The iconic Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), popularly known as the Darjeeling Toy Train, will resume its services after nine months from Christmas Day. The services were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March.
“We were ready to resume the services. Now we have received the requisite permission from the state government. Initially, joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom and back [16 km] will be resumed from December 25,” said AK Mishra, DHR director.
Passengers will be required to strictly follow the Covid-19 related guidelines and wear masks, maintain social distancing, and use hand sanitizer.
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Built in 1889, the DHR is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction in Darjeeling, a popular hill destination in North Bengal known as the Queen of the Hills.
The Toy Train has featured in Bollywood films like including Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore’s Aradhana and Shah Rukh Khan’s Main Hoon Na.
Over 1.5 million tourists visit Darjeeling and adjoining Sikkim annually and the Toy Train is very popular among them. The train comprising three compartments and ferries around 60,000 passengers annually.
The DHR’s 13 steam engines are the real attractions and are regularly chartered by foreign tourists.
“With the resumption of the services, local economic activities will get the much-needed boost due to the arrival of tourists. Depending on the requirement of tourists, more such services will be restored. Resumption of Toy Train services is very good news for travellers,” said Samrat Sanyal, general secretary of Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.
Around 15% of Darjeeling residents are directly or indirectly dependent on tourism.
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