After 17 Long Months, the Thrilling Sound of Darjeeling 'Toy Train' is Back!
After 17 months, the heritage toy train service of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) is finally back on track.
Video Producer: Varsha Rani
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
After 17 months, the heritage toy train service of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) is finally back on track. The train resumed its journey on 25 August, between New Jalpaiguri (NJP) and Darjeeling.
I decided to take a trip down memory lane in my favourite toy train. This was very happy news for me. As a resident of Sukna, West Bengal, I have grown up with the whistles of the toy train. The pandemic had deserted the stations. The empty train rack was just lined up in the station and the track was full of bushes and grass. For me, this was unprecedented.
I had planned to take a ride on 30 August 2021 from New Jalpaiguri railway station, but I was a bit late in booking the ticket, so I failed to get a seat.
When I reached the station, temperature checks of people were being done. One has to produce the tickets that they booked via IRCTC. Then after the checking of tickets, temperature, masks, and sanitisers, one is allowed to board the toy train.
So, I decided to witness the heritage train's journey by following it in an auto-rickshaw from NJP to Sukna station.
Excited Tourists Flock to the Station
I could see several excited faces ready to take a ride on the toy train. I spoke to a few tourists about their journey.
"I was planning to visit Darjeeling for a long time. However, I was unable to do so due to COVID. Now, the restrictions have been relaxed to a certain extent. Hence, I planned to travel now," said Samu Chhetri, a tourist.
Upon asking about the COVID protocols being followed, he responded that the rules were being followed and monitored inside the train.
In the toy train, I get an intimate feeling when it passes very close to various houses and markets. Moving at a speed of 10-15kms per hour, one gets to witness spectacular visuals while cold wind kisses them. The train also crosses the roads many times.
A Relief for the Tourism Industry
The tourism industry is much relieved with this step. The toy train service serves as a bedrock for them.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this long gap, the tourism industry faced a huge loss.
"Not a lot, but a few passengers are coming now. It’s not as much as before. Hardly 20 percent of what we used to get earlier. They hope that the services of the toy train don't stop again."Harka Bahadur Chehhtri, an Auto-Rickshaw Driver
The train has infused life and joy again in my heart and in my hometown, and I hope it remains functioning.
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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