Want to board on ‘Ooty Train’ or the very famous ‘Beach-Tambaram Electric train – 1965’ or ‘coach with a coupes’ or travel in ‘palace on wheels” under one roof, one must walk in to the Regional Rail Museum situated amid sylvan surroundings in an area of 6.2 acres inside Integral Coach Factory premises, Villivakkam. Situated in a comparatively clean and green environment, the museum is one among the five regional museums, inaugurated in 2002. It receives close to 6,000 visitors a month and on Sundays alone around 400.
Just not for kids, even an adult’s and train enthusiast’s thirst of knowledge is quenched by the employees. Anytime between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on all days except Mondays, the museum for rails has so much to speak about rail history starting from pre-Independence till now.
Out Door Live Exhibits have steam engine made in the year 1909, wagon of 1925, first and second class wooden body of Ooty train - 1965 model, the famous Beach-Tambaram electric train, hand travelling crane of 1887, hospital on wheels, steam crane made in England in 1930, line-up of various bogies, push trolley of yesteryears and inspection car with dual-brake system.
The museum has a built up area of 360 square metres, the three-tier running scale model layout with signal circuiting, is a must to watch. It has a gallery of scaled models, photographs and a toy train that takes visitors around museum. Rails are integral part of our lives, and Railways has a history of around 150 years. Museum captures the spectacular history of Railways which has passed through many developmental stages. One can visualise the skills, innovativeness and entrepreneurship of railways looking at the artefacts of yesteryears.
Recently there was a trial run of double-decker train to be operated between Chennai and Bangalore shortly by Railways. Believe it! Double-decker coaches were first made in the year 1863, in the wooden era of coaches.
It ran between Bombay and Baroda in the Central Indian Railway. Heritage furniture used in the waiting rooms of railway stations, and a convertible ladder-cum-chair used in the inspection car, astonishingly still tickling perfect, a hand wound wall clock of 1878 by ‘Smiths’ made in England are a must to see.
‘Shortly we will have a Science Museum too which will provide micro details to the visitors. We have started accumulating required exhibits and we are working towards it,” says Mr. Kalyanasundram - curator of the museum.