Darjeeling toy train: cancelled

#1 Jul 18th, 2016, 16:41
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  • Peterjones is offline
#1
update from Calcutta...

FYI, several days ago at Fairlee Place Eastern Rail booking centre...

1. I was told that my intended travel date of New Jaipalguri -> Darjeeling there is no train scheduled
2. There is a large wait list, so it is pointless to even try
3, This booking office doesn't even reserve seats for that leg of the journey anyway. I know this because I tried booking my return trip Darjeeling to NPLG in August and the office said they couldn't do that either.

So, I am disappointed and a bit confused.

Now I must look into when, where and how to find alternative transport such as shared jeep, public bus or tourist bus. Will hitchiking (offering a fee for petrol) be an option? In Malaysia I do this frequently even though it is irregular. Perhaps entrepreneurs, seizing on the situation of a need to be filled, will be waitjng at the NJPLG train station to transport rail passengers (foreign and domestic tourists, business travellers, civil servants, etc) to their next most likely destination. Actually mine is Kalimpong, but I presume most will go through Darjeeling. In my travel experience in SouthEAST Asia, popular more indirect routes are more likely to be more frequently and more comfortably serviced. I expect this to be the case here too, even though taking highway 10 direct to Kalimpong is supposedly 20 minutes faster than the highway 110 route to Darjeeling of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Google maps doesn't have a crystal ball about the numerous factors. Anyway, how can a night in Darjeeling hurt? Actually it can, as I am not keen on shifting hotels after one night. I hear that Darjeeling is over-rated.
#2 Jul 20th, 2016, 19:01
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#2
The chihuahua that roared...

Today, coming by 18-seater bus from the normal train line end in New Jaipalguri (fare INR100) I was happty to see the skilled and careful drIvIng of our driver. Very unlike some other places in and out of India. We followed the same route as the toy train tracks.

So imagine by surprise mid-day to hear a loud train whistle.

'What, a normal gauge train couldn't fit on the same tracks!?!?"

It was the toy train coming from who knows where with only two mini-coaches.

The mouse that roared.
#3 Jul 20th, 2016, 23:21
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#3
We've had this clip before but I couldn't find it. The train first makes an appearance at 0:30 and the Ghoom Loop at 1:12.



This film was released in 1962. In those days the "toy" train was the normal way of getting from A to B along the route.
#4 Jul 21st, 2016, 00:23
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#4
I had a look on one of the Indian Rail websites and the train today is listed as cancelled.
You should be able to book a return journey from Darjeeling... It looks like 1st class can be reserved.
I believe there is a "joy ride" short steam train ride available, as per the video, I think it is extra track after Darjeeling.
One of the train rides I hope to take, but like yourself, I have heard that Darjeeling is not quite the jewel it once was?
What is the weather like since you arrived in India, I assume the monsoon has not reached the eastern parts yet?
It looks like the toy train service resumes in a day or two, seems to be on Mon, Wed, Fri, only at this time... Maybe other days coming down?

Cheers,

Ed
#5 Jul 21st, 2016, 09:53
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#5

Yes, you can always check the weather sites...

... but, for a report from the field, by way of verification...

08:13 now Thursday morning, July 22.

It is *pouring* rain here in Darjeeling town.

And not a drizzle (light rain) like in London, UK or Pacific coastal Washington state or British Columbia. A hard steady rain is falling. Stretching out the window I see rivulets on the street and everyone using umbrellas. But, wimp that I am I am not keen to go outside. It would be nice to be in a decent hotel, especially run run by ethnic Chinese (do they exist in Darjeeling?) where a tea set is available. I would like to try some of my unopened Darjeeling specialty tea to start my day. But no thermos of water and tea is served with milk and sugar here, as in all if India, I believe. The well-informed and happy to share their knowledge staff at MAYUKH tea (right below me here) informed me that domestic tourists could care less about the subtle tastes of white (unfermented), green (lightly fermented) and black (longer fermented) teas as they make masal tea w/ ginger, cardamon etc. Actually, this is exactly how my Tamil Sri Lankan adopted mother makes my tea in Malaysia, and I too quite like it that way -- with black tea. But it seems like a sacrelige and waste of money to mix a very good tea this way. Pardon my choice of words, the tea sellers clearly meant no disrespect for local tastes in tea and neither do I. I also appreciate spicey tea, I make it stronger than most. In fact, I contribute cinnamon, star anise, cloves etc to the household so the old lady on a pension doesn't have to ration out the spices as if they are gold.

Last night I found the aroma of the lightest white teas (preferred by Japanese tourists) to be the most appealing..

Speaking of smell, the odour coming ftom my WC is quite unpleasant right now. I suspect that there is a sewerage problem in this town. The same thing happens during heavy rain in Phnom Penh, even though the taxpayers of Paris have contributed (as for the trash collection trucks ) to see their underground pipe ststem greatly improved. The sense I get of Darjeeling is an overburdened civic infrastructure. Curiously, despite the traffic (jeeps, jeeps and more jeeps - imagine in high season) I see no obvious evidence of civic improvements to roads, construction etc. Of course, I could be wrong and it just isn't obvious. Whatever one's opinion of State socialism, at least in Communist China, the civic and state authorities plow a lot of money and attention back into raising the standard of living. If this was China, half the town would be demolished and replaced with skyscrapers of steel and glass. Who wants that? The locals? Maybe. *Which* locals?

