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The DHR Timeline

1858

First record of a proposed railway connection to Darjeeling for a light railway from the Ganges bank opposite Rajmahal (with ferry connection from new East India Railway line on the opposite bank). This was not built.

1878

Franklin Prestage proposes a narrow gauge (2 feet / 610 mm) hill tramway to Darjeeling from the new Northern Bengal Railway terminus at Siliguri.  Its purpose is to reduce haulage rates of commodities (such as rice) to Darjeeling and improve the viability of local industries (such as tea production).  The Government supports the scheme to reduce road maintenance costs.

1879

Darjeeling Steam Tramway Company commences construction of the rail link to Darjeeling, closely following the existing Hill Cart Road.  First 8 locomotives (Class 1 / later Class C) ordered from Sharp Stewart in UK (delivered in 1880).

1880

Lord Lytton (Viceroy of India) visits DHR in March but his special train, hauled by contractor’s locomotive ‘Tiny’, fails short of Tindharia, its destination.  In August the line opens to the public between Siliguri (now the Town station) and Kurseong.  Larger Class 2 / later Class A locomotives ordered from Sharp Stewart in UK (delivered in 1882/3).

1881

Line extended and opened from Kurseong to Darjeeling in July by Sir Ashley Eden, Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal.  Company renamed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company.

1882

In the first full year DHR carries 8,000 passengers and 380 tons of freight.  To ease the gradients, 4 loops and four zig-zag reverses are constructed between Sukna and Gayabari.

1885

DHR extended from Darjeeling station to bazaar for freight traffic only in June.

1888

The first of the famous ‘B’ Class locomotives ordered from Sharp Stewart (delivered from 1889).

1891

Darjeeling station is enlarged and rebuilt.

1896

Current station and godowns built at Kurseong to replace facilities near Clarendon Hotel 

1897

Many homes in Darjeeling and Kurseong damaged by earthquake and tremors.  DHR services maintained

1899

On 23rd September a major cyclone devastates the area causing much loss of life.  DHR closed for many months.

1905

Traffic on DHR continues to grow with 29,000 passengers and 31,570 tons of freight – bringing increasing numbers of tourists to the region.

1909/10

Growth continues with 174,000 passengers and 47,000 tons of freight.  The first bogie carriages enter service, replacing very basic 4-wheel coaches.

1911

The sole Garratt-type of articulated steam loco (built by Beyer Peacock in UK) delivered to DHR

1914

New Tindharia Workshop built (opened in sections over the next year) replacing earlier facilities at Tindharia loco shed.  Two larger ‘C’ Class tender locos delivered to operate the forthcoming Kishenganj branch.  DHR is now carrying 250,000 passengers and 60,000 tons of freight each year.

1915

Kishenganj branch opened from Siliguri (Panchanai) in May.  Teesta Valley branch opened from Siliguri to Gielle Khola (Kalimpong Road) in September.  With the continued growth, DHR moves its headquarters from Darjeeling into more spacious accommodation in Kurseong (now the printing works). 

1919

Batasia Loop constructed to ease gradient up from Darjeeling to Ghum.  The first competitive bus service starts from Siliguri to Darjeeling, making the journey in 1½ hours faster than the train.

1921/22/24

The DHR and Teesta Valley line are used to transport men and equipment for the first attempts to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

1927

Last ‘B’ Class locomotive built and delivered to DHR by North British Locomotive Company in UK.

1930

Despite increasing competition from private cars and buses, DHR continues to prosper with 258,000 passengers and 80,000 tons of freight.

1934

Major earthquake in Bihar shakes all of north east India in January.  Many buildings in Darjeeling are heavily damaged and DHR is also badly affected.  Temporary reversing station constructed at Batasia so railway can play a vital role in transporting repair materials.

1936

DHR is running 3 through passenger trains per day each way and also local services.

1939-45

The effect of World War II dramatically increases traffic on DHR which plays a vital role in transporting military personnel and supplies to numerous camps around Ghum and Darjeeling.  DHR now has 39 working locomotives and Tindharia Workshops, employing almost 400 workers, constructs extra rolling stock – including an ambulance train for wounded soldiers.

1942

Major landslip results in original Loop No. 2 being replaced by new zig-zag reverse.

1943

Last ‘B’ Class locomotive delivered to DHR after transfer from Raipur Forest Tramway.  DHR carries 311,000 passengers and 76,000 of freight.

1947

Indian Independence accompanied by Partition and the creation of East and West Pakistan.  The direct rail access from Calcutta to Siliguri (for Darjeeling) crosses the new state of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and eventually closes.  The old wooden station at Darjeeling is replaced by a modern structure of Indo-Art-Deco style.

1948

Government of India purchases DHR on 20thOctober.  The line is absorbed into the Indian Railways organisation.

