Guwahati, Aug 31 (IANS) In cheering news to those planning a vacation in Queen of Hills, Darjeeling, the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has decided to introduce three additional pairs of toy trains between Darjeeling and Ghum in the world famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), a UNESCO World heritage Site.
Chief Public relation officer of the NFR, Pranav Jyoti Sharma said on Wednesday that the additional three pairs of trains will be started from September 10 this year to enable tourists to relive the romance of British era steam engine hauled narrow gauge railway tracks without much hassles.
At present only six pairs of tourist trains are being run between the six km stretch from Darjeeling and Ghum and return.
“With this introduction scheduled to be operational from September 10, there will be nine pairs of toy trains playing on the 6 km distance between Ghum and Darjeeling. All the three new trains would be hauled by steam Locomotives which have a high heritage appeal among tourists,” he said.
Three of the current six pairs are hauled by steam engine while the rest three are being hauled by Diesel locomotives, he added.
Sharma further said that NFR has recently refurbished as many as 14 narrow gauge coaches by which the seating capacity of these coaches has also been increased to as many as 28 seats from existing 12, 14 and 16-seater coaches.
“Such refurbishment and restoration has been very difficult because Narrow Gauge rolling stock is no longer produced and spares, component etc. are also not easily available. With each diesel locomotive hauling three coaches and steam loco hauling two, these 9 trains will haul as many as 21 coaches during the peak season catering to the large festive season rush,” Sharma added.
It may be mentioned here that DHR has of late been facing many challenges in the form of frequent landslides during rainy seasons especially in the portions near Paglajhora and Tindharia. Preservation and conservation of this railway which has been recognized as an asset and accorded World Heritage Status by UNESCO, is a task being undertaken by NFR in right earnest.