The Patiala State Monorail Trainways built by the Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Bhupinder Singh, way back in the early 1900s, now finds pride of place at the National Rail Museum in Chanakyapuri here.
Described as a unique rail-cum-road-borne railway system, PSMT is the only remaining working locomotive that uses the single-track Ewing system.This project was built under the supervision of Col. Bowles. Four locomotives for PSMT were built by Orenstein and Koppel of Germany in 1909 at a cost of Rs. 7,000 each. Of the four locomotives, one has been preserved at the Rail Museum.
The PSMT loco and coach were in a bad state.
“With help from the staff of the Amritsar workshop, the Rewari Steam Shed and the NRM, the loco was brought back into operational condition in February this year. The coach was revived and restored with the help of Heritage Conservators, Chandigarh. Now both are in fully operational condition,” says NRM director Uday Singh Mina.
A restored relic of the country’s first monorail, it takes visitors on a ride once or twice every month.
“On every second and fourth Sunday we give rides to visitors on the Patiala State Monorail Trainways. Interestingly, initially bullocks and mules were used to haul the monorail before introduction of the steam engine,” says Mr. Mina.
Most of the exhibits on display have audio-guides in both English and Hindi, like the skull of a wild elephant. When the button below the skull of the pachyderm is pressed, a beaming voice says it was crushed by the UP Mail at Saranda jungle near Goilkera. While the elephant was killed, the train too had to bare the brunt as its engine and seven coaches were damaged.
There are also replicas of popular trains on display.
“We preserve by painting, using pest control and wood treatment. But railways are primarily about engineering. Through interesting exhibits, we want to demonstrate how the Indian Railways has progressed.”