The August Trip - Down Journey
|Date of Journey:
|August 13, 2007
The weather was getting hotter, and there were no signs of a drizzle! I was sitting in front of my computer even as the clock ticked past 1900. I was warned about the time by my mom. I rushed off for a quick shower, and then had my dinner. I then set out with my dad in search of a taxi. A well-dressed Punjabi was our driver, holding the door of his trusted Black-and-Yellow Premier Padmini hard with his hands! We loaded our luggage, and we left from our home at around 2030. The roads had moderate crowd, and he managed to maintain speeds in the range of 60 for pretty long periods. We reached Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at around 2115.
The taxi parking area has been slightly modified, much to the likes of porters since the new place is a bit away from the platforms! There were puddles of water every where (the last rain was at least a couple of days back!), and there were humans standing where water wasn't present! In short – it made our entry to the station a bit difficult! Two new platforms were being built right next to Platform 4. Platform 4 had the LTT-Shalimar Express. Golden Rock WDM2 #16878 was standing dead near the terminal end of Platform 3. The rake of the Gorakhpur bound Kushinagar Express was already on the platform (#3). WCAM3 #21888 was standing “powered down” near the terminal end on Platform 2. The loco was just uncoupled from the rake of Bhagalpur-LTT Express.
The rake of the LTT-Rajendranagar Express (3202) was occupying Platform 1. The rake of Bhagalpur express was shunted out at around 2135. A board at the terminal end of the island housing platform 1 & 2 mentioned that my train would depart from Platform 2. My coach would be nearer to the Loco, and we walked towards the starter. This side of the station was more or less empty. The crowd on the Rajendranagar Express was heavy, as ever! The rake of my train – 1013 LTT-Coimbatore Express was reversed in at around 2200.
My coach was WGACCN 03106 built by RCF in February 2003. The coach was numbered “B2”. The reservation charts were yet to be pasted. We quickly boarded the coach, and secured our baggage under the seats. We had seats 2, 7 & 8. Since #7 is usually kept vacant for the TTE, the coach attendant had stacked up bed rolls there. Pillows were occupying #8. The coach appeared to be pretty clean, and well maintained. I made a quick dash to check out our loco. The loco was yet to come in. Just around then I noticed that WCAM3 #21945 was doing the honours of the Rajendranagar Express.
At around 2207, the loco for our train appeared. WCG2 #20122 was doing the honours for the day. By now the starter for the Rajendranagar train was given, and the WCAM3 pulled out with the train. Coupling of the loco to my train took about 10 minutes due to confusion about the brake pipes. The pointsman initially connected a wrong pair, and due to this the second pair wasn't getting on properly. Another Pointsman intervened, and got the issue settled. The pilots quickly changed cabs. Just around then, the Faizabad-LTT Saket Express pulled in on Platform 4. Immediately after the Saket stopped, a WDS4 was sent to that line, and the puny little shunter immediately hooked up to the rake!
I was standing near the loco of my train, and that evoked some stares from a few RPF guys around. I took no chances, and slowly walked back to my coach. On the way, I checked the reservation chart of “B3”, and found as high as 47 berths out of 64 empty! I walked over to check the statistics of my coach, and found that we were a bit better with only 26 empty berths! Most berths were booked to Bangalore . Just as I turned back after reading the chart, I saw another Rajendranagar “superfast” express being reversed on to Platform 1!
The Air conditioner of our coach was yet to begin her job, and fans were doing the honours then. The coach was slightly cool. Our train departed from LTT bang on time – at 2230. We had a marvelous run through suburban stations, with most of them “flying” past! We crossed the Dadar Jan Shatabdi near Bhandup. We were a bit slow while running through Thane, and I could spot a Vashi bound EMU standing on Platfom 10. A small quarrel ensued between me and the attendant over the quantity of bed sheets issued to passengers. They issued only 1 each instead of the stipulated 2! Hand towels were not issued, and this has become more of a habit now! Another quarrel ensued about the bed rolls being stacked on my berth, and I had to shout at the top of my voice to get it cleared!
We pulled into Platform 4 of Kalyan at 2319. A huge Gujarati family entered the train here. They had a huge number of bags, heavy cartons and looked like they were transporting their home in the train! At least 12 people got in with the baggage, but when the train moved – I realized that only 3 of them were traveling! We left Kalyan at 2326. I climbed on to my Side Upper berth to sleep! I was too tired and exhausted due to the climate, and slipped into sleep almost immediately. But I remember hearing the “howls” of WCG2 bankers at Karjat. These noisy beasts are real performers!!!
