My India Trip 2003/h1>

by John Lacey


New Delhi - Lucknow: 2003-10-12

After arriving in India last weekend, I made my first IR trip in almost three years on Wednesday, riding the Shatabdi to Lucknow.

Unfortunately, I can only a few details as I arrived shortly before the 06.15 departure, and my car was at the rear of the train, and although I had a window seat, I had a restricted view. It was not possible to take times from the posts, and I don't have a NCR TT so cannot give average speeds, or intermediate punctuality.

The LHB cars are very well finished, and the ride is extremely smooth. The loco was:

WAP5 30004, the load 2 generators, 9 CC and one EC.

A WDP was on the Shan e Punjab, and before the train which left at 06.15, had reached the end of the platform, hot towels had been distributed, followed by the paers and mineral water. One steward was in a very colourful livery. The catering manager came through, namasted and presented each passenger with a red rose wrapped in cellophane. First service was then of a tray with biscuits, chocolate bar and tea/coffeee kit.

Fast running follwed after Ghaziabad ( 06.57-59), then fast running began.

Surpisingly, the Poorva was halted at Aligarh ( 08.05-07), and shortly after a Rajdhani passed, so the Poorva was waiting to be overtaken.

After Aligarh, I tried estimating speeds using the counting the posts method, and this gave speeds around 120-130 kmh.

The speed slower than on my trips in 2000; but it was the steadyn riding of the LHB stock which suggested lower speeds, as I rode a normal rake on the return journey.

Intermediate times were:

Hathras 8.23

Faizabad 9.02

Etawah 9.43-47

Kanpur 11.19-11.28

Lucknow 12.29

There had been a number of pws.

The return on saturday was in a standard rake, and the running seemed much faster, and the car rode more roughly. I should point out that in both directions I was at one end of the last car in the train ( seat 13 in LHB and 44 in standard).

The EC car had some framed photos of NMR locos: the X class and the BBCIR P class.

Delays started right at the beginning of the journey.

dep LKO 15.38

Kanpur 16.47-52

After some fast running, we came to a halt at Bhaupur 5.13-16 where a milk passenger train was waiting, and there were curious looks here. There were more halts, but snacks had been served: cashews, sandwich, a large curry filled pastry, a hot sweet , chocolate and tea.

Etawah 18.35-37

Aligarh 20.07-09

Then came a very extensive dinner: chappatis, dal, rice, okra curry, veg paneer, salad, curd, fruit salad, foolowed by ice cream later.

GHZ 21.29-31

NDLS ar 22.12

Unfortunately, I did not get to see the loco number.

New Delhi - Amritsar: 2003-10-15

Travelled to Amritsar by 2031 Shatabdi on Monday 13 October: loco WDP2A 15538, load 2x WLLR, CC 1-8, EC ( rear): a standard blue rake. Departure was on time, and the Exp from Patna was double WDM2. Unfortunately, I had an aisle seat near the end of the car, and all the curtains remained firmly closed, so I have no intermediate times to Ambala. There were no vacant seats in EC, and the CC 1-8 seemed to be full as well. This was a shame as there was some fast running, and despite stops outside Ambala, arrival was 4' early, with departure on time.

Ludhiana was a minute early on arrival, but 5' late on departure. Now I could time, and there was running at 112 kmh, before the first of some long pws, some down to 20 kmh. The restrictions ended at Goraya, and speed returned to 112, before a sudden stop at a bridge , which then had a 20 kmh limit. Jalandhar City arrival was 12 late, as was the departure.

Some more fast running followed, with an occasional max of 120, but there were more pws, and stops before Amritsar was reached at at 1.13 ( 8' late).

Both the Amritsar-HWH Mail and the GT Mail were hauled from AMR by WDM2.

When does electric traction start from Amritsar?

Amritsar to Kota: 2003-10-20

This is almost a case of mourning the Frontier Mail/Golden temple Mail. When I caught the Frontier Mail from Amritsar one night in late 1980, it was a fine train with well maintained rake. Dinner was offered after departure, and arrival next morning in Delhi was on time. The train was then cleaned before the journey continued, and I was pleased to make complimentary remarks about its cleanliness on a passenger survey form.

