One of the oldest train routes in India, The Darjeeling toy train, officially known as the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR). The railway was completed in 1881 and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Steering through steep rolling plains and breathtaking valleys, this train journey promises you an unforgettable ride. The train route runs for 80 kilometres (50 miles) from New Jalpaiguri, in the state of West Bengal, to Darjeeling via Siliguri, Kurseong, and Ghoom. Ghoom, at an altitude of 7,400 feet above sea level, is the highest point on the route passing through 505 bridges. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway makes steep climbs through a number of reverses and loops, one of the most breathtaking being the Batasia Loop between Ghum and Darjeeling. Ghum railway station is India’s highest railway station at an altitude of 2,258 metres.
Darjeeling Toy Train Route
(52541) 8:30 AM (Tuesday) – 2:50 PM (6 h 20 min)
The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway operates a number of tourist train services. These are:
– Daily Toy Train Services — historic diesel and ‘B’ Class steam locomotives with various combinations of first and second class carriages, which run all the way from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling.
– Joy Rides — Diesel and ‘B’ Class steam locomotives that take passengers on short trips from Darjeeling to Ghoom return. The joyride includes a 10 minute stop at Batasia loop and 30 minute stop at Ghoom Railway Museum.
– Jungle Safari Holiday Trains — locomotives which run from Siliguri to Tindharia return, with the highlights being views of the picturesque Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and “Z” reverses (where the train zigzags forwards and backwards up the slope).
Toy Train Joyride – Darjeeling to Ghum & Back
Toy train joy rides operate from Darjeeling Railway Station. It’s a 2-hour round trip from Darjeeling up to Ghum and back covering a total distance of 14kms. There are several such round trips during the day starting in the morning. A number of rides per day depending on the demand during the month or the season. The train stops for 10 minutes at the Batasia Loop.
At Batasia the train makes a loop around a wonderfully manicured garden. The view of Darjeeling town and the snow peaks of Kanchenjunga from here are unparalleled. The War Memorial built in honour of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives is located at the centre of the Garden.
Ghum is the highest altitude station on the Darjeeling Himalayan Rail track. Altitude of Ghum is 2225.7 meters (7407 ft). Here the toy train stops for 30 minutes for a visit to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway museum. The DHR Museum is located on the station premises. The highlight here is the oldest toy train engine – The Baby Sivok. The entree fee to the museum is included in the ticket price. DHR sends by post a certificate validating your ride on the toy train so that you can cherish the memories of your ride. Update: The certificate is no longer issued for several years.
Toy Train Joyride Schedule
Currently, 18 rides are scheduled from the morning (starting at 7:40 am) till afternoon (the last train being at 4:20 pm). So there are ample opportunities to choose your time based on your convenience and plan for the day. The timings and number of rides do change depending on seasonal demands.
And what more… depending on your preference, you can avail either a steam engine hauled toy train or one with a diesel engine. The steam engine train, of course, offers the authentic experience of the heritage and the colonial aura when such toy trains were first created. But such rides are quite costlier too compared to diesel engine rides.
There are usually two first class coaches provided in a steam engine train, while three first-class coaches in diesel engine joyride toy train.
TIP: Note that during high season, there is a lot of rush for the rides and you should try to book well in advance. Don’t plan to buy the joyride tickets after you reach Darjeeling because you may not get them. Just in case you don’t get the joyride tickets, an alternative plan is to buy a ticket on the regular morning toy train operating between Darjeeling and Kurseong, which too goes via Batasia and Ghum. Get off at Ghum and take a shared jeep back to Darjeeling… almost similar experience as the joy ride. However, this is a diesel engine hauled train and not steam engine. You can buy tickets online through Indian railway site irctc.co.in.
Toy Train Joyride Fare (Fare updated: February 2019)
Diesel Engine Rides: Rs. 805/-. All first class seats.
Steam Engine Rides: Rs. 1,405/-. All first class seats.
- Above are round trip fares Darjeeling-Ghum-Darjeeling.
- No concession in Darjeeling Toy Train Joy Rides to Children of age 5 or above, neither to senior citizens. No tickets required for children below 5 years.
- The fares of Steam Engine pulled trains are higher because they represent the original heritage trains and their maintenance cost is also higher. Fares include admission to the DHR Ghum Museum.
- 4) A First Class coach has individual reclining seats and can accommodate up to 17 persons.
How to book DHR Toy Train Joyrides
The toy train in Darjeeling is like any other normal train and the process of booking seats is similar. You can book the joyride either online through the Indian Railway’s website or at any computerized reservation counters.
Toy Train Jungle Safari – Siliguri to Rangtong & Return
This round trip toy train safari (3 hours) operates between Siliguri Junction and Rangtong Station. Rangtong is a small village on the roadside and at an altitude of 1404 ft. It’s 16kms from Siliguri Junction. The train usually leaves at 10:30 am from Siliguri Junction, goes past Sukna, and reaches Rangtong at 11:50 am. It halts there for 20 minutes and returns to Siliguri Junction at 1:35 pm. The total round trip distance is 32kms and takes about 3 hours.