I woke up abruptly. My clocked showed the time to be 0600. The train was supposed to be at Solapur then – but we weren't! I finished off my jobs at the toilet and rushed to the door. The attendants slept inside the passenger cabin, leaving both the doors free for me! The coach was shaking a bit too much! We slowed down while running through Mohol. Doubling works are progressing at a good pace from Mohol to Pakni. Land leveling is over, and now the tracks have to be laid. We slowed at Pakni home, and slowly changed tracks.
Our pairing train – 1014 CBE-LTT Express – was waiting on the “main” line. The loco in charge of her was WDM3A #14028 of Krishnarajapuram. The loco working my train now (the locos change at Pune. Electrics give way to Diesels there!), notched up giving out the characteristic Alco smoke, and the traditional “Chuff-Chuff” noise! At some curves, I confirmed that it indeed was a Krishnarajapuram loco – So no loco changes on the way L . The loco had a pretty noisy exhaust, and that was a real pleasure – since I was in the 4 th coach from the loco!
The run was eventless from Pakni to Solapur, except for the fact that doubling is over! We were unceremoniously welcomed into Solapur station by Kazipet WDM2 #17695 working a BCNA along with hauling a dead WDG3A of Pune. We were taken on Platform 3. An unknown Erode WDM2 was preparing to depart from Platform 1 with the Pune bound Hutatma Express. Pune WDM3A #14093 was reversing the rake of the overnight Pune-Solapur Express into the “Coach Care Centre” on the Wadi side of the station.
We stopped at 0645. I got down to check the loco, and slowly walked towards the Loco. A Ticket Checked stopped me to check my ticket and my ticket was with my Dad, still sleeping inside the coach! I said that I was a passenger in B2, and he left me!!! Coaches were being cleaned, and there was some loading activity at the front SLR. RPF and GRP guys were roaming around the general coaches. The loco working my train was WDM3A #17970 of Krishnarajapuram working Long Hood Forward. I had to play some slight hide and seek to get a photo of the loco. By now, #14093 which was reversing a rake to the yard returned, and parked herself on a small siding near Platform 1.
I walked back to my coach. The coach attendants usually change at Solapur, but today they were working “double duty” and weren't getting down! Fresh supply of bedrolls was loaded from here. The 15 minute long halt at the station saw lots of activity! We departed from Solapur at 0700, late by 50 minutes. The loco pilot now in charge of my train was one Mr. Bhide. He did a marvelous job with our train!!!
The yard arrangement at Solapur causes a lot of time loss for many trains. The Down trains are taken on the UP line, and vice versa! This makes all trains to run over points at a painful 15 kmph! The condition of the goods yard is poorer with a speed restriction of 8 kmph!!! Our train painfully ran through the points, and made it to the Down Line. The line ahead of Solapur upto Hotgi is doubled. We crossed the Hyderabad-Bijapur passenger some where near Solapur Outer. WDM2 #18720 of Pune did the honours of the passenger.
The run ahead was pretty dry. We halted at the Hotgi Home signal. The line ahead of Hotgi is single, and a twin-WDG3A hauled freight was visible at a distance. The rake was probably moving over from the Main line to the UP line. Some passengers from the unreserved coaches jumped out and plucked a few twigs from a plant nearby – Desi Toothbrush? Hotgi station is on an up gradient, and after the starter it turns to a down gradient. The WDG3As notched up heavily to tide over the up gradient, and then applied dynamic brakes as she came to the down gradient! The lead loco was WDG3A #14629 of Kazipet.
We were cleared as soon as the locos crossed my coach. The station did not have any passengers waiting. The Bijapur branch line turns away towards the right of the Down line immediately after Hotgi station. We had a pretty good run after Hotgi. The brakes were applied heavily as we approached Tilati Home. The signal was set to the loop line, and a board near the signal read “Drivers No entry for 2627/2628 6529/6530 and BTPN”. The board baffled me a bit, and the fact that the train continued to the platform, still on the main line baffled me more! But we did not stop at the platform, but instead entered a loop towards the right of the main line.