It was a different story in 2003 ( last week). The lload fro the rear at Amritsar was

SLR 2 GS RMS, 1A/2A, 2 2A 2 3A PC 8 SL SLR WDM2 18549

Cabin B in Composite WR 1037 was scruffy, to put it kindly. Although the rake had been in AMR all day, it had been barely cleaned; the carpet was dirty, one window was fogged and the other had a broken pane. The window sills were dirty. The toilets were dirty ( 2A end was in better shape than 1A end). still, it was pleasant to be in a cabin by myself until Ludhiana, which was reached on time, just after midnight. And there we stayed- for 2 hours, due to engine failure as I heard in the corridor.

Meerut in the morning was 2 hours 4 minutes late, with New Delhi arrival at 09.38-late, causing a problem for my fellow travellers from Ludhina whose plane left at 11.00.

The new loco was WAP1 220005 which carried a plaque declaring it to be the winner of the NR Beauty Queen contest August 2002. But it certainly would not be a winner in its present condition, covered in dust and grime, the number barely visible.

A WAP 7 brought in the Poorva at 10.02.

New Delhi departure was at at 10.03. There were delays to Mathura. A passenger who joined at Mathura took a nap after eating his lunch. I did not tell him that a mouse appeared over his head.

There was some fast running after Mathura, but Kota arrival was 2 and 3/4 hours late.

What with the dirty carriage, the mouse, the late running: this was was not a good experience for my first overnight journey on IR in 3 years!

But all this was soon forgotten with the warmth of Viraf's welcome. His GT Mail from Mumbai was on time: so he waited 6 hours for me at the station.

Kota to Allahabad: 2003-10-20

Travelled from Koat on 2903 Golden Temple Mail, yesterday, Sunday 20 october. The load was similar to the southbound, but a different rake. Alas Cabin A in 1A/2A WR 013306 was not much better than the other. One window was fogged between the panes; the other was broken in two places; the bracket light had been torn out. However, the toilets were cleaner.

Cabin A was occupied, apart from myself, by railway staff and the conductor and TTEs until Sawai Madophur. Then a boisterous Canadian family took it over.

The loco was BRC WAP 4B 22384, and departure from Kota was 18' late. The southbound Palace on Wheels was passed soon after, and then followed by good running at a steady 108 kmh for long stretches. Both GT Mails arrived simultaneously at Sawai Madophur. There was a Camping Coach at Malarna.

Arrival at Mathura was early, at Nizamuddin virtually on time, and at New Delhi 19.13.

No meals had been offred on either GT journey, except for vegtetable cutlets in the morning southbound.

I changed at New delhi to wait for the Payag Raj to Allahabad and what a contrast there was in the rakes! WAP 5 30009 hauled SLR, 2 GS 12 SL 3 3A 1A 3 2A with perhaps some more GS and an SLR at the rear end. The 1A coach, WFAC 00301 had a furnishing date of 30.08.03, so it was virtually brand new. The 3A and 2A cars also looked new, or were at least in excellent condition. The 1A had a real shower hose in the toilets, along with a shower curtain, and the toilets were immaculately clean. The cabins and corridor were finished in a wood-like laminate and the whole effect togetherwith the fabrics and soft furnishings was very pleasing to the eye. There were two power points for lap tops and phone chargers in each compartment. The decor was very attractive, and the car was very smooth riding.

The only minus for me was that I had an upper berth and so had to retire immeiately, rather than sit and enjoy the journey for a while. As well, I find it hard to swing up into the upper berth without a proper ladder.

There was some fast running during the night and arrival was early despite some extended stops. This was huge improvement over travel on the GT!

Next report may have a little about activities in Kota.

ALD-NDLS: 2003-10-23

Last night I caught 2417 ALD-NDLS Prayag Raj. It was the same loco and rake as on my outbound journey:

WAP5 30009, SLR GS 13 SL 3 2A 1A 3 3A GS SLR

The 1A was new WFAC 03001 with a furnishing date of 30.08.03, and this time I was in Coupe C, which was very spacious and again very well finished.

Departure was on time, but running was slow for quite some distance, and then speed increased.Times were:

Fatephur were 23.02-23.14 ( table 22.50)

Kanpur 00.09-00.36 ( 00.20-00.30)

GHZ 07.13-07.17 ( 06.17-06.20)

New Delhi 08.13 ( 07.05).

