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Toy train dashes tour spirit – DHR fails London agency for 8th time

Posted by Ramesh Khati on September 25, 2009

Darjeeling, Sept. 24: A London-based tour agency which conducts exclusive long distance rail safaris across Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, Canada and Africa has allegedly made eight attempts to reach Darjeeling by toy train, but in vain.
The last attempt was made yesterday with former cricketer and commentator Farokh Engineer as one of the passengers on board the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which has a Unesco heritage status.
“We boarded the train at Sukna but after travelling for some distance it had to be pushed by a diesel engine from the rear. At times, the steam engine would accelerate and when the diesel engine pushed the bogies, the passenger would be thrown forward,” said Tim Littler, president, GW Travel Limited.
The engine were changed in Tindharia but 5km away, in Gayabari, it was found that the century-old machine had run out of water. “It was then we decided that we would take a bus to Darjeeling,” said Littler.
What amazed Littler was that “so many people are involved with the DHR” but the services are just not up to the mark. “Even yesterday we had a host of officials following us but when the engines broke none could really be of much help. In England, I think a group of 30 workers would be enough to ensure that the services are good,” said Littler.
A steam engine at the loco shed in Darjeeling.

A steam engine at the loco shed in Darjeeling.

Darjeeling, Sept. 24(The Telegraph): A London-based tour agency which conducts exclusive long distance rail safaris across Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, Canada and Africa has allegedly made eight attempts to reach Darjeeling by toy train, but in vain.

The last attempt was made yesterday with former cricketer and commentator Farokh Engineer as one of the passengers on board the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which has a Unesco heritage status.

“We boarded the train at Sukna but after travelling for some distance it had to be pushed by a diesel engine from the rear. At times, the steam engine would accelerate and when the diesel engine pushed the bogies, the passenger would be thrown forward,” said Tim Littler, president, GW Travel Limited.

The engine were changed in Tindharia but 5km away, in Gayabari, it was found that the century-old machine had run out of water. “It was then we decided that we would take a bus to Darjeeling,” said Littler.

Tim Littler

Tim Littler

What amazed Littler was that “so many people are involved with the DHR” but the services are just not up to the mark. “Even yesterday we had a host of officials following us but when the engines broke none could really be of much help. In England, I think a group of 30 workers would be enough to ensure that the services are good,” said Littler.

The agency which every year starts its India safari with the Deccan Odyssey from Mumbai usually visits Udaipur, Jaipur, Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Varanasi before reaching New Jalpaiguri station after eight days of actual rail journey. The total journey is of a two-week duration.

“This is the eighth charter train (with the DHR) and I have a 100 per cent record of not completing the journey,” said Littler. GW Travel has been visiting Darjeeling since 2005, but have never been able to complete their toy train journey.

Yesterday’s group included visitors from the US, New Zealand, Australia, Israel and the Netherlands and each of them had paid $11,000 for the entire rail journey in India. Fed up with the inconsistencies in the DHR service, Littler is contemplating adding only the joyride from Darjeeling to Ghoom in the hill itinerary.

Even that is unlikely to solve his problem. Early this morning, the DHR had to cancel its joyride following disputes between the workers and contractor in-charge of loading coal to the train.

Subrata Nath, the director of the DHR, however, had a different story. “The team had decided to take the bus because they had boarded the train three hours late (at 12.30pm instead of the scheduled 8.30am) and it was getting dark,” said Nath. He appealed to people not to hold the DHR to ransom.

“A problem cropped up between the labourers and the contractor and we could do little. People should not hold the DHR at ransom during the tourist season.”

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One Response to “Toy train dashes tour spirit – DHR fails London agency for 8th time”

  1. knju said

    Toy train dashes tour spirit
    What amazed Littler was that “so many people are involved with the DHR” but the services are just not up to the mark. “Even yesterday we had a host of officials following us but when the engines broke none could really be of much help. In England, I think a group of 30 workers would be enough to ensure that the services are good,” said Littler.

    Dont blame the DHR better reduce your weight.
    This is what happes when a dozen of heavyset westerners board the toy train. For God sake it is the “toytrain” and more than a century years old. It is fit for ferrying only emanciated Indians like us. We cant let a bunch of foreigners blame the DHR just because they were too heavy to be hauled.

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