As the number of tourists has dropped drastically amid the coronavirus scare, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has reduced the number of its iconic toy train services until March 20. The 10-kilometres long joy ride on the toy train between the Darjeeling and the Ghum railway stations are quite popular among the visitors. However, the number of tourists visiting the Darjeeling hills and valleys has gone down due to the travel restrictions.
S Chanda, chief public relation officer of the North East Frontier Railway said that the authorities have decided to reduce the number of joyrides in this route.
Every day, the DHR operates six joyrides in this route. Currently three steam engines are used to run the toy train between Darjeeling and Ghum. The rest are operated using diesel locomotives. Now, the steam engine rides would be cancelled. The service would be run using the remaining three locomotives.
The authorities have decided to cancel the steam engine rides until the coronavirus outbreak is under control in the country. Meanwhile, it has been officially announced that the services between New Jaipalguri and Darjeeling would be continued as usual.
The joy ride on the historic toy trains takes the tourists from the beautiful Himalayan valleys to the mesmerizing hills and the lush green tea plantations in Darjeeling. Like all other hill stations, Darjeeling too was one of the summer capitals of the British. The toy train railway which opened in 1881 was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999. Today, the DHR operates some of the rare steam locomotives that remain in India, in this route.