Indian Railways has joined hands with Google to consolidate a digital repository of its rich heritage through an elaborate crowd-sourcing exercise in form of a free virtual tour.
Under a pilot project of Google Cultural Institute, six video screens were deployed at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Station (CSTM) in Mumbai while showcasing the national transporter’s rich history and heritage.
A senior Railway Ministry official associated with the project said, “A virtual visit will never replace the real thing. But technology can help open up art and culture to everyone and we think that’s powerful thing.”
The virtual tour will showcase railway’s heritage to the commuters through similar screens at stations. Indian Railways have already started collecting unique pictures related to its history through crowd-sourcing effort.
Google Cultural Institute has agreed to contribute to the initiative by digitising and showcasing these important instances of history on digital platforms while creating a digital repository for free and universal online access.
With the project, Railways have also joined the list of various other government ministries and institutes to collaborate with Google Cultural Institute for displaying and preserving their cultural heritage digitally.
Among the number of heritage assets, Indian Railways has 34 museums, heritage parks and heritage galleries across India. “Once these are placed online, it will act as a great tourist attraction,” the official said.
The ministry already spends about Rs. 250 crores to maintain and manage the heritage assets annually. Under Digitial India-Digital Rail campaign, Google will also provide free Wi-Fi service at 100 stations.
The ongoing project might take about 5-7 years to become operational fully starting from Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed and National Rail Museum, followed by Nilgiri Mountain railway. A rail heritage website already disseminates related information.