The International Steam Pages

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 2014

The following is a Press Release from the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society, dated 22nd February 2014:

DHR Reopens from Tindharia to Gayabari

Following completion of a temporary rail alignment at Tindharia the DHR line re-opened from that point to Gayabari on Saturday 15th February. On 17th February a Darjeeling Tours Ltd steam charter for thirty UK tourists was the first such working over the new tracks. The road and rail routes at Tindharia had been severed by a severe landslip in late 2012. Work to complete a new, permanent road and rail alignment is due for completion in mid 2015.

Pagla Jhora

The DHR has been severed at this point since mid 2010 with subsequent repairs wrecked several times before completion by bad monsoons. Construction of the new road/rail alignment is now well-advanced and due for completion by the end of June 2014. If all goes well the 55 mile (88km) DHR route will then be fully open again for the first time in four years.

Reopening from Kurseong to Mahanadi

In advance of the full reopening it is planned to re-open this 5 mile (8 km) section by the end of March 2014. A siding at Mahanadi is being converted into a run-round loop to facilitate this.

‘Red Panda’

This luxury steam-hauled service is due to run between Darjeeling and Kurseong later this year. The trains (running at weekends and holidays) will make brief stops for photography/sightseeing at Batasia Loop and Margaret’s Hope Tea Garden. Two carriages for this new service are currently undergoing extensive refurbishment at Siliguri Junction DHR Depot.

Steam News 

The DHR authorities have no plans to supplement the fleet of four diesels and are fully committed to the continued extensive use of the historic B Class steam locos. Despite damage from the 2012 landslip Tindharia Works continues to overhaul locos and carriages . The latest is B Class No 1001 which has been converted to coal-burning and which will be renumbered 01 and named ‘Tindharia’. A further project is to convert back to coal-burning B Class No 787 which will then be renumbered 02. The entire fleet will then be coal-burning.

Awards to Staff for Outstanding Achievement

With the active support of the Director DHR, the DHRS has sponsored a staff incentive scheme for DHR personnel who have made an exceptional contribution. Fourteen staff from a variety of grades, skills and location were nominated by the Director and received their certificates and a personal gift from DHRS Vice-Chairman Paul Whittle during his recent visit.

National Rail Museum, Delhi

The B Class No 777 and the 1902 DHR 4-wheeled coach have been restored to a very high standard. Both were rededicated on 1st February by Shri Arunendra Kumar, Chairman Railway Board.

Indian Steam Railway Society Honours DHR Staff

At its 11th Annual Congress on 1st February the ISRS presented awards to the DHR for their commitment to the historic steam loco fleet. The awards were received by the Director DHR, Mr Mingyor Bhutia and Senior Section Engineers T.K Dutta and S. Das.

Said Paul Whittle Vice-Chairman DHRS:

“During my week’s visit I had extensive discussions with the DHR’s young and very capable Director, Mr Mingyor Bhutia and with many other staff at all levels. I was tremendously impressed. There is a fierce determination to get the DHR fully open again and to ensure it remains worthy in all respects of its World Heritage status. The long term commitment to the historic B Class steam fleet is welcome and commendable, as is the plan to restore a small representative fleet of freight wagons.

I met also the General Manager Northeast Frontier Railway, Mr R S Virdi and the Divisional Railway Manager, Mr A K Sharma. The support of both these senior officers was very much in evidence and it was Mr Virdi who personally authorised the rapid reinstatement of the rail route at Tindharia. The DHR is in very good hands.”

Full details of DHR services are on the Travel Information page of the DHRS web site at

Rob Dickinson