Museums, Preservation and Heritage

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Along with the rest of the world, the age of the steam has passed into history (with a couple of notable exceptions – DHR and NMR). However there is a history of preservation of railway history and heritage that stretches back to the early 20th century. Railway companies have retained locomotives that they deemed historically important which they put on plinths at stations and workshops (the famous Fairy Queen and its lesser known but just as important sister Express survive because they were retained and preserved at Howrah station as long as go as 1943).

India’s first railway museum was the National Railway Museum (NRM) in Delhi, which opened in 1976. The Railways Board enlisted the assistance of the British railway enthusiast, M G Satow. Satow worked for ICI in India and had played a part in the rediscovery of the remaining material of the Patiala State Monorail Tramway (PSMT) that had lain undisturbed in a PWD yard at Patiala. Satow was given carte blanche by the Railway Board to find exhibits for the museum from all over India. His notes from this task are in the collection of the British Library and extracts from the have been included in the entries for the NRM. After the NRM, the next museum to open was the one at Mysore in 1979. This was planned as the first in a number of Regional Railway Museums all over India. For many years though it remained India’s only Regional Railway Museum. The real impetus for the establishment of further museums around India lies in two events.

The first was the eradication of steam traction from IR. Once IR began its process of dieselisation and electrification in the 1960s, the inevitable end point was the elimination of steam locomotives from Indian Railways. The last steam locomotives for BG & MG were built in the early 1970s (the narrow gauge systems had not had any new steam locos built since the late 1950s). By the late 1990s steam (apart from a couple of pockets, namely the DHR and NMR) had been completely eliminated on IR. One of the legacies of this wholesale withdrawal of steam locomotives was a ready supply of historic locomotives to be preserved.

The second event was the drive towards gauge unification. One of the problems of the network that IR had inherited in 1947 was the fact that there were four gauges involved. This created problems with the transhipment of goods from one gauge to another and meant that through passenger services could not be operated on some routes. In the early 90s IR embarked on the project to unify India’s rail gauge to BG by re-gauging the MG and NG lines. In doing so the rolling stock used on these MG and NG lines became redundant and ripe for preservation.

In the past few years a third phenomena can be added. The first generation of diesel and electric locomotives introduced onto India’s railways have become life expired and are being withdrawn as they are replaced by new types of locomotives. This means that there is a growing pool of these locomotives available for preservation.

The following is a list of the main railway museums in India, along with other museums that have preserved locomotives. As well as these museums, there are many other locomotives preserved all over India. These are mainly preserved on plinths at railway stations, railway workshops, in parks etc.

The following are the museums that have been established by IR. In addition to the museums, IR has also established a number of Heritage Galleries, which are listed here.

IR Museums

National Rail Museum, New Delhi

Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110 021

India’s first dedicated railway museum which opened on 1st February 1977. It houses the largest collection of preserved locomotives in South Asia.

In addition to the better known and popular outdoor exhibits of plinthed or working locomotives and other rolling stock, and indoor exhibits of railway equipment, the NRM has a lot of books, maps, and other publications related to the railways in its library (access by permission; not open to the public). They have old timetables (all back to 1970, sparser before that, including the first Trains At A Glance (1977); annual reports for most of the 20th century, old issues of the Railway Gazette and other foreign railway publications; annual issues of the History of Indian Railways Constructed and In Progress up to 1964, and annual issues of History of Defunct Railways up to 1966; and many official Survey of India maps and railway maps.

A full list of outdoor exhibits is too numerous to be listed here, but can be seen in this document.

Regional Railway Museum, Mysore

126, Loco Colony, KRS Road, Mysore - 570005

This museum was the second major railway museum to be established in India and opened on 2/6/1979. As well as locomotives, it has a number of other railway exhibits including coaches once owned by the Maharaja of Mysore, wagons and a 12½ ton Cowans & Sheldon rail crane. It is maintained by SWR.

The following locomotives are preserved here:

2ft 6in gauge

119, a 2-4-2ST built by W G Bagnall in 1901 for the Indian Army but used on the Khushalgarh-Kohat-Thal Railway. This loco eventually ended up working at the Indian Railways sleeper depot at Dhilwan in Punjab, where it came from in November 1990.

