Rail Transport Museum

Vintage train enthusiasts may wish to visit the Rail Transport Museum. It is also called as National Rail Museum. Many tourists visit India primarily to experience travelling on the country's vintage, steam-powered trains which still operate in parts of the country. For those and others of a nostalgic disposition, a visit to the Rail Transport Museum is a must. The museum, laid out to resemble a station yard, was opened in 1977. It is spread in a 10 acre site which is toured by the non-stopping Joy Express, a miniature steam train, throughout the day (except1-1.30pm).

India's first train departed from Mumbai on April 16'1853 at a time when only eight other countries in the world had introduced a rail system. A network evolved very quickly, partly owned by individual states and partly by private companies. Even at the time of partition, forty-eight separate operators existed but now the entire system is controlled by the national government.

Most exhibits, but not all, were made in the industrial centres of northern England and shipped to India in component parts for local assembly. Fairy Queen (Leeds), of 1855, is the oldest steam engine in India still in working order. Adjacent, the Rail- bus was converted from a bus made by the American Dodge motor company. Rangotty was built in Paris in 1877 to run on a unique 4 foot gauge track. Its brakes are wooden. The Maharaja of Patiala commissioned this monorail train in 1907. Initially, mules pulled the coaches but were later replaced by four German steam engines. Garraty, weighing 253 tons, was the most powerful steam engine ever to operate in India.

Equally fascinating is the collection of beautifully restored coaches, owned by and luxuriously fitted-out for Indian princes. The white saloon was specially prepared for use by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) during his visit to India in 1876. The country's railway history is related in a permanent exhibition, housed in the octagonal building near the entrance. On display is the tusk-less skull of an elephant that inadvisably charged a mail train in 1894- and lost the confrontation.

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