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DHR commemorates 20 years of world heritage inscription

Darjeeling: The year 1999 saw the resurrection of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways. Sheer grit got the train back on track. Finally on December 5, 1999, the DHR was inscribed a world heritage site by UNESCO. DHR commemorated 20 years of world heritage inscription on Thursday in Darjeeling.

Tracing the rich history, Rajesh Kumar Agarwal, Member, rolling stock, Railway Board stated: "The DHR was near dead. However there was a convention in which the Railways and the people of Darjeeling decided that it has to be revived. Not only that we decided that we would apply for world heritage inscription. The process was initiated. Everyone worked relentlessly."

Finally the DHR was declared a world heritage site with the inscription reading: "First in the world and still the most outstanding in the world."

"Within 6 months the entire track was restored, 7 bridges were built in the landslide prone Paglajhora area. The Ghoom station was renovated and the steam locos that were down were back on track," Agarwal said.

He further stated the all the stakeholders should work together to preserve and sustain this heritage to posterity so that the future generations can enjoy this marvel.

At present the DHR runs a distance of 90 km. There are 13 steam locos operational, 6 diesel locos; 70 coaches along with new additions like air conditioned and Vista Dome coaches.

"It is the most outstanding example of a hill passenger railway. The DHR has retained most of its original features. They are all intact. The passenger footfall has doubled in the past one year standing at 1,20,000 last year," stated Sanjiv Roy, General Manager, Northeast Frontier Railways.

He stated that work on the repair of tracks and change of sleepers will be completed by next year. As part of the commemoration on Thursday a ceremonial special train was flagged off from the Darjeeling Railway station to Ghoom. From Ghoom a Fun Run was flagged off.

The run ended at the Darjeeling Chowrasta. A 100 feet tall flag mast on which the tricolour will flutter was put up at the Darjeeling Railway Station. At the Chowrasta an exhibition on DHR by local artists and painters was held.

A coffee table book on the DHR was also released followed by a cultural show.

In the year 1879 work first started on the DHR, then called the Darjeeling Steam Tramways.

The name of the rail company was then changed to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Company in 1881 on completion of the Darjeeling to Siliguri.

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