The train running from Kalka to Shimla, the British summer retreat is known more as a ‘tunnel toy train.’ There is a reason behind this. The train route was chalked out through a series of 107 tunnels, out of which four were dismantled. Despite this, this hill train keeps the legacy of British era in a dignified way. This magical trail takes an unexpected transition from the bright daylight to the utter darkness by its entry into the tunnels, making the journey quite an unforgettable experience. Snaking through the tunnels evoke a new kind of anticipation in the passengers. When the train is meandering through the narrow lines in the daylight, the passengers wait for the tunnels to pass their way. Till the time they are passing by the tunnel, they expect that this dark route should end soon and they yearn to see the light of the day.
Such is the magic of this toy train snaking its way to the summer retreat of Shimla. The other unique aspect of Kalka-Shimla train is its foray through distinctively constructed viaducts. Observing these multi-arched galleries during this toy train ride gives passengers a distinct feeling of travelling back in time. Constructed with stone masonry, these viaducts are often compared to the Roman aqueduct. The main purpose of these structures was to bridge the deep valleys surrounded by mountains through a bridge based on such strong and large archways.
The 96 km stretch of Kalka Himalayan route is laid out on a network of 103 tunnels, 969 bridges, 919 curves and twenty railway stations.
Currently, the tourists can enjoy trailing through this magical route via five exciting trains linking Kalka and Shimla. The most luxurious experience enroute is definitely travelling via Shivalik Queen. This luxury coach, attached to regular train accommodates groups up to eight people in its luxury experience of gazing the high Himalayas. The interiors of the four coupes feature wall to wall carpeting, two toilets and big windows for wide-eyed scenery. Lunch is also provided onboard.
The Shivalik Deluxe Express on this route features more comfortable seating chair cars accommodating 120 passengers in each journey. This passenger train is well furnished with wall to wall carpeting and offers a meal in its course of four and a half hour journey.
The regular train for the route, Kalka Shimla Toy Train is mostly availed for entry in this hill station. Being a normal passenger train, this rail accommodates first, second class and reserved category.
This marvellous train is also a part of world heritage site, ‘mountain railways of India’ since 2008.