by Binai Sankar
Trip Report: Thrissur to Bangalore by 2683 ERS-SBC Super Fast
Date: July 13, 2008
Coach: S6 (WGSCN 96232)
Loco: Arakkonam WAM-4 #20671
Coach Arrangement: Loco-SLR-GS-GS-S1 to S12-B1-B2-A1-GS-SLR (Total: 20 Coaches)
I started off early from home (around 1540) for a train leaving at 1820. I had to travel to Thrissur to get into my train. I left my home along with my dad, who was heading for some shopping, towards Kodungallur, the town nearest to my home. I got into a bus from there, which left the bus station at 1610. It was a limited stop bus headed to Thrissur. Bus fares had been increased just the previous day, and the conductor was confused at the fare that he had to charge, and passengers too as a token of dissatisfaction, handed over only currencies of higher values and demanded change from a tired looking conductor. He too dispensed change without much grumble. The ticket to Thrissur made my wallet lighter by Rs. 21.
The 30-odd kilometre bus ride began at 1610. The driver was initially decent and drove at normal speeds (never went above 60kmph). This went on till Irinjalakuda, where we reached at 1640 and left after a customary 3 minute halt to pick up more passengers. The driver went berserk after Irinjalakuda, and started driving in true Private bus a.k.a F1 style! He finally dropped me at Chettiyangadi bus stop (serving Thrissur Railway Station & KSRTC bus station for buses coming from Kodungallur side) at 1718, just 68 minutes after I started off from the bus station!
I still had over an hour to go for my train, and walked slowly towards the railway station. I reached the station and checked the coach position first. I then got a bottle of cold drink and headed off to platform 2. The PA system at the station was overpowered by the advertisement system, and announcements were hardly heard! All of a sudden, I noticed an Erode loco approaching the station from the Shoranur side. The loco was WDM-3A #17803 of Erode in the new WDM3D livery. The loco was working the Guruvayur-Thrissur passenger, which basically utilises the lie - over rake of the Chennai Egmore-Guruvayur Express. The crowd in the train was significant. The coach composition of the train was like: SLR-GS-GS-GS-D4 to D1-PC-S4 to S1-B1-A1-GS-GS-SLR; making up 18 coaches.
The loco quickly reversed and took charge at the other end of the train to take the rake back to Guruvayur (the departure is only around 1850 or so). The Nilambur-Shoranur-Ernakulam passenger pulled in at around 1745 with AJJ WAM-4 #20674 in charge. I walked around the ED loco for a while and then headed off to the spot where my coach would come in.
A while later, the arrival of the Alappuzha-Kannur Express was announced. The train came in at around 1800 with WDM-2 #17108 of Ernakulam doing the honors. This loco seems to be earmarked for this train almost permanently! The train had some 16 coaches or so including one reserved Second sitting and one AC Chair car coach. All coaches were packed to its capacity, and the train managed to make way for a few more souls boarding at this station. The ALCO gave out its tradition horn and pulled out after about 5 minutes. While this train was pulling out, an unidentified WAG-7 in tigerface livery rushed through with a load of flat wagons loaded with TMT bars headed to the SAIL godown at Thripunithura.
A while later, the arrival of my train was announced. The coach position also was announced, and I confirmed that I was standing at the right place. My train became visible a while later, and it was an Arakkonam WAM-4 (#20671) doing the honors…
My coach was supposed to be the 9th, but it turned out to be the tenth. The coach - S6 - was 1996 built and appeared well kept. My seat was 15, a side lower. I was a bit tensed since this was my first overnight journey in sleeper class after more than 3 years! We left Thrissur at 1833, delayed by about 8 minutes. The Guruvayur passenger was resting cool on Platform 3, and the train had moderate crowd in it.
The start from the station was smooth and we managed to reach decent speeds soon. The train maintained speeds around 75-80kmph. We crossed the Kannur - Ernakulam express a while after crossing Punkunnam. The link was really unusual - a Tondiarpet WDM-2. I tried taking a video, but the camera switched on late and by the time the recording started, the loco was already gone by! The train slowed down as we approached Bharatapuzha, and then slowly picked up speed and we kept going at around 100kmph after Bharatapuzha. The wind was cool, and signs of a rain were loitering around. It thankfully didn't.
