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|Former name||Regional Rail Museum, Chennai|
|Location||Perambur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600 038, India|
|Type||Rail Museum, History Museum, Art Gallery, Model Rail Coaches, Souvenirs|
|Visitors||7,500 per month|
|Curator||Shri. Arun Devraj|
|Public transit access||Villivakkam Railway Station, Anna Nagar Tower Park Metro Station, ICF Bus Stand|
The Chennai Rail Museum is a railway museum in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The museum opened on 16 April 2002 on the premises of the Furnishing Division of the Integral Coach Factory near Villivakkam. Located across 6.25 acres of land, the museum hosts both technical and heritage exhibits, with a sizable collection of steam engines belonging to various decades of the British Raj. The museum also exhibits various vintage coaches such as Ooty trains, which were endemic to the Indian railways. Most of the older models were manufactured by the North British Locomotive Company, with some of the collection dating back more than one hundred years. Toy train rides are offered around the premises. The museum is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (last entry 5:30 pm) Tuesday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 9:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. It is closed every Monday and on national holidays. The indoor art gallery has been renovated and is open to the public. The museum is administered, managed and maintained by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
The Regional Rail Museum (RRM) was established in March 2002. The Railway board had a keen interest in its development as it was to serve as a model for the other RRM's being planned in the future, at Kolkata and Pune. Proposals were made for setting up the RRM in Chennai as early as 1993-94, based on the Secretary of Railway Board which was addressed to General Manager, ICF, followed by various meetings by Director of Rail Museum with CE/ICF. Accordingly, the RRM was set up and inaugurated by the then Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar on 31 March 2002. The museum was opened to the public on 16 April 2002. As part of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), efforts are on to make the Regional Railway Museum at Villivakkam an attractive place by adding a few more antiques and facilities that would explain the rich history of the ICF. The Regional Rail Museum (RRM) has been renamed as the Chennai Rail Museum, to mark the 377th Madras Day on 22 August 2016. The Renovated Chennai Rail Museum, with the new Art Gallery, was inaugurated on 2 October 2016 by eminent dancer and Padma Bhushan recipient, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, in the presence of the renowned artist Maniam Selvan, and S. Mani the General Manager of ICF.
The museum covers an area of 6.5 acres and has two galleries, a host of outdoor heritage exhibits dating from the 1800s, a toy train that takes visitors around the premises, and a playground. The museum's collection includes both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The indoor galleries include various photographs detailing the early years of the Integral Coach Factory and the Indian Railways. The museum also houses a working scale model of trains and rare artifacts from the colonial days. This will be where new exhibits, planned for the museum's second decade, will be located. There is also an opportunity to view a video about Neal's ball token system, which was used for signalling between trains and a coach in which Mahatma Gandhi travelled.
In the museum's outdoor exhibit, there are 41 different models of trains on display. An 1895 model of the Fowler steam ploughing engine made by John Fowler for agricultural purposes, and 1860s Double Decker coaches are some of the recognizable coaches displayed in the museum. The models also include Coaches of Inspection car RA 30 made by Metropolitan Carriage and Finance Co. Ltd., Crane Hercules (used for emergency relief) and luxury trains coaches. Almost all coaches in the museum are accessible to visitors.
The exhibits are interspersed with posters of high-speed trains from around the world, the history of the Indian Railways and models of coaches made for other countries, namely, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia. The exhibits also include a coach from the Mumbai suburban train network, old railways map of India, century-old clocks, and engine block of diesel locomotives. As outdoor exhibits, life-size models of Nilgiri Mountain Railway coach, GM Inspection car, MG EMU, Hospital van, a hand operated a crane, an overhead equipment car, Meter gauge EMU, different types of engine (Steam, Diesel and flower stream plough engine) etc. are available.
This museum also contains photographs of the visits of various world leaders, royal and distinguished dignitaries to ICF. The three-tier running models, apart from providing amusement to the younger ones, will be of informational value for the elders. The museum has more than 150 photographs which document the evolution of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) as well as the Indian Railways.
One can step into the ICF Diamond Jubilee Gallery at Railway Museum premises to get an idea about those things. It has photographs shot by Professor Ian Manning and digitally restored by Poochi Venkat of Chennai that show valuable anecdotes of Railway history like the steam engine turntable. The seat inside the first class compartments, a scale model of third class MG coaches designed and manufactured at ICF for Uganda, photographs showing dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth II, K. Kamaraj, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru are among the artifacts in this gallery. After seeing this section, visitors can move to the art gallery where there are about 14 paintings. This gallery was also inaugurated by the famous classical dancer on the same day.
These artworks by eminent artists like MS Murthy and Shahed Pasha revolve around subjects commonly found in Railway stations and related establishments. M S Murthy's painting Gandhi, is an attempt to salute the common man and to transfuse the Gandhian philosophy on to the canvas. Shahed Pasha's artwork Kanhaiya's Journey shows little lad Krishna showing his mother Yashoda the way to home who is herself pulling a suitcase and trying to board Mathura Express at Bangalore Railway Station. This painting is another attempt to show that god is not restricted to temples alone, but is present everywhere to guide us and show the way.
The Regional Rail Museum (RRM) has been be renamed as Chennai Rail Museum (CRM), to mark the 377th Madras Day on 22 August 2016. The 14-year-old museum has now been expanded with a new Art Gallery, Rail heritage, Diamond Jubilee galleries with star attractions of Steam engines, Joy train, Children's park, Souvenir shop display, Coach model, Photo Gallery, Indoor and Outdoor exhibits, etc. It chronicles the milestones of ICF, and the visits by dignitaries to the factory and narrates the origin, growth and development of the Indian Railways through photographs. Visitors coming to the museum will soon get an opportunity to have a closer look at the antique steam engine which used to ply in the Nilgiri mountains. The engine which is currently placed at the entrance and space surrounding it is being spruced up with greenery and herbs. A walkers' path has also been added which will help visitors get close to the antique marvel and have a feel of it. The steam locomotive has X class engine which is a class of metre gauge 0.8 2T rack and pinion compound locomotives working on Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Apart from these attractions, a play area has also been built to give children an entertaining place to enjoy their visit.
The Museum was started to showcase the heritage of the Indian Railways. Work began for it in 2001 and the museum was inaugurated in March 2002 by then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar. Several additions have been made since then. The museum recently constructed a joy ride for children to teach them about the history of trains. Close to 5,500 people visit the museum every month, comprising mostly students and locals, but the railway struggles from a lack of awareness and publicity despite people's connection and the role of the railway in India's growth. While celebrating the museum's 10th anniversary in 2012, the museum announced plans for future growth.
The footfall for August 2017 was 14,792, up from 10,809 visitors in August 2016.
On August 31 2018, a new rail coach-themed restaurant was opened on the premises of Chennai Rail Museum. The air-conditioned restaurant named 'Chennai Express' has been built inside a Linke Hoffman Busch coach of a train provided by Integral Coach factory (ICF). It is the second such restaurant to be opened in the country by the Railways, after the one launched in Bhopal in 2015. The restaurant offers Chinese, Continental, North Indian, and South Indian cuisine.
In 2014, the museum planned to tie up with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) to include the museum in its Chennai itinerary and in package tour offers to increase the number of visitors. "There is an intention to start night visits also, he said and added 'people will be able to visit the museum at night also much like the night safari in Singapore", he said. He also informed that they are intending to make B Class locomotive of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) functional.
The Chennai Rail Museum will also be documenting the working of steam locomotives, bringing out a book on Railways with an emphasis on how railways were in the 1960s and 1970s, spreading awareness about Bhor Ghat and Thal Ghat.