The August Trip - UP Journey
|Date of Journey:
|August 19, 2007
A dawn with an air of excitement filled the entire area. A slight shower the previous night ensured that the climate was cool. Squirrels were going around jumping up and down each tree they had in their sight. After a cup of tea, I had a quick shower and had my breakfast. I was ready for the journey ahead. My brother, sister-in-law and my dad were going to Bangalore , while I and my mom were returning to Mumbai. We left at 0900 from our home. A short drive later, we stopped at the famed Koodalmanickyam temple in Irinjalakkuda of Thrisur District. My dad had to make some offering there, and it took about 10 minutes in all. My brother dropped us at the Thrisur railway station.
Just as I was unloading my baggage from the car, the Bangalore bound Intercity arrived with an unknown Diesel loco. By the time I entered the station, the train was gone! I made a quick check at the reservation charts, and found that we were the only passengers to join the AC coach of our train from the station! Just as I entered into the station complex, WDM2 #16850 of Erode (in Blue-White livery) rushed towards Ernakulam side with a Tanker train in tow. My coach was supposed to be the 14 th , and in preparation we walked over to Platform 2. We purchased some bananas on the way to our platform. There was some passengers waiting for the Gorakhpur bound Raptisagar Express on the platform. Just as I reached Platform 2, an announcement was made that the Ernakulam bound Mangala Express would arrive on Platform 1. The train turned up at 1119, with WDM2 #16668 of Ernakulam in charge. The train had a brand new AC 3-Tier coach with “SCR” markings!
The station was silent for some time after the train pulled out. The station was back to action a few minutes later, when the arrival of the Trivandrum-Gorakhpur Raptisagar Express was made! The train arrived at 1135 with WAM4 #21221 of Arakkonam. The train had a decent number of passengers waiting to board, and another decent number of passengers on board. The train left after a 5 minute long halt. Some time after the train went out; an announcement about the arrival of Venad Express from Trivandrum was made. An RPF officer was now roaming around me, and I decided to stay at one place with my mom!
The Shoranur bound Venad Express pulled in with an Erode WAP4. Just as Venad was moving out of Thrisur, the Trivandrum bound Parasuram Express pulled in with an Ernakulam loco. At around 1205, my train – 2617 Ernakulam – Hazrat Nizamuddin Mangala Lakshadweep Express – pulled in with Ernakulam WDM2 #16885 in-charge. The RPF guy was still standing near me, and I did not risk taking an Image! My coach was WGACCN 01109 (B1) manufactured by RCF in February 2001. The coach was maintained by Ernakulam Coaching Depot (ERMC). My train pulled out at 1215. I had purchased lunch from the station, and we sat to have them as the train pulled out. Our reserved seats were 3 & 4. The TTE came around, and on request he allotted us 15 & 16.
The coach had about 50% occupancy, and most seats were to run empty for most part of the journey! After lunch, I was at the door. We crossed a twin Arakkonam WAG5 hauled BCNA around Wadakkenchery. I walked from my coach, which was the 14 th from the loco, to the front end of the train. We crossed a light Arakkonam WAP4 near the home signal of Shoranur. A WDM2 and about three WAP4s were sleeping at Shoranur station. My aim was to take a picture of the loco. We were taken on platform 2 of Shoranur. I rushed to the front to take an image of the loco. The Loco pilots had just changed, and one Mr. Joy was now in charge of our train! Just as I started walking back after the image, the starter turned amber, and I jumped into the first sleeper coach. We left Shoranur at 1313 – late by 18 minutes. While on my way back to my coach, we crossed the Mangalore-Chennai Egmore express (at Karakad).
While walking through the sleeper coaches, I noticed that the rush was quite poor in most coaches, and many seats were actually empty! We made a brief “Scheduled” halt at Pattambi, and left from there at 1330. I was sitting inside my coach when we reached Pallipuram. The section from Karakad to Pallipuram is still single owing to works on a Road-Under-Bridge near Pattambi station, and other miscellaneous re-grading works in progress. We crossed the Trivandrum bound Netravati Express at Pallipuram. An unidentified Ernakulam loco was in charge. We had a good run upto Kuttipuram, where we reached at 1350, and left at 1352. We reached Tirur at 1406. The train started moving from the station at 1408. An Emergency Chain Pull occurred in one of the sleeper coaches, and the train came to a screeching halt - The reason: A lady couldn't board the train since the train picked speed. The flag was reset, and the train pulled out at 1412.
I was at the door from Tirur to Parapanangadi. The run was pretty smooth, and the pilot maintained good speeds. I spotted a green signal at Advanced Starter for the UP line. That was for the Mangalore-Coimbatore Fast Passenger. The train was worked by Kalyan WDM2 #17590. I went back to my seat after the crossing. We had another good run from Parapanangadi to Ferok. We had a halt at Ferok, and left the station at 1445. We crawled from Ferok to Kozhikode . We pulled into Kozhikode station at 1458. We were taken on Platform 1. Platform 2 was occupied by the rake of Kozhikode-Shoranur passenger. WDM3A #18596 of Erode was coupled to the rake. Some passengers joined our train here, and we continued our journey at 1506 – late by 6 minutes.
