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Birthday party? Charter a toy train

Venue on tracks for corporate and social events
The “Red Panda” toy train service between Kurseong and Mahanadi launched in Kurseong on Saturday.
The “Red Panda” toy train service between Kurseong and Mahanadi launched in Kurseong on Saturday.
Passang Yolmo

Bireswar Banerjee   |   Siliguri   |   Published 17.10.21, 12:08 AM

The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) , in a bid to popularise the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) toy train, is offering chartered rides for corporate and social celebrations.

“Any individual, corporate house, private tour operator or hotelier or even groups of foreigners can charter toy trains for events like birthdays or anniversary celebrations, corporate get-togethers and meetings. It would be a unique experience for all those who come on board as they can enjoy a ride on the world heritage railway service,” said Guneet Kaur, the chief public relations officer of NFR.

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According to railway sources, steam or diesel loco hauled trains can be chartered with one or two first class coaches or according to demand on pre-defined circuits.

Circuits include New Jalpaiguri and Rongtong, Siliguri Junction-Tindharia, Tindharia-Kurseong, Darjeeling-Kurseong and Siliguri Junction-Kurseong.

“Anybody interested can book the train either for a single trip or a round trip,” Kaur added.

With DHR resuming toy trains services in August after a pandemic-induced gap of eight months, many new services and events have been planned to draw more passengers.

On Saturday, NFR authorities launched “Red Panda”, a special round trip train service between Kurseong and Mahanadi, lasting for 90 minutes for 36 passengers in first -class coaches.

There is steady demand for the joy ride and the evening jungle ride “Steam-Jungle-Tea Safari” from Siliguri Junction to Rongtong.

“It seems that railway officials have taken the initiative to increase revenue of this mountain railway,” said a DHR enthusiast in Siliguri.

DHR sources said they received good response with all seats in the regular service from NJP to Darjeeling booked for the entire month of October.

“Two years back, before the pandemic, more than one lakh people had taken the toy train service in a single year for the first time in its history. That is why we are putting all efforts to popularise the heritage railway. Next month, we have planned a festival at Ghoom,” said an official, adding it would be from November 13 to December 5 where tourists can enjoy a guided tour to the heritage railway museum, witness sunrise and sunset from Tiger Hill, enjoy the performances of local bands and folk dance troupes, participate in trekathon and mountain biking, visit tea gardens and exhibitions of local cuisines and handicraft.

The Narendra Modi government’s plan to monetise public assets includes in its list the DHR toy train, a Unesco recognised world heritage site.  But this has evoked protests from several quarters.



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