One of the places that I always wanted to visit since the early 1990s is the National Rail Museum in Delhi. Finally, the time had come to visit the place.
It is a comprehensive museum about the development of Rails in India. It can take a good part of a day to see everything properly. There is an indoor museum that has models and other displays and an outdoor museum where old actual equipment is stationed.
The galley contains display for all the stamps that have been issued by India Posts on railway achievements.
There are a couple of simulators in the indoor museum. I did not really like them but it is a good place to get a feel of what is going on. There is a toy train that kids like. You can also take a ride in that.
The outdoors museum is more interesting. There are actual coaches and engines from the bygone era. It is impossible to enumerate all of them but I am listing a few of those here.
The Meter Gauge composite First Class (8 passengers) and Third Class (44 passengers) wooden coach used on the Nilgiris Mountain Railway in Southern India was manufactured in 1919 by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. with frame supplied by Leeds Forge Co. Ltd. It is fitted with a double pinion on one axle. The teeth of the pinion matches with the rack placed on the center of the track to increase adhesion to tackle the steep gradients of this railway said to be the steepest in Asia. The bogies are provided with coil springs in the primary suspension and laminated bearing leaf springs in the secondary suspension. Canvas curtains were provided for the protection of the passengers against the elements. The cost of the import was Rs. 7742.
F-734 has the distinction of being the first locomotive to be built in India. Manufactured in 1895 by the Ajmer workshop of North Western Railway, it set the ball rolling for future locomotive manufacture in the country. Prior to it, locomotives were assembled at Jamalpur workshop from spare parts supplied by the original manufacturers. The 38.25 ton 0-6-0 wheel arrangement locomotive is equipped with Stephenson valve gear
and inside connecting rods. It was used on the Rajputana Malwa Railway also known as Rajputana State Railway before 1882. It ran from Delhi to Indore and up to Ahmedabad and later on B.B & C.I railway for mixed traffic (passengers and goods). The manufacturing cost of the locomotive was Rs. 15369.
This saloon was part of a special three coach train used by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
and his family. The other two coaches of this train namely the Maharani's coach and a dining cum kitchen car bearing number CR-7342 and CR-7345 are now preserved at the rail museum Mysore. This particular exhibit is a wooden-bodied eight-wheeler having steel underframe and has a provision for vestibule to enable it to be connected with the rest of the train. A special feature of this carriage was that it could be run on both broad gauge as well as meter gauge by changing bogies during the journey without disturbing the royal occupants. Original furnishings, beautiful floral patterns painted on the ceilings and the brass fenced verandah is still retained as part of the original design. Built-in the year 1899, its cost was Rs. 29500.
The 18 seater eight-wheeled, wooden-bodied milky white dining car was manufactured at Ajmer
workshops of BB&CI Railway and was a part of the Viceregal train containing five coaches used by Viceroy of India during his journeys. This carriage is well decorated with beautiful wooden carvings and is fitted with a water filter, hot cases, and an almirah for keeping all the crockery and utensils, etc. in a separate portion. The light and fans are still in working order. Originally fitted with plain bearings, this car was retrofitted with roller bearings at a later stage. The entry to the dining car is from the platform on both ends of the coach. Arrangements for the simple vestibule system to connect with other coaches of the train exist on it. The coach is fitted with vacuum brakes and provides a place for four armed guards.
Madras to Tambaram was the first meter gauge section on the Indian railways to be electrified in
1930. This 43 ton 1500 volt DC locomotive was amongst the first to be used on this section. Four of these locomotives were imported from Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. with electrical equipment supplied by English Electric Co. The two bogies are connected by a link and the 4 axle hung motors were connected in two groups of 2 motors each permanently in series and started with all in series connection. The locomotive is provided with a transition system to change the motor circuits from series to parallel arrangement at high speeds. This 640 HP locomotive had a maximum speed of 65 kph. Locomotive YCG1/21901 is preserved in front of Tambaram station. Its import cost was Rs. 89928.
This tiny locomotive was imported from John Fowler & Co., Leeds, and was originally used to work
light passenger trains in the areas of Gondal and Saurashtra state. Later it was used as a shunting locomotive in Ajmer Workshops of Western Railway. Diesel traction got off to a very early start in the arid regions of Saurashtra in Gujarat, on account of perennial water shortage, and the subsequent no-availability of sufficient water supplies for steam locomotives. This diminutive diesel engine was one of the first to run in that area.; indeed one of the first diesel to run on Indian soil. She was retired in 1970. It has a four-stroke, four-cylinder 150 BHP diesel engine with mechanical transmission. Its maker number was 4200031, Saurashtra Railway No. 203, Western Railway No. 1004. It was imported at the cost of Rs. 5936.
When I visited the place, there was a Gandhi exhibition going on. Here are some of the pictures.
Here are some more pictures.
As I mentioned earlier, it is an interesting place to visit and comparatively not crowded. One can learn a lot about trains here.
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