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Tourism stakeholders worried of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway resumption

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Siliguri: Tourism stakeholders are worried that visitors will avoid the hills if the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway fails to restore toy train services fully ahead of two proposed tour-related events.
Even though the 104-day Gorkhaland strike was withdrawn at the end of September, the DHR is yet to operate toy trains on the entire 87km stretch between the NJP and Darjeeling.
The DHR authorities said the services could be restored only after tracks were repaired and cleared of weeds. The repairs were needed because of lack of regular maintenance works during the strike and damage to tracks by landslides in the rainy season.
"It is only recently that inquiries have started coming and some tourists are even confirming trips. Among them are foreigners who visit Darjeeling to take the toy train ride. If the train services do not resume immediately, it would send a wrong message to national and international travel fraternity during the winter season," said a tour operator.

Further, he said, the GTA has plans to host a tourism fest in the hills, most likely at the end of December.
"If the DHR services do not resume in a full-fledged manner before the festival, it would portray a contradictory picture before tourists. On one hand, the GTA will invite tourists to visit Darjeeling. On the other hand, only joy Rides (between Darjeeling and Ghoom) are available for tourists," said the tour operator.
The state tourism department is slated to host the Bengal Travel Mart in Siliguri in February next year.
"If toy train services do not resume by then, it would leave us in an embarrassing position before representatives of prominent travel companies. We are planning to use the travel mart to regain their confidence. If the train services are not available, we apprehend that unpleasant questions would be raised," said a hotelier in Darjeeling.
P.J. Sharma, the chief public relation officer of the Northeast Frontier Railway, said: "A team of experts is working hard to restore toy train services. But it is difficult to tell when all services will resume."

The Telegraph

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