Ooty toy train or Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Ooty Toy Train/ Nilgiri Mountain Railway: A Handy Guide For All

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The Ooty Toy Train, or the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, is a unique heritage train like no other in India. It is one of the oldest trains, which continues to run on a steam engine and passes through the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. The aesthetics of the blue carriages and yellow windows are pleasing to the eyes, and tourists cannot get enough of them. 

Besides the Gram-worthy colors and train design, tourists also hop onto this train for its picturesque route. Since the train moves through the Ghats, people can witness breathtaking landscapes of the Nilgiri Hills. The train is slower than the average IRCTC train, allowing people to absorb the scenery around them. You can click pictures, shoot IG Reels, and more on this journey as the train stops at several locations.

However, the train is not just about the views and vanity. Since it moves through hilly terrain, it has a rack and pinion system, which provides stability while traversing inclined paths. Want to know more about this fascinating train? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Let us take you through all the necessary information you need to get on board this train and get the complete experience.

Ooty Toy Train

History Of The Ooty Toy Train

Nilgiri Railway Company constructed the railway lines from 1886 to 1899 between Mettupalayam and Coonoor using the “Alternate Biting Teeth” technology in the “rack and pinion” arrangement between the rails, providing the traction for the train to move upwards. 

Coonoor railway station
Coonoor Railway Station

In January 1903, the Indian Railways purchased and started construction between Coonoor and Udagamandalam (Ooty). Since its completion in 1908, the train runs the entire stretch between Mettupalayam (1069 feet) and Udagamandalam (7228 feet), a 46 Km long track that gains an elevation of 6159 feet. This meter gauge track railway has the steepest gradient of 1:12 in Indian Railways. UNESCO conferred World Heritage to Nilgiri Mountain Railway in the year 2005.

The Locomotives

In earlier times, trains used coal-fired steam locomotives, which are now replaced by oil-fired steam locomotives. The upgrade came after the train faced issues like acquiring quality coal and other technical glitches within the mechanics. Furthermore, forest fires are a constant threat, so oil-fired locomotives are used to mitigate these challenges. Today the Nilgiri Mountain Railway uses a fleet of X-class steam locomotives that were made in “Swiss Locomotive And Machine Works,” Winterthur, Switzerland.

The retired steam engines are exhibited at Coimbatore and Ooty railway stations and the Nilgiri Mountain Rail Museum at Mettupalayam.

What Are Toy Trains? Why Are They Called So?

Narrow track lines for the toy train

Toy trains run on hill stations on a narrow gauge (a two-track line that is just 2 ft apart). The engines with compartments are very small, like toys. The vehicles are known as toy trains primarily for these two reasons. 

What’s more interesting is that while going uphill, the engine is at the back, pushing the rest of the coaches, and while coming downhill, the engine is in front to stop the train from running off.

Important Things To Remember

  • The Ooty Toy Train runs on all days throughout the year. However, there are a few exceptions. If the weather is too harsh or the monsoons are truly challenging, the trains are halter. Besides these, the trains will be halted if there is some ongoing maintenance work or some other issue.
  • There are no washroom facilities on the train. But you can utilize the halts between the stations for the washrooms.
  • There are no catering services onboard. Eat or buy food before you board the train, as food will only be available at Mettupalayam, Coonoor, and Udagamandalam. Carry water bottles and snacks, especially if you are traveling with kids.
  • The train runs only during the daytime; no overnight toy trains are running on this route.
  • The entire journey takes about 4 hours and 50 minutes from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam.
  • The mobile network is sparse. In fact, you will have no network in most spots, and the train doesn’t have any WiFi facilities.
  • No luggage space was found overhead. Although you can keep it below your seat, do not carry too many belongings for a hassle-free ride.
  • Know that train delays are common.
  • Toy trains have very little seating capacity and can accommodate only a few passengers. Due to its growing popularity, last-minute tickets are very difficult to get. So, book well in advance, i.e., at least a month or two before, especially during weekends, holidays, and festive seasons.
  • The gates or doors of the train will be closed while the train is moving; and opened only when the train halts.
  • Guards are present in all the compartments. They flag off as and when needed. Sand is poured on the tracks for the grip of the train to move forward on the slopes.
  • There are no fans. The lights are turned on while entering the tunnels. 
  • The weather gets colder as it gains altitude.

Twin’s Tip: While going from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam, the east side has very good scenic views when compared to the other side. After Runney Mede (before Coonoor), you can see good views on either side.


Toy train standing at platform in Coonoor

The train comprises only about 4 to 5 compartments, with two first-class coaches. These are on either end of the train and flaunt vista dome windows (large glass windows offering a good view). Besides these, two second-class coaches have vintage windows for every seat, painted yellow. The remaining coach is a general coach and, like the first-class coaches, has the vista dome window. The seating and the comfort of each compartment differ from one another.

Toy Train Ticket Price

StationSecond ClassFirst Class
Mettupalayam ⇌ UdagamandalamRs. 295Rs. 600
Coonoor ⇌ UdagamandalamRs. 150Rs. 350

How To Book The Toy Train Tickets?

Online Booking

You can book your tickets via the IRCTC website. You can also use the IRCTC app on your Android and iOS phones which is quite user-friendly. If you find any difficulties in the official app, you can also try with their premium partners – ConfirmTkt, EaseMy Trip, MakeMy Trip, and ixigo, which charge a small extra fee.

