Trip Report: Chennai - Chandigarh
by Gautam Parthasarathy
As I had mentioned earlier, I was leaving MAS by 2621 Tamilnadu Express (dep 2200 hrs) on Dec 5 and thus planned to be at Central by 2100 hrs. It was a good decision, especially as there were thourough airport-style security checks at Central to prevent any Babri Masjid madness on the following day. The station was unusually crowded that night with even the Pfm tkt counters overflowing!! This resulted in my going straight to my coach with not much of a sight-seeing session. :-(
2621 on PF#5 had Rake #2 that day. Usual 24-coach composition. It was not a very new one (1998/99/2000/01) but very clean. The coach markers (A1, AS1, S1, etc) are very neat and allow you to view them from afar. (One disadvantage that I found was they block your view of the train slightly when you stand at the door.) Surprisingly, even at 2200 hrs, the loco had not yet arrived. (Reason: A loco had derailed at Elephant Gate and had blocked a line sometime earlier. Fellow IRFCA-ian Vivek told me that becos of this, the morning Charminar had been diverted to Egmore - a first!!) On PF#6, stood a "Sabarimala" special to TVC. Was completely vaccum-braked except for 1 coach in the AB livery. But this coach had markings "AV" so prob was dual- braked.
Also saw 1063's loco. It was a GTL WDM2? 16399 (remember this one too!!) in a great livery - Orange-White Stripe-Pista Green.
Finally at 2230 hrs, TN left MAS. (Later I came to know that loco was ED WAP4 22258. Note this number, you'll need to recall this later!!) Shortly, thereafter, I fell asleep...
.... only to wake up just before we crossed the Krishna before BZA (4:40AM). Crossed on the "silent" bridge and saw that the new (third) one was not yet complete. Went back to sleep.
Woke up just before WL (7:55AM). Quick stop and then it was a fast run towards BPQ. Saw a WAG5 RH from ASN shed leading a BOXN rake at the KZJ by-pass (and saw another one further on towards evening). Whats an "RH"?
Crossed Ramagundam just before 9:30AM. Lots of WAG7 action there. At 9:45AM, the MAS Raj sped by led by a GZB WAP1 (220##) with the now "regularly" mismatched power cars. :-( Arrived at BPQ 11:20AM. This is the first time I came into PF#4 after it was built. But, boy, was the station dirty!!! I have seldom seen dirtier ones. What has SCR been doing???
At 12:30 2724AM sped by led by old friend LGD WAP4 22511. 13:20, curve at Sewagram. Took some pics including a close-up of the loco.
At 14:20, we reached NGP. As expected, 2622 rolled into PF#2 with a spanking clean ED WAP4 22549 doing the honours. Also noticed that Vidharba (2105/06) is now in regular AB livery. But the rake was very old - 96/97 - and dirty (same on the way back too). Whats happened to this once prestigious train??
At 16:00, at Teegaon, 2 ET WAG5A bankers were attached to the rear for the ghat section climb. What was funny was the fact that although the MU cables were attached, the rear had its panto down. I couldn't get close enough to hear whether it was live (same on the way back). Anyway, 30 minutes later, the bankers were detached at Chichonda.
Now the WAP really let go at the throttles and 2621 repeatedly touched 110+ kmph (tops was ~ 114), till about 17:00. At 19:10 arrvl at ET - operational stop only. And at 21:05 arrvl at BPL.
There was a mention in an earlier post about banker activity near BPL, but I saw none of that. 2621 didn't stop till BPL.
One thing I'd like to mention here is that my coach (AS1) was cleaned at regular intervals by IR employees and trash was emptied and toilets cleaned at every stop. Food service was very good. Way to go IR!! My only complaint is about the "diversity of uniforms" that are worn by the catering staff. You can never tell when one is IR and when one is not.
Anyway, after BPL, it was a hard night run but since the night was very cold, I snuggled under my blankets and slept early so I could catch early morning action around NDLS. But there wasn't much to report in the morning though. BPL Shat went in a blitz and I couldn't catch the loco. NDLS arrvl was 08:08 and Shanky was there to receive me. You have already read his report in an earlier post so I won't repeat. Suffice to say that I had a good look around the NDLS trip shed and saw the Great White (WAP7) with my eyes for the first time!! What a beast!!!