The only improvements I see here are road crews, with primitive equipment making the highway to *coming up* here safer (blocks to prevent vehicles falling off the road to oblivion). But, what do I know? I have never been here before so I cannot vouch for before and after. All I know is that so far Darjeeling reminds me in many ways, for better or worse, of Kathmandu - except with rain of course.

In the time it has taken to compose this report (35 minutes), the rain has slowed.
#6 Jul 21st, 2016, 10:00
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#6
Kathmandu is mostly flat whereas Darjeeling has hills. At least you can breath in Darj.

Most of the people in Darjeeling speak Nepali. Go find some good momos, once it stops raining.

Kunga restaurant on Gandhi road is not bad for Tibetan food and is pocket friendly.
#7 Jul 21st, 2016, 10:04
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#7
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldandRambling View Post I had a look on one of the Indian Rail websites and the train today is listed as cancelled.
You should be able to book a return journey from Darjeeling... It looks like 1st class can be reserved.
I believe there is a "joy ride" short steam train ride available, as per the video, I think it is extra track after Darjeeling.
One of the train rides I hope to take, but like yourself, I have heard that Darjeeling is not quite the jewel it once was?
What is the weather like since you arrived in India, I assume the monsoon has not reached the eastern parts yet?
It looks like the toy train service resumes in a day or two, seems to be on Mon, Wed, Fri, only at this time... Maybe other days coming down?

Cheers,

Ed
Thank you Ed.

My understanding is that the website for India Rail does not include making reservations for
the toy train NJL (NJPLG?) to/from Darjeeling. But I am aware that there is a West Bengal website that specifically keeps on top of the toy train status. The banker and two of the other passengers in my cubicle (hey, that means everyone but me) had e-tickets. They showed their tickets on their smart phones to the conductor. So, I am clearly a dinosaur regarding technology. The very helpful banker suggested that it was entirely unneccessary to even go in person to book a tourist booking. Then how could they verify age for senior's discount? Was he correct or misinformed? The other difference I notice is that India Rail accepted INR. I was told one had to pay in 'hard' currency. Is this a political move of embarrassment? Or a move of added convenience for foreign tourists?
#8 Jul 21st, 2016, 11:10
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#8
http://dhrs.org/page4.html is usually updated with the latest news of DHR.
#9 Jul 21st, 2016, 11:26
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#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjones View Post It would be nice to be in a decent hotel, especially run run by ethnic Chinese (do they exist in Darjeeling?) where a tea set is available.
Darjeeling and other "sensitive" areas were "ethnically cleansed" in 1962:

http://thewire.in/12319/the-chinese-...d-to-be-heard/

http://www.thehindu.com/news/nationa...cle4106418.ece
#10 Jul 21st, 2016, 12:12
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#10
Not Chinese but Tibetan. I stayed at the Dekeling in 2007. it was March and quite cold but the living room stove heated the whole place. Highly recommended but medium priced.

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel...view_390420188
This space intentionally left blank.
#11 Jul 21st, 2016, 12:18
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#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peterjones View Post They showed their tickets on their smart phones to the conductor. So, I am clearly a dinosaur regarding technology. The very helpful banker suggested that it was entirely unneccessary to even go in person to book a tourist booking. Then how could they verify age for senior's discount? Was he correct or misinformed? The other difference I notice is that India Rail accepted INR. I was told one had to pay in 'hard' currency.
Hello Peterjones,

Did you check this link? https://www.irctc.co.in/eticketing/loginHome.jsf

This is the official website for booking tickets in Indian railways. Once a ticket is booked, you get a confirmation SMS with ticket details in your registered mobile number. You also get a confirmatory email. Showing the SMS with ticket details in enough in train to the ticket checking person. It's not necessary to go to the ticket counter personally to book tickets. And of course you have different modes of E-payment for online booking.

For senior citizens, while booking, you get a check box to tick in the "e-form". You need to carry a proof of identity with DOB mentioned while traveling which the ticket checking person might ask to see. Though I am not sure if this concession is applicable for non-Indians.
#12 Jul 21st, 2016, 12:20
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#12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apoo Roaming View Post Though I am not sure if this concession is applicable for non-Indians.
This concession is available for all senior citizens irrespective of nationality.
#13 Jul 21st, 2016, 14:24
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#13
If you have an "Indian" sim card number activated in your mobile, you can "register" to book e-tickets.
I don't think you can avail of the tourist quota in this way.
Problems tourists have with e-tickets is the difficulty to "register" without the Indian cell phone number.

Hope you can find somewhere warm and comfortable to stay, sounds like a place where your cooking stove might have been some use after all?

Thnks for the weather update!

Ed.
#14 May 30th, 2017, 16:52
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  • jyotirmoy is offline
#14

Train

What is the scene now? Any idea how one can use the toy train to travel from Kurseong to Darjeeling?

Thanks.
#15 May 30th, 2017, 16:57
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#15
Erail is showing 4 trains between Kurseong & Darjeeling - Here

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