The line moved away from the main line, and this gave me some clue. The train crawled ahead, and then stopped abruptly. This gave me a confirmation that we were on a Scissor crossing! The loco gave a long toot, and started notching up in the reverse direction!!! As were neared the Home signal (Wadi side), I saw twin WDM2s notching up towards the station. We slowly reversed as the twins led by WDM2 #18670 of Itarsi rushed past my train with the New Delhi bound Karnataka Express. The train backed fully till the starter was visible, and stopped. Just a minute after we halted, the starter went amber, and the advanced green. The train once again gave a long horn and now notched forward. We were back on the main line!!!
We crossed a twin Pune WDM2 hauled BCNA at Nagansur. We were taken on the loop at Nagansur for the crossing, but we moved without stopping, since the BCNA was also taken on the other Loop line instead of the main line! We next stopped at Dudhani (at 0821). Just as were stopped, a twin Gooty WDG3a led by #14961 pulled in with a long BCCN rake bound for Kalamboli. This particular WDG3A of Gooty is named “Garuda” and is reported to have Microprocessor controls. We left Dudhani at 0826. We crossed the Wadi-Solapur passenger at Kulali – The power was WDM2 #18495 of Pune. We then made a brief “Scheduled” halt at Ganagapur, and left at 0857.
We then slowed down at Sawalgi. Udyan Express was waiting on the loop line, and the power was WDP4 #20037 of Krishnarajapuram – but no images since I opened the door a bit too late – the loco was already near! On the other loop line was WDS6 #36140 of Pune working a departmental train. We were welcomed to Gulbarga by WDG4 #12027 working a BCNA rake. We stopped at 0925, and left at 0931. The PA system was busy announcing the arrival of the Nagercoil-Mumbai Express, and had no time to announce about our poor train!
The line ahead of Gulbarga is doubled (till Raichur). The two line (Down & UP) are separated by trees and rocky plains. We crossed the Nagercoil-Mumbai express somewhere is such a territory. I could read the loco's number and that was WDM2 #17877 of Erode. I was disgusted on not being able to take a photo! We had a good run till Shahabad. We reached there at 0954 and left at 0957. The platform on the UP line was busy with passengers waiting for a Bijapur passenger that was to come very soon.
We crossed the Raichur-Bijapur passenger shortly after Shahabad. The loco in charge was Pune WDM2 #17898, with a dead Pune WDG3A behind. We pulled into Wadi at 1009, early by 6 minutes. Here, Mr. Bhide handed over the loco to his counterpart from SCR! The crew booking office was right in front of my coach, and there were plenty of GRP/RPF guys roaming around! The adjacent platform at Wadi had a “Washable” apron, and was being washed. The stench emanating from there was unbearable! Our departure was delayed by a few minutes because of a WDM3D hauled BOXN crossing over from the Main line to a branch line. We finally left Wadi at 1024.
The Kilometre markers kept on the track side now start showing the distance ex-Chennai instead of ex-Mumbai that was seen till then! The new LPs from SCR were pretty lethargic in picking up speed, and they were taking their own sweet time to notch up! We rushed through Nalwar a bit later, and crossed the Bangalore-Nanded “Hampi Link” Express after Nalwar. We reached Yadgir at 1055, and left at 1057. We reached Krishna at 1133, and left exactly two minutes later. The line from Krishna station, till across the bridge is single and is now causing a bottle neck! The construction of a new bridge across Krishna appeared to be progressing pretty slowly, with only about 40% of the works being complete! The flow of water also appeared to be quite good.
The bridge is around 2100 metres long (Starts at 588/4 and ends at 586/5). The train ran slowly over the bridge, and exited more slowly. The train changed over from the bridge line to the Down Main line. All this happens at a station called “Yadalapur”. This station is not appearing in any timetable! The station had a good looking platform – at the track level though! We picked up speed after this station, and put up a better show. We crossed a twin WDG3A set running light somewhere before Raichur. As my train slowed down to enter the platform of Raichur station, I noticed that the advanced starter on the “UP” line was Green!
I was expecting to see a departure soon!!! That was the Chennai-Mumbai Mail. She was still standing at Raichur station, and the rear SLR was being loaded. The loco in charge was WDM3A #18885 of Guntakal. We stopped at 1200 and left at 1205 (late by 15 minutes). There was no pilot change. The Mumbai Mail also left only while we started moving! The line continues to be double upto Matmari, about 7 kilometres south of Raichur. We crossed the Tungabhadra River and entered slowly into Manthralayam Road station. A sleeper factory is located to the right side of the track. We stopped at 1232. This station serves as a watering point for many trains including ours!
