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Darjeeling joy ride runs out of steam

india Updated: Apr 24, 2010 00:35 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
Hindustan Times
Darjeeling joy ride runs out of steam

The joy ride service from Darjeeling to Ghoom has become irregular because of the sub-standard coal supplied by Coal India Ltd. In the past five days, the service had to be cancelled twice. The 16-km round trip needs 600 kg of coal.

“The Darjeeling train will be supplied the grade (of coal) it requires. The problem will be sorted out,” Coal India Chairman Partha Sarathi Bhattacharyya told HT on Friday.

A two-bogie train carries 44 passengers for 8 km from Darjeeling town (6,710 feet) to Ghoom (7,400 feet) and back in a ride that exudes old-world charm — a puffing steam engine and its traditional whistle. There are two round trips a day.

The coal often fails to generate adequate steam after a journey starts. On Thursday afternoon, the trip was cancelled after the passengers waited for three hours.

Steam engines are used for these rides, which are a favourite with tourists.

“As coal can’t be purchased locally, there is very little we can do except wait for the next consignment, which we hope will be of good quality. The new consignment is expected to arrive only after 20 days,” said P. P. Roy, director, Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was accorded world heritage site status by the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 2000.