7 December 2015

Restoration of Toy Train services between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri

N Northeast Frontier Railway has added another feather to its cap with the restoration of toy train services between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeelingof the World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railways. What makes the feat special is the sheer scale of restoration effort required in the face of very adverse terrain conditions.

Services came to a halt when a major landslide occurred near Paglajhora between Mahanadi and Gayabari stations at km 37/5-11 in June 2010 and swept away 500 m length of track. A slope of about 90m vertical extent was scooped off by the landslide.

Although temporary restoration was carried out, the effected spot was ravaged time and again by smaller landslides triggered off by incessant rainfall.

On the face of adversity, Katihar Division of Northeast Frontier Railway mobilised all available resources, manpower and machinery at site and carried out sustained work o­n war footing. Complete rebuilding of the track bed o­n new formation had to be undertaken and the track re-aligned and rebuilt o­n entire stretch of stable side bedrock. The gradient and curvature of the repaired track bed also had to be brought within permissible limits. Sausage crate walls had to be built along the slope to retain further slippage of soil. Engine trails were also carried out o­n the newly restored track to test for adequacy all track parameters.

Finally, o­n 1st December 2015, General Manager, Northeast Frontier Railway Shri Mohd. Jamshed carried out inspection of the completed work site accompanied by principal HODs. The first train set off from Darjeeling for New Jalpaiguri the very next day at 9.30 am, with three coaches being hauled by a Diesel locomotive. Sustained coordinated efforts of railwaymen of all ranks bore fruit as the world Heritage Railway was restored and offered to the public in its full glory.

It is worth mentioning that parallel road communication in the effected Paglajhora site continues to be disrupted and o­n date the restored railway line remains the o­nly link across the landslide zone.

General Manager, Northeast Frontier Railway, Shri Mohd. Jamshed has laid much stress o­n the need to preserve the heritage railway with a multi pronged approach which is to include upgradation of track and rolling stock infrastructure, improvement of museum at Ghum and better value added services to tourists and passengers. Incidentally, the Tindharia workshop, the main hub for maintenance of coaches and locomotives of DHR would be completing hundred years this year and Northeast Frontier Railway has planned to mark the occasion in a befitting manner.