“Indian Railways is collaborating with technology partners for creating a Pan-India virtual museum in a digital web enabled platform,” the Ministry of Railways said in a statement.
“This virtual museum shall contain all railway heritage components i.e. locomotives, coaches, building, bridges, documents, artifacts etc. for world wide access through internet even on a mobile device.”
The ministry said that the virtual museum will also feature ‘contributory or crowd sourcing mode’ for soliciting contributions from large group of people, and especially from online communities.
“Such digital platform, already operational in some large museums in India, can also serve as ‘on-line’ repository of knowledge on railway heritage, useful to students, tourists, research scholars and citizens,” the statement said.
Earlier this year, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in his budget speech had emphasised the need to promote tourism through “World Heritage Railways and Museums”.
“Preservation of railway heritage and unlocking its potential for making significant and meaningful contributions to India’s knowledge society and Incredible India Campaign shall remain one of the prime social responsibilities of Indian Railways,” the statement said.
Recently, the railways launched its heritage web-page placing all relevant information, including heritage inventories, for easier access by citizen and all stakeholders.
Currently, the railways has a large repository of “built heritage” like buildings and bridges. It has 25 bridges and 70 buildings designated as heritage assets.
Besides, the railways maintains 34 museums, heritage parks and galleries, spread all across India. The railways has also preserved about 230 steam locomotives, 110 vintage coaches and wagons at prominent places, including in museums and heritage park.
The Indian Railways has four Unesco accorded World Heritage Sites — Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka-Shimla Railway and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai.
“There are two more in the tentative list, namely Matheran Light Railway and Kangra Valley Railway,” the statement added.