Old ticket punching machines, centuries-old cranes, Swiss X-Class locomotive, which once hauled the Nilgiris Mountain Railway, are some of the exhibits at the rail museum set up at the backyard of Mettupalayam Railway Station. The museum with more than 100 exhibits was inaugurated on Wednesday by General Manager of Southern Railway Vashista Johri in the presence of Divisional Railway Manager – Salem Subhranshu, MPs A.K. Selvaraj, C. Gopalakrishnan and MLA O.K. Chinnaraj.
This is the first rail museum for the Salem Railway Division.
A five-tonne manually operated crane manufactured at Bradford greets visitors outside the main hall. It was used for shifting materials from meter gauge to broad gauge and also to move Defence materials that used to reach Mettupalayam by train for further transportation to Wellington.
A Swiss X-Class locomotive brought from Swiss Locomotives and Machine Works, Winterthur, Switzerland finds a place next to the crane. A vintage ticket machine that is used for punching the ticket and assigning a serial number can be found inside the hall.
Other interesting exhibits include old weighing machines, paraffin gas lamps and Berkefeld Filter, samples of narrow gauge, meter gauge and broad gauge railway lines with fish plates.
One should not miss the miniatures of Linke Hofmann Busch coaches, coaches of Duranto, Jan Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, Metro trains and Electrical Multiple Units, that are on display
Various emblems of Indian Railways and Divisions, the UNESCO citation when NMR was acknowledged as a World Heritage Site are also part of the exhibits.
There are also pictures of NMR railway stations and the station masters who served during the colonial period. Visitors also get to see various models of signalling lamps used by Indian Railways as it went through an evolution, Morse code machine and Magneto Telephone. Most importantly, the key/token used by the railway station staff and the locomotive pilot to indicate the green signal is also on display along with the machine used for locking and unlocking the token in the bamboo ring.
The outer wall of the museum has a route map with details of stations such as Kallar, Burliar, Coonoor, Wellington, Aravankadu, Ketti, Lovedale and Ooty. Mr. Johri said that it was just a beginning and the museum would further be improved.