Heritage Directorate, Indian Railways

New Delhi, India

Indian Railways with more than 160 years of rich history; presents a wide spectrum of both tangible and intangible heritage. The repository of railway heritage is not limited to its world heritage inscriptions, but much beyond. Like any other industry, Railway technology evolves at a fast pace. For example, Steam Locomotives, Meter Gauge rolling stocks, Wooden body coaches are no longer in operation now. With their phasing out, lots of maintenance practices have also been gradually forgotten. At times, it becomes really impossible to locate an artesian who can do valve setting of a steam locomotive or a carpenter who can precisely fix the door of wooden body saloon. Beside rolling stocks, even some equipment like block instruments, their tokens, token pickup devices, quadrant signalling devices, stationary vacuum exhausters, which were very common three decades ago, are now completely phased out. Intangible heritage is also about skills and techniques and the popular memory transmitted from generation to generation, providing people with a sense of identity. This is why the Indian Railways, in addition to being a special industrial relic, occupy a special place within the national heritage of India. The remains of rolling mill, cupola, brake block foundry, forging anvils of any old Railway Workshop are not only historical evidences or industrial relics but sense of belonging to the workshop. The locomotives, coaches, wagons, equipment, artefacts etc. when appropriately preserved and open for public display create memories of the past in the heart of the future generation and thus help maintaining a continuity of human experience. It will be our prime duty to safeguard this living heritage and to transmit it intact to future generations. Usually, the displays are limited to collections in Museums and Galleries or in form of outdoor exhibits near prominent places like Stations, Administrative Offices etc. While, such modes of public display shall continue, with advent of technology and public access may not be limited to physical presence.

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