The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) station in Darjeeling town will be upgraded into a model hub with more amenities, a railway official has said.
“The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is famous across the world. It is a world heritage site of the UNESCO. We are in touch with UNESCO and want to introduce modern amenities at Darjeeling station, along with some beautification, without changing the old heritage look of the station,” Sanjive Roy, general manager of Northeast Frontier Railway, said recently.
The announcement followed the visit of railway board chairman Ashwani Lohani to the Darjeeling hills. In March, Lohani had gone to the hills to check out the infrastructure of DHR.
Also, a number of DHR properties, including two stations and portions of the Elysia Building, the DHR headquarters in Kurseong, got damaged.
Such incidents had prompted the UNESCO authorities to seek a report from the Centre. UNESCO had also expressed concern over the conservation of the World Heritage Site.
“The announcement made by the general manager reaffirms that the railways have drawn up plans to improve the infrastructure of DHR. We hope that along with Darjeeling station, repair and restoration of Gayabari and Sonada stations, which were torched during the agitation, will be taken up, obviously in consultation with UNESCO,” said a former railway official.
For tourists, the DHR stations, through which the Toy Train route between Darjeeling and New Jalpaiguri runs, are a major draw.
“Introduction of modern facilities at Darjeeling station will encourage more tourists to take the train ride,” a Siliguri-based tour operator said.
Roy also said facilities would be improved at Alipurduar Junction station, a transit point for tourists visiting eastern Dooars. Besides, an information centre will soon come up at New Alipurduar station.