The section from Kozhikode to Vellayil is also doubled now. We had a very good run from Kozhikode to Quilandi covering the 25 kilometre distance in 21 minutes, making up an average speed of 71.42 kmph – on a line cleared with an MPS of only 100kmph! We reached Quilandi at 1527, and pulled out at 1529. We crossed the Kannur-Ernakulam Intercity sometime after Quilandi. We made reached Vadakara at 1547, covering the 22 kms distance in just 18 minutes i.e., at an average speed of 73.34 kmph! We left Vadakara at 1549. I was at the door from Vadakara to Thalassery. I was waiting there for a crossing. The section from Mahe to Thalassery sees a lot of level crossings, and the pilot keeps blowing the horn for most of the distance!
We slowed down after Thalassery outer, while the signal on the UP line was green! As we were closing in towards Thalassery station, I saw an Erode Loco starting up her load. The loco was WDM3A #14139 (of Erode) and the loco was the Mangalore – Chennai Mail. The UP platform is on the main line itself, while the DN platform is on the loop. So, we were crawling while the Mail was picking up speed. We reached the station at 1613. We could depart only at 1618, now late by 3 minutes. The run from Thalassery to Kannur was eventless. We reached Kannur at 1641, early by 4 minutes. WDM3A #14028 of Krishnarajapuram, coupled to the rake of the Yeshwantpur express was occupying Platform 2. The train had a completely new 07-built BEML rake. The rear SLR was the new model “GSRD” i.e., the SLR without the luggage portion. Platform 1A was occupied by the rake of the evening passenger to Kozhikode , and an Erode WDM2 was coupled to the rake.
We had a long wait at Kannur, and left only at 1650 (ON Time). The rake of the Kannur-Charvattur passenger was also parked on Platform 2 (behind the rake of the Yeshwantpur Express), and was headed by Erode WDM2 #18561. We had a pretty slow run from Kannur to Valapattanam. The coach attendant was insisting that I keep the door closed. I opened the door soon after we crossed the Valapattanam River since I saw the signal to be “Amber”! We crossed the Mangalore-Trivandrum Express just before Pappinisseri. The loco in-charge was WDM3A #14126 of Erode. We had an eventless run from Pappinisseri to Payyanur. In between we stopped at Payangadi (1712/1714) before stopping at Payyanur at 1725. The UP platform had lots of passengers waiting for some train. I remained at the door our train pulled out at 1727. We crossed the Mangalore-Chennai Express shortly after the station. The loco in charge of this tri-weekly express was WDM2 #17710 of Erode. The train had a CBC rake!
We next stopped at Nileshwar (1746, left at 1750). Just as my train pulled out of Nileshwar, a twin Erode WDG3A hauled freight rushed towards Shoranur. After Nileshwar, we halted at Kanhangad (1801, left at 1803). We crossed a BCNA rake hauled by WDM2 #16859 of Ernakulam a little before Kanhangad. We crossed the Mangalore-Kannur passenger sometime after Kanhangad. WDM2 #17711 of Golden Rock was in charge of the passenger. On the way, I noticed that Pallikere station has been officially renamed as “Bekal Fort”. We pulled into Kasaragode at 1825, early by 4 minutes. Even after 1830 (our official departure time), there was no sign of our train pulled out.
At around 1835, an unidentified Erode loco pulled into the station with the Mangalore bound Navyug Express (coming from Jammu Tawi). That train was cleared at 1837! Thus an ordinary express train, that too a weekly train overtook a daily superfast train – what a pity! We were cleared at 1848 – now late by 18 minutes. I remained at the door for some time. We crossed the Mangalore-Trivandrum Malabar express sometime later with an Erode WDM2 in charge. It was getting darker after that. We slowed down heavily after Netravati Bridge , and had a very slow run till Kankanadi. We reached Kankanadi at 1935, early by 10 minutes. A triple Krishnarajapuram WDG3A hauled BOXN rake welcomed us into the station! WDM3D #11186 was dozing off on the main line. The coaches were watered here, and the loco pilots changed. We departed from Kankanadi at 1955.
Dinner was served after Kankanadi. We had ordered for Veg Meals, and the serving contained Rice, Sambhar, and a wet vegetable dish, Curd, Pickle and Salt. Packed plastic glasses containing water was served promptly along with the meals, on a clean plastic tray! We crossed an unidentified train sometime around 2030. We pulled into Udupi probably right on time (2057), but I couldn't note down the time since I was busy talking with a passenger who was a senior scientist with a research centre in Pune. I went to sleep at around 2130. Some passengers who joined the train at Udupi showed no intentions of sleeping, and I had a tough time sleeping with lights on! I woke up briefly around 0100, when we were at Madgaon. Some off-duty KR staffers joined the train here, and they created a short commotion with loud talk, and switching on of the cabin lights.
