Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

“The Darjeeling Himalayan railway is the first and still the most outstanding example of a hill passenger railway. Opened in 1881, it applied bold and ingenious engineering solutions to the problem of establishing an effective rail link across a mountainous terrain of great beauty. It is still fully operational and retains most of its original features intact.” - UNESCO on the DHR

The DHR connects the plains of West Bengal at NJP with the hill station of Darjeeling. On the way, it passes the most breathtaking scenery and climbs to a height of 7400 feet at Ghoom( the highest station in India).


In 1878 when Franklin Prestage of the Eastern Bengal Railway proposed a hill tramway of 2 four gauge (610mm) following the alignment of the Hill Cart Road to Darjeeling. Construction commenced the year after , the line being completed to Darjeeling in 1881.

It is at Siliguri that the DHR begins its remarkable journey to Darjeeling. The summit at Ghoom,47 miles from Siliguri, has an altitude of 7,407 feet. As the line had to rise over 7,000 feet in less than 50 miles, steep gradients and sharp curves were unavoidable. The surveyors plotted backs ranging from 1 in 19 to 1 in 36 and curves of 50 feet radius.

Chronology of Main Events

1879 : Construction commences as the Darjeeling Steam Tramway Company.
1880 : Lord Lytton (then Viceroy of India) visits the line in March. Line opens to the public between Siliguri and Kurseong in August.
1881 : Line extended and opened to Darjeeling(main station) in July, Company renamed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Co.
1885 : Line extended to Darjeeling Bazaar in June.
1914 : Branch opened from Siliguri (Panchanai) to Kishanganj.
1915 : Branch opened from Siliguri to Kalimpong Road (Gielle Khola) – the Teesta Valley Line.
1919 : Batasia Loop constructed.
1948 : Indian Government purchases the DHR on 20th October. The line is absorbed into the Indian Government Railways Organisation.
1949 : Kishanganj branch converted to metre-gauge as part of Assam Rail Link Project and opened throughout in December.
1950 : Teesta Valley branch closes following major washout. DHR comes under the management of the Assam Railways Organisation.
1952 : Assam Railways (including DHR) and Oudh & Trihut Railway regrouped into the North Eastern Railway zone.
1958 : DHR and ex-Assam lines transferred to the newly created North East Frontier Railway zone.
1962 : Line realigned and extended from Siliguri to New Jalpaiguri for freight (opened to passenger traffic in April 1964)
1988 : Line closed for 18 months due to civil unrest.
2000 : First diesel locomotives for general use introduced on the line. Steam retained for tourist specials.


Total track length – 80 kms.
Sharpest curve – 12 degrees
Steepest gradient – 1 in 18
Rolling gradient – 1 in 22.5
Number of bridges – 554
Number of curves – 873
Number of loops – 3
Number of z reverses – 6
Number of stations – 12
Number of level crossings – 176
Present number of passenger coaches – 37
Coaches manufactured at – Gorakhpur and Jodhpur
Main coach maintenance depot. – New Jalpaiguri