1949

Kishenganj branch converted to metre-gauge as part of the Assam Rail Link project and opened in December.  The direct rail route to Calcutta in diverted this way – albeit with a ferry crossing of the Ganges.  Siliguri North (now Siliguri Junction) is opened as the main station in the town.

1950

DHR comes under the management of the Assam Railways zone of Indian Railways.  DHR ‘main line’ passenger service diverted to terminate at the new Siliguri Junction station.  Teesta Valley branch closes following a major wash-out.

1952

Assam Railways (including DHR) and Oudh &Tirhut Railway regrouped into the North Eastern Railway zone (NER).

1958

The DHR and Assam lines transferred to the newly-created Northeast Frontier Railway zone (NFR).

1962

DHR route realigned between Siliguri Junction and Siliguri Town and roadside running through urban area of Siliguri abandoned.  Line extended by approximately 4 miles (6km) from Siliguri Town to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) for freight services.

1964

Passenger service commence on new DHR alignment between Siliguri Junction and NJP to connect with newly-opened broad gauge route to Calcutta.  New DHR loco shed opens at NJP to replace that at Siliguri.

1968

Major floods close the line until summer of 1969

1975/80

Extension from Darjeeling station to Bazaar closes (track lifted circa 1984)

1981

New zig-zag reverse constructed immediately north of Chunbhati since regular landslips eroding the earlier formation.

1984

The once important carriage of mail on DHR ceases – beaten by road competition

1988/89

DHR line closed for 18 months due to civil unrest.

1991

Loop No. 1 removed and replaced by plain line

1992

Competition from road haulage and interruption to services in previous years finally ends freight traffic on DHR.  Indian Railways prepares to close DHR; To save it, Sherab Tenduf-la (of Windamere Hotel in Darjeeling) sets up DHR Heritage Foundation and organises a series of stakeholder workshops.

1994

Closure plans abandoned

1997

Formation of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society “to promote awareness of, interest in and support for the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway”.

1999

DHR granted “World Heritage” status by UNESCO – only the second railway in the World to receive such recognition.

2000

First two diesel locos (Class NDM6) for regular use introduced.

2001

Ghum Museum opened

2002

Conversion of loco 787B burn oil instead of coal.  Despite subsequent trials and modifications, the experiment is unsuccessful

2003

DHR route temporarily cut back from NJP to Siliguri Junction as part of metre gauge to broad gauge conversion programme.  DHR loco shed at NJP closed and new one constructed at Siliguri Junction.  New DHR platform constructed at NJP on site of metre gauge sidings

2004

DHR route between Siliguri Junction and NJP reopens on revised alignment

2005

First of 3 new build of DHR oil-fired steam locos arrives

2006

The historic Elysia Building (former residence of GM/DHR) is rededicated as DHR offices after extensive restoration.  Second batch of two Class NDM6 diesel locos transferred from Matheran line.  DHR celebrates 125th anniversary with a series of ‘Steam on 3 Gauges’ charter trains at Siliguri Junction.

2007

DHR gets first full-time Director.  Testing of new-build, oil-fired steam locos commences but is largely unsuccessful.  Loco 1001B eventually rebuilt at Tindharia Workshop (2012) and converted to conventional coal firing.  Darjeeling loco shed damaged by landslip (repaired 2009).  First batch of fleet of 25 new coaches arrives from Kurduwadi Workshops.  Major timetable improvements with addition regular diesel trains and steam tourist trains introduced.

2009

Cyclone hits Darjeeling area and DHR is closed for almost 3 months following many major breaches of the line.

2010

Major landslip at Paglajhora in June; services suspended between Tindharia and Kurseong.

2011

Monsoon rains wreck repair work at Paglajhora.  Major landslip at Tindharia severs access to DHR Workshops from both north and south.  DHR services only operating Siliguri Junction to Chunbhati and Kurseong to Darjeeling.

2012

Further landslip at Tindhariain June causes collapse of part of the Workshops.  One diesel loco, two steam locos and several coaches transferred by road from Siliguri to Kurseong in July to allow for maintenance of stranded rolling stock and introduction / reintroduction of additional trains.  Part of Sonada station destroyed by fire in October.

2013

A programme of station rehabilitation starts – with Sukna being the first to be improved.

2014

Line reopened from Kurseong to Mahanadi and, following major reconstruction at Tindharia, from Chunbhati to Gayabari in December.

2015

Whole DHR route from NJP to Darjeeling reopened (February) for the first time since 2010.  Death of Sherab Tenduf-la.

2016

Two more Class NDM6 diesel locos transferred from Matheran line.

 





Source : Welcome to North East Frontier Railway / Indian Railways Portal CMS Team Last Reviewed on: 13-05-2019  


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