The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has successfully conceived, developed and tested two air-conditioned narrow gauge coaches for running in the UNESCO World Heritage railway soon, a railway official said on Saturday.
“These air-conditioned coaches will make travelling in the hill railway more comfortable for travellers from the plains of New Jalpaiguri to the hill station of Darjeeling in all seasons,” a Northeast Frontier Railway spokesperson said.
The commercial service of the AC coaches is expected to start from April 1. The two air-conditioned coaches were developed by refurbishing two first-class coaches at a cost of about Rs 43 lakh.
The air-conditioning unit in the coaches are roof-mounted and a small silent power-pack provides power to the units.
Each coach has a sitting capacity of 15 people and the interiors have been done using teak panels, large toughened laminated safety-glass windows for passengers to enjoy the scenic beauty and a music system-cum-announcement system for entertainment.
Similarly furnished non-AC coach for use in the Joy Ride services between Darjeeling and Ghum are also being developed.
The new AC coaches have been painted with shining metallic colours on the exterior and florescent stickers have been used for text. A hatch on the roof with a fan has also been provided for fresh air and ventilation when the air-conditioner is not put into operation.
The hatch fan would be operated by battery which would be recharged by the power pack. The fuel consumption by the power pack would be around three litres per hour.
If the new AC coaches evoke positive response, four more such coaches are proposed to be developed in 2018-19, the spokesperson added.