I was woken up by a set of mobile alarms ringing in different berths. The KRC guys were getting down at Ratnagiri. I stood at the door for sometime before Ratnagiri. We were running over Panval Bridge at that time, when one of those KRC guys told me some salient features of the bridge. Later, he tipped me off about a picturesque waterfall near Ukshi station. We pulled into Ratnagiri station at 0630, late by 25 minutes. The station was silent with not much of passengers. We left Ratnagiri at 0636. The run was interesting since the section from Ratnagiri to Ukshi has lots of tunnels. I re-started my brain with a hot cup of coffee to begin the day.
I could capture the waterfall mentioned by the KRC guys standing at the door on my camera. But in the process, I missed seeing the loco of the Konkan Kanya Express! The loco was a WDP4. We had a very beautiful run from Ratnagiri to Chiplun – non stop! We reached Chiplun at 0757 – early by 6 minutes. We covered the 75.8 kilometre distance from Ratnagiri to Chiplun in an hour and 21 minutes. That is an average speed of 56.14 that too in a section with a top speed of only 75 kmph! (Due to Monsoon Speed restrictions. The normal maximum permissible speed is 110kmph for trains other than Rajdhani/Jan Shatabdi. They are permitted to run at 120kmph.) We left Chiplun at 0809, now late by 4 minutes. The loco was re-fueled, and the coaches were watered here. I could purchase a copy of the newspapers also here.
We were sent to the loop line at Anjani for a crossing. Some minutes after we stopped, WDP3A #15518 of Golden rock crawled past with the 17-Coach Trivandrum Rajdhani in tow. After Anjani, we made another brief halt at Diwankhavati. The wait at Diwankhavati was a bit longer than the one at Anjani. Here we crossed the Madgaon bound Jan Shatabdi. WDM2 #18697 of Erode did the honours of this 9-coach train, which is by and large the fastest train even today on KR! This train is probably the first non-air-conditioned train in India to break the 120kmph barrier! This train has an impressive average speed of around 79kmph during non-monsoon timetable.
We had an average run from Diwankhavati to Veer. We stopped on the main line of Veer at 1000. An announcement on the PA system of the station mentioned that the KR5 Diva-Sawantwadi passenger was to arrive soon. The passenger showed up at 1010 with WDM2 #17363 of Erode doing the honours. The train had 13 coaches, and all were jam packed! Even after the passenger moved out, there were no signs of my train moving. Some minutes later, the Guard of my train walked up to the SMs office and enquired what was wrong. In the mean time, an RMV (Rail Maintenance Vehicle) was seen roaming around the station. At around 1033, WDM2 #16833 of Vatva pulled in with a Ratnagiri bound BCNA rake. The Vatva loco was assisted by an Erode WDM2, which was coupled but not MU-ed to the Vatva loco. Both locos had loco pilots inside. We finally pulled out of Veer at 1037 – after a 37 minute long “unscheduled” halt.
We stopped at Mangaon home for some time. This was to allow the Madgaon bound Mandovi Express to pull into the platform line. It started raining heavily then. We then sped through the station. WDP4 #20037 was in charge of the Mandovi Express. Our loco pilot notched up heavily after Mangaon. The Monsoon speed restriction of 75kmph is in force between Udupi and Veer stations. We were now out of that zone. I measured the speed as we were rushing through Kolad, and that turned to be an impressive 102.5 kmph! The run from Mangaon to Roha was perfectly KR style – with very high speed runs!
We were put to the loop line at Roha. According to the technical timetable, we are supposed to ‘run through' Roha at 1125, and we stopped at Roha at 1123! We were on the loop line, and the signal on the main line was green – this meant that we were having yet another crossing! Ernakulam WDM2 #16678 rushed past my train with the Ernakulam bound Mangala Express (our Pairing train!) at 1132. We pulled out of Roha at 1134. We had a pretty slow run from Roha to Nagothane. We made a brief halt at Nagothane Home, and then pulled through the main line. WDM2 #18068 of Kalyan was waiting on the loop line with the Diva-Roha passenger in tow. We had another beautiful run from Nagothane to Panvel. We slowed down at Panvel home, and slowly entered into Platform 1. We finally reached Panvel at 1255, early by 4 minutes! IRFCA Mumbai Member Deepesh Soni was shifting to Thalassery that day, and he was going through on the Netravati Express. I wanted to meet him, but unfortunately I was too tired and my mom insisted that we move on. I rushed to the ticket counter, and punched coupons for my journey to Belapur.
We got an EMU soon after I reached the platform. While waiting for my EMU to move, I spotted Ernakulam WDM3A #14048 pulling into Platform 3 with the Trivandrum bound Netravati Express in tow. A Bhilai WAG5 pair pulled in on the main line with a Container train as my EMU started moving out. I finally reached home at around 1345, had a quick shower and headed to the nearby restaurant for lunch!
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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