The International Steam Pages
The Darjeeling Himalyan Railway 'Joy Train', 2014
Heinrich Hubbert reports (GBP 1 = INR 100 approx):
I made a short visit to the DHR from 9th to 11th October 2014 to check the situation. The line is still blocked due to the heavy landslide above Tindaria and nobody could tell me when it will be reopened as the damage is so severe. Also the hill cart road is affected and all vehicles (Taxis, small lorries and buses) bypass via a road parallel to the west that is befurcating at Sukna and joining again with the hill cart road south of Kurseong. Therefore I did not get to Tindaria.
Trains only operate between Kurseong and Darjeeling.
The erstwhile steam operated train between Kurseong and Darjeeling is now also hauled with diesel. So all trains running the entire line between Kurseong and Darjeeling are Diesel. However, in the middle of 2012 a new steam service called „Joy ride“ has been established between Darjeeling and Ghum with train # 52546 (timetable below). According to the Station Master at Ghum, after one year, in 2013, this service was expanded to 4 train pairs a day and it‘s running throughout the year!
The train has 2 first class coaches. The return journey has only one train number. On the way from Darjeeling to Ghum the trains make a 10 minutes photo stop at Batasia Loop.
As October and November is the peak season for domestic tourists the area was totally jam packed. The road was clogged with Sumo taxis. On the day of my arrival by Sumo from Siliguri to Kurseong all road traffic was blocked in Kurseong and all shops where closed for a few hours in protest as a school girl was killed on the spot in a road accident.
Also the diesel train that I used from Kurseong to Darjeeling was delayed for 3 hours.
9th evening I ended up in a poor and overpriced room near Darjeeling station. On the next day when I was linesiding on foot between Darjeeling and Ghum, I found a very fine Ghorka guesthouse „Wangdi Inn“ (61/A, Batasia, Hill Cart Road), that is only 100 metres away from Batasia loop (in the direction to Darjeeling) and is just in front of the railway and the road. The owner's name is Jordan. Phone: 098-3287 7457, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decent wooden interior and furniture, old photographs on the walls. A very clean and well kept family run place. Rooms range from 1000 to 3500 Rs. They also prepare food.
The place to stay for every gricer in the present scenario. It was mostly empty as the domestic visitors only go for Darjeeling.
HIT beer from Sikkim is recommended. Tried it in a small food stall next to Ghum station.
Joyride Timetable (delays occur):
Sumit Sharma from Real India Journeys just informed me that he re-established procedures to book charter trains between Kurseong and Darjeeling.
For regularly updated information on repairs to the line and services on it see http://www.dhrs.org.uk/, there are are no reliable Indian sources and the line's own website is rarely, if ever, updated.
The first three pictures were taken from the same position (see traffic information above):