Google to help showcase Glorious Heritage of Indian Railways

Indian Railways have signed an MoU with Google for a 360-degree mapping of attractions at National Rail Museum. New Delhi

national-rail-museum-new-delhiNew Delhi: Rail enthusiasts from around the world can soon take a virtual tour of Delhi’s National Rail Museum, after the authorities tied up with Google for mapping the museum.

The agreement is to map the museum and all its exhibits over a 360 degree view. Google will partner with the Railways to digitise its heritage assets and help create a digital repository for universal online access free of cost, said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The Indian Railway has a huge list of heritage assets including bridges, steam locos, buildings, artefacts and museums which can be showcased for global audience. “We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Google and they will map the museum in a 360 degree view and upload it for free. People will be able to see all the exhibits as if they are present there,” Director of the National Rail Museum, Uday Singh Meena told.

“We will provide all the information to Google, including stories linked to all the trains exhibited in the museum,” said Mr. Meena. “This will create more interest among enthusiasts across the globe,” he said.

The museum has also signed an MoU with the Taj Group of Hotels for maintenance of green spaces and beautification of the museum premises. “They will be carrying out cleanliness drives and beautification work as part of their corporate social responsibility. The work has already started,” said Mr. Meena, adding that nukkad nataks (street plays) will also be organised at the museum to create awareness about cleanliness.

Heavy footfall

The nearly 40-year-old museum sees a footfall of over 5,000 on weekends. It has undergone a revamp and promises new attractions, such as a light and sound show and a new restaurant, the dome of which has been modelled after the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.

“In the last two years, we have done some major restoration work, carried out by RITES. The museum has been developed thematically so that people are made aware of Indian Railways and its progress,” he said.

“It is a pioneer museum of the country and we don’t want people to confuse it with an entertainment park. So, creating more activities is not something we believe in,” said Mr. Meena.

“We want visitors to know more about the Indian Railways and also railways across the globe,” he said.

Looking back

Opened to the public on February 1, 1977, the National Rail Museum has a collection of over 100 real size exhibits of Indian Railways. static and working models, signaling equipment, antique furnitures, historical photographs and related literature are also displayed in the museum.

The most prized possession of the museum is the Fairy Queen, the oldest working steam locomotive in the world. On Saturday and Sunday, the locomotive will run on the tracks as part of a special event for visitors.

The museum has roped in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to manage and operate its new restaurant — ‘The Rails’.

A prominent feature of the restaurant is the depiction of the formation of Indian Railways through unification of a large number of independent rail companies. It also possesses a unique ‘serving train’, which was recently showcased in a Bollywood film, an IRCTC spokesperson said.

An agreement in this regard is signed between National Rail Museum and Google Cultural Institute (GCI). The GCI is a non-profit organisation that partners with cultural organisations to bring world’s cultural heritage online. The GCI builds online tools and offers them to institutions for showcasing and sharing cultural assets.

An official said collaboration will not only make the NRM accessible online and offer virtual tours but also help digitise the national transporter’s entire heritage inventory which includes more than 20 museums, hundreds of steam locos, coaches, station buildings, bridges among others.

“Once these are placed online, it will act as a great tourist attraction,” the official said.

Opened to the public on February 1, 1977, the National Rail Museum has a collection of over 100 real-size exhibits

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