Kolkata hosts photo exhibition on Indian Railways

A young Rabindranath Tagore aboard a train, Mahatma Gandhi at a platform and other such rare photographs that tell the story of Indian Railways are part of an exhibit here to commemorate 160 years of the country`s railway system.

Inaugurated Monday at the Academy of Fine Arts, an oeuvre of over 200 snaps depicting historic moments in the development of the railways – the lifeline of the country – will take one back in time to 1853 when the first train chugged into Thane from Mumbai (then Bombay) in Maharashtra.

“There are 210 photographs 1853 onwards that will be on display. Most important ones are those of Mahatma Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Tagore etc. that highlight their association with the railways,” RN Mahapatra, chief public relations officer, Eastern Railways said.

Pieced through archives of Indian Railways, various zonal railways and the archives of the National Rail Museum, the exhibition contains selected photographs of the first express train, landmark buildings linked to railways like the Howrah station among others.

Also frozen in time are black and white snaps of Bhagat Singh, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

http://zeenews.india.com/entertainment/art-and-theatre/kolkata-hosts-photo-exhibition-on-indian-railways_140817.htm

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Track the train

Train travel is exciting and one can never resist a chance to do so. The Railways in India has a long history.

Travelling by train is always fascinating. More so in a country like India because with every journey there is adventure, learning and joy. The railways in India criss-cross the country and in a long journey, you travel through many states and through different landscapes.

Here are some interesting facts about The Railways:

The first train on Indian soil ran between Bombay and Thane on April 16, 1853

The longest platform in the world is at Kharagpur and is 2,733 ft. in length

It is believed that the slowest train in India is the Mettupalayam-Udhagamandalam Nilgiri Passenger which runs at a speed of 10kmph. As this train runs in hilly region, there are speed limits to comply. Pratapnagar-Jambusar passenger comes close with a maximum speed of 12km/h and an average speed of 11km/h. It takes hours for a journey of 44 km.

Venkatanarasimharajuvaripeta on the Arakkonam-Renigunta section near Chennai, is the station with the longest name.

Ib, near Jharsuguda in Odisha and Od, near Anand in Gujarat, are the stations with the shortest name.

Srirampur and Belapur are two different stations in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. They are both at the same location on the railway route, but on opposite sides of the track.

Indian Railways has the oldest locomotive that is still in working order — the Fairy Queen. Made in 1855, it is the oldest functioning steam engine in the world.

It is mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records and has won a Heritage Award at the International Tourist Bureau, Berlin in March2000.

The National Rail Museum in Delhi set up in 1977 is one of the unique museums in Asia. Sprawled over an area of 11 acres the museum has collections like antique steam engines, locomotives, models, carriages, photographs among other things.

There are live exhibits as well as working and non-working models. The added attraction is the toy train which runs across the museum.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/track-the-train/article4732634.ece

A treat for steam loco enthusiasts

Apart from a discussion on developments related to steam locomotives in India and overseas, the tenth National Steam Congress to be held at National Rail Museum here this Sunday will see a philatelic exhibition as well as a photo exhibition.

Hosted by the Indian Steam Railway Society, this annual event will see participation of steam enthusiasts and experts from India and abroad.

According to Society founder-member Ashwani Lohani, the public needs to understand that steam locomotives are part of our heritage. “Even now, they evoke excitement among the young and the old. People get a feeling of déjà vu when they step into the steam locomotives which we run at National Museum every day.”

However, both the philatelic exhibition and the photo exhibition on steam locomotives would run only for a day. “As this annual exercise is held for a day, we did not want to change the structure.”

Mr. Lohani said the participants would get to understand how the steam locomotive movement began in the United Kingdom. “Two experts from the U.K. — Cedric Lodge, a steam locomotive expert, and David Barrie will be sharing their perspective. During 1970s, the steam locomotive movement started. This is the reason why 1,000 steam engines are running in the U.K. for tourist purpose.”

Veteran journalist Mark Tully, who is passionate about Indian Railways, and writer Bill Aitken and will participate in the discussion.

