Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trip to Salem

I had been to Salem on saturday for a wedding reception. I had left for SA in the morning by 6627 West Coast Express and returned the same night by 6670 Yercaud Express.

I left home at 10:30 am. I was lazy enough to walk to the MRTS station and hence took a bus to Central Station. As our bus was climbing down the Flyover opposite to MAS, KZJ WAG7 27834 was pulling a filled BOXN rake thro' MPK towareds MS. I was at the lobby of MAS at 11 am. 6627 was already on Pf 1. Pf 2 had the rake of 2681/82 with KZJ WDG3A 14943 at the head of it. 2028 had arrived behind AJJ WAP1 22000 and AJJ WAP4 22624 had brought in some other train.

I made my way to Pf 1 and my coach, S8 was 3rd or 4th from the loco. A fresh consignment of fish was being loaded into the MCPV (motor cum parcel van), it also meant we would have the smell of fish throughout the journey. ED WAP4 22661 showed up from BBQ and got itself attached to our rake. BZA WAM4 21237 was spotted at the other end of the station detached from some other train and TNP WDM7 11008 was doing shunting work.

All the berths in S8 were in SA quota. I was allotted S8/39 SL. We were 4 of us travelling together and were allotted 33, 34, 37 and 39. As we made to our bay, a couple of ladies were occupying the window seats and an old man was already lying down on my SL. He was travelling alone was allotted S8/40 which is SU. However, whoever had come to drop him at the station had told him that the lower is his berth and he can sleep all the way to SA. As it was on the left side of train, which meant that i cant do any spotting if I sit there, I wasnt particular about sitting there and could let somebody else use that seat. i was very unhappy with the fact that somebody had misguided this old man, who was all of 88 yrs of age, and made him occupy my seat as well. Clever people. As we claimed our seats, one of the ladies vacated the window seat and let us sit. At 11:20 another man had come to our bay and it only then did we realise that the ladies were not reserved passengers but general travellers.

Of the 8 people in our bay, one of them did not turn-up at all. One of them was a silent man who kept to his books and walkman. One of them was this old man. And the other was a low-rung politician who was an aide to some bigger political guy who was travelling in the next bay. I guess they were all accompanying some big-shot who was on one of the AC coaches.

I explained to the old man that his was not a berth but just a seat and his berth was upstairs. I had to make a lot of explaining to convince him that he cannot sleep all thro' the journey, as that would mean one of us would be seat-less. We got our starter right on time and we departed merrily. 1042 was waiting to depart from Pf 3.

There were lots of unreserved travellers all of the coach, in our Upper Berths and the SU as well. Some of them even slept off. Most of them alighted at AJJ and rest of them at KPD. However, every halt meant a set of these people got down and another set got in. Thankfully, none of them pressurised for a seat, and just walked away if we refused to let them sit. There were 2 such people sitting in our bay. I let the old man sleep for a while and I sat on the window seat 33, facing the journey of the train.

BBQ yard had many locos. TNP WD7 11004 & 11013, WDS4 19257, 19258, 19299. KJM WDM3A 17994, WDP4 20029. LDH WAG7 27286. ED WAP4 22294. and many more WAP4s and WAM4s. We were doing good speeds and went thro' stations one after another in good speeds. There were a few SRs enroute. We even halted a couple of times in between. 6054 TPTY ICE crossed us somewhere near ABU/AVD with AJJ WAM4 21232 in saptagiri livery. At TRL, we had to slow down to move from the Up fast line to the Up line. TRL-AJJ third line has been almost completed at most places. I think it is yet to connected at both ends though, and some signalling works also should be remaining. There were some SRs here too. We came to a complete halt at Puliyamangalam. And eventually pulled into AJJ at 12:45. Late by 22 minutes.

