India's toy train

CNC report from New Delhi
Added On July 28, 2013

In the east of India... the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is a fascinating artifact.

It is still functional as a tourist attraction. A joy ride on the train and the tourists can absorb in the stunning landscape of Darjeeling.

The "toy train", as it is popularly known, is the lifeblood of tourist economy of Darjeeling.

Let's go for a ride!

Hustle and bustle round the engine, coupled with anxiety.

Mr Das and his team are busy setting things right.

The crew members are trying their best to make this joyride a success as passengers have started to gather on the platform -- all to be a part of the joyride on one of the oldest train systems existing in Darjeeling.

The toy train started way back in 1881 and is now a UNESCO world Heritage Site.

STANDUP: SUNIL KUMAR, CNC correspondent
"Talk about the world heritage, Darjeeling has a number of things to offer. This steam engine toy train is one of them. Started way back in 1881, this train has been serving and taking people around Darjeeling on a joyride. Now though the steam engine produces a huge amount of smoke and causes a lot of pollution, still it has been preserved as a world heritage. Now let us take you to a joyride along with the steam engine and show you how beautiful it looks when it goes around."

The engine starts with a loud noise -- it gives a jerk -- and starts ...

No special mechanical device is employed - until the engine man buffers off the engine and scatters sand on the rails when the engine wheels lose their grip of the metals and race.

SOUNDBITE (HINDI)Train Driver
"I like operating the engine of this train. This is our crowning glory. The British government designed these railways specifically to showcase the natural beauty of this hilly station. When the train moves and we can see the amazing scenery, it feels good. The whole journey takes about 2 hours. I feel happy to see all passengers get excited." [
A ride on the train allows tourists to take in the spectacular landscape in the Himalayas, a region known for its breathtaking scenery.

The train's terminal is Ghum, which is also the highest station in India.

In spite of its popularity among tourists, the steam train has been accused of causing heavy pollution. Some travelers also complain about the noise of the train.

Although the railway authorities have cut down services, the complaints did little damage to its popularity.

SOUNDBITE(HINDI)Tourist
"We had heard about this toy train and traveled a long distance to come here and experience it. It's good, but not that big a deal. We are not that satisfied. We expected something grander."

SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH) Tourist
"The joy ride was gorgeous. When the sun came out, it was so many colors and sights. We had never heard of the train before. When we came here and found out the list of things to do in Darjeeling, it said, go on the heritage train. All the tourists mention that you have to do the World Heritage Train, nice railways and beautiful sight. I think that's wonderful. That's a rare opportunity we had while we are in india. We just rode for an hour. I am going to say back home that we went on the highest train in India and that it's the heritage train. If they ever come to Darjeeling, they better get on the train or they are really missing out."

SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH) Tourist
"The ride was a good one. However, there can be some improvement for example, the sound was very loud. The views are beautiful, the environment itself is wonderful. I had an 8 hour ride on the train to get here so that experience, I was comparing this one and we drove up the same direction we came on on the train. It was like a double take. I saw a lot of new things built. I saw a lot of things I saw in the past. I wish the train went into places a lot more further, more into the city. We have trains in the U.S. but they are express trains. So this one was a different experience. I hope other people can enjoy the experience that I have and in future come here."

STANDUP: SUNIL KUMAR, CNC correspondent
"With all the controversy which this train causes, a lot of sound pollution and a lot of smoke pollution, this still goes on and people of Darjeeling have preserved it as a World Heritage. This engine reminds us of James Watson's first Steam engine and believe it or not, it goes on bringing joy on the joyride to the passengers."