For many people, Matheran has always been a peaceful getaway hill station – least access to the internet world. However, for the first-time high-speed internet will be available in Matheran. The Central Railway has started work on laying an optical cable network on the 21-km route starting with the Neral-Jummapatti stretch. “Work on the 4.8kms long stretch till Jumapatti has completed. We aim to finish work of laying optical fibres on the entire route by May this year," said Shivaji Sutar, Chief PRO, Central Railway.
This hill station always had a sketchy internet and communication network. The CR authorities will also provide circuits for control and railway phones along with hot line facilities. Sources said that in the past the drivers and guards of the toy train used to struggle in case of emergency or untoward incident like derailment or tracks getting washed away by slush during rains. The stations there can also be connected with UTS and PRS systems of ticketing.
The total cost of this work is Rs 4.02 crore and in the next phases the fibre network will be extended on Jummapatti-Waterpipe, Waterpipe-Aman Lodge and Aman Lodge-Matheran Sections. This OFC can also serve for providing Wi-Fi facility and internet connection in the entire section.
"Later on the internet can be extended to Matheran city," said a CR official. Currently the mobile network and internet provided are negligible which makes it difficult for tourists, locals as well as railway staff there.
Since November, the number of passengers travelling to Matheran in toy train has seen an upward trend with total passengers of 1.10 lakh and earnings of Rs 67.30 lakh. Until March 15, well over 11500 passengers have travelled in this month that gave earning of over Rs 6 lakh. This is despite Covid-19 making a return. Sources said that with MMRDA proposing a 4.7 kms long ropeway from Bhivpuri to Matheran, more tourists can be expected.