DHR Tour Report by Fuzz (Peter Jordan) 11th January 2012
Siliguri Junction shed is still very smart and holds three diesel locomotives, 601, 604 and 605, and four steam locomotives, 780, 788, 802 and 805. 780 was wheel-less under overhaul and 792 was in light steam.
Of the diesels, 601 was running a SGUJ-RTG Safari Special.
The Hill Cart Road was eerily quiet, and up to just below Tindharia was in remarkably good repair, with central and side white lines applied. Above Kurseong, the road remains in poor repair.
Siliguri itself is expanding noticeably, with large blocks of flats (known as North City) dominating the landscape on what had been open land beside Sevoke Road on the way to the Cindrella.
The “Garden” at Sukna Station is kept in good order, it covers the old sidings and stops encroachment by the locals.
Much of the main line between Siliguri and Sukna looks smart, having been relaid with concrete sleepers and pandrol clips. At Rangtong, by the old water stop, a length of the new blue handrail has disappeared, but I do not think there has been any structural damage to the concrete bank repairs.
The current timetable
Southern end: A daily “Safari Special” operates between SGUJ and RTG, leaving about 0900, and arriving back about 1600
Northern end: 52540 leaves DJ at 1015, arrives KGN 1310. Return 52544 leaves KGN 1500, arrives DJ 1750.
Joy trains leave DJ as follows fore a round trip of about two hours to GVM: 52548 at 1040, 52549 at 1320 and 52547 at 1600. The joy trains are reported as running fully booked with intending passengers being turned away
The works is effectively isolated, with major slips just above and below on the main line.
The workshops are as tidy as I have ever seen them, with 779, 806 and 1001 present. 806 looks in excellent condition.
The restaurant car is minus its bogies up on blocks, and will need its wheels back before it can move for test, four freight vans were reported as runnable.
The track appears clear from Tindharia Works up to the station, but above the station and (I’d guess) all the way to Kurseong, the track, although in place except for damaged sections, has largely reverted to local use for parking and storage – a major effort will be needed to make the line fit for traffic again. Above Kurseong, the line still has a daily service.
Kurseong shed contained 782 in one piece and 804 in many pieces. The daily train from Darjeeling was being worked by 602, which departed on its return journey bang on time at 1500.
The turntable at Kurseong looks as if it just needs tracks to become operational, but has been like this for some years.
The shed at Darjeeling is host to 602, used on the daily train to Kurseong, 784, being used on the Joy Train, 791 in steam as reserve and 786 dead.
It was good to see the locoshed rebuild was complete with two running roads again.
To bypass the Tindharia landslip, there is back road between Chunbhati (at the top of the loop) and Tindharia (just below the locomotive shed) which is passable by 4x4, but not a car.
It is narrow, steep and not comfortable to ride, but is useful.
It’s about 5km long.
For the major landslip, the back road from Gayabari to Giddapahar is still open, and is narrow and even steeper: likewise, it should only be attempted in a 4x4.
I did not try the Rohini Road, which is reported as in very poor repair, although to me, it appears that it was never properly fished after heavy construction finished a few years ago.
We came down the Pankabari Road, which was OK, but for a road allegedly one way (downhill) there was a heck of a lot of uphill traffic! This road is suitable for cars and 4x4s, but nothing larger,