Sonada and Gayabari toy train stations to reopen this month

Refurbished Gayabari station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
Two toy train stations in Darjeeling that had been torched during the statehood agitation two years ago have been rebuilt and are expected to be reopened for tourists this month.
The buildings of the Sonada and Gayabari stations of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), including the ticket counters and stationmasters’ offices, have been rebuilt by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in keeping with Unesco guidelines for world heritage sites.
While the Gayabari station is expected to be reopened next week, the Sonada station could be made accessible by the end of this month. The wooden chairs on the platforms that had also been burnt have been replaced.
Toy train services had been hit badly during the 104-day strike organised by statehood agitators in the Darjeeling hills in 2017. On July 8 that year, some bandh supporters torched the Sonada station. Five days later, the Gayabari station was set on fire.

Since normality returned, tourism stakeholders had been demanding that the two stations, through which toy trains continue to pass, be rebuilt.
A few months ago, the railways took up the task of restoring the stations.
“Restoration of the station buildings at Gayabari and Sonada is almost complete. The Gayabari station is likely to start functioning normally from next week. The Sonada station could reopen by the end of this month,” said Ravinder Kumar Verma, the divisional railway manager of the NFR’s Katihar division.
“A meeting for development and conservation of the DHR will be held in Darjeeling on September 13 and 14. We are planning to reopen the Gayabari station before that meeting,” he added.
Sources said the NFR had spent around Rs 20 lakh to rebuild the two stations.
“There is a plan to finish the restoration work of at least one of the damaged stations ahead of the upcoming meeting. This is because Unesco representatives will attend the meeting. Unesco had expressed concern over the conservation of the heritage railway project,” a source said.

The Telegraph
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Two toy train stations in Darjeeling that had been torched during the statehood agitation two years ago have been rebuilt and are expected to be reopened for tourists this month. The buildings of the Sonada and Gayabari stations of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR),

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