Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) Engine (part 5)

History by Tony Phillips

It is now only about four miles to Darjeeling, the altitude of which is 6812 ft; but on this section is found the steepest short gradient, the descent being made at an average of 1 in 31, but with a short bank of about three-quarters of a mile at approximately 1 in 23.

When the line was first opened engines weighing about eight tons were used, capable of hauling a load of ten tons up the maximum gradients of 1 in 19 and round the sharpest curves. But when the banks were reduced more powerful locomotives were put into service. These weighed twelve tons and could haul twenty-seven tons up gradients of 1 in 25. The next step was the introduction of locomotives weighing fourteen tons and capable of hauling fifty tons up a similar bank. In 1935 there were twenty-seven engines of the fourteen tons type, one weighing twelve tons, and one weighing twenty-eight tons. There are two rail motors which seat fourteen passengers.

The rolling-stock is necessarily on a small scale. First-class carriages are 13 ft. long, 6 ft. wide, and 7.5 ft. from rail level to roof. They are fitted with 19 in. wheels, and the floor is set very low. There are also open trolleys, fitted with hoods and curtains for protection against bad weather. Baggage and goods are carried in covered trucks. The maximum speed, going up is twelve miles an hour, and nine miles an hour descending. Go to the next page to see photos of the rolling stock.

At one time tea was the principal commodity carried, but cereals now take pride of place. In the year to March, 31, 1934, the tonnage of goods totaled nearly 80,000, rice accounting for almost 20,000 tons of this.