The catering people had started coming right from MAS. They were selling chapati (with veg, egg or chicken curry) and veg/egg/chicken biriyani for lunch. There were cooldrinks, biscuits, chips and water bottles too. I wanted to take the Chapati with veg curry. Others in my group went against my advice and got 2 Veg and 1 Chicken biriyanis. I was particular in eating the lunch as soon as it was served so that it would be some-what hot. However with the group being lethargic and indifferent, by the time we actually opened our packets, the biriyanis were cold and pathetic. The Chapatis were ok and the veg sabji was somewhat warm and i could eat it without much ado. The Catering vendor mentioned that the pack would contain 3 Chapatis for 35 Rupees, but my packet had 4. The Veg Biriyani was being sold for Rs. 30 and the Chicken Biriyani for Rs. 50.

I did not note all the crossings. There were many many passenger trains and freighters which kept passing by. I was totally amazed at the traffic on this section. This was the first time i was travelling on this section during the day time and i was very excited about it and rather shocked at the amount of traffic our IR handles.

We departed from AJJ at 12:50, (late by 25 min) as as we departed 2680 from CBE pulled into the adjacent platform behind AJJ WAP4 22618. The CGL line platforms at AJJ had a passenger rake behind TNP WDM2 17570.

Quite a few of the unreserved passengers had got down at AJJ and there were a few others who had replaced them.

We reached WJR (walaja road) at 13:20 and left after a momentary halt. We were having a good run all the way to KPD, except for a SR near VIT campus where a RUB is being constructed. We even halted momentarily before reaching KPD at 13:50. There were some frieghters and passenger train rakes at KPD station. A DMU towards TPTY was waiting to depart from the other end of the station. It was a SCR rake.

We departed from KPD at 13:55. (late by half an hour) ED WAG7 27470 and 27904 were both spotted around KPD. The line to VLR takes off from the main line on the right side and then climbs a ramp and turn left to pass over a bridge and go southwards to VLR.

We crossed Vaniyambadi at 14:40 and reached JTJ at 15:00. (late by 20 min) AJJ 22003 was on the adjacent line with the rake of TPJ-ED-JTJ Passenger. TNP 19260 was spotted with some shunting work.

We did not make up much of the delay. We halted at Tiruppattur (TPT) at 15:15, Morappur (MAP) at 15:50 and Bommidi (BQI) at 16:10. 3352 to DHN/TATA crossed us at BQI behind AJJ WAP1 22015.

One station short of Magnesite Junction, at Karuppur, a BOXN rake was standing without a loco. AJNI WAG9 31099 was detatched and standing separtely.

We pulled into SA at 16:50.(late by 15 min) we were on Pf 2. Pf 3 had the rake of 853 SA - Mettur Dam Passenger with CNB WAG7 27510 as its power. This passenger has a RSA with ED - Mettur Dam Passenger. It is the train which carries the slip coaches on 1063/64 to Mettur Dam. 6332 to CSTM was departing from Pf1 behind ED WDM2 18698. empty rake of 1063/64 was standing with ED WDM2 16657 attached to it.

All thro' the trip we could see the rural North Tamilnadu and the dried fields, the scare vegetation. Much in contrast to the middle Tamil Nadu, which is usually lush green with Paddy fields and sugarcane and maize and all the other cultivations, this part of the country has some sugarcane, groundnut and an occasinal maize field only. This part of the area is predominantly black soil and some red soil in some parts.

Now the people in our bay. The old man was to himself, he sat for a while, slept for a while, had his meal somewhere between AJJ and KPD and he was sure to not let any of the unreserved people use the SL. The most interesting of the lot was the politician. Talking in a typical accent of the rural north Tamil Nadu, one was reminded of the comical way the politicians are portrayed in films. Talking on phone in the typical accent, taking name of high profile politicians and ministers at ease, saying we will get anything done and about somebody visiting some wedding somewhere, and all that talk going on, we were quite amused and laughing inside, though the kind of group they were, we were actually scared with the kind of movements they were making and in between, after they had got their food, this man went off somewhere for a while and then came back with a 'bottle' hid inside his folded dhoti and thats it, i refused to even look that side because i was so scared.

