Darjeeling Toy Train Likely to be Privatised

Darjeeling Toy Train Likely to be Privatised
The powder blue coaches pulled by the wee locomotive are a huge tourist attraction , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Heritage enthusiasts worry if privatisation will hamper the UNESCO World Heritage status

Uttara Gangopadhyay
August 25 , 2021
02 Min Read

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), popularly known as the Toy Train, is an integral part of the northern hills of West Bengal. Opened gradually between 1879 and 1881, the two feet (610 mm) gauge railway, is an engineering marvel. In its 88km long journey, the train ascends from100 m (328 ft) above sea level at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 m (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling, using six zigzags and five loops to gain altitude. In 1999, the DHR became the second railway in the world to win the UNESCO World Heritage Site status (which was later extended to two other railways of India and together they are known as the Mountain Railways of India).

The Indian Railways tweeted on August 25 2021, that UNESCO has launched a stamp on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

The powder blue coaches pulled by the wee locomotive (now diesel locos have replaced the steam engines) travel past the verdant mountain slopes, winding their way through towns, stopping at quaint stations in between. Despite the passage of time and people’s preference for faster modes of travel, the Toy Train has remained one of the most charming attractions of visiting Darjeeling. It has also featured in several popular Hindi movies.

READ: The Kalka-Shimla Train Now Lets You Hop-On Hop-Off En Route to the Hills

But with recent media reports saying that the DHR may be privatized as part of the Central government’s National Monetization Pipeline (NMP) project, has raised a lot of debate. Heritage enthusiasts are concerned if privatization will hamper the World Heritage Status of the train. Some of the local tour operators are worried if all kinds of travelers would be able to avail the train service like now. On the other hand, some have welcomed the move saying it will improve the services.

Want to know more about the DHR? Take a look here.

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