The Museum of Full-Size Railroad Machinery (Russian: Музей натурной железнодорожной техники) at the Rizhsky Railway Station is part of the Museum of the Moscow Railway (Russian: музей Московской железной дороги). Abandoned railway tracks, once intended for use by commuter trains, have been transformed into an open-air exhibition space for all kinds of 20th-century railway trains. These full-size exhibits give an idea about the evolution of Russian railroad machines and related vehicles over the past hundred years, such as steam and electric locomotives, trains from different periods and used for different purposes, towing vehicles and much more. This unconventional museum is highly popular among visitors, particularly children. Of special important is the museum’s location almost in the very center of Moscow.
History of the Museum
The idea of creating a full-size railroad museum in Moscow, which is Russia’s largest transport hub, appeared long ago. The museum, however, was opened only recently, in 2004. An abandoned blind-alley had been cleared of old baggage cars to make room for the exhibition space. Two platforms of a total length of over 1,600 m, were built from scratch and four railways tracks were laid on secure reinforced-concrete crossties. This venue now accommodates an exhibition which is regularly enriched with new exhibits.
The current museum exhibition boasts some 70 samples of authentic 20th-century railroad machinery, including some real rarities. The collection’s oldest locomotive, the well-known OV-841nicknamed ‘Ovechka’ (‘Sheep’ in Russian) by drivers, was made in 1903 and is now over 100 years old. The FD21-3125 locomotive (‘Felix Dzerzhinsky’) is some twenty years younger than the ‘Ovechka’: in the 1930s, it appeared to be one of the world’s most powerful locomotives. These two locomotives have been recognized as first-class Russian scientific and technical achievements. Their contemporary, the German TE-5415 locomotive, is another rarity on view here.
The post-WWII P-0001 (Pobeda, or Victory) freight locomotive and the P36-001 passenger locomotive are also worth mentioning. The jewel of the museum’s extensive collection of Russia-made diesel locomotives is the TE-125, commonly known as the “King of the Desert”. Electric locomotives on view are worth a glance too, such as the Czech ChS-4 passenger locomotive boasting a fiberglass frame and the unique EP-200 alternating current electric locomotive that was made in Kolomna, near Moscow. Other highlights of the collection include Soviet diesel trains.
In addition to locomotives, the museum has a superb collection of railroad cars ranging from heated freights cars dating back to WWI to armoured “palaces on the wheels” with bathrooms and other luxurious amenities used by Soviet high-ranking government officials. Specialized railroad equipment is on view too: tank-cars, rail trolleys, cleaners, snow-ploughs, motor cars and other devices that look so strange for any uninitiated passenger.
You can not only admire the clean and freshly painted samples of railroad machinery, but also have a look inside, if authorized to do so by the museum staff (good news: they don’t exert too much control on the visitors). The exhibition is equipped with great signs and information plates, so you are free to explore the collection independently. There are many benches for people to rest on the museum’s premises. Guided tours are an option. The museum sometimes offers field trips to an old train depot, much to the delight of those interested in the evolution of technology!© 2016-2021 moscovery.com