An icon of the ‘Queen of Hills’, the heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) recently added a Vistadome coach and restaurant to its lineup. Tourists can hop on for a ride on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Here’s all about it. By Eshita Srinivas
The land of fragrant tea, rolling hills, and breathtaking sunrises draws several travellers to its borders every year. Many write home about the historic toy train – first completed by the British in 1881 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picture-perfect coaches run from the lower reaches of the mountains to Darjeeling town – offering a look at the verdant views that come along the way. Adding to the experience, the North Frontier Railway (NFR) has introduced a new Vistadome coach and a restaurant car to the train. It was flagged off by the Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs John Barla.
Darjeeling Toy train with the new Vistadome coach to ply tri-weekly
Joyride to the Queen of Himalayas!
A new Tri-Weekly Toy Train service on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway with a Vistadome coach & restaurant coach from New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling has commenced operations recently.#WorldTourismDay pic.twitter.com/tFjnmXmmbP
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) September 27, 2022
This train will ply tri-weekly and traverse 88 km – Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling and Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from Darjeeling. This move is expected to boost tourism, especially ahead of the Diwali and Durga Puja holidays. General manager of NFR was quoted by NDTV as saying, “The train has a vistadome coach offering great views and a restaurant car that will serve an array of food and beverages.” On the itinerary are Siliguri, Sukna, Rongton, Tindhara, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada, and Ghum.
The train – No. 52539 AC Passenger – will feature 15 seats in the Vistadome coach and eight seats in the restaurant. Adding to this, DHR India support group secretary general Raj Basu noted in a report by Zee News, “The heritage toy train, Kanchenjunga, and tea are the main attractions of tourism in Darjeeling hills.” This is especially monumental for visitors since the service was earlier temporarily closed due to a landslide between Rongton and Tindharia.
Meanwhile the train exploring Goom and Batasia Loop from Darjeeling is running as per schedule. Reports state that hotel and homestay bookings are at their maximum capacity this festive season – a stark contrast to the pandemic lull of the past two years. “The tourism sector, as well as the tourists, will be benefited from the introduction of the new train.” Basu added.
All images: Ministry of Railways