Mountain railways in India are often refered to as toy trains or Chhotey lines. These are the narrow gauge lines that were built during the nineteenth century by the British. The Indian railways has maintained the legacy and is still operating and maintaining these trains.
There are 5 popular toy train routes in India.
- Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
- Nilgiri Mountain Railway
- Kalka–Shimla Railway
- Matheran Hill Railway
- Kangra Valley Railway
- Darjeeling Himalayan Railways: A 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, India. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 78 kilometres (48 mi) long. Its elevation level varies from about 100 metres (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services; however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India’s highest railway station) are handled by the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotives.
- Nilgiri Mountain Railway: is a railway in Tamil Nadu, India, built by the British in 1908 and was initially operated by the Madras Railway. The railway still relies on its fleet of steam locomotives. In July 2005, UNESCO added the Nilgiri Mountain Railway as an extension to the World Heritage Site of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, the site then became famous as “Mountain Railways of India” after it satisfied the necessary criteria, thus forcing abandonment of the modernization plans.
- Kalka–Shimla Railway: is a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge railway in North-West India travelling along a mostly mountainous route from Kalka to Shimla. It is known for dramatic views of the hills and surrounding villages. Originally 107 tunnels were built on Kalka Shimla Railway Track and 102 remain in use. The longest tunnel is at Barog. Engineer Colonel Barog dug the tunnel from both ends and could not align them and was symbolically fined one rupee. He couldn’t live with the shame and committed suicide inside the incomplete tunnel. Chief Engineer H.S. Herlington later completed the tunnel with help from Bhalku, a local sadhu.
- Matheran Hill Railway: is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in Maharashtra, India. The railway covers a distance of 21 km (13.05 mi), over large swathes of forest territory connecting Neral to Matheran in the Western Ghats. UNESCO is considering giving world heritage status to Matheran light railway. It takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 21 km journey.
- Kangra Valley railway: lies in the sub-Himalayan region and covers a distance of 164 km (101.9 mi) from Pathankot,Punjab to Jogindernagar in Himachal Pradesh, India. The Kangra valley railway run at a 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) narrow gauge. For the Kangra Valley Railway presents to the traveler, a chance to gaze as long as he likes on the ever present panorama of snow-clad ranges and the gold green fields without being swung round every few minutes on a narrow arc before his eyes can greet the scenery.The most picturesque parts of the valley are exposed to the view – the stretch of 18 miles from Mangwal to Kangra, for example, lies through country unsurpassed for its majestic grandeur with the majestic Ban Ganga gorge and the deep Kangra chasm as two piece de resistance.