A tourist can soon travel up the hills in an air-conditioned coach of a toy train if he/she shells out a good amount.
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has introduced two air-conditioned coaches which will be attached to the toy trains next month.
On Monday, a trial run of one of the new AC coaches was conducted on the New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling route with the general manager (construction) of Northeast Frontier Railway on board.
According to sources, the AC coaches would be introduced on the New Jalpaiguri-Darjeeling route.
“We have built two air-conditioned coaches for the DHR. More trials of the coaches will be conducted. Once it is confirmed that the coaches are capable of plying on the hilly tracks, then a final decision would be taken as to when they could run with passengers,” said M.K. Narzery, the DHR director.
A DHR source said: “The AC compartments may be formally inaugurated later this month or early April, when the railway board chairman would visit the hills. The fare for a passenger on the NJP-Darjeeling route is expected to be around Rs 2,000.”
Tour operators of north Bengal are elated over the AC coaches as it would be yet another feather to the cap of the DHR, a Unesco heritage site.
“Toy train is one of the major attractions for tourists visiting Darjeeling. Once the railways introduce AC coaches, more tourists would come up for the ride, particularly during summer,” said a tour operator in Siliguri.
At present, the DHR runs toy trains regularly between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling and there are joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. Chartered services are also available for tourists.