Darjeeling: The globally popular Darjeeling Himalayan Hill-way train services may be stopped. Once the train was taken precious tea from the foothills of the mountains to the teapots of the global people. But now it’s becoming a victim of the colossal inefficiency of the state-running system and has been facing a slow extinction through neglect.
The elevated 48 mile (88 km) long rail line was built during the British rule in 1879. But now, it is said that the train service is an absolute loss-making venture and appears as an aversion to the political bother of closure.
The worn and stripped carriages having smoked plastic windows are so scratched and almost opaque. They can be opened by sliding from the back.
The steam locomotives which are used to pull the trains have more charm than their carriages, even though they are now more than 100 years old. They are now in need of expert and tender care rather than desperate emergency repairs.
An erratic diesel service, ironically with more tourist friendly windows, continues on a further 16 miles (26 km) to the town of Kurseong. But there is only one such train in a day for the journey down to the plains and also for the connection to the main line.
The section had been closed for several years until March this year because of landslide.
The reality is that the railway is absconding from being invested for the
development of the rail traffic here. In the engineering workshop, ancient lathes and machine tools are lying idle or as broken. The skilled hands to use them are retired workers, as few of them are replaced to meet the emergency requirements.
It is really sorry to note that such a wonderful as well as spectacular railway line in the world is going to be extinct.
Video on Darjeeling Himalayan Railway