E506, a 4-6-2 loco built by Kerr, Stuart in 1922 for the Mysore State Railway, as their E class number 8. It was rebuilt with a superheater and reclassified as ES class. In the 1957 all India renumbering scheme it was renumbered 506.

Metre gauge

37388, a 2-6-2T loco built by W G Bagnall in 1932 for Mysore State Railway, as their T class first numbered 91 then 131 and finally 71. It was rebuilt with a superheater and reclassified as TS/1 class. In the 1957 all India renumbering scheme it was renumbered 37388.

2511, an IR YP class 4-6-2 loco built by TELCO in 1963.

6200, an IR YDM-4 class Bo-Bo diesel electric loco built by DLW in 1968.

A YRD Bo-Bo power car from the railcar that operated the MG service from Shimoga-Talaguppa line. Withdrawn in 2007 and preserved here. It is thought that this was formerly a 2ft 6in gauge railcar used on the Yelahanka to Bangrapret line that when this line closed, the railcar was converted to MG.

A 1925 Austin van converted to run on rail. It was used by IR as an officers inspection vehicle.

Regional Railway Museum, Howrah

Foreshore Road, Howrah 711101

Located about five minutes from Howrah station, this museum was established in 2006. It has the following exhibits:

EXPRESS, a BG 2-2-2WT built by Kitson, Thompson & Hewitson in 1855. G class loco, supplied new to EIR as 21. Renumbered 92 in 1881 and 101 in 1884. Supplied as a mail engine though eventually used as a construction locomotive on the building of the South Bihar line from 1896. Was preserved at Howrah station, along with FAIRY QUEEN. The location of EXPRESS is unclear between 1943 and 2006, it was possibly kept at Jamalpur Works.

2/6 3134, a BG 0-6-0T built by Vulcan Foundry in 1915. Supplied new to EBR as a 0-6-0CT for use at Kanchrapara works. It is no longer fitted with the crane and carries two running numbers – 2/6 on the front buffer beam and 3134 on the cab side.

26761, a BG 2-8-0 built by Kitson in 1920. HGS class loco, supplied new to EIR as a GS class locomotive, 1562. Became HGS class. Became 26761 under 1957 all India renumbering.

32, a BG 4-6-0 built by William Beardmore in 1923. HPS class loco, supplied new to EBR, LS class, 32. Rebuilt with a super heater and became HPS class. In 1947, it became the property of East Pakistan Railway retaining the number 32. Captured from East Pakistan by the Indian Army during 1971 war.

20103, a BG Co-Co overhead electric loco built by CLW in 1963. WCM5 class loco, supplied new to IR, 20103.

835, a BG 4-wheeled diesel railcar. Built at Kanchrapara works, used as an Engineering Department railcar.

19057, a BG 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic loco built by CLW in 1985-86. WDS4A class loco, believed to be WDS4A 19754, however it carries the running number and name (INDRAPRASTRA) from the first Indian built WDS4A class locomotive.

3403, a MG 2-8-2 built by TELCO in 1961. YG class loco, supplied new to IR, 3403.

BK-13, a 2ft 6in gauge 2-6-2T built by W G Bagnall in 1953. C class loco, supplied new to BKR, 13.

798, a 2ft 0in gauge 0-4-0ST built by North British Ltd in 1898. B class loco, supplied new to DHR, 45. Became 798 under 1957 all India renumbering.

Regional Rail Museum, ICF, Chennai

New Avadi Road, next to ICF Furnishing Division, Lakshmipuram, Villivakkam, Chennai 600038

The museum is located within the campus of the Integral Coach Factory's (ICF) Furnishing Division at Perambur.

793, a 2ft 0in gauge 0-4-0ST built by Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1917. It was new to Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, 40 later IR B class 793.

7002, a 2ft 6n gauge Bo-Bo diesel power car built by an unknown builder, date unknown. EZZS class railcar power car, thought to have previously been used on Katwa system in West Bengal.

11043, a MG AC traction power car from YUA-1 class EMU formerly used on Madras suburban services.

