Toy train resumes Darjeeling-NJP service after 5 years

Mrinalini Sharma

World heritage, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway today resumed its full-fledged toy-train service along the whole length of 80km tracks from New Jalpaiguri (NJP ) to Darjeeling after a gap of five years.
The toy train service from NJP to Darjeeling, the most sought-after choice of tourists, has been suspended since June 14, 2010, after a major landslide swept away 500 metres of NH55 at Paglajhora – located 35km from here – and the track running parallel to it.

Darjeeling toy train
Toy train resumes Darjeeling-NJP service

Although the toy trains used to run from NJP till Gayabari, another landslide on the highway at Tindharia in September 2011 cut short the joy ride till Chunabhati. Chunabhati is 27km from Siliguri and Gayabari is 7km uphill.

The resumption of Siliguri-Darjeeling service today was a low-key affair with no fanfare. The diesel-driven toy train hauling two first class coaches and a second class one started its journey to Darjeeling from the NJP station around 8.50am with a single passenger Edward Copperman from Ireland.

“I arrived in Siliguri on Tuesday and got to know through Internet that the DHR service from Siliguri to Darjeeling would resume today after a gap of nearly five years. The toy train is very popular in Ireland and I have heard that the scenery along the route is spectacular. This is my first visit to Darjeeling and it feels great that I am the first passenger to board the Unesco World heritage train which is resuming its journey from here to Darjeeling after five years,” said Copperman who works for a travel agency.

The scheduled departure of the train from NJP is 8.40am and its scheduled arrival at Darjeeling is at 4.15pm. Although the train departs from NJP, the toy-train service is popularly referred to as the Siliguri-Darjeeling service.

When the toy train reached Siliguri Junction at 10am, eight more passengers boarded the train.
Among them was Shweta Rani from Bhagalpur in Bihar, who along with her husband and two children, had come for a holiday to Darjeeling.

“We had arrived in Siliguri yesterday and were supposed to go to Darjeeling by road today. However, we got to know through Internet that the Siliguri-Darjeeling service would be starting today. So, we decided to travel by it. My children had wanted to take a ride in the heritage railway during our Darjeeling visit and their wish has been fulfilled,” said Shweta.

In March 2013, Unesco – which had conferred World Heritage status on the DHR in 1999 – had rapped the Indian Railways over the delay in restoration of the tracks at Tindharia and Paglajhora and resumption of service from NJP to Darjeeling.

In February 2014, the toy train service resumed from NJP to Gayabari after restoration of the tracks at Tindharia.

“The restoration of tracks at Paglajhora was completed on December 13 last year and trial runs were being conducted since December 24. We had applied for permission to restart the Siliguri-Darjeeling service to the Northeast Frontier Railway and got it a few days back. So, we are starting full-fledged daily service from NJP to Darjeeling with passengers from today. It will be a regular service from Siliguri and online reservations will start as soon as the service has been updated in the railway reservation system. Till then, we will provide manual tickets to the passengers,” said a DHR official at Siliguri Junction.

Another train service from Darjeeling to Siliguri started from Darjeeling at 10.15am today and reached Siliguri after 8pm.

Source: Telegraph,

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