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Toy Train on a Comeback Trail with New Avatar

Once a major tourists’ attraction, the toy train is all set for a comeback in refreshingly new avatar in Odisha’s Nandankanan Biological Park (NBP) on the outskirts of the city.

The toy train service which began its service way back in 1985 in the biological park has been lying defunct since 2014 after question was raised on the safety of its track condition. 

Joyride in toy train would be an added attraction for those who yearn for to relish captive wildlife sighting amid nature’s lap in Nandankanan. The toy train which was discontinued on technical grounds used to ferry 1.5 lakh tourists mostly children every year. The narrow gauge track used for the toy train service earlier is being replaced with a broad gauge line. The bogeys and the engine of the toy train is also being refurbished to give it a pleasantly new look, said zoo officials.     

The RITES Limited, the public sector consulting firm under the aegis of Indian Railways, which has been assigned to provide both civil as well as mechanical solution for the toy train, is fine-tuning the shape of the project. It will lay railway track, procure engine and provide four bogeys.

“Things are on the right track. We hope the toy train would resume its service shortly. Initially the toy train project entailed an investment of Rs. 3 crore. Now the investment has been escalated close to Rs. 5 core,” said Sisir Acharya, Director of NBP.

Mr. Acharya said the project had hit a roadblock due to demonetization last year. The RITES had already worked on the tender document incorporating different safety features.

The joyride this time would be an exhilarating experience. Those who would board the proposed toy train would be able to see several herbivore animals sprinting across the place, apart from enjoying the ride. Nandankanan authorities have decided to set up two herbivore safaris close to toy train route.

“I have never boarded a toy train. I have heard about the vintage Darjeeling toy train. We eagerly wait for resumption of toy train service. Our trip to Nandankanan would be more enjoyable and exciting once the toy train service starts”, said a school student from the city, Arkesh Rath.

“The toy train will now run on normal track like the ones being used for trains by Indian Railways. The thickness of the track was initially suggested at 30 pound, but RITES advised that we should not take chances on safety aspect” he said.

The lone toy train in Nandankanan used to move around barren land dotted with bushes and small plants. The NBP authorities have now planned to house black buck, deer, Sambar deer and Nilgai in the two safaris. This year, footfall in Nandnankanan is about 32 lakh and 2 lakh in Botanical Garden. The toy train would add to the attraction.   

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