By the time we had brunch, it was time to catch my onward train - 2925 Paschim to CDG. It came in with BRC WAP4E 22359, and left at 11:00 bang on time.
The run to UMB (Ambala) was pretty smooth and uneventful, but the train had one more surprise in store for me. At UMB (14:30), it splits and 6 coaches go to CDG and Kalka. Now the rest of the train goes to Amritsar and thats all dielsel traction. So where does that leave the WAP4? Yes .... you guessed it - it hauled 6 coaches to CDG & KLK!!!!!! Believe me, I have never experienced a run like that. Was like a super-powerful EMU. Imagine 6 coaches with 5000+ hp!!!! :-O And the braking was super-efficient. There were only a couple of places where it hit near 100kmph, but that was enough for me.
At 15:13, I arrived in CDG where I was to spend the next two days and then take the same journey back. But thats another story and will form part 2 of my report that I will post in a day or two.
The Return Journey
Thus starts my return journey: CDG-NDLS-MAS. Caution: Long report becos of action at NDLS!!
Chandigarh station is a small and very very dusty place during the winter. I was forced to borrow my friend's m'cycle helmet to protect myself. A new station office (connected by a foot overbridge) has been built on the Pachkula side to service that portion of the city thus saving the people a distance of at least 3-4 kms. There are only 3 platforms.
2926A Paschim was standing at PF#2 when I entered the station. It had arrived at 11:10 hrs and was to depart at 11:35hrs. (Why the long halt?) As usual, the six coaches had a BRC WAP4E 22383 hauling them!!! At 11:35, the joyride to UMB began. Again it was fascinating ... the way it accelerated and braked.
12:15 hrs - Arrvd at UMB. Immediately the WAP was detached and a WDS4 led us out to a siding to await the main portion of the train. Almost immediately, it pulled us back onto the platform and attached us to the rear while the WAP went to the front to do its job. Dep at 13:10 hrs.
My coach had a WC that had the lettering "Gentlemen will lift the seat". Quite a surprise finding Queen's English here and now!! (Rake was RCF-built and dated around 99/2001/02.) I fell asleep after that (I had not slept for the past 2 days!!) and woke up only when we were nearing Sadar Bazaar outside NDLS. Saw a Metro Train pass on the overbridge while mine passed beneath. Would've made a superb shot but cam was not ready. :-( But I did take a few shots of the NDLS trip shed when passed it. Surprisingly, there was not a single WAP7 there. The first one arrived with the Sealdah Raj much later. Saw GZB WAP5 30012 "Navjagaran".
16:40 hrs - Arrvl at NDLS. I had a wait of 6 hours here before I boarded 2622 TN for the trip home, so I spent some quality time. Shanky was supposed to arrive around 19:00 hrs and we were supposed to meet John Lacey who was leaving for ALD by the Prayagraj at 21:30 hrs.
Had stuff to eat at Wimpy's outside PF#12 and off I went. First saw a KTE WDG3A 14002. Is this one with an A/C cab?
Have to mention here that the best places to watch the action in NDLS are: South-end of PF#s 10, 11 and the northernmost foot overbridge that has a good view of the trip shed and yard. Other places include south-end of PF#12 and PF#8.
At this point, all the announcements indicated that east-bound expresses were all running very late (Dec 9). Poorva Exp was not to leave before 20:00 hrs, Magadh was late by 3 hours, etc. While checking out Magadh Exp, I came across a 2A coach numbered "14008/AB". Obviously converted from Vaccum brakes?
2724 AP left before I could check out the loco. The rake was dated 1999/2001/02 but was very very clean .... as usual!! 16:40 hrs - 2616 GT left with ED WAP4 22536. GT's composition is now 1x1A, 2x2A, 2x3A, 4xGen, 12xSL, 1xPC, 2xSLR.
