DHR Vistadome coach.
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Siliguri: Giving a major boost to tourism, the UNESCO World Heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has started a daily evening Toy Train service between Siliguri and Rongtong in the Kurseong hills.

What’s more! DHR has allocated steam engines to haul the coaches for the joy ride service. This gives tourists an opportunity to enjoy the charm of travelling through the hilly terrain with intermittent whistling and release of steam by the engine.

Pranav Jyoti Sharma, the chief spokesperson of Northeast Frontier Railway under which comes DHR, said that the service started since Sunday will be continued throughout the year.

This joy ride service evening safari will start from Siliguri Junction station at 3 pm and reach Rongtong at 4.20 pm. En route it will halt at Sukna for 10 minutes for the tourists to visit DHR’s heritage museum.

Rongtong, about 17 km from Siliguri, is a picturesque hill station by the highway to Darjeeling. It is part of the Mahanada Wildlife Sanctuary and is preferred by tourists for a day trip. Rongtong offers a bird’s eye view of Siliguri.

In the return leg, after the reversal of the engine, the train will start from Rongtong at 4.45 pm.

“The train has one dining car and one first class coach with the seating capacity being 12 and 17, respectively. A roundtrip fare for the journey in first class is Rs. 1,000 and in the dining car it is Rs 1,200,” Sharma said.

The train has onboard catering service offering snacks, tea and other ready to serve items but passengers shall have to pay for this.

The only difficulty is that only manual booking and spot booking is available for the service as of now. Also, opting for the roundtrip is mandatory.

Earlier this year, DHR introduced Vistadome coaches and AC for its joy ride from Darjeeling and the charter services.

The first class AC coaches have bigger and wider windows allowing a better view of the mountains, a music system that can play local music or radio, comfortable seats, an improved toilet, emergency battery back-up and, announcement system.

On the other hand, the Vistadome coach has a transparent glass roof enabling passengers to catch a glimpse of the panoramic view during their journey.

It also is equipped with multiple television screens, GPS based info system, and a wide side door for the specially-abled persons.

The Vistadome coach can accommodate 40 people. All the seats are rotatable with pushback chairs.