LIFE

A trainful of historic memories

Delightful peep into past.  

THE SERPENTINE queue remained past 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday, well beyond the eight-hour stipulation for visiting the `Exhibition on Wheels', at the western entry of the Madurai Railway Junction.

Twelve coaches depicting the 150 glorious years of the Indian Railways, the nation's premier transport organisation, were swarmed by elders, women, youngsters and children alike. As they passed through each of the aesthetically fabricated coaches, there were screams of delight not only from children, but elders too.

The response, officials say, has been the same wherever the `Exhibition on Wheels' stopped ever since August 15, 2002, when the train was flagged off by the Minister for Railways, Nitish Kumar. It will be running on a chartered circuit all over the country for eight months, till April 16 next.

The visitors were availing themselves of the opportunity to discover the multi-faceted profile of the nation's premier organisation. Call it an expo of heritage value or a gallery of vintage photographs, thousands of visitors could get glimpses of the historic journey.

In view of the surging crowd, the duration of the exhibition was extended for an additional two hours, said the Senior Public Relations Officer of the Madurai Division, N. Venugopal.

Each coach contains specific information relating to evolution of engines and coaches, signalling and safety devices, passenger amenities, freight operating system, achievements of the railway public sector undertakings and the operational intricacies of mass transport suburban systems.

The visitors could realise the veracity of certain facts: that the total distance covered by the 12,000 trains on the Indian Railways everyday equals three and a half times the distance between earth and moon and that it is not only the second largest network in the world but also the largest civilian organisation under a single management.

It is for the first time that all the divisions have come together for a national-level exhibition. Be it the depiction of the introduction of automatic level gate crossing system by the North Frontier Railways or the panel interlocking signal change through switch control by the North Eastern Railway, the focus was on the collective national pride.

By Krishnamoorthy R.

Photo: K. Ganesan.