Monday, 30th October 2017

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DHR set for 1-lakh passenger count

Data show growing popularity of toy trains

By Bireswar Banerjee in Siliguri
  • Published 3.01.20, 4:16 AM
  • Updated 3.01.20, 4:16 AM
  • a min read
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In the fiscal of 2018-2019, the number of passengers crossed the one lakh mark for the first time in the history of DHR. (The Telegraph file picture)

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is likely to touch the one lakh mark in terms of the number of passengers for the second fiscal in a row, indicate the data available with the heritage mountain railway.

The mountain rail service that had started in 1881 was bestowed with world heritage status by the Unesco in 1999.

In the fiscal of 2018-2019, the number of passengers crossed the one lakh mark for the first time in the history of DHR.

“From April 1 till December 31 in 2019, 85,545 passengers boarded the DHR trains. Considering the trend, we hope the number will cross the one lakh mark by the end of this fiscal, that is, March 31, 2020,” said S. Chanda, the chief public relations officer of Northeast Frontier Railway.

During the first nine months of the current fiscal, the DHR earned Rs 9.49 crore in ticket sales.

In 2018, 95,443 passengers had boarded the toy train from April to December. The earning of the DHR was Rs 9.63 crore then, said NFR sources.

In the past two years, the DHR took a number of initiatives to popularise toy train rides among tourists.

Introduction of air-conditioned coaches and vistadome bogies and the launch of an afternoon charter ride with on-board refreshments were some of the initiatives.

Last year, the railways had held a number of events to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the world heritage status.

“We are now planning to highlight the heritage of the DHR so that people can learn more about the 130-year-old railway. As a part of the plan, a decision was taken to improve the infrastructure of the DHR museums located at Sukna, Ghum and Kurseong stations,” said an official.

Those associated with travel trade are also elated over the spike in the passenger count.

“Toy train is one of the unique properties which pulls tourists to Darjeeling from around the world.

Introduction of new coaches and services led to a rise in the number of visitors. We hope the railways will come up with new plans and decisions to popularise the DHR further. This would in due course contribute to an increase in the footfall of tourists in north Bengal,” said Samrat Sanyal, the general secretary of the Himalayan Hospitality and Tourism Development Network.