If the trip is planned last minute, try booking under the “tatkal” and “premium tatkal” quotas, which are available every day. We highly recommend booking your tickets online at least two to three months before to get a confirmed seat, as only one steam train runs daily between Mettupalayam and Udagamandalam. 

Ticket Counter

Very few unreserved tickets are available, which can be purchased at the ticket counters of Mettupalayam, Coonoor, and Udagamandalam before departure. However, know that you will have to wait in a long queue even before the counters open, and the tickets are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The tickets for the unreserved seats are highly subject to availability. However, the possibility of getting unreserved tickets between Coonoor and Udagamandalam (diesel engine) is relatively high as there are 8 trains in total (both ways). If the tickets are not filled online, they can be purchased at the ticket counters as well.

Travel Agents

Authorized travel agents have dedicated seats allocated for them to book tickets. You can check with them and book tickets as well, but do not make an advance payment even if you get the assurance of a confirmed seat. Usually, IRCTC agents are issued a license, and you can ask them for the same before giving your personal details or paying them. So, be safe and do your due diligence before you take the help of a travel agent. 

Note: Details such as name, age, and concession (if eligible) are required to book and are recorded on the ticket.

Ooty Toy Train Timings

56141561365614356138Train Number56139561425613756140
↓       Station – Code      ↑
7:10Mettupalayam – MTP17:35
7:4510:4012:3516:30Coonoor – ONR10:2513:2015:0519:10
9:0512:0013:5017:45Udagamandalam – UAM09:1512:1514:0018:00

The left columns indicate the timings of the trains that depart from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam. Whereas, the right columns are from Udagamandalam to Mettupalam. The same is represented as arrows in the above table.

Train Station Stops

  • Mettupalayam – MTP, 1069 ft – First or the last station
  • Kallar, 1260 ft
  • Aderly, 2383 ft
  • Hill Grove, 3560 ft
  • Runney Mede, 4612 ft
  • Kateri Road, 5070 ft

Note: Until Kateri Road, the train stops for at least 10 minutes at every station to refill the water for the steam engine. Tickets for the in-between stations between Mettupalayam and Coonoor cannot be purchased. You can use these halts to enjoy the views around and also use the restrooms present at the station.

  • Coonoor – ONR, 5616 ft – The train stops here for a good 15 – 30 mins to change the steam engine to a diesel engine. You can buy snacks or have food and use the restrooms if needed.
  • Aravankadu – AVK, 6144 ft
  • Ketti – KXT, 6864 ft
  • Lovedale – LOV, 7654 ft
  • Udagamandalam – UAM, 7228 ft – Last or the first station

Note: Tickets for the stops between Coonoor and Udagamandalam can be purchased. As the engine is changed to diesel, the trains stop for 2 mins in these stations.

The Ooty Toy Train Journey

Nilgiri mountain railway route - crossing bridges

Gliding through mist and fog between the dense forest, hills, and tea plantations, this train crosses steep gradients, 108 curves, 16 tunnels, and 250 bridges (30+ bridges are large ones), covering a distance of 46 Km (29 miles). You can spot numerous waterfalls, a couple of caves, tall trees, or sometimes elephants that might cross the track.

Only one train (steam engine) runs from Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam and vice versa daily. The engine is placed at the back end of the train, from where it pushes all the compartments.

Steam engine and diesel engines toy trains at Udagamandalam/ Ooty
Diesel engine

At Coonoor, the steam engine is changed to a diesel engine, and the engine is placed at the front of the train. It runs very slowly – 10-20 Km/ Hr with the steam engine and 20-30 Km/Hr with the diesel engine attached. The most scenic route is between Mettupalayam and Coonoor, and while you enjoy the view, you almost feel like you’re floating through the sky. Although there are numerous train journeys in India that you must try, this one offers an experience like no other. So don’t forget to include this in your bucket list.

Information and history about the toy train are also showcased at the Mettupalayam Railway Museum.

Numerous Bollywood and Kollywood movie scenes are shot displaying the train – “Main Tera Hero”, “Aradhana”, and “Dil Se,” to name a few, and also the most popular “Chaiya Chaiya” song.

Retiring Rooms & Dormitory Tariff

The retiring rooms and dormitory are available for tourists at Coonoor. You can use this facility by booking online or from the ticket counter.

Type of roomDurationPrice
Non-A/C double bed12 HoursRs. 500
24 HoursRs. 1000 + GST
4 Bed12 HoursRs. 800
24 HoursRs. 1600 + GST

Extension and additional person – 25% extra on the above rates

General Information

  • Children of age between 5 and 12 years need a half ticket.
  • A suggestion or a complaint book is available with the station master.
  • Please check your tickets and balance money before leaving the counter.
  • It is dangerous to enter or exit the moving train. Those who are doing so are doing the same at his/her own risk.
  • Drinking alcohol & smoking are prohibited in the station and on trains.
  • Please help keep the station premises neat and clean.
  • Don’t litter or spit on railway premises. Defaulters will be penalized with a fine of up to Rs. 500/-
  • Wheelchair facilities are available with the station master. You can avail for the elderly or physically challenged people.
  • The minimum cancellation charge for untraveled/unreserved tickets is Rs. 30/- per passenger.

If you are someone who has witnessed and experienced the Ooty Toy Train, tell us about it. We would love to hear from you.

You can ask us in the comments below if you have any queries. We’re happy to help you in any way possible. For more travel tips, informative guides, detailed itineraries, and anything related to travel, follow us on social media – Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.

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