Presentations will be made on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

A steam locomotive brought all the way from Rewari and a miniature steam locomotive from Amritsar will be on display at the Museum.

The Society will also honour individuals and organisations for their contribution to the cause of steam locomotives.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/a-treat-for-steam-loco-enthusiasts/article4448328.ece

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.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Steam-rides-back-at-rail-museum/articleshow/18412096.cms

‘Forgotten’ rail museum to undergo restoration

After years of being ignored and neglected, the national rail museum is set to undergo a change, including restoration of its 150-year-old rail heritage, which is almost in a shambles. The museum boasts of rare rail heritage that includes engines, saloons and coaches used by the British and Indian royalty.

According to a report prepared by the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO), 25 especially-designed sheds will come up at the open museum to preserve the exhibits, mostly wooden saloons and coaches, from the weather.

“The shed won’t be closed from all sides as the museum was conceptualised as an open museum, one of its kind in the world. The exhibits which have been parked in the open so far will be restored,” said Atul Singh, director, National rail museum. He said the restoration will begin in a couple of months in a phased manner.

The rail museum, located in Chanakyapuri over 11 acres, was inaugurated in 1977. It gets an annual footfall of more than 3 lakh. It is in desperate need of an overhauling and was losing its exhibits due to lack of preservation and restoration.

The wooden roofs of the uber luxurious rail cars and saloons used by the Nizams of Hyderabad and Gaekwads of Baroda, Maharaja of Patiala and Prince of Wales have been leaking for years and the lavish furniture and antiques, which were custom made according to the taste of Indian and British royalty, have decayed beyond repair.

The condition of the old coaches of palace on wheels, the luxury train which is famous around the world for its royal looks, are as such that they can only be dumped now.

The museum will also become more interactive and interesting with digital screens and kiosks.

For the restoration and preservation of museum exhibits, the authorities are mulling options of involving college students. “London national museum works on the model of public participation where specialists from the general public are involved in the restoration work. We are planning to replicate something like this here as getting conservationists to restore 130-year-old machines is difficult. We want designing and engineering students to help us with that,” Singh said.

Gems at the museum:

Fairy Queen (1855)
Patiala State Monorail Trainways (1907)
Morris Fire Engine (1914)
Saloon of Prince of Wales (1920)
Kalka Shimla Rail Bus
Matheran Rail Car No 8899
Fireless Steam Locomotive

http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Forgotten-rail-museum-to-undergo-restoration/Article1-831824.aspx

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Raising a toast to steam railways

In an age of high-speed trains that help you reach your destination in double-quick time within the confines of air-conditioned luxury, there are still very many who believe that these modern contraptions can never match the romance of the steam engine trains. If you are one of them, then head towards the National Rail Museum this Saturday for the 9th National Steam Congress organised by the Indian Steam Railway Society.

The congress is being conducted to celebrate the transformation of the Rewari Steam Shed from a dilapidated structure with decaying engines into one of the finest steam locomotive sheds of the world.

“This event will give a fillip to the preservation of steam locomotives and also propel the growth of the niche Steam Heritage Tourism section in the country,” said Indian Steam Railway Society president Romesh Chandra Sethi.

In 1997, the Indian Railways revived the Fairy Queen which then entered the Guinness World Record for the oldest locomotive engine in the world, which brought steam locomotives into the limelight in India.

BBC’s Sir Mark Tully will be delivering the key-note address and Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (U.K.) vice-chairman Paul Whittle will be making a presentation on the steam engine scene in the U.K.

Luminaries from various fields like the Archaeological Survey of India, British Council, INTACH, Aga Khan Trust, Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Railways are expected to participate.

A presentation by the Indian Steam Railway Society on the recent “resurrection of steam locomotives” will be then be made at the Rewari Steam Centre and nMOU will be signed between the Indian Steam Railway Society and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (U.K.).

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper…cle2905725.ece

Chugging through centuries of history

The National Rail Museum in New Delhi focuses on the fascinating rail history of India.

