Darjeeling Rules - Railwaygardener

Darjeeling Rules

No, this is not the latest variation of the rules for Mornington Crescent, more an assertion that all that epitomises narrow-gauge steam heaven can be found in the north-east of India, in the Himalayan foothills. Several of us 16millers have visited the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (some more than once) and would go again in a trice if someone suggested it.

Forty miles of steep gradients, Z-reverses and 360-degree loops amongst spectacular mountain scenery and delightful hill people makes for a unique experience. And at the top civilised living awaits at the Windamere Hotel, complete with afternoon Darjeeling tea and crust-less cucumber sandwiches, not to mention coal fires and hot-water bottles in the bedroom bungalows. Royal Birkdale it is not, but then can you see Kanchenjunga from the top of the RBGC clubhouse?

In recent years landslips and earth tremors have done some damage to the line, and repairs have taken a while to materialise. However such is the appeal of the line, both locally and internationally, that it will surely be returned to its full glory some time (fairly) soon. The fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is also unlikely to be lost on the accountants at Indian Railways. Meanwhile both steam and diesel trains run on the still-workable sections of the line, and are well used by both locals and visitors.

To keep the memory alive between visits, several members have models of the Class B 0-4-0 that has proved itself so ideal for the line, and run them periodically on the Sutton and Segrave. One resides in south Liverpool, resplendent in the red livery of a fictional maharajah, who apparently saw the blue-painted versions on the DHR and just had to have one to run around his own modest 200-acre garden. Maybe one Open Day we will have a Class B Gathering, complete with home-cooked samosas and Cobra beer? Indian costume optional.

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