I took the toy train down to Kurseong and back yesterday. What a fun excursion!
I travelled first class, for the princely sum of one dollar per hour, although the carriage was, er, well-worn. If I were to do it again, second-class looks comfortable enough (padded benches) for one-fifth of the price.
It was a good way to get a look at the road I’ll be riding – at least the first thirty kilometres. There’s a steady climb of around 600 feet to Ghum station (about 7400 feet above sea-level), a distance of about six kilometres. (It seems strange that the railway measures horizontally in kilometres and vertically still in feet.) It might be difficult to pedal the narrow busy winding road out of town, especially as this will be the first time on the bike, and loaded too, but I’m not too proud to get off and push if necessary. Then it’s pretty much steady downhill to Kurseong. The grade is never too steep (the train navigates the same road, and criss-crosses it constantly) although the surface varies from some (not much) smooth to (more) pot-holed, with holes large enough to disappear in. Maybe it is good I have a bike with front-suspension!
After lunch in Kurseong, it was back on the train and up to Darjeeling again.
Here’s some amateurish video I shot on the way back of the engineers at work keeping the train moving.