Top Heritage Award for DHR B Class Steam Locomotives
The DHRS has sponsored a top heritage award to Indian Railways for the B Class steam locomotives on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. They are the oldest and largest operational fleet of British-built narrow gauge locomotives in the World.
The award plaque from the prestigious Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London (IMechE) was presented to Indian Railways at the 14th Annual Congress of the Indian Steam Railway Society (ISRS) held at the National Rail Museum,New Delhi on 19 November 2016.
The plaque was presented by Mr Ravi Kochak, Chairman IMechE India and was accepted on behalf of Indian Railways by Executive Director, Heritage Subrato Nath.
Also present was Paul Whittle, Vice Chairman, DHRS who said:“We are delighted that this world-famous collection of steam locomotives has been recognised as so very special. The plaque will be displayed at the Ghum Museum of the DHR where it will be seen by the many thousands of people who ride the UNESCO World Heritage railway each year.”
DHR Route Fully Open Again
Following repairs to landslips caused by the end of the monsoon season the DHR reopened along its full length in mid-November. The first train to cover the entire route since July was a General Manager’s Inspection Special on 13 November.
The latest timetable (effective 1 Feb 2017) shows the highest-ever service of Joy Trains. (Timetable attached). The trains, currently two carriages, are constantly fully booked and there are plans to add a third carriage.
The existing fleet of four NDM6 diesel locos has been strengthened by the recent transfer of two further locos from the Matheran Light Railway. After a number of modifications both will enter service shortly and will add robustness to the existing timetable rather than displace any of the 14 strong steam locos.
First Freight Charters
DHR history was made when Tanago, a German rail group, booked a series of steam-hauled freight photographic charters during the week of 20 November. Stock used was three covered 4 wheel vans with haulage by B Class Loco 01 ‘Tindharia’. This was the first freight working in over 25 years and attracted intense local interest.
Rehabilitation to running order of the small remaining fleet of freight wagons was the result of a DHRS proposal to the DHR authorities and includes the three bogie flats being fitted with railings for use of photographers.
UNESCO Team at Work
Funded by Indian Railways a team of experts from UNESCO is currently based at Kurseong Station to progress the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) – a framework for safeguarding the long-term future of the 55 mile World Heritage railway. The DHRS is participating in the CCMP and has offered financial and other support towards the proposed upgrading of the DHR Museum at Ghum Station.
The DHRS was founded in 1997 and has over 600 members in 20 countries. Its associated travel company Darjeeling Tours Ltd regularly brings tourists to the region and its associated Registered Charity, The Darjeeling Railway Community Support, helps with a wide range of community projects. The DHRS also sponsors annual competitions for schoolchildren with the active support of the Inner Wheel Club of Darjeeling.
It also provides technical advice and support to ensure the long term future of the steam locomotives.
Further Details From:
BIOGRAPHY OF PAUL WHITTLE
Paul’s professional career was spent mainly in the City of London as a senior Human Resources Manager with a leading British bank. In 1999 he was granted his ‘Freedom’ and appointed a Freeman of the City of London.
For a similar period of 34 years Paul served in the Royal Corps of Signals, Territorial Army. He participated in many overseas exercises with NATO and attended the TA Command and Staff Course at the Staff College Camberley.
For his long and effective service he was awarded the Territorial Decoration with three subsequent bars to that decoration. As a retired officer he continues as Regimental Historian of his former Regiment whose history he has researched, written and published.
Paul has been a travel lecturer for 10 years. He gives over 130 talks each year, raising funds for his chosen charities in Myanmar (Burma) and India.
His interests are many and varied. He is a keen military historian, having visited the battlefields of the Crimean War and the American Civil War. He is a member of the American Civil War Round Table UK.
Reflecting his interest in heritage transport Paul is Vice-Chairman of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society. He is a frequent visitor to India and is the Society’s principal link with Indian Railways.
In the UK he is a member of several steam heritage railways and also the Wey and Arun Canal Trust. His charitable activities include being President of a community club for the blind and partially sighted.
He has visited over 50 countries including relatively unknown ones such as Eritrea and Armenia. He has also crossed the Sahara.