I also noticed that there is ROB right in the middle of KPD station. And Sholingar Station has a level crossing right in the middle of the Platforms. Also, saw that the Up and Down lines were not having the same alignment in some strechtes. Particularly near Vaniyambadi, i found that the alignment drifts off totally.

All thro' the journey the catering staff were selling biscuits, chips, bottles of cooldrinks. They were frequenting with more cooldrink bottles than water bottles. There were non-IRCTC vendors too, selling fruits, boiled peanuts etc. Guavas, Chikkus, Pineapple slices, you name them, they all came. And as the evening started to show up, there were people selling strands of flowers too.

Yes, indeed a day-time journey on a train gives a lot of insight not only into the Railways, but also about the country thro' which one travels, the people, the food everything.

During the return journey, we had come back to SA station by 21:35. our train 6670 from ED was supposed to arrive and depart from Pf 1 at 22:00. We made our way thro' the Pedestrian Subway to reach the Island platform Pf 1, 2. ED WDG3A 14638 was standing idle and alone in the sidings. 2644 Express from NZM to TVC was expected on Pf 2 around the same time. YPR - SA passenger ahd come into Pf 3.

Our train had arrived a few minutes late. ED WAP4 22381 was incharge. Our Coach S11, was 01271/A. It was the 19th coach from the loco. This train is also a 23/24 coacher, and has an RSA with 2603/04, with primary maintainence at ED. Our tickets were in the last bay, 67-70. however, only one of the doors of the coach was open. Which meant we had to walk all the way thro' the coach to reach our berths. Only to find that the Lower berths and side berths were already occupied and the passengers were all sleeping already. We had to sit on the MBs and stay awake for the TTE to come and check the tickets. The train departed around 22:15 only. There was no sign of 2644 yet. I thought we could atleast spot a crossing somewhere on the way. I was awake till about 22:45, till the TTE checked our tickets, still one couldnt spot that train.

After a long and tiresome day, i settled in my MB for a good sleep. Usually, even during the nights, when the train halts, i wake up. This time however, i did not note down the passing of stations. AT 0245, we were just halting at a station. I wanted to check where we are and prayed it was KPD, so that we would arrive late at MAS. However my hopes of sleeping for some moretime were shattered as we were pulling into AJJ. As we were pulling into Pf 2 of AJJ, i could see another train trailing us and coming into AJJ. I thought they would get the signal ahead of us. However, it was not to be. We pulled out almost immediately while the other train entered Pf 5, or one of the far off platforms at AJJ. I thought we might arrive at MAS rather early, and went back to my MB. We reached TRL around 0315. We halted for a moment. Some EMUs were there. Atleast one of them was lit and must be getting ready for the first departure. We crawled thro' AVD around 03:35-03:40 and pulled into PER at 04:00. We left after a moment halt. The others in our bay had woken up by then. The 2 old men in the LBs were both dressing up and we crossed VPY and were greeted with a red at BBQ outer. 3351 was leaving towareds ALLP behind WAP4 22647. We pulled into Pf6 of MAS bang on time, 04:30. 6310 to ERS was waiting to depart. It had ED WAP4 22232 and AJJ WAP1 22001 on either side of it. The WAP1 would pull her for the rest of the journey.

At BBQ, AJJ 22792, 22015, 22005, LGD WAP7 30238, TNP 19418, 11004, 19301 were all spotted. The Raj rake was waiting to be shunted into the Station. AJJ 22776 had brought in, the Howrah mail. 21232 was attached to the rear-end of the Saptagiri rake.

I came out of MAS and took a bus home.

Overall, a nice trip. I particularly enjoyed travelling on the MAS-SA section during the day time.

Nice write-up. But too many of the station acronyms, I felt, though I could make out all of them since I have been to (almost) all the stations! :-)

Romba over to mention the number of the coaches of a train
Bharathwaj, you are using a lot of codes and road numbers. this might not impress non-rail readers and even rail readers. It's better you simply narrate your own story in words. Numbers would spoil everything.

-Junior KK
I see you are passionate about your trains!
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