New rail museum to showcase memorabilia

The rich heritage of the erstwhile South Indian Railway (SIR), the landmark railway construction work executed in the colonial era, rare photographs and documents providing insights into the developments taken place in different periods of railway history, will all be showcased in the rail museum coming up near Tiruchi junction.

Spread over five acres
Coming up on five acres near Rail Kalyana Mandapam, the museum project is being set up as part of the 150{+t}{+h}year celebrations of the SIR which had Tiruchi as its headquarters then. Southern Railway was created by merging Madras and Southern Maratha Railway, South Indian Railway and Mysore State Railway.

The construction of museum building on an area of 9,500 square feet has been completed with interior works, landscaping, construction of compound wall, and laying of a toy train track will be taken up shortly, according to railway officials.

Having spent Rs.1 crore for establishing the museum, divisional railway authorities have been provided with additional funds amounting to Rs.50 lakh by the Railway Board for the project.

Ready by June
The pending works are expected to be completed by June, say railway officials.
The museum will also house old lamps used at stations, clocks and other articles made use of by the erstwhile South Indian Railway Company besides old gazettes, railway manuals and books used during the British Raj.

Outer space to be used too
To capture the attention of the public, outdoor exhibits such as steam loco, steam crane and other railway mechanical and electrical equipment are proposed to be exhibited outside the museum.

Preserve for posterity
The museum will provide interesting trivia about the origin of the SIR and the developments that took place subsequently as well as showcase the superior character of the railways, officials said.

The whole idea of setting up the museum is to preserve the rare documents, old photographs and equipment for posterity, says Divisional Railway Manager Manjula Rangarajan.

The old manuals and articles presently housed in the heritage hall in the office of the divisional railway manager would be moved to the new facility in order to preserve them in a better fashion. All in all prospects are exciting…

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.

Bikana Heritage Rail Museum opened for public viewing

The “Bikana Heritage Rail Museum” openedy for public on Thursday. The rail museum displays equipments, items and documents pertaining to the operation and maintenance of the railways.

Speaking on the occasion divisonal railways manager (DRM), North Westren Railways (NWR) S S Gupta said that the museum was set up for providing information tothe common man as to how and what equipments and items were in use in railway department since last 200 years. He said, “depiction of various items relating to commercial, operation, engineering, electric, electronics (carriage and wagon), signaling departments important for the functioning of the rail network in the country. Setting up of the museum makes for memorable and valuable display of the developmental aspects in the Indian Railways. An example of the development process of the railways can be understood from a painting entitled “Janana Station Bikaner” which depicts Bikaner railway station as ladies station in the year 1920.

At present around 350 items have been displayed in the museum relating to Bikaner and Jodhpur State Railway era, and some of these items were imported from England, US and other countries during State era. Another important item on display is a ‘Crane’ made in England in the year 1889 which was used for supply of coal in the engine. Similarly a Crew-Rest Van made in the year 1940 has been displayed.

Besides, other items like hand-pumps, water lifting pump, drill machine, ground-light fittings, weighing machine, telecommunication equipments, tool box and hand-held signaling equipments have also been displayed in the museum.

‘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

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 8:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Rewari to have heritage rail museum

The Delhi Division of the Indian Railways is all set to establish a heritage rail museum in the historic loco shed of Rewari, which had been lying redundant after the recent replacement of the steam locomotives by diesel engines.

This shed of the Indian Railways, which was initiated by the then Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar on August 14, 2002, had been lying in doldrums for the past several years.

However, the Delhi Division, with the cooperation of its Heritage Division, recently devised an action plan to convert it into a heritage museum for national as well as foreign tourists.

According to Vikas Arya, senior divisional mechanical engineer, Delhi Division, a sum of Rs 10 crore will be spent in two phases on the implementation of the above project.

The first phase of the project, which would entail an expenditure of Rs 3 crore, would be accomplished before the commencement of Commonwealth Games.

The museum, which contains 10 steam engines – five each of the metre gauge and the broad gauge – would display the signal system, rail coaches and other allied appliances of the yesteryears.

The Rewari chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which has all along been taking a keen interest for the development of the museum, recently sent a communication to Manu Goel, director, Heritage Division Railway Board, New Delhi, seeking insertion of certain displays, exhibits and other allied activities to make it a vibrant hub for tourists as well as students community.

However, with the participation of the Rohtak AIR station’s people, Rewari chapter of INTACH recently organised a one-hour road show at the museum site here, in which historical aspects and other details of the museum were relayed live through interviews with INTACH members.

While seeking a comprehensive display of the 150-year-old glorious history of the Indian Railways through models of old and modern engines, coaches and other allied equipments, Sudhir Bhargava, convener of the Rewari Chapter of INTACH, urged Goel that informative audio/video films of the short duration should be shown to visitors and a toy train should also be installed there for schoolchildren.

Besides according due recognition to the first metre gauge line of the country, a set of commemorative postage stamps of “Chook-Chook Engines” should also be issued, Bhargava suggested.

Rail Museum to take Games visitors on joyride

Light and sound shows, a tour on a special steam engine, documentary screenings…with all these new features, the capital’s National Rail Museum is expected to take thousands of Commonwealth Games tourists on a ride into the past.

Massive renovation and upgradation work has been taking place at the museum, which houses the Fairy Queen, the oldest working engine in the world.

“We have received a budget of Rs.50 million for carrying out renovation and upgradation work. We are in the process of commissioning several new facilities to attract a large number of tourists during the Games,” Manish Jain, director of the Rail Museum, told IANS.

A special documentary, “Gandhi and Railways”, showcasing Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for independence will be screened Oct 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the eve of the Games. The mega event will be held from Oct 3 to 14.

“Gandhiji’s struggle against racial discrimination in South Africa started after he was thrown out of the first class compartment of a train. The documentary will showcase his struggle in South Africa and on to leading the freedom movement in India,” Jain said.

Situated in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri, the Rail Museum is a storehouse of information on the over 150-year-old history of Indian Railways.

The other attractions will be light and sound shows, a tour on a special steam engine and star engine exhibits – Fairy Queen, Patiala State Monorail trainway, fire engine, steam engine, as well as models of the Darjeeling Hill Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway and Matheran Light Tramway.

To attract a large number of tourists during the Commonwealth Games, the museum authorities have decided to stretch the closing time by two hours. The museums opens at 9.30 a.m.

“We are expecting to receive 8,000-10,000 visitors during the Games period. So we have decided to remain open till 9 p.m. instead of the scheduled 7 p.m. during the Games. Several guides and volunteers will be available to provide complete information about the museum to the visitors,” he said.

The authorities are also planning a nominal hike in ticket prices before the mega sporting event.

“As of now tickets are priced between Rs.3 to Rs.10. We will increase the prices nominally in the coming months,” he added.

The Rail Museum was inaugurated in February 1977.

Spread over 11 acres, it comprises an indoor gallery devoted to the display of various exhibits, models, records, photographs, documents and over 100 real size engine exhibits.

Published in: on June 9, 2010 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,