When asked whether an increase in fares would be considered to reduce the losses incurred in maintaining the NMR, Mr. Misra replied, “It will make no difference.” It ferried only about 150 people on each trip.
To another question, he said that there is no proposal to run a Summer special during ensuing season as, “We do not want to increase the risk.”
Pointing out that at some places the track and bridges were unstable, he said that the slopes also posed a threat.
Stating that efforts are on to upgrade the bridges, he said that safety nets were being installed to reduce damage caused by boulders. Stray elephants have become a problem at places like Runnymede. It was not necessary to form a separate body to maintain the NMR.
Though many of the long time maintenance staff have retired, alternative arrangements have been made.
He added that the maintenance of the NMR was, “not only a science but also an art”.
Adverting to the manufacture of locomotives for the NMR at the Golden Rock Workshop of the Southern Railway in Trichy, Mr. Misra said that three have been delivered and the last one will reach this month.
Pointing out that all of them were oil fired engines, he said that coal fired locomotives would no longer be used for regular services. He added that there were no shortcomings in the oil fired engines.
While four of the coal fired engines in the NMR were 95 years old, four were about 65 years old. There was no demand to introduce freight services on the NMR.
Owing to the increasing demand, more public conveniences would be provided at the Mettupalayam station.
A complaint regarding poor maintenance of the Nilgiri Express would be looked into.
Earlier, inaugurating a two day convention of the Indian Railway Fan Clubs Association (IRFCA) Mr. Misra said that the railway authorities often benefit from the out-of-the-box ideas of the association. Their feed back is given due importance.
A delegate from Melbourne, Ian Manning, for whom Indian Railways has been a passion for several decades, said that the NMR is a very good tourist attraction.