The 1A was fully occupied; 8 of the ticket holders seemed to be Railway Officers ( NRF and HO quota). The 2A and 3A also seemed to be fully occupied. And the SL seeemd to be full too!

Neat plan foiled: 2003-10-30

I had devised what I thought was a neat plan for travel from Ooty ( NMR report later) to Pondicherry.

The Nilgiri Exp is due at Chennai Central at 05.15; there is the MG Cholan Exp departing from Tambaram at 08.45. Only catch is travelling out to Tambaram on a suburban with the luggage I'm carrying, and is there a suitable waiting area at Tambaram as it used to be just a suburban station.

Solution: take an auto to Egmore and depart on the 07.00 Guruavyur Exp, due Tambaram at 07.30. Plenty of time to catch the Cholan Exp ( I chose this train as a farewell to the MG, as I took it a number of times in the 1980s; and it has First Class).

6127 with a big load left behind WAP 22357 on time, and was son speeding through the suburbs. But we came to an abrupt halt at St Thomas Mount and stayed there for an hour. During this time a short ( 4 or 5 bogies) WAP hauled train, and two BG suburbans overtook us. In the opposite direction a WDP2 hauled 6122 KK Exp to Egmore passed only about 30' late.

Eventualy, Tamabaram was reached at 08.50, after the departure time of the Cholan. And there 6127 stayed-until 09.38 ( 128' late).

Ten minutes aletr we passed YAM on 6714, and at 09.51 overtook a YAM standing on a pass/Exp with FC ( so the Cholan?)

More time was lost, Chengalpattu was 138' late at 10.16, with another 3' lost to Tindivanam.

However, there were no further delays and Villupuram, to my relief, was reached at 11.41, 126' late.

Loco was changed here to WDP2 1519, but the poor long distance passengers had more to endure, for the train was still standing there at 12.10 ( 150'late), when I gave up to look for transport to Pondicherry.( This last delay was caused by waiting to cross a late 2636 Vaigai Exp, due at VM 11.50.)

hence my subject line!

NMR: 2003-11-10

It was with some trepidation that I caught 2671 Nilgiri Exp on Sunday 26 October as two attempts to visit the NMR in 2000 failed due to line closures. The load from the rear was SLR GS 3xSL FC 3A 2A 1A PPS ( RMS) SLR followed by the Coimbatore coaches. All the 1A passengers apart from myself were booked to Coimbatore. Why I don't know as the timetable seems distinctly unfriendly as compared with the Cheran Exp.

Coimbatore arrival the next morning was at 04.20 ( 25' early); one of the passengers insisted that I get out of my UB and alight. I had to produce my reservation slip to satisfy him: not that I could have stayed abed in any case as the attendant collected all the bedding from my compartment at Coimbatore. The reason for this was a bit mysterious as I noticed on alighting at MTP at 05.40 ( 20' early) that the bedding in some other compartments was still in place.

But it was a pleasure to see the MG rake in the platform at MTP: the rake was SLR SCZ SCZ FS, and later X 37391 bakced down. Quite a number of passengers obviously had not arrived by 2671 and they made for a full load.

x37393 was in steam at the shed, and departure was but 1' late at 07.11 The first km was the fastest when steam hauled: from the start to KM1 took 3'13" an average of 18.6 kmh. Kallar stop was at 07.38 to 07.43, and the rack was engaged in now heavy rain. The lowest speed on the rack was from KM 13 to 14 taking 8' 07": an average of 7.4 kmh. But not all kms were timed due to photography, and otherwise speed on the rack section were in the 10-11 kmh range.

It was a wonderfully scenic journey despite the rain in the lower section, and the cold in the upper. The brakesamn on the end platform sheltered under an umbrella for much of the journey.

Coonor was reached at 10.12 , 18' early and here YDM4 6153 took over, with ooty arrival at 11.56, 4' early. At coonor, 37392 was in steam with two others visible in the shed.

Two days later YDM4 6481 brought in SLR S SCZ FS and another big crowd joined.

At Coonor, X 37392 took over, with 37391 in steam, and 37390 plinthed outside the station.

