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Featured Image: A DHR freight train on its way from Siliguri to Gayabari recently. 

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 25 November: WORLD Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has resumed its narrow gauge freight wagon service after a gap of 25 years. However, for now, the service is available only for charter.

DHR was built between 1879 and 1881 primarily to carry food grains from Siliguri to Darjeeling and bring down tea from the Hills. It proved very popular and yielded high commercial returns to the authorities.

With the improvement in road transport, the freight service gradually lost market and was altogether discontinued in 1991.

But earlier this year, following a push for retaining the unique feature of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, DHR restored five 4-wheeled narrow gauge freight wagons and two flat bedded wagons that were gaining dust. The restoration was carried out at DHR’s workshop in Tindharia.

“These steel wagons were built in the the 1940s and carried the majority of the DHR freight traffic until freight traffic dried up in the 1990s following development of roads,” Pranav Jyoti Sharma, the chief spokesperson of Northeast Frontier Railway said. DHR lies under NF Railway’s administrative jurisdiction.

The restoration effort has borne fruit with a group of tourists from German, comprising DHR lovers, chartering the 4-wheeled steel wagons for steam loco hauled run between Siliguri and Gayabari near Kurseong from 22 – 24 November. This they did to create awareness and publicity.

DHR authorities said that for now the wagons have been made available for freight transport on charter. There is a chance that they might introduce a regular goods train from Siliguri to Darjeeling.