The National Rail Museum in Chanakyapuri was supposed to conserve our rail heritage, but it has gradually turned into a junkyard.
The 130-year-old rail saloons — once used by the Indian and British royalty — are in complete shambles, reflecting very little of their glorious past. With leaking roofs, the saloons, which used to be one of the most lavish in the world, have become home to cats.
The old coaches of the Palace on Wheels, the luxury train, are only fit to be discarded. The damage is beyond repair.
India’s first monorail train, Patiala state steam monorail, used by the Maharaja of Patiala in the 1920s is almost in pieces. Run by a small steam engine, the royal Patiala monorail was the main attraction at the rail museum a couple of years ago.
Till date, no one has bothered to restore the museum, which comes under the ministry of railways.
“These saloons and coaches have been in the open forever, and their bodies have eroded. The wooden roof has developed cracks. We have covered the coaches with polythene sheets to protect it from rain,” said a caretaker at the museum, requesting anonymity.
The museum, inaugurated in 1977, receives an annual footfall of three lakh and houses over 100 heritage exhibits.
The museum authorities have drawn up a restoration plan, but they are still far from implementing it.
“All of them (saloons) cannot be restored together. We plan to fix some of them in a year,” said Atul Singh, director, National Rail Museum.