The station sees a lot of vendors selling stuff like “Vegetable Bhel” – a salad like stuff made with Cucumber, Tomato, Radish, Carrot, Onions, Beet root, Chat Masala and topped up with some lemon juice. WDM2 #17175 of Guntakal was then pulling out of the Sleeper factory with a departmental rake, and the loco was moving forward and backward with the rake for a pretty long time. We left the station at 1243. The line is single from Matmari to Kosigi, and then doubled for a short stretch upto Kupgal. It is then single again upto Guntakal. We crossed the 1082 Kanniyakumari – Mumbai CST “Jayanti Janata” Express somewhere after Kosigi. The loco in charge was WDM3A #18890R of Kazipet.
Lunch was served at around 1310. We had ordered for Vegetable meals, and the platter consisted of Chapattis, A gravy, Rice, Sambhar, Pickle and Curd. I finished my meal very soon, and hit the door. Just as I opened the door, I saw a Turquoise liveried “Shakti” from Gooty working a BTPN rake standing right in front! We pulled into Adoni at 1330, and pulled out at 1333. The run from Adoni to Guntakal was eventless, and I stayed indoors for most of the distance due to the heat and dust outside. I reached the door shortly before we pulled into Guntakal. I saw the Bellary line curving out for the first time. Guntakal WDM3D #11115 rushed towards that line, and then reversed back to the station. A twin Gooty WDG3A hauled BOXN was waiting to depart from Guntakal. Two WDM2s #17304 & #17611, both from Guntakal were dozing off at the Adoni end of the station.
We were taken on Platform 6 at 1421. The Tirupati-Hubli “Intercity” Fast Passenger was waiting to depart from Platform 4 (loco unknown – when my train was pulling in, the train did not have a loco – probably one of the two WDM2s or the WDM3D had brought the rake). A WDG4 was roaming around Platform 5, but a few RPF officers were also roaming around the same region! We left Guntakal at 1430. Pune WDG3A #14676 was standing with a BOXN rake bound towards Gooty.
We crossed a WDG4 (#12074) hauled BOXN rake somewhere before Gooty. Just as my train was pulling into Gooty, an unidentified Guntakal loco rushed past with the Chennai-Dadar Express. We reached Gooty at 1451. A mixed Freighter rake – consisting of BOXN & BCNA wagons – was blocking my view of the loco shed, but I could spot a few WDG3As there. We left Gooty at 1455. While pulling out, I noticed that the “mixed” rake was headed by WDG4 #12046. We had a pretty fast exit from the station, but slowed down soon later. We crossed the points and entered the Dharmavaram branch. The loco was a beautiful smoker, and put up a beautiful show as she notched up.
The run upto Kalluru was eventless. The old MG line is being converted to Broad Gauge, and after conversion, the BG line would join the existing BG line just before Pennar Bridge . This is probably to save on the cost of constructing an additional bridge. The work appears to be progressing quite well. Lots of earthworks were progressing around Kalluru station. It appears that some plans to construct additional platforms were being mooted. We reached Kalluru at 1527, and left at 1529 – now late by 34 minutes. The old MG line has almost disappeared between Kalluru and Anantapur. We had a good run from Kalluru to Garladinne Home.
We made a short halt at Garladinne Home, and then notched up to run through the station. Guntakal WDM2 #18646 tugging dead Pune WDM2 #17989 was waiting at the station with the Yeshwantpur-Guntur Passenger. The boards on the passenger read “Bangalore-Hubli-Guntur-Yeshwantpur”, and the coaches clearly mentioned that the rakes were maintained at Bangalore ! We picked up speed after the crossing. We reached Anantapur at 1559, and left at 1602. I saw a BG freighter standing on the MG side of the station. The MG line from Anantapur to Dharmavaram is more or less intact. We stopped for a crossing at Chigicherla. We crossed a Twin WDG3A hauled BCCN rake here. The leading power was WDG3A #14633 of Gooty, and the trailing loco was a “Shakti” WDG3A of Gooty.
