Thursday, 29 December 2016


There were a small team of us, some with many years of railway experience, who were working with Curtis on the restoration project but the process was only ever one way - we gave help but he gave us no feedback on basic things like his discussions with DSVN or in which countries he was soliciting sponsors. He visited Europe in the summer of 2016 and had meetings with various people who had a connection with the Dalat railway but he gave us no information on anything that had taken place. When this was questioned he said he no longer needed our assistance so we cut our ties and have left him to get on with the project by himself.


Thursday, 17 March 2016


This blog is about the Dalat Cog Railway so check out the TODAY post in May 2015.

However I have included posts of other railways which can be compared to Dalat.

Following a second trip to India in February 2016 I have added pictures to a new post on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
I have also added posts on:-
The Abt 'rack and pinion' system
The Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Matheran Railway near Mumbai
and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
I will, in future, also be replacing the basic 1:50,000 maps of the Dalat route with maps assigning numbers to each of the 57 structures so that they can be referred to more clearly in future.



Thursday, 10 March 2016

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 2014

Probably the best known preserved Indian steam railway and definitely the most picturesque. This is not a cog railway but uses a number of 'reverses' and loops to gain height. A world famous tourist attraction just like Dalat could be!


Golden Rock Railway Works, India, 2016

This historic name has now been replaced by Southern Railways, Diesel Loco Shed, Ponmalai and it is where a number of oil-fired steam locomotives have been built in recent years. On a visit in February 2016 we were not allowed to take photos but even getting into the works can be considered quite an achievement. We were able to see work on the cosmetic restoration of a steam locomotive which was destined for display on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.
6000 workers are employed on the sight and they refurbish some 142 diesel locomotives each year.
The impressive works entrance
The tower clock was built in Croydon, UK in 1923 and still going strong

The only picture inside the works shows the 'traverser' in the distance which moved the locos between the various stages of refurbishment

The Abt Rack and Pinion System

Someone who didn't know that Abt was the name of the guy who invented the system suggested an acronym for ABT of 'Alternate Biting Teeth' which describes it exactly! There were a number of similar systems, as below, but Dalat, Furka, Nilgiri and Snowdon all use Abt.
From article in The Railway Magazine. January 2016

 Below are a selection of photos of the Abt System
Exhibition at Snowdon Mountain Railway. Note much smaller rails and cogs and guard rail at either side of cogs

The only rack left on the Dalat line! At Dalat Station
Under freight wagon at Furka
Exhibition at Mettapalaiam on the Nilgiri line
Me and my cogs at Hillgrove Station on the Nilgiri line
Exhibition at Mettapalaiam on the Nilgiri line
Exhibition at Mettapalaiam on the Nilgiri line
Exhibition at Mettapalaiam on the Nilgiri line
Cogs at Coonoor

Spring-loaded rack at Coonoor ensured cogs engage with loco

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Snowdon Mountain Railway, Wales, UK, 2015

This 800mm (2 foot 71/2 inch) railway is the only cog railway in UK and runs from Llanberis to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. They run 4 Swiss-built steam locos and us the Abt sytem.
For full details see
The carriages are of very light construction and when we visited in 2015 we were only allowed half way up the mountain because of high winds and heavy rain.

Note lightweight construction
Typical Welsh weather

Nilgiri Mountain Railway in India, 2016

I made a further trip to the Nilgiri  line in 2016 on a tour that took in Sri Lanka and southern India. This time I visited the new 'visitor centre' at Mettupalaiam at the foot of the railway and also the engine sheds at Coonoor. See also a separate post on the Golden Rock Works where the recent locomotives were manufactured as well as a separate post on the Abt system of cog and rack.
The route shown on the outside of the visitor center at Mettupalaiam
Loco X37389 built in 1925 at Winterthur in Switzerland on display at Mettupalaiam
The train arrives (late) in the afternoon from Ooty
Udagamandalam is the old name for Ooty
One of many viaducts
Running repairs at the first halt. Poor maintenance is a feature of most of the steam railways - perhaps the knowledge has not been passed down through the generations?
Already looking worn out after only a few years of work
Another viaduct!
Too heavy to bring back as a souvenir from Hillgrove Station!
Stopping for water at Hillgrove
The Golden Rock Railway Works under its new name
Coonoor depot
Loco 397 in for repairs
Locos 399 and 391 in for servicing
List of locomotives on the Nilgiri line

Matheran Mountain Railway, India, 2016

This 2 foot gauge railway lead to the 'hill station' of Matheran which is near Mumbai. It zig zags up the mountain side with the tightest curves in India. Now only diesel powered it is well worth a visit as it shows how powerful historic railways are in increasing tourism - just like restoring the Dalat Cog Railway could be. There is no motorised transport in Matheran so everyone moves around by horse or foot.
Very steep and rugged terrain
Stopping for a break at Jummapatti
The tight zig zags bring the tracks close together
Luggage is carried up to the village
The train descends from the village station to the terminus
Matheran Station
'Main Street' Matheran
Looking back down to the plains at Neral Junction