LHB Trip Report
by Bharat Vohra
Started the new year with a disaster of a journey by 2954 UP AK Rajdhani to Bombay..train left HZNM 4 hrs late and eventualy reached BCT 12.5 hrs late! All courtesy the heavy north Indian fog of course! The return wasnt so bad thankfully..got in only 2.5 hrs late despite an on time start fr0m BCT and an on time arrival at Mathura the next morning! The highlight on the way back of course was my 1st journey on the LHB rake. Read on for more...
Coach was LWACCN 03131/A (note that LHB rolling stock codes are prefixed by an 'L') manufactured by RCF, Kapurthala in 11/03..only 2 months old! This was an AC3T coach. Funnily enough there were no RCF badges present inside the coach and the only manufacturing badges to be seen were the guys who had turned our the doors and toilet moulds..some unit based in Faridabad!
Locos were WCAM2P, BL shed no.21873 and WAP5, GZB shed no.30002. At this stage I have to comment on the complete lack of jerks in deceleration and/or acceleration when pulled by the WCAM2 as against when pulled by the WAP5. The latter provided umpteen and harsh jerks throughout the run from BRC to NDLS while the WCAM2 pulled the rake smoothly. But if I were to compare my WAP5 hauled LHB LKO Shatabdi experience this one was nothing in comparison (the jerks ie) The LKO rake had the most horrible jerks I have ever experienced! I wonder if this has anything to do with the loco, the rake or the crew?
A few interesting sightings on the way to and fro Bombay:
- Interesting metallic dark blue/light blue (not the KJM thin stripes or blues) livery on an ABR loco spotted shunting at BRC yard..road no. 17149 I think
- Similar to the new LKO WDM2 liveries, spotted an LDH WDM2 with a gray/white/red combo hauling a BOXN train out of the ring railway into Okhla stn. Lovely livery this one!
- Old WR Rajdhani rake seen at the north yard of TKD. Only 11 coaches on it though with a single Shatabdi livery EOG to boot! Wonder where the rest of the coaches were!?
- Lots of ASN WAG5's working freights on WR as far south as Valsad and Dahanu Rd!
- For the 2nd time, a WAP1 spotted hauling a BCN frieght on the TKD-Mathura stretch..the 1st time this combo was spotted by me was on the Aligarh-GZB stretch!!!
And now for my take on the LHB rake...the positives 1st followed by the negatives!
Positives - Inside
- Much fewer and less harsh jerks on this rake when compared to the LKO Shatabdi rake. Almost none when hauled by the WCAM2 and some when hauled by the WAP5
- Ride quality is far superior than conventional ICF/RCF stock. One can only feel the harshness on some realy bad stretches of track which unfortunately WR has a lot of on the Valsad-BRC section. Otherwise the ride is smooth as silk and one can hardly even feel the joints and crossovers! Good stuff!
- Sound Insulation is great too... sounds like one is inside a European train. Overall NVH levels are low.
- The Flooring, upholstery and curtain fabric is much more soothing and better than earlier ICF/RCF stock
- The berths are wider, longer. There is more legroom when one is sitting and even more vertical space for the middle berth occupants. BTW I was on the side lower. The luggage space is more as well.
- Windows are a huge plus esp for the railway lover! Much larger and of course crystal clear to look out from. Also gives the coach that international feel to it!
- Bottle holders and magazine nets provided for the middle and upper berths - this one is a first! In fact the bottle holders are retractable as well!
Positives - Toilet
- Electric point for shavers present
- Soap dispenser is large, cannot be tampered with and never runs out!!
- No foul odour from the loos..thankfully! Maybe because of better ventilation / presence of an exhaust fan?
- Dustbin provided - maybe a carryover from the original LHB coaches but a good touch all the same!
Positives - Catering
- Waiters in uniform - new ones at that! A refreshing change for sure!
- New larger plastic trays (airline style) as against the earlier thaalis!!
Negatives - Inside
- No bottle holders for the Side Lower Berth - the 2 passengers who sit their during the day journey, have no place but the floor to keep the bottles on. Dont know how they forgot about this one!!
- NO fans inside the coaches - as a supplement to the ac in case anyone requires it!
- No light control switches provided to the aisle (SL & SU) passengers..one has to request the 6 berther passengers to put on/off the lights
- PA system was a disaster - the sound quality hasnt improved one bit and every half hour or so one could overhear the railway staff and their conversations on walkie talkies..god knows how that was being relayed over the PA system and most irritating of all this would happen in the middle of the night!
- The glass on the galley door did not have a translucent cover on it which resulted in harsh light entering the compartment which is more irritating for anyone who is a light sleeper and happens to have a berth close to any of the galley doors! Im realy suprised some of the basic features which were effective havent been carried over to these coaches!
- There was some sort of water seapage on the rubber sealing of our windows - water due to condensation I guess. This is a real shame and reflects directly on the poor quality of workmanship from Kapurthala! I wasnt the only one who complained about this..there were quite a few other windows with the same defect! Keep in mind that this coach was about 2 months old! Good luck to those travelling in the monsoons!!!
- Overall fit and finish was not even half as good as that of the LKO Shatabdi LHB rake!
Negatives - Toilet
- The location of the washbasin is inconvenient resulting in water falling onto the floor - causing the loo to get mucky and dirty
- Tissue dispenser that was provided - wasnt in use or then wasnt stocked up
- The locks (original fitting) didnt work in any of the loos and WR has already installed back up door locks which give it a tacky feel no doubt! But its better than someone barging in on you I guess!
- The amount of water wasted in the auto stop tap is not even funny. This has been brought up on this forum before I know but I experienced it first hand this time. Every time you push the button to start the washbasin tap the water flows for at least 15 seconds - a groase waste if you ask me!
Overall the journey was fun and exciting - being my 1st on the LHB Rajdhani but the quality difference between the LKO Shatabdi rake and this one was quite apparent! RCF better do its homework right before they start mass producing these rakes!