We kept crossing trains while on the run. I remember crossing one at Bharatapuzha station - that was the Coimbatore-Thrissur passenger with a WAP4 in charge. We made a brief scheduled halt at Ottapalam, at 1919, and left at 1925 - perfectly on time! I had my dinner a while later.
We stopped at Palakkad home for a while, and then pulled into Platform 3 stopping there at 1952 - early by three full minutes! Quite some passengers got into the train here. A couple of minutes after we stopped, twin Golden Rock locos, WDG-3A #14994 and WDM-2 #17835 'Jumbo' pulled on to Platform 2 with a BCNA rake. The leading loco has a marking on it saying 'Loco derated to 2600hp'. We left Palakkad sharp at 2000 - dot on time.
The run after Palakkad was awesome, and the train kept cruising at MPS. We had a couple of crossings enroute. We crossed a WAP-4 hauled passenger train a while before Madukkarai. We stopped at Madukkarai station for a while. We then crawled forward, and pulled into Podanur station at 2102 - early by 7 minutes! We left the station at 2110. We pulled on the Coimbatore by-pass line and picked speed pretty fast. I slept before the train crossed Irugur.
It rained moderately on the way, and I faintly remember water seeping in through the gap below the shutter. I had set the window shutters in an awkward manner to ensure that I get enough air for a smooth sleep. Though the air supply was uninterrupted, some other circumstances in the coach disturbed my sleep.
I remember hearing announcements at Erode station about the arrival of the Trichy-Ernakulam Express. Just as I heard the announcement, I looked out anxiously to check the link of the TPJ-ERS express, but I then noticed that we were already moving out of the station, and we had almost cleared the platform. We quickly picked speed and crossed the Electric Loco Shed. The shed had a couple of locos visible inside. I slept soon after we picked speed. That was a good sleep, and I remained asleep till we crossed Malur. I saw the train rushing past Malur. I then got up and headed straight to the toilet for the morning chores. I then settled down at my seat enjoying the cool breeze outside, and the really interesting run - but was slightly worried since the train was already late and saw no chances of the train making it to Bangalore city on time!
We pulled into Krishnarajapuram station at 0416. A sizeable crowd got down at this station. We left the station at 0419 - delayed by a good 49 minutes! We crossed a light WDG-3A as we pulled out of the station. I expected the train to stop at Baiyyapanahalli, and a family was indeed waiting at the door expecting the same! The train instead did a slow run through the station on the main line, and then rapidly picked speed, rushing through Bangalore East at MPS. We reached Bangalore Cantonment at 0437 and left at 0441 - now with a delay of 51 minutes. Another sizeable crowd was 'unloaded' here. The run after Cantonment was normal, at a restricted speed. (There is a Permanent Speed restriction of 50kmph - if I am not mistaken)
We finally pulled in to Platform 4 of Bangalore City Junction at 0500, with a delay of 40 minutes. WDM-3A #18596 was waiting on Platform 5 with the Ernakulam Intercity. A huge cache of locos including about three WAP-4s, a couple of WDP-4s and a WAP-1 was sleeping off at the siding near Platform 1. I had a mad dash out of the station and headed straight to the BMTC bus station outside hoping to get into one of those early morning buses. The crowd in the buses surprised me, and the crowd was mind-boggling considering the time at which it happened! Almost all buses were leaving the depot with passengers packed to capacity! And the frequency too was mind-boggling â€" buses towards Hosur road were leaving at a frequency of less than 5 minutes! Though taking a bus towards Bannerghatta road is easier for me to reach home, I had to take one towards Hosur road due to lesser number of buses on the former route. I called up home to intimate my change in routeâ€¦.
I finally reached home about 5 minutes past 6, and then had to rush through my regular morning chores to reach office on time! There ended a sleeper class overnight journey after long 3 years! The journey overall was good. The maintenance of sleeper class coaches are the same as it was in 2005 - nothing much has changed. A majority of the crowd in my coach were techies returning to Bangalore after their weekend trip home! Dinner service is available in the train (I had packed my dinner from home), where a bearer takes order for dinner and loads the same from Palakkad.