The National Rail Museum, in New Delhi, is a unique museum and the only one of its kind in Asia. Focusing on the Rail History of India, this museum offers its visitors a lot of fun and entertainment, coupled with an insight into rail history, heritage, nostalgia and the romance that goes with it. It was inaugurated on February 1, 1977.

“This tourist spot spread over 11 acres of landhas over 90 different types of exhibits which include locomotives, royal saloons, cranes, wagons, coaches, furniture, signal and telecommunication equipment, clocks, tickets and ticketing machines. These exhibits offer the visitors an insight into our rail history and heritage”, says Mr Jitender Tatawat, Museum Officer at the National Rail Museum. The indoor gallery at the museum has history ingrained in the various models and artefacts displayed there. There is a toy train and a park for children too.

Old gold

The Morris Fire Engine, which was built in 1914, has been given a place of honour in the museum. Used by the erstwhile Nizam’s State Railways, Hyderabad, this pre WW-1 vintage car, which is still in working condition, is one of its kind in the world. This fire engine was used in Secunderabad to put out fires in railway engines and coaches as well as around the city whenever the necessity arose. The National Rail Museum in New Delhi and the Regional Rail Museums in Chennai and Mysore are storehouses of rail heritage and history.

Arjun A Bharadwaj, a ten year old visitor from Bengaluru, said he found the Indian Railways history interesting and learnt a lot from the indoor and outdoor exhibits. He feels “all children must visit this museum, only then will we all develop pride in the most important transportation system of the country.”

Royal carriages

“One of the prized possessions of the museum is the Monorail of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala State, which is the only working steam monorail in the world. The royal saloons of the Maharaja of Mysore, the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Raja of Bhavnagar are still intact and can be viewed by visitors. The Vice Regal Dining car used by the Viceroys and the royal coach of the Prince of Wales are open to visitors too,” continues Mr Jitender.

On track

The history of the Railways in India dates back to the mid 19th century. Soon after the first ever rail journey took place in the world, the British began contemplating setting up railways in India to help with their transportation and commerce. The British set up two companies in London – the East Indian Railway and the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, where construction for the Indian Railways began immediately.

The first Indian train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), was set on its tracks on April 16, 1853 from Bori Bunder in Bombay to Thane. Four hundred guests took this voyage in 14 carriages, hauled by three steam locomotives – Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. On August 15, 1854 the first train of the East Indian Railways ran between Howrah and Hooghly. Two years later the Madras Guaranteed Railway Company was set up and the first train of this company ran between Veyasarpaudy and Walajah Road on July 1, 1856.

The British managed to set up rail connections from the three major port cities, namely Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Over the years the railway network has expanded tremendously. Many stations, bridges, tunnels and workshops have been constructed. Today, under the unified Indian Railways, we have the second largest rail network in the world.

Published in: on November 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chugging through centuries of history

The National Rail Museum, in New Delhi, is a unique museum and the only one of its kind in Asia. Focusing on the Rail History of India, this museum offers its visitors a lot of fun and entertainment, coupled with an insight into rail history, heritage, nostalgia and the romance that goes with it. It was inaugurated on February 1, 1977.

“This tourist spot spread over 11 acres of landhas over 90 different types of exhibits which include locomotives, royal saloons, cranes, wagons, coaches, furniture, signal and telecommunication equipment, clocks, tickets and ticketing machines. These exhibits offer the visitors an insight into our rail history and heritage”, says Mr Jitender Tatawat, Museum Officer at the National Rail Museum. The indoor gallery at the museum has history ingrained in the various models and artefacts displayed there. There is a toy train and a park for children too.

Old gold

The Morris Fire Engine, which was built in 1914, has been given a place of honour in the museum. Used by the erstwhile Nizam’s State Railways, Hyderabad, this pre WW-1 vintage car, which is still in working condition, is one of its kind in the world. This fire engine was used in Secunderabad to put out fires in railway engines and coaches as well as around the city whenever the necessity arose. The National Rail Museum in New Delhi and the Regional Rail Museums in Chennai and Mysore are storehouses of rail heritage and history.

