Image: File photo from another derailment in the past.
Siliguri: A group of foreign tourists today narrowly escaped a possible tragedy after a Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) train, which they had chartered for a trip to the Hills, derailed.
The tourists are from the UK and were travelling in the Toy Train today morning from Siliguri Junction to Darjeeling.
Right from the start, the chartered train was witnessing bad luck. The train got stranded for about 45 minutes ahead of Sukna ~ the gateway to Darjeeling Hills from Siliguri ~ after a driver parked a lorry over the train line and went to have food.
After he was traced out following a lot of struggle, the train started climbing up again. But not very long after this, the train’s engine jumped off the rails while negotiation a bend along the National Highway 55 at Tindharia in Kurseong sub-division.
The train line at the derailment spot runs along the edge of the hill and it could have proved fatal for the tourists, had the engine not got stuck on the earth after rolling for a little distance on jumping the rails.
The incident left the foreign tourists, who were in a coach immediately after the engine, visibly scared. Also, due to the derailment, the train coaches partially blocked traffic movement on NH-55.
Engineers subsequently brought in another engine from DHR workshop at Tindharia and the train resumed the onward journey to Darjeeling with the foreign tourists. The derailed engine was later restored back on the rails and taken to the workshop for repair.
Most of the engines that DHR uses to operate the Toy Train services are over a century old and lack of funds and focus of the Indian Railways have hampered their restoration.