The International Steam Pages

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 2000

Rob van de Geer sent this news (23rd May 2000) after he and Guus Brinkel returned from a visit to the DHR.

"There is some sad news but also good news. Yesterday there were seven coaches finished by an interior specialist. The coaches were inside totally rebuilt. A very beautiful ceiling and wall paper was fitted. The old chairs were replaced by "airplane" chairs. New toilets were fitted and new carpets. We have made some digital pictures (secretly) as soon as Guus has got the possibility he will send the pictures to you. The seven coaches could easily be used in the "Queens train". This was the good part. The bad news is, from today these coaches will be used in the diesel powered train, to be said to Darjeeling!! In the locoshed at New Jalpalguri there were two brand new diesel engines. Today the minister will open the line with the new engines!!

The following is part of an article which appeared in the Statesman newspaper in India

NEW JALPAIGURI, May 21st 2000.  Miss Mamata Banerjee today announced a series of railway projects that would benefit “long-neglected” North Bengal.....

The railway minister flagged off the diesel-run Toy Train which will take two hours less than the steam locomotive to cover the 88 km journey to Darjeeling. The President, Mr KR Narayanan, may dedicate the Toy Train to the nation next month, she announced. The Train is the second such train in the world to be accorded heritage status by Unesco.

The conversion from the Toy Train’s traditional steam to diesel locomotive will make the journey faster. “The diesel locomotive hauled Toy Train is likely to cover the stretch by about six and half hours,” said an official of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways.

“After conducting several trial runs over the past two months, the diesel locomotive has been shown to have an average speed of about 25 km per hour as compared to between 16 and 18 km per hour of the steam locomotives.”

DHR will initially introduce two locomotives. The locomotives can haul up to six coaches as compared to the three pulled by the steam ones. At present, the four coaches — including three passenger coaches and one SLR (luggage and guard) coach — hauled by the diesel locomotive carries about 81 passengers.

Rob Dickinson