To showcase its vintage assets in a more meaningful manner, the Ministry of Railways has empowered General Managers of all zones to hire the services of retired employees to revive/restore heritage items kept at rail museums across the country.
The railways approved contractual engagement of veterans to preserve, protect and showcase its vintage assets, ignoring opposition from employee unions. The retired employees, who have the expertise in maintaining steam locomotives, vintage coaches, steam cranes, semaphore signals, station equipment, steam-powered equipment etc, would be deployed on a one-year contract. The maintenance of the assets, preserved in railway museums, has not been up to the mark, though the number of visitors, particularly children, was steadily on the rise, railway sources said. Heads of Departments will now identify retired employees in good health who have the skill of guiding the process of revival and preservation of the heritage items.
A maximum of 10 retired employees up to 65 years age could be engaged in each workshop or museum at a consolidated remuneration of Rs. 1,200 per day.
However, they would not be entitled to benefits such as travel allowance or dearness allowance.
In Chennai, an average of 300 visitors, mostly children, visit the railway museum located on the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) premises. Besides 41 outdoor exhibits like steam engines, meter gauge locomotives and rail bus, the museum has contemporary paintings and sculptures created by renowned artists.
“The oldest exhibit is the fowler ploughing machine, which was designed and developed by the British in 1835. It works with steam pressure. Like in developed countries, it would be much appreciated if retired employees and service citizens come forward to voluntarily contribute relevant exhibits and share their experiences with the visitors,” a museum official said.