Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (Toy Train)

Famous Toy Train as it is known made its maiden trip to Darjeeling on September 1881, where it was official known as Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, while reflecting the marvellous engineering feat.

Employee by the name of Franklyn Prestage working for the East Bengal Railway came up with a brilliant idea of Toy Train in 1870, which took him eight long years to submit the scheme to Governor Sir Ashley Eden. After immediate sanction it was initially designated as Darjeeling Steam Tramway Company which was changed to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway in September 15th 1881, where is was taken by Indian Government after Independence. The construction began in 1879 along the Hill Cart Road where the first 20 miles two feet narrow gauge track was covered from Siliguri to Tindharia station. Again 11 more miles construction till Kurseong station was completed and was opened to the public on August 23rd 1880. Sonada was reached on February 1st 1881 and Ghoom Station at an altitude of 7410 feet on April 4th 1881.

Finally the Toy Train with three coaches puffed right into Darjeeling on September 1881 after covering a total of 50.75 miles.

Apart from above, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was further extended to South at Kishanganj and close to frontiers in Nepal. 10 miles from Siliguri towards Sevoke road was constructed with further addition of 16 miles till Rambi on Kalimpong road.

Cost of construction as it was originally estimated to Rs. 14 lakhs escalated to Rs 43 lakhs, where after World War I, the Batasia Loop was also constructed which is about 1½ kilometers from Ghoom Station. From Ghoom Station the travel to Darjeeling which is about 9 kilometres is downhill. It is said that this Darjeeling Toy Train carried the total of 3, 00,000 passengers in World War I. and steadied at 2, 60,000 passengers and 65,000 tons of freight in 1920.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway now the World Heritage Site under UNESCO is the first and still the most outstanding, example of hill passenger railway which applies bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. Now this tiny century old engine which still is fully operational while retaining most of its original features intact is a connoisseur’s delight and links to the town of New Jalpaiguri (NJP) along the narrow two feet gauze track.

Travel to Darjeeling on toy train allows an uninterrupted view of the breathtaking scenery along the way while passing through lush forest, rolling tea bushes, sleepy villages and vast expanse of valleys below.