Gorkhatimes

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Track caves in, toy trains hit – One month to restore Darjeeling-Njp service

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 8, 2009

A stretch of the toy train track that caved in near Gayabari

A stretch of the toy train track that caved in near Gayabari

Siliguri, July 7: Weather has again played spoilsport for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR).

Less than a month after the toy train track damaged by Cyclone Aila had been repaired, soil erosion took place at two spots between Gayabari and Mahanadi on Friday, stalling the service between New Jalpaiguri Station and Darjeeling.

The authorities said it would take more than a month to repair the track.

Gayabari is 36km from Siliguri and Mahanadi is further 3km above.

The cyclone on May 26 had caused rubble from the hillsides to cover the track at 50 spots on the 80-km long route. But this time, earth underneath the track has eroded at two spots. While at one place, 20 metres of the track caved in completely, at another spot, soil beneath a stretch of 17 metres eroded.

“The NJP-Darjeeling service was disrupted last Wednesday because the rubble from above had scattered on the tracks at the Chunbhatti Loop near Tindharia (25km from Siliguri). The track was cleared immediately and the service was resumed on Thursday. But the heavy rain on the day after triggered major landslides beneath the tracks between Gayabari and Mahanadi stations,” Subrata Nath, the director of DHR, said today.

“The NJP-Darjeeling service has been halted completely since Friday and it will take more than one month to restore the track to the original shape,” he added.

“The Cyclone Aila had brought debris and trees onto the track and they were removed in 10 days. But more than a month will be needed to complete the repair this time,” said Nath.

The DHR runs six pairs of trains: one between NJP and Darjeeling, another between Darjeeling and Kurseong and the remaining four between Darjeeling and Ghoom.

“Only the NJP-Darjeeling service will remain stalled. The trains between Kurseong and Darjeeling will run normally,” he said.

The restoration has not begun as the DHR is still estimating the cost of the work. “We are in the final stage of cost estimate and it is coming up to about Rs 1 crore. The contract for the repair will soon be awarded and the work will begin after that,” said the director. He added that as the tourist season was lean, the DHR incurred a daily loss of approximately Rs 15,000.

Source: The Telegraph

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