Two toy train stations in Darjeeling which are classified as UNESCO world heritage sites are being refurbished and are expected to start operations by the end of this month. Both the stations - Sonada and Gayabari stations are being completely refurbished and rebuilt keeping in mind the UNESCO guidelines for world heritage sites. The refurbishment and rebuilding work is being conducted by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). The station complex, ticket counters and platforms have been completely rebuilt. The wooden chairs on the platforms have been replaced with the same in order to keep its look authentic. Ravinder Kumar Verma, the divisional railway manager of the NFR’s Katihar division said, “Restoration of the station buildings at Gayabari and Sonada is almost complete. The Gayabari station is likely to start functioning normally from next week. The Sonada station could reopen by the end of this month. A meeting for development and conservation of the DHR will be held in Darjeeling on September 13 and 14. We are planning to reopen the Gayabari station before that meeting”.
The estimated cost of refurbishing these stations are expected to be around Rs 20 lakhs. As per the sources, the stations will be inaugurated ahead of the upcoming meeting because UNESCO representatives will be attending the meeting and UNESCO had earlier expressed concern over the conservation of the heritage railway project.