Arjun A Bharadwaj, a ten year old visitor from Bengaluru, said he found the Indian Railways history interesting and learnt a lot from the indoor and outdoor exhibits. He feels “all children must visit this museum, only then will we all develop pride in the most important transportation system of the country.”

Royal carriages

“One of the prized possessions of the museum is the Monorail of the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala State, which is the only working steam monorail in the world. The royal saloons of the Maharaja of Mysore, the Gaekwar of Baroda and the Raja of Bhavnagar are still intact and can be viewed by visitors. The Vice Regal Dining car used by the Viceroys and the royal coach of the Prince of Wales are open to visitors too,” continues Mr Jitender.

On track

The history of the Railways in India dates back to the mid 19th century. Soon after the first ever rail journey took place in the world, the British began contemplating setting up railways in India to help with their transportation and commerce. The British set up two companies in London – the East Indian Railway and the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, where construction for the Indian Railways began immediately.

The first Indian train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), was set on its tracks on April 16, 1853 from Bori Bunder in Bombay to Thane. Four hundred guests took this voyage in 14 carriages, hauled by three steam locomotives – Sahib, Sindh and Sultan. On August 15, 1854 the first train of the East Indian Railways ran between Howrah and Hooghly. Two years later the Madras Guaranteed Railway Company was set up and the first train of this company ran between Veyasarpaudy and Walajah Road on July 1, 1856.

The British managed to set up rail connections from the three major port cities, namely Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Over the years the railway network has expanded tremendously. Many stations, bridges, tunnels and workshops have been constructed. Today, under the unified Indian Railways, we have the second largest rail network in the world.

http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/kids/article2626858.ece

Published in: on November 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Black beauties” fire up India’s railway tourism

The pounding of pistons, the rhythmic chuff of a locomotive and storybook names such as “Fairy Queen” are all part of the allure of India’s old-fashioned steam railways, which once tied together this vast nation.

Now, heritage train aficionados are turning their passion towards the foreign tourist market, hoping for even more attention — and preservation — for the “Iron Ladies” they love.

“Steam heritage tourism is a potential tourism sector for the country,” said Ashwani Lohani, Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi, Indian Railways.

“The presence of raw fire that fires raw power in the belly of steam locomotives attracts tourists, and the unique sound, the rocking gait, the shrill whistle, the throbbing body and an open design… are features that impart an irresistible charm to these black beauties,” he added.

Lohani, once director of India’s National Rail Museum and who piloted the historic run of the Fairy Queen, an 1855 steam locomotive recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest working locomotive, is hardly alone in his passion.

There are several fan clubs on social networking websites, as well as magazines and blogs about travel to unusual places.

Others pour their hearts into fashioning model trains or dreaming about doing so. A museum dedicated to train miniatures in the western city of Pune has over 400 working model trains which draw more than 500 people every week.

“There are people who come to purchase these models and stock them in their drawing rooms and there are those who just admire them but can’t afford to buy them because of their price, which vary from $100 to $300,” said Ravi Joshi, who runs the museum.

Now, with a growing number of foreign visitors coming for vacations and even weddings in India, tour operators are hoping to cash in on increasingly broad interest.

TOURISM STEAMING AHEAD

“There was a time when foreign travellers will be interested to travel only by luxury tourist trains of India such as Palace on Wheels,” said Ashok Sharma at travel firm Real India Journeys.

“Now there are hard-line steam railway travellers and photographers who come in huge groups every week. We refer to them as ‘narrow-gauged’ or ‘single-tracked.'”

Some 80 foreign tourists rode the Fairy Queen during its last season of roughly 12 to 14 runs, while more than 1,200 visited the National Rail Museum from October to December last year.

Yet despite growing interest, train enthusiasts feel efforts towards preservation have been few and far between after a noticeable decline in the number of steam trains two decades ago.

“Many countries, especially the UK, retained a sizable number of steam locomotives, primarily for the twin causes of heritage and tourism. India also could have retained more of steam than what it has,” said Lohani from Indian Railways.

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/02/03/uk-india-railways-idUKLNE71200A20110203