Also saw an LDH WDM2C 18530. There was no "R" anywhere to indicate whether this was a rebuilt loco. This was attached to the rear (which then became the front becos of the reversal) of the Golden Temple Mail to ASR (which was brought in by a BRC WAP4 22###).
Vaishali Exp to Barauni left from PF#12 with GZB WAP5 30009. Shanky, who arrived moments later, told me that it generally merits a WAP4, and was quite surprised!!
Dirtiest Loco on earth? .... keep a lookout for GZB WAM4P 21316. I don't think ANYTHING can remove that grime and soot (can you imagine soot on a WAM??)!!!
Shanky had earlier described the new WDM2 livery we had seen (Silver grey-White Stripe-Orange) in his report. Loco was LDH (no shed markings, just text) WDM2? 16122.
20:30 hrs - John Lacey arrvd and met us opp the Internet Cafe on PF#12. Shanky and I followed him into his 1A cabin on board the Prayagraj. And, man, were we impressed!!! Shanky was completely taken by the bath/toilet and especially by the handheld shower. Pics will show the sheer pleasure he experienced. ;-)) At 21:30 hrs we waved g'bye to John and Pr'raj left led by GZB WAP5 30012 "Navjagaran". Then we went out for dinner and when I came back, it was time for my own departure.
22:30 hrs - 2622 TN left bang on time led by ED WAP4 22258. Those of you who remember my last report will recall that this was the SAME loco that brought in my 2621 on the morning of Dec 7!! So there was no way it could've left with any southbound train in the intervening period. There was a posting by Sandeep (sandeepmohan2002) about ED WAP4 loco sharing. The only explanation could be that 22258 was repaired for a minor fault. But, believe me, that did not hinder its running in any way!!!
04:15 hrs (Dec 10) - I woke up from a deep sleep as 2622 was just leaving JHS. After that there we touched 110+ continuously right upto BPL that arrvd at exactly 08:00 hrs. Saw Jammutawi-Indore Malwa express here with GZB WAP1 22028. Another dirty piece of work!!
And, oh yes, flavour of the season - at NDLS, all front pantos were up as was 2622's right upto ET!
After BPL, there was some tremendously fast running. I clocked 2622 at 115+ several times and twice at 119+ !!! Then came the pre-Narmada ghat section. I have taken snaps of the Midghat Tunnel and the lone Cabin (most notable feature that people seem to miss).
09:35 hrs - Arrvl at ET. This is an operational stop only. Found JP- MAS "Chennai Superfast" standing at the adjacent platform. This left almost immediately, led by BRC WAP4 22279 in Raj livery (overtaken at 10:45 hrs). Also coming in was the Jabalpur-Habibganj Jan Shat led by ET WDM2 16214 in brand new livery with new WDP4-style windows on the cab. (pics soon).
11:00 hrs - Dharakoh. 2 ET WAG5A bankers on. Again, only one Panto up. 11:25 hrs - Maramjhiri. Bankers off.
14:20 hrs - Just outside NGP, met 2621 TN led by ED WAP4 22272. 14:25 hrs - Arrvd NGP. Still have not seen the WAG9s which have, reportedly, arrived there. Saw the SBC Raj come opp with GZB WAP5 300##.
All this time, I noticed that my coach (AS1) was vibrating quite harshly at the rear end. Never found out why but had great difficulty reading my novel.
After this it was quite routine. No spectacular action.
17:30 hrs - BPQ arrvl. Still dirty. Fast run to WL. 21:25 hrs - WL arrvl. I had my usual glass of fruit juice at the stall and went off to sleep. Did not wake up at BZA.
Morning (Dec 11) was again as usual. Lots of EMU traffic and little else.
But here is one more repeat - at Basin Bridge, we stopped for a while and at 07:05 hrs, I saw the familiar Orange-White Stripe-Green WDM2 16399 of SCR (need to confirm the shed now; fans, please keep your eyes peeled for this one) leading 1064 out!!
07:15 hrs - MAS arrvl and end of another satisfying trip. One needs these uppers time and again!! :-))