Rail Museum star attraction restored

The Patiala State Monorail Trainways built by the Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Bhupinder Singh, way back in the early 1900s, now finds pride of place at the National Rail Museum in Chanakyapuri here.

Described as a unique rail-cum-road-borne railway system, PSMT is the only remaining working locomotive that uses the single-track Ewing system.This project was built under the supervision of Col. Bowles. Four locomotives for PSMT were built by Orenstein and Koppel of Germany in 1909 at a cost of Rs. 7,000 each. Of the four locomotives, one has been preserved at the Rail Museum.

The PSMT loco and coach were in a bad state.

“With help from the staff of the Amritsar workshop, the Rewari Steam Shed and the NRM, the loco was brought back into operational condition in February this year. The coach was revived and restored with the help of Heritage Conservators, Chandigarh. Now both are in fully operational condition,” says NRM director Uday Singh Mina.

A restored relic of the country’s first monorail, it takes visitors on a ride once or twice every month.

“On every second and fourth Sunday we give rides to visitors on the Patiala State Monorail Trainways. Interestingly, initially bullocks and mules were used to haul the monorail before introduction of the steam engine,” says Mr. Mina.

Most of the exhibits on display have audio-guides in both English and Hindi, like the skull of a wild elephant. When the button below the skull of the pachyderm is pressed, a beaming voice says it was crushed by the UP Mail at Saranda jungle near Goilkera. While the elephant was killed, the train too had to bare the brunt as its engine and seven coaches were damaged.

There are also replicas of popular trains on display.

“We preserve by painting, using pest control and wood treatment. But railways are primarily about engineering. Through interesting exhibits, we want to demonstrate how the Indian Railways has progressed.”


Steam rides back at rail museum

From Sunday, visitors to the National Rail Museum can take a historical train ride. A restored relic of the country’s first monorail—Patiala State Monorail Tramway (PTST) – is ready to spew steam and smoke again. Although the original tramway ran two routes in the princely state of Patiala between 1907 and 1927, at the museum the tiny engine will do only a 10-minute loop run.

Railway historians say the Patiala monorail was conceived in the early 1900s and was built in the reign of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, under the supervision of the chief state engineer Colonel Bowles.

“As a young engineer in 1900, Bowles was laying the site of the Bengal-Nagpur Railway works at Kharagpur in Bengal. He faced trouble with the narrow gauge contractor tracks and tried, successfully , the Ewing monorail system. In this arrangement, about 95% of the weight of a vehicle is taken on the single rail and the rest on an additional wheel on an outrigger. In later years, Bowles used the same technology for a 15-mile monorail line from Sirhind to Morinda,” a historian told TOI.

One of the objectives of the tramway was to put to work more than 500 government-owned mules. But in 1909, four locomotives were built and delivered by Orenstein & Koppel of Germany (O&K) at a cost of $500 to $600 (about Rs 7,000 in those days) each.

A locomotive and a saloon of the erstwhile PSMT have been restored for the museum after an effort of several months.

“With help from the (railways’ ) Amritsar workshop, Rewari Steam Shed staff and NRM staff the loco has been brought back into operational condition,” said NRM director Uday Singh Mina.

A ride will cost Rs 200 for adults and Rs 100 for children . The number of runs in a day will be governed by the number of visitors. “It takes up to three hours just to light up the steam engine, but after that the train will run without problems as one keeps charging it with coal,” added Mina.

Of the three other locomotives built by the German company, one is exhibited at a workshop in Amritsar and the other two have been lost. NRM managed to acquire locomotive number 4 in the 1970s and it has been exhibited since then.

“To get the engine operational again, the boiler had to be dismantled and cleaned. The smoke tubes were in bad shape and had to be replaced, where required. The pipline is regularly inspected for choking and breakages,” added an official. The saloon has been restored by a Chandigarh-based heritage conservation agency.

The PTST and the audioguide facility for visitors were inaugurated by Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal at the 37th Museum Foundation Day this week. The audio guide system will relate the historical significance of exhibits like a story, in Hindi and English. It will also ease the crowding near specific exhibits. The museum gets up to 5,500 visitors in a day, with the average being 1,700-1 ,800, said officials.


Single ticketing for Metro, monorail

The state government has decided to implement the single ticket system on Metro and monorail. In 2007 the then Railway Minister mooted a GO Mumbai Card, with an integrated ticketing system, for travel on trains (Western Railway and Central Railway) and BEST buses. It took three years for the system to be implemented as the state government faced technical hurdles in implementation due to involvement of multiple agencies.

At present the Western Railway, Central Railway, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) operate the transport system in the city. “There are multiple agencies involved in the integration of system and having a single ticketing system. Since the MMRDA is the nodal agency for the Metro and Monorail it has been decided to have the single ticketing system in this transport project. It is easier to add a clause in the agreement to have such a system which can be also extended to other routes,” said Mumbai Transformation Support Unit project manager UPS Madan.

Sources said the MMRDA is also planning to hire consultants who had done a similar integration in Singapore .

“After Metro and monorail the next system to be integrated would the BEST. As the agency is controlled by the state government, unlike railways, the work would be easier and faster. The integration of railways would be done after BEST,” Madan added.


Monorail to have automatic fare collection system

mbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has marked a new advancement in the development of Monorail with the contract for Automated Fare Collection system (AFCS) being awarded to a Spanish Company ‘Indra’. The contract has been signed between L&T-Scomi consortium and Indra to set up Automated Fare Collection System on all the Monorail stations of Phase 1 between Chembur to Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk. This Automated Fare Collection System will work with Smart Card or with a token available at each Mono and Metrorail stations, a release issued here today stated.

A factory acceptance test was undertaken by MMRDA along with the consortium, post which the orders were issued to manufacture the automated gates which are being currently manufactured in China. The Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS) will be based on the Mifare software system which essentially means that the automated system will facilitate purchase of pre-paid tickets and their subsequent use through electronic systems to permit access to or from the transport mode. For seamless travel between Mono and Metro, this system will also be implemented with Metro project.

Ratnakar Gaikwad, Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA said ”The AFCS will be compatible with the integrated ticketing system being planned, which will also facilitate a well-integrated public transport system in the coming future. As it is imperative that travel be as seamless as possible and offer a simple integrated fare structure across various modes of transport be it railways, bus, or metro trains.” AFCS will reduce on-board ticketing, help in easy accounting of revenue collection and generate rich information for MIS purposes.

In addition, AFCS will reduce the need for ticket checking staff and help prevent fraud, the release added.