Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus will now be converted into rail museum

Dec 02, 2017, 10:18 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

Central Railways on Friday started vacating offices housing 400 employees to make way for grand rail museum, as promised by Piyush Goyal earlier this week

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), as we know it, will soon be history. After decades of serving as the headquarters of the Central Railway, CSMT is now in the process of being vacated, and will soon be converted into a world-class transport museum to showcase the history of Indian Railways.

Built in the late 1800s, CSMT is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Built in the late 1800s, CSMT is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Built between 1878 and 1888, CSMT is full of history. It seems fitting then that the railway authorities now intend to fill it with even more of our railway history by converting the entire building into a heritage gallery.

'Ground zero'
"This is the place where it all began; CSMT was Ground Zero for the Indian Railways, and its history has to be showcased in context. The UNESCO-listed heritage building is the perfect place to for a railway museum," said a CR official.

The iconic terminus is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has one of the most recognisable facades in the city, if not the country. It was constructed as the head office of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, CR's predecessor. Currently, the building houses a small heritage gallery that preserves and displays relics from India's first railway company.

mid-day had earlier reported that the structure was undergoing renovation to return it to its former glory. CR joined hands with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to kick off phase two of the restoration, which included a touch up of the eastern and southern facade that house the heritage gallery. Initially, a few offices were cleared out from the CR headquarters, and partitions were torn down to restore the original interiors. Now, however, the entire building will be vacated by CR to make way for a full-fledged transport museum for tourists.

Search for a new HQ
"The heritage building houses the offices of Central Railway's general administration, vigilance, engineering and personnel departments, including the office of the general manager and his deputies, the zonal in-charge team and more than 400 staffers," said an official.

CR officials are already hunting for a new HQ, and yesterday floated an expression of interest (EOI) to rent an 8,000-sqm office building within a 500-metre radius from CSMT. The CR added that it would require a building accessible from the main road, along with parking space for 20 vehicles. The authorities are expecting a response to their enquiries by December 15.

This decision was made after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal visited CSMT with INTACH vice-chairperson Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, conservation architect Vikas Dilawari and art director Nitin Desai.

Mehta from INTACH said, "It was the railways that brought change to the country, by binding it together and linking east to west and north to south. It changed mindsets and people's habits. It all started in Mumbai, and this is the perfect place to showcase the legacy of railways. The story of the social context and evolution of railways cannot be told at any better place than CSMT."

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New office requirements
Space: 8,000 sqm
Location: 500-metre radius from CSMT; main road access
Parking: 20 cars

400
Number of employees that will be shifted out

500m
The maximum distance the new office can be from CSMT

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