37393, a MG 0-8-2T built by SLM in 1952. It was new to Niligiri Mountain Railway, 15 later IR X class 37393.

YDM-1 6008, a MG B-B diesel hydraulic loco built by North British Ltd in 1954.

YDM-1 6015, a MG B-B diesel hydraulic loco built by North British Ltd in 1954.

YG class 4136, a MG 2-8-2 built by Lenin in 1956.

YG class 4332, a MG 2-8-2 built by Mitsubishi in 1956.

YAM-1 21909, a MG B-B AC electric loco built by Mitsubishi in 1965.

700, a BG 4-4-0 built by North British Ltd in 1909. It was new to Madras and Southern Maharatta Railway, 700 later Indian Railways V-1/2 class 37020. Withdrawn in 1967.

WCM-1 20068, BG Bo-Bo DC electric loco built by English Electric in 1954.

WDS-4 19324, BG 0-6-0 diesel hydraulic shunter loco built by CLW in 1975-76. Preserved in January 2015.

Fowler ploughing engine (No. 15613 MYS 483) manufactured by John Fowler and Co, Leeds in 1895.

Gitanjali Rail Museum, Bolpur Railway Station

Bolpur Shantiniketan Station Rd, Bolpur, West Bengal 731204

A museum to the memory of poet and philosopher Kaviguru Rabindranath Tagore. The centrepiece is the EIR carriage in which Tagore made his last train journey from Bolpur to Calcutta in July 1941. The museum also contains photographs of Tagore and copies of his prose and poems displayed on the walls. The foundation stone was laid on the 150th anniversary of his birthday in October 2010 and the museum opened in August 2012. The museum is named after a collection of his poems. It is maintained by ER.

Baba Bhalku Rail Museum, Shimla

Old Bus Stand Rd, Lalpani, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 171001

A small museum opened in 2011 and maintained by NR. It has many small artefacts from the Kalka Shimla Railway including a coach and a brake van.

Rail Museum-cum-Heritage Park, Gorakhpur

NER HQ, Railway Stadium Colony, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh 273009

Located at the headquarters of NER, it houses the following:

1, a 2-4-0 made by Scinde, Punjab and Delhi Railway’s Lahore Works. Was new to Punjab Northern State Railway as 13. Became Tirhut State Railway Locomotive in 1879. Became BNR 1 in 1924. Named LORD LAWRENCE

6, a 4-6-0 for the Tezpur-Balipara Light Railway. Went to the Clutterbuckganj Sleeper Depot, Bareilly in 1954. Housed at present location after 1/1/1991.

180 and 181, a CLW made ZDM-3 B-B diesel hydraulic on the 2ft 6in gauge.

Bhanu Bhakt Rail Museum, Ghum Station

Ghum station on the DHR

It is maintained by NEFR.

Bikana Heritage Rail Museum, Bikaner

Bikaner Junction station

A small museum opened in 2012 and maintained by NWR, dedicated to the history of the Jodphur-Bikaner Railway. It has many items of railwayana including an 1889 built coaling crane and a 1940 built Crew Rest van.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway Museum, Mettupalayam

Naadar Colony, Mettupalayam, Tamil Nadu 641301

A small museum dedicated to the history of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. It is maintained by SR.

Rail Museum, Tiruchirappalli

Bharathiar Salai, Bharathiyar Salai, Cantonment, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu 620001

It is maintained by SR.

Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, Nagpur

Kamptee Road, Kadbi Chowk, Motibagh, Nagpur, Maharashtra, 440014

Maintained by SECR, this museum was inaugurated on December 14, 2002 and houses locomotives, rolling stock and other artefacts from the Satpura narrow gauge system.

Rail Museum (Dharohar Sangrahalaya), Nainpur Railway Station

Nainpur Junction Station, Nainpur, Madhya Pradesh

A museum dedicated to narrow gauge railways. A apt location it being right in the centre of the erstwhile Bengal Nagpur Railway’s 2ft 6in gauge Satpura Lines network. It has a large building with items of railwayana and an outdoor section that houses locomotives and rolling stock. There is a toy train ride. It is maintained by SECR.