We pulled into Dharmavaram at 1640 – early by 10 full minutes! The entry to Dharmavaram was with a welcome by three YDM4s parked on the MG side. The locos were #6274, #6228 & #6226, all from Guntakal! There are just two pairs of services from Dharmavaram on the MG side, and there were lots of rakes & locos around! Dharmavaram is famous of Dhal vadas, and no visit is complete without eating some of them! A vendor was troubling us with his “Andhra Chai” and we were being compelled by him to purchase! We later succumbed to the pressure – but that was really tasty! We left Dharmavaram at 1655 – right on time.
We slowly moved over to the Satya Sai Prashanti Nilayam (SSPN) line. This train was diverted through this line only from July this year, and this happens to be my first day journey on this line. The line runs parallel to the Bye-pass line for quite some distance. Taking the SSPN line means an additional running of about 10 kilometres. The line takes a sharp left curve after running about 3 kilometres parallel to the bye-pass line. This line passes through a much fertile land as compared to the bye-pass line. There are about 2 stations between Dharmavaram and SSPN, and both are halt stations. There is a 234 metre long tunnel just before the SSPN station.
We were welcomed to SSPN by the Bhubaneshwar bound Prashanti Express. The loco in charge were twin WDM2s from Guntakal, lead by WDM2 #16696. The lead loco was in the Kazipet attire, and appeared to be a very recent transfer! We reached the station at 1726, and left at 1733 – about 5 minutes late. The run from SSPN to Penukonda was okay. The train slowed down heavily as we crossed Penukonda Home. We crossed over to the Main line at a speed of around 15kmph. Interestingly, the crossing over takes place at a Level crossing. There was a speed restriction of 70kmph for some distance on the main line thereafter.
We picked up speed, and put up a good show after Penukonda. We halted briefly at Malugur Home. A speed restriction board kept there read “100”! A speed restriction of 100 kmph! What is the MPS of this line? We were permitted to move after a wait of around 5 minutes. The Yeshwantpur-Kacheguda Express was waiting on the Loop line for us. The loco in charge was WDM3D #11114 of Guntakal. We reached Hindupur at 1834, and left at 1836. We crossed our Pairing train at Gauribidanur. I couldn't note the loco number, but it surely was a KJM loco. We had an eventless run from Gauribidanur to Dodaballapur. We were stopped on the main line of Dodaballapur at 1945.
We appeared to be running a bit early then! The Bangalore-Hindupur passenger pulled in with a KJM loco at around 2005. The passenger uses a DMU rake. The passenger left after a coupled of minutes. There was no sign of our starter turning green! Some minutes later, to be precise – at 2019, WDP4 #20030 pulled in with the Bangalore-Kacheguda Express. We left Dodaballapur at 2022. Dinner was served shortly after Dodaballapur. I had opted for “Parotta” – Parotta is a chapatti like “bread” usually made of refined flour (Maida). We even purchased a pack of Fried Rice – It tasted authentic! We next halted on the main line of Yelahanka, where we reached at 2045. An unknown 20-coach rake with “SWR” markings was parked on Platform 3. The New Delhi bound Karnataka Express pulled into Platform 1 with Itarsi twins WDM2 #18365 & #16710 doing the honours. We were cleared soon after Karnataka arrived.
We had an eventless run upto Chennasandra. We halted on the “platform” line of Chennasandra at 2109. It is more of a regular feature that trains are made to wait at Chennasandra for some time. We were perfectly on time as of then. There were no signs of the train moving even at 2130! At around 2137, and unknown WDP4 rushed past with the Mumbai bound Udyan Express in tow. We pulled out at 2140. The attendants were upset on the fact that the train was getting delayed! We made brief halts at Bangalore East (2153/2154) and at Bangalore Cantonment (2200/2204). We crossed atleast three trains between Baiyappanahalli and Bangalore Cantonment, and atleast one among them was Diesel Hauled!
We made a brief halt at Bangalore home, and then crawled over numerous points to enter platform 3. A coupled of Arakkonam WAP4s, and a lone Arakkonam WAM4 were occupying the “loco line” near Platform 1. WDM3A #14127 of Erode was preparing to take our train on its onward journey to Coimbatore , on Platform 2. We stopped at 2220, with a delay of 25 minutes. There was a good crowd waiting to board the train from Bangalore . Taxi and Auto drivers, and their ‘agents' make the exit from Bangalore station a pain! My brother had brought his car along, and we left the station at around 2230!
I am eager to know how you liked this report! Please send in your comments and suggestions (brick-bats also welcome) to binaiks [at] gmail [dot] com
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