Though initially thought of in 1962, the idea for opening of Transport Museum took a concrete shape in 1970 under the advise of Mr.Michael Graham Satow a rail enthusiast. Shri V.V Giri, the then President of India, laid the foundation stone for the Rail Transport Museum (R.T.M) at its present site in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, on October 7, 1971. The Rail Transport Museum was planned as a part of a larger complex covering the history of Railways, Roadways, Airways and Water-ways in India, which later on developed into a full-fledged National Rail Museum in the year 1995.
The first of its kind in the country, The National Rail Museum covers a land area of over 11 acres and the indoor gallery comprises an elegantly designed octagonal building, housing six display galleries, and a large open display area laid out to simulate the atmosphere of a railway yard.
The museum was inaugurated by Shri Kamlapati Tripathi, hon’ble Minister of Railways on 1st February, 1977. On this auspicious occasion speeches were delivered by shri V.V.Giri, President of India, Shri K. Hanumanthaiya, Minister for Railways. The task of thanks giving fell on Shri M. Srinivasan, Director- General, RDSO, Lucknow. Besides the President, Minister for Railways, Dy. Minister for Railways the following were present: Shri B.S.D. Baliga, Member (Staff). Shri K.S. Sundara Rajan, Financial Commissioner. N.S. Swaminathan, Member (Transportation).H.M. Chatterjee, Member (Mechanical), Shri M.N. Bery, General Manager, Northern Rly., Shri M.Srinivasan, Director General, RDSO. Luckow.
The Museum collection is the largest collection of Railway real life size exhibits and other rail components in the country. The Museum houses locomotives and coaches from the princely states across the Indian Subcontinent. The Patiala State Mono Rail (PSMT) and the John Morris Fire Engine are the rarest operational exhibits of its kind in the world.
The Museum houses documents, maps, drawings, books and other documentation belonging to the more than 160 years of Indian Railway.
Museum houses a large collection of Steam Locomotive made of Iron and Steel and also wooden coaches collected across the country. The Museum undergoes the continuous activity of restoration of these exhibits. Some of these activities are undertaken by workshops/units of the various Zones of Indian Railways.
Keeping in mind the changing mode of communication with the upcoming operation the Museum undergoes upgradation regularly. The Museum houses maximum number of Rail Simulator anywhere in the world. State-of-art, 3D virtual reality technology takes visitors back in time. The Indoor Gallery uses digital and mobile technologies to make the visit interactive, educational and engaging. The Museum has an array of mobile apps and websites that allows a train lover to interact with the exhibit remotely. 3D Virtual tours and indoor positioning system to help the visitors to find their way and access content selectively is on cards. The Museum intends to create a rail community allowing people to comments as well as contributed ideas for improvement Museum.