Sunday, 28 May 2017

Darjeeling Toy Train Faces Huge Tourist Rush

With the World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) not being able to meet up with the huge demand, a new diesel joy ride train was introduced on Sunday. Along with this, the service from Darjeeling to NJP and from NJP to Darjeeling will operate on all seven days a week. "With the tourist onrush in Darjeeling, the DHR services specially the joy rides are all sold out. As tickets are available online, the trips are booked well in advance. To cope up with the demand we have introduced an additional diesel loco joy ride service from Sunday" stated Suman Pradhan, Station Manager, Darjeeling. The joy rides are 16 km round trips of two-hour duration from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back with a 10-minute halt at Batasia loop and a half-an-hour stop at Ghoom to visit the DHR Museum at the station. The cost for the steam loco joy ride is Rs 1,300 per person. For the diesel service, the rates are Rs 800 per person. At present, there are six steam and four diesel joy ride services operational. The diesel loco service from NJP to Darjeeling and from Darjeeling to NJP will operate daily from Monday. Earlier, the service from NJP to Darjeeling used to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The train from Darjeeling to NJP used to operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. "From Monday, the train from NJP to Darjeeling (5241 Up) and Darjeeling to NJP (5240 Down) will run regularly. Tickets can be availed online also," added Pradhan. The cost for the trip is Rs 1,285 per passenger. Along with this, there are diesel services from Darjeeling to Kurseong and from Kurseong to Darjeeling. The service from Darjeeling to Kurseong costs Rs 680 in the first class and Rs 60 in the second. The year 2014-15 witnessed around 69,000-70,000 passengers availing the DHR services; in 2015-16 around 1 lakh passengers and for this financial year the projected figure is more than 2 lakh passengers. The DHR was marked as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO on December 2, 1999. "We welcome the move by the DHR. However, the continuity of the NJP — Darjeeling daily service should be there. It should not be discontinued after some days," remarked Samrat Sanyal, Eastern Himalaya Travel and Tour Operators Association (EHTTOA)
By Amitava Banerjee, Millennium Post