Rail Museum & Auditorium, Vadodara

Railway Colony, Pratap Nagar Danteshwar, Vadodara, Gujarat 390004

This museum is in two parts. One is a small park with the locomotive and rolling stock whilst the other is a museum of photographs and railwayana, mainly dedicated to the GBSR. It is maintained by WR.

Rewari Steam Depot

Railway Colony, Rewari, Haryana

The only remaining BG & NG steam shed in India. After the withdrawal of steam in the 1990s, the shed lay dormant until it was resurrected in 2002 to house and maintain IR’s fleet of preserved steam locos. As well as operating as a working loco shed, there is also a museum attached. Between April and October, special steam trains operate between Rewari and Delhi. There are plans to develop the site further and enlarge it.

IR Heritage Galleries

This list of Heritage Galleries is based on one published by IR in November 2017. These are displays of photographs, artwork and artefacts. It is not thought that any of these have locomotives or rolling stock but confirmation is needed of this.

List of Heritage Galleries on IR
Central Railway Heritage Gallery at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Eastern Railway ER HQ, Kolkata
East Coast Railway Central Library-cum-Heritage Centre, Rail Sadan, Bhubneswar
Northern Railway Heritage Park Gallery, Rewari
North Central Railway Gwalior Light Railway Heritage Gallery, Area Manager, Gwalior Office
North Eastern Frontier Railway Heritage Gallery, Sukna Station
North Western Railway Heritage Model Room, Jodhpur Workshop & Heritage Model Room, Ajmer Loco Workshop
North Western Railway Heritage Model Room, Ajmer Loco Workshop
Western Railway Heritage Gallery, National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR), Vadodara
Western Railway HQ Office, Mumbai
Western Railway Platform, Rajkot Station
Western Railway Ahmedabad Station
Kolkata Metro Heritage Room, Dum Dum Car Depot Complex, Noapara

(06/2005) Though strictly not a museum or a heritage centre, the upper class waiting room on the first floor of Bombay Central has a nice collection of historic photographs of the erstwhile BB&CI. There are also a few scale models of steam locomotives.

A few of the big railway stations such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai (formerly Victoria Terminus) have ‘heritage rooms’ with assorted collections of railwayana, but these are often not open to the public and require special permission to be obtained beforehand for any visits.

(2008) Delhi Metro has set up a heritage museum at its Patel Chowk metro station (inaugurated Dec. 30, 2008).

Non-IR Museums

  • Deshbandhu Locomotive Park, Chittaranjan

    Dr Ambedkar Ave, Chittaranjan, West Bengal 713331

    The Deshbandhu Locomotive Park near the Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, has several non-working, and a few working, steam locomotives on display. The park has been in existence for a while, but was only opened to the public on Dec. 12, 2008. The exhibits are locomotives manufactured by Chittaranjan between 1951 and 1972. It includes the 'Fairy Princess', a steam locomotive built in 1964 which has been restored and is occasionally operated at the park.

  • Birla Industrial & Technical Museum, Kolkata

    Gurusaday Road, Kolkata

  • Government Saw Mill, Port Blair

    Chatham Island, Foreshore Rd, Haddo, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands 744102

  • Coal Heritage Park & Museum, Margherita

    NH 38, Margherita, Assam 786181

  • Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon

    Bilaspur - Taoru Road (Major District Road 132) Off NH 8 (Bilaspur Chowk), Taoru

  • Indian Oil Corporation Ltd Centenary Museum, Digboi

    IOCL Road, Digboi, Assam

  • Jai Vilas Palace & Scindia Museum, Lashkar, Gwalior

    Jai Vilas Palace, Lashkar, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh 474009

  • Municipal Corporation Museum, Visakhapatnam

    Ramakrishna Beach Road, Waltair, Visakhapatnam

  • Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai

    Dr E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai

  • Visvesvaraya Science & Industry Museum

    Kasturba Road, Bangalore

  • The College of Military Engineering (CME) at Khadki (Dapodi), Pune, has a museum with several old railway exhibits including locomotives and other rolling stock.