The DHR got the Unesco status in 1999 for ‘bold and ingenious engineering solutions’.
Guwahati: The grand old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), a Unesco World Heritage property, is going to stop its journey for a brief period but will get a fresh lease of life.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has signed an agreement with a public sector undertaking—-Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HECL) for supplying new “antique” spares to revive a fleet of narrow gauge steam locomotives, also called Iron Sherpas.
Most of the original manufacturers are no more in production. They are neither producing such locos nor spares, putting the very existence of the train system in danger.
The “B” class steam locos for DHR were built between 1889 and 1927. At present there are 13 of them with DHR and majority of them are more than 100 years old.
The Northeast Frontier Railway chief public relation officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said, “Keeping them operational and keeping the original features of the locos intact pose a big challenge for DHR as most of original manufacturer no more produce such locos or spares.”
Pointing out that MoU signed with public sector undertaking would give a fresh lease of life to this heritage train, Mr Sharma said, “The HECL would supply 41 critical spare components for the available steam locomotives and thus they would remain operational for ever.” The DHR got the UNESCO status in 1999 for “bold and ingenious engineering solutions.
In January this yea the Indian Railways has also signed a $5 lakh pact with UNESCO for developing a comprehensive conservation management plan for DHR that faces serious threats from the onslaught of urbanization along the mountain rail’s 88.48 km route from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling through Ghoom, the highest point at an altitude of 2258 metre.
It is significant that experts and technocrats from the Ranchi-based Heavy Engineering Corporation Limited (HECL) studied these steam locos for almost two years to develop the technology to produce the vintage parts.