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‘Exorbitant’ fare on Nilgiri Mountain Railway draws flak

“Now, the NMR does not operate ordinary services as it calls almost every service a ‘special train’ and collects such exorbitant fare.

Published: 26th September 2021 05:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2021 07:32 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

COONOOR: The Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a UNESCO-declared world heritage site, has come under criticism for the 'exorbitant fare' fixed for travel in its special train scheduled to run on Gandhi Jayanthi (October 2) for commemorating the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.

R Subramaniam, chairman of Nilgiris District Federation of Consumers’ Organisations, told TNIE, “The NMR has announced to run a fully-reserved ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ special train on Gandhi Jayanthi Day to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence. But, its fare is so high that only foreigners and wealthy tourists can travel by that train. Independent India’s common citizens cannot afford to celebrate this ‘Mahotsav’, and the Nilgiri residents will only be mute spectators. Such a scenario will only defeat the idea of celebrating the Independence anniversary.”

He said, “From Mettupalayam to Coonoor, the fare is `1,100 in I Class and `800 in II class; from Mettupalayam to Ooty, `1,450 in I class and `1,050 in II class; and from Coonoor to Ooty, it is `550 in I class and `450 in II class. GST and reservation charges extra. In all, one has to shell out `1,610 in I class or `1,025 in II class to travel from Mettupalayam to Ooty.”

“Now, the NMR does not operate ordinary services as it calls almost every service a ‘special train’ and collects such exorbitant fare. Until a couple of years ago, the charge was only `25 in II class from Mettupalayam to Ooty and `10 from Coonoor to Ooty.  Even now, the bus fare is only `36 for Mettupalayam from Coonoor in special service and `21 in regular service,” he pointed out.

The fare drew criticism on social media too. Mahendra Sethia, a social media activist, said, “The NMR is no more for the locals. It is for fleecing unsuspecting tourists.”

Joyce Katheryn, a travel enthusiast, said, “This will be the end of our Nilgiri railway.  Only the rich can travel in this train now.”

Many recalled the affordable fare they used to pay for years together to travel on NMR, including the monthly passes issued to go to college and work between Coonoor and Ooty.

Subramaniam said they had urged the railways to reintroduce the affordable services on NMR so that "every one in Independent India can travel on it as before".

The Railways, however, contend that they have not hiked the fare now. The fares for travel by the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ special train are the same as that of the NMR weekly special train, an official said.



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