The Jungle Safari takes you through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary located around Sukna and Rangtong station and offers a breathtaking view of the valley from Tindharia. This safari is a great treat for nature lovers. There are two or three coaches provided depending on the demand. The Toy Train is pulled by a ‘B’ class steam locomotive engine.
NOTE: Earlier the Jungle Safari used to go up to Tindharia / Gayabari and return making it a round trip of about 6 hours. Now it has been reduced to a round trip of only about 3 hours.
Update December 2018: For the first time, a steam engine hauled evening train has been introduced for Jungle Safari to Rangtong which leaves Siliguri Junction at 3 pm. The train has one general coach (with a capacity of 17) and a dining coach (with a capacity of 12). So you can now enjoy the jungle in the evening and have refreshments as well. The ride costs Rs. 1000 while with food Rs. 1,200/-.
Toy Train Jungle Safari Fare (Fare updated: February 2019)
Siliguri – Rangtong Round Trip Fare (First Class): Rs. 540/-
Regular DHR Toy Train Services
There are diesel engine hauled toy train services that provide regular transport connections within Darjeeling district. One of the most popular ones for tourists is the service between New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station and Darjeeling which passes through picturesque mountain landscapes and villages.
The track often runs side by side the main motor road (The National Highway-55 which is popularly known as Hill Cart Road) and even crisscrosses the road several times. There are breathtaking zigzags and loops along the way to help the train negotiate steep gradients.
New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to Darjeeling
(Train schedules are subject to change)
The train (no. 52541) usually runs daily during high season. It leaves NJP at 8:30 am and reaches Darjeeling at 3:35 pm. Total distance is 88kms. The return train (no. 52540) departs Darjeeling at 8 am and reaches NJP at 3:10 pm (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). It takes little over 7 hours to complete the one-way journey as per schedule, although it’s quite usual that the train runs late.
Between NJP and Darjeeling, the train stops at Siliguri Junction (but no longer at Siliguri Town), Sukna, Rangtong, Tindharia, Gayabari, Mahanadi, Kurseong, Tung, Sonada, Ghum.
The train is hauled by a Diesel engine. It usually has two first-class coaches and a luggage van to store luggage. During high season, additional coaches may get added. No food is served on the train and you won’t find any food vendors along the way. So carry water and food.
Most coaches do not have toilet facilities while few do. The intermediate stations along the way too do not have toilet facilities. So what is your option to relieve yourself in case your coach doesn’t have a toilet? Well, there is none practically. I did see a person literally running to the adjacent coach when the train stopped at Kurseong. The adjacent coach luckily had a toilet and he could manage to get back in time… with a painful smile though. The train stops only for about 10 minutes in Kurseong. It barely stops for a minute or two at the other stations where this option won’t works either.
Update April 2018: Two air-conditioned coaches have been built (actually upgraded from earlier first class coaches) and attached to the Toy Train running between NJP and Darjeeling (both for up and down journeys). Each AC coach has large glass windows for viewing and capacity of 15 persons.
Kurseong to Darjeeling
(Train timings are subject to change)
The train (no. 52545) leaves Kurseong at 3 pm reaching Darjeeling at 5:50 pm. Total distance is 31kms. The down train (no. 52544) departs Darjeeling at 10:15 am reaching Kurseong at 13:10 pm. It is usually hauled by a Diesel Engine having 2 or 3 coaches (number & combination of first and second class coaches vary).
There is also a daily school train that runs between Kurseong and Darjeeling. This diesel engine hauled train starts from Kurseong at 6:30 am in the morning (no. 52587) and reaches Darjeeling at 9:05 am. The train returns from Darjeeling at 4 pm (no. 52588) reaching Kurseong at 6:30 pm in the evening.
A steam engine hauled toy train known as Red Panda operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between Darjeeling and Kurseong. It has two first class coaches. The train 52570 starts from Darjeeling at 9:15 am and reaches Kurseong at 12:30 pm. The return train 52571 departs Kurseong at 2 pm and reaches Darjeeling at 5:45 pm. Distance covered is 31kms and there is no stoppage in between.
NOTE: Do not plan to board with heavy luggage on the toy train which originates from Kurseong. They do not have luggage vans. Luggage space in the normal coaches is limited to overhead racks and below the seats.
Regular DHR Toy Train Fares (Fare updated: February 2019)
NOTE: First Class toy train coaches have individual reclining seats like standard chair cars. The seats in Second Class coaches are joined and non-reclining. Second class coaches accommodate more passengers than First Class coaches.
– Darjeeling to NJP: First Class (FC) – Rs. 1295.00; Air Conditioned (CC) – Rs. 1555.00
– Darjeeling to Ghum: First Class – Rs.410, Second Class – Rs. 30.
– Darjeeling to Sonada: First Class – Rs.535, Second Class – Rs. 45.
– Darjeeling to Tung: First Class – Rs.555, Second Class – Rs. 45.
– Darjeeling to Kurseong: First Class – Rs. 680, Second Class – Rs. 60.
NOTE: Second Class is available in limited regular trains, while First Class is available in all trains.
DHR Toy Train Charters
How about chartering a DHR Toy Train with the steam engine hooting it’s a way through the mountains and lovely landscape as you enjoy the ride with your family and friends in complete exclusivity!! It’s possible and that too at an attractive rate.