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19 Apr 2018

Hills kids mark heritage day with toy train ride

Deep Gazmer | TNN | Apr 19, 2018 | KOLKATA: The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, in association with the DHR Preservation Society, marked World Heritage Day on Wednesday with a special ride for school children in the unique and popular toy train.
The narrow-gauge DHR was conferred the heritage status in 1999 by Unesco and is the most iconic asset of the Hills. Suraj Sharma, executive committee member of the DHR Preservation Society, said: "The DHR is unique. While other trains join destinations, the DHR binds the hearts of locals with the tourists. We, thus, observed world Heritage Day by organizing a ride for school children from Darjeeling to Ghoom and back."
More than 50 children from Maharani and Bethany schools, along with DHR officials and society members, were taken in two coaches in the morning.

"I always wanted to take a ride on the train. I see it when I go to school and hear the whistle blow from inside my classroom. We have poems on the toy train in Nepali language. Today, it was a wonderful experience to finally take a ride," said an elated Ritu Bhujel of Maharani School.
The DHR that faced the brunt of two rounds of statehood agitations has taken a step forward to revive its glory, introducing new services to woo tourists and help preserve its iconic status.
Air-conditioned compartments have been introduced along with diesel locos to power it from Siliguri to Darjeeling. Plans are also afoot to introduce second-class coaches to make the fare affordable. Six steam engines that are not in running condition will also be restored and there are plans to introduce railway buses similar to the services in Simla.
Elaborating on Wednesday's programme, the society's president, B M Mittal, said it was important for the next generation to be aware of the significance of the DHR. "We have to catch them young. DHR is a heritage of the Hills and needs to be preserved and sustained. Children should be aware of the asset they possess. That is why we decided to give them a ride on the toy train, explaining the importance of the DHR along the way. We are happy with the positive response," he said.

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