SAFETY FOR THE PASSENGERS. This means: Luxury air-conditioned VISTA-DOM cars are not needed, but sound, healthy and well aligned rail-tracks and – in conjunction with the dual pipe compressed air brake system – force-locking state-of-the-art railway couplers.

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