G20 Delegates Take A Trip On The Famous Darjeeling Toy Train
Carrying G-20 delegates, the steam loco-hauled train with three vistadome coaches, ran on a narrow gauge line on Monday (3 April), amid much fanfare in Darjeeling.
Known as the Darjeeling toy train, the UNESCO protected World Heritage Site, is very popular among tourists, including foreigners.
After a hectic schedule of the second Tourism Working Group under G20 presidency in Siliguri, the delegates were given the famous toy train ride in Darjeeling.
The ride began from Dhum station — situated at 6,000 feet above the sea level — and ended at the War Memorial at Batasia loop.
The train, running between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling on narrow gauge by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), is slated to come out of the red and make some marginal profit in 2023-24.
In 2022-23 the DHR earned Rs 22 crore, while the expenditure was Rs 25 crore, said divisional railway manager (DRM) S K Choudhury.
However, in 2023-24 the DHR expects to make some marginal profit by running more trips for tourists and allowing more shootings for films and documentaries.
The toy train covers the 84-km-long distance in 7 hours and 30 minutes, with the maximum speed between 15 kmph and 20 kmph.
"Since the DHR is a World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO, our aim is to continue the service," said Choudhary.
According to DHR director Priyanshu, there is a focus on advertising to increase non-fare revenue. Besides, a lot of passenger amenities have been improved to enhance the riding experience.
The Railways has four World Heritage Sites, including the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station in Mumbai, Kalka-Shimla Railway in Himachal and Neelgiri Railway in Tamil Nadu.
The G20 panel discussion was attended by representatives from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Japan, Brazil. Among other topics, discussions were held on promoting adventure tourism and presentations on global and Indian scenarios of adventure tourism were given.
The delegates and participants also visited the tea estates and enthusiastically participated in the moonlight tea leaf plucking and tea tasting.
The inaugural session was attended by Union Tourism Minister GK Reddy who announced that the vision is to make India a one trillion dollar tourism economy by 2047 — our 100th year of Independence.
He also informed that the Ministry of Tourism has formulated a Draft National Tourism Policy.
The new policy aims to be a holistic framework for sustainable and responsible growth of the tourism sector in the country and aims at improving framework conditions for tourism development in the country, supporting related industries, and strengthening tourism to highlight India’s commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
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