Services of the heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), popularly known as ‘toy train’, is all set to resume in the hills from October 25, after its suspension for 125 days due to the strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills, called by the GJM for a separate state of Gorkhaland on June 15, was lifted after 104 days ahead of Durga Puja. But the train service was restarted partially up to Sukna from October 15. “We have partially started the narrow-guage passenger train service up to Sukna from Siliguri in the plains,” North Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson Pranav Jyoti Sharma said. As the service remained suspended for 125 days, repairs and maintenance jobs are required to be done, he told PTI over phone from Guwahati. The 88-km journey from Siliguri to the Darjeeling hills through forests, tea gardens and numerous bridges and tunnels will recommence from October 25, Sharma said. He said works relating to maintenance of engines, coaches, tracks, stations and signalling systems would be completed soon and trains would again run the full distance.
The ‘toy train’ service, which earned UNESCO World Heritage tag in 1999, is a big attraction to tourists who flock to this eastern hill town from all over the world. The hill town, however, is yet to get back to normalcy and arrival of tourists in good numbers may take some time. “Though tourist inflow at present is negligible, but recommencement of services like the toy train will certainly send a positive message to the tourists,” Raj Basu, convener of Association for Conservation of Tourism, said, a dding this would boost tourism in the Darjeeling hills.