If you want to embark on a picturesque journey with views of valleys and mountains, board the Ooty toy train! This is a comprehensive Ooty Toy Train Guide on its timings, ticket fare and what to expect.
Ooty toy train is an engineering marvel set in the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. In 2005, it was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site for “bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty.”
If you are visiting Ooty, make sure you read my Ooty Travel Guide to plan your trip better.
Also, read my Coonoor Travel Guide if you are planning to explore Coonoor on your trip.
History of Ooty Toy Train
Nilgiri Mountain Railway was conceptualized way back in 1854, but it did not materialize until 1899. Initially, the railway line was till Coonoor, later in 1908 it was extended till Ooty.
The locomotives used in the trains were ‘X’ class locomotives developed by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Switzerland. Some of the locomotives still used are at least 50 to 80 years old. However, the newest locomotives are manufactured in India maintaining the charm and heritage of the traditional Swiss locomotives.
Initially, the entire railway line from Mettupalayam to Ooty was running on steam locomotives. But from the past few years, the steam engine got replaced by a more efficient diesel engine at Coonoor station. This is to cover the steep climb from Coonoor to Ooty.
Specialty of Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Nilgiri Mountain Railway is the only rack railway in India. Rack railway is a method of making a train climb steep railway using a toothed rack and pinion mechanism invented by a Swiss engineer called Dr. Roman Abt. The bottom of the trains are fitted with pinions that mesh with the racks on the railway line that runs between the tracks.
Nilgiri Mountain Railway uses Abt rack and pinion mechanism to cover the distance between Mettupalayam and Coonoor. From Coonoor to Ooty, the railway line is diesel power engine.
Route of Ooty Toy Train
Nilgiri mountain railway is a stretch of 46 kilometers from Mettupalayam to Udhagamandalam with 16 tunnels, 108 curves and 250 big and small bridges. At Mettupalayam, the railway line is only at 325 meters altitude from sea level, but as the train progresses on its journey, it climbs a height of 2218 meters altitude at Fern Hill. Ooty is 2203 meters altitude, slightly below that of Fern Hill.
The train has 7 passenger stops and 5 water stops on the way. Water stops are the places where the train stops to fill water for the engine. The passenger stations between Mettupalayam and Udagamandalam are Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Ketti, and Lovedale.
The train takes about 5 hours uphill from Mettupalayam to Ooty and 3 1/2 hours downhill from Ooty to Mettupalayam. Coonoor is somewhere in the middle at the distance of 3 1/2 kilometers uphill from Mettupalayam.
There is only one train that runs between Mettupalayam and Ooty, however there are three passenger trains that run between Coonoor and Ooty. During the peak season of April to June, Nilgiri Mountain Railways run an extra train between Mettupalayam and Ooty.
The Charming Toy Train
The Ooty Toy Train is aptly named, as its small, blue and cream-colored coaches resemble toy trains. The vintage locomotives that pull these carriages are steam-powered, adding an old-world charm to the experience. However, these are replaces with diesel engines now due to ecological reasons.
The rhythmic chugging of the engine, the hissing of steam, and the distinctive whistle all add to the nostalgic ambiance as the train meanders through the hills. The coaches are equipped with large windows, allowing you to soak in the panoramic views and capture memorable photographs.
Other Attractions offered by Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Apart from the spectacular train journey, Nilgiri mountain railway offers other attractions that you don’t want to miss on your Ooty trip. The best part of these attractions is that they are free and you can just walk in and view the displays and locomotives.
Nilgiri Mountain Rail Museum, Mettupalayam
Take a peek into the history of Nilgiri Mountain Railway by visiting the Nilgiri Mountain Rail Museum at Mettupalayam Railway Station. The museum is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 am and 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The museum displays the first locomotive used in Nilgiri mountain railway in 1899 that was manufactured by Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works, Switzerland.
Steam Loco Shed, Coonoor
If you want to see the locomotives that are currently used in Nilgiri railway, head across the Coonoor railway station to Steam Loco Shed. When you get here the first thing you spot is the selfie spot, a bright and colorful, lifelike model of the Swiss locomotive. From here when you get down the stairs you can see the place where the locomotives are serviced and maintained.
Heritage Rail Museum, Udagamandalam
While you are waiting at Udagamandalam railway station for your train, step into the Heritage Rail Museum at the station to view photographs and artifacts related to the history and Journey of the Nilgiri mountain railways.
Timings and Ticket Fare for Ooty Toy Train
You can book your ticket for Ooty Toy Train on the IRCTC website, or you can book it personally at the station. Here is a comprehensive chart with details of Ooty Toy Train timings and ticket fare.
Cancellation Charges for Ooty Toy Train
The cancellation charges for Ooty Toy Trains are different from the regular trains. For the Second Class, it is Rs. 60 per ticket, while for the First Class, it is Rs. 210 per ticket.
What to Know Before Planning the Journey on Ooty Toy Train
- There are no toilets in the train, so make use of the station toilets before you get on.
- Book the ticket through IRCTC website well in advance as they get sold out very quickly.
- If you book your ticket directly at Mettupalayam or Ooty station, you will get the traditional cardboard type ticket sold in the 1900s. Nilgiri mountain railway maintains this practice as part of its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Arrive at the station at least 1 hour before the train departure, if you are planning to book your tickets at the station.
- If you are booking your ticket from the counter, do keep in mind that one person can book only four tickets. So, if you have more people in your group, make sure you have enough people standing in the queue to buy tickets.
- Mettupalayam, Coonoor, and Udagamandalam railway stations are well-maintained and have clean vegetarian food court that serve tasty food. As a result, you can get your meals and refreshments right at the station without any hassles.
- You can reach Mettupalayam from Chennai by boarding the Nilgiri Super-Fast Express which runs on a daily basis.
- Similarly, you can reach Mettupalayam from Tirunelveli by boarding the Tirunelveli Mettupalayam special train which runs every Thursday from Tirunelveli and reaches Mettupalayam on Friday.
Wrapping Up: Ooty Toy Train
A ride on the Ooty Toy Train is a journey back in time, immersing you in the rich natural beauty of the Nilgiri Hills. As the train weaves through the mountains, the enchanting landscapes and the captivating sights will leave an indelible mark on your memory.
The Ooty Toy Train is not merely a mode of transportation; it is an experience that evokes a sense of wonder, nostalgia, and appreciation for the beauty of nature. So, when you plan your visit to Ooty, make sure to include this delightful train journey in your itinerary for an unforgettable adventure.
Affiliate Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. This means, at no added cost to you, the marketing affiliate pays me a small commission every time you make a purchase from the links on this website. Read the Disclaimer to know more.