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Indian Railways launches a new Toy-train safari on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway route

Tourists can enjoy the breathtaking views of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the hills from the toy train. It is a three-hour journey and after reaching Rongtong station they will come back to Siliguri junction again.

August 31, 2021 / 10:06 AM IST

Indian Railways has decided to launch a regular Jungle Tea Toy-Train Safari from Siliguri junction to Rongtong station in West Bengal in a bid to provide a boost to the COVID-hit tourism sector.

This new service has been announced by the Indian Railways’ Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) zone which operates the world-famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).

UNESCO, in 1999 had declared the toy train on this route 'World heritage site'. This site is widely famous among foreign tourists and domestic travellers. Both heritage steam locos built between 1889 and 1927 as well as modern diesel engines are used to pull the toy trains.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the regular toy train services were suspended around one and half years ago. Railway officials are making an attempt to revive the tourism industry.

It is a three-hour journey and after reaching Rongtong station they will come back to Siliguri junction again. During the journey, tourists can enjoy the views of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the hills from the toy train.

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"We have started a regular basis up-down jungle tea toy-train safari from today with the heritage steam engine and Vistadome dining car facilities. Tourism is the only industry in this region. So we decided to run maximum toy trains in this route to attract the tourists and to gear up the tourism industry in this region. He said that they are getting a good response, people are asking questions and in the future, it will be a part of the major attraction", Sanjay Chilwarwar, ADRM, Katihar division of Northeast frontier railway said to news agency ANI.

"It was very interesting and exciting", the secretary of, Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network  Samrat Sanyal said to the agency. As a part of the tourism industry, we come to the NFR initiative and believe tourists will enjoy the service and local people also get a chance to travel on weekend tours.

At Sukna station during the journey, the railway authority will also open a DHR heritage photo gallery and offer a complimentary cup of Darjeeling tea at Rongtong station.

An official said, after a suspension of nearly 17-month due to COVID-19, the heritage toy train services between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal resumed.

Darjeeling and Ghum toy train is on the track since August 16. Between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, covering a distance of 88 km, one train will run daily in each direction currently. Between Darjeeling and Ghum, it is operating 11 round trips using both vista dome and first-class coaches. The train ascends from about 100 metres above mean sea level at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres at Darjeeling.
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