Coonor was left at 16.31, 16' late, and it was dark before Kallar ( 18.18-22), and there was a nice trundle through the forest at about 15 kmh. Once the river was crossed, the loco was opened up for the climb and KM 3 to 2 was at 20.3 with an acceleartion to KM1 to 24.3 kmh. This was an exciting run with glowing cinders being thrown into the air, and MTP arrival was 15' late at 18.50.

This meant less time to wait for 2672 with WDM2 18605 and the same rake as the outward journey. Deaparture from Coimbatore was 15' late, and again I was the only 1A passenger from MTP, with a full complement joining at CBE.

Chennai arrival next morning was 34' late at 05.49, with WAP 4 22255 in charge.

TVC - NZM: 2003-11-06

On Tuesday evening I caught 2431 Rajdhani from Trivandrum. Loco was WDP2 15516 leading blue generator, 3x 2A, 1A ( dated 1998, but seemed older!) PC 5x 3A, Raj generator.

departure was on time at 19.15, and a full dinner wass served after Quilon ( passed 20.15). The route was quite busy with overtakes and crossings, but I found it difficult to identify stations and trains.

Ernakulam Jn departure was 9' late, but the morning arrival at Kankandi was 24' early. The stop was extended by an extra 5' to depart at 07.35.

It was a very pleasant run northwards through fine scenery which becomes even more dramatic as Madgaon is approached. But something had happened to the timekeeping, even speeds seemed quite high, as Madgaon arrival was 30' late at 11.55 and departure was 35' late.

AC 2 Tier was full after Madgaon, and 3 Tier seeemd very well occupied too. There were 3 vacant berths in 1A.

Despite a cloudy afternoon, the journey became very scenic indeed.

All but 12' of the lateness had been regained by Ratnagiri, but 15' was spent at Anjani crossing a southbound Express.

Arrival at Vasai Rd was at 21.04 and departure was at 21.16 ( 1' late).

I woke the next morning to find the train moving at 120 kmh, and the first station passed was Thuria at 06.37, 8' late. The fast running was soon interrupted by some speed restrictions, but speed returned to 120-124 kmh. Shamgarh was passed at 124 kmh 4'late at 06.57, and fast running continued on to Bhawani, 32.62 kms covered in 15'50" an average of 128.4 kmh. This did not last as there was a very slow way slack soon after, followed by another, so that the train was 16' late passing Morak. Speed was reduced for the Dara Pass, but some time was regained and from Dara to Dadhdevi ( 13'late) the average was 122.6 kmh ( 31.58 kms in 15'46"). There was slow running, and a 4' stop before Kota which was reached at 08.25, 15'late.

In the section to Kota 60 kms from post 765 to 825 were covered in 28'49" an average of 124.9.

Kota departure was at 08.34, and despite a long pws the 108 kms to Sawai Madophur were covered 68' an average of 101 kmh. More pws occurred, and a goods train was overtaken, and speed reached 128.5 after Gangapur City, with 10 kms 1097 to 1107 at an average of 125.8 but the train came to a stand at Sri Mahabir Jn for 1'. The restart was fast, speeds over succesive km being 65, 92 109, 116, 124, 126 and at the next station we overtook a goods train which had caused the delay. Then came more slowings, but in between 10 kms from 1183 to 1193 were covered in 4'36" an average of 130.4.

The average from Bayana to Bharatpur was 123 kmh, and Mathura was passed slowly at 11.56. Therew ere some more slowings, and Faridabad was passed at 13.20, with a stop at Okha, Nizambad arrival was at 13.59, 9' late.

Loco was BRC WAP 4E 22254.

CAPE - TVC: 2003-11-06

On Tuesday I caught 6525 KK-Bangalore Exp; a long train hauled by a WDM2. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to catch the loco number.

Departure from Nagercoil was 5' late, waiting to cross blue WDM2 18059 on 6355 Exp.

At Nagercoil, there was a WDM number 17519. This loco has had the short hood end removed ( I remember some mails on this subject), but it also has raised aluminium or stainless steel individual numbers on the side, which have a very attractive appearance.

Some more minutes were lost and the train became crowded as it got closer to Trivandrum.

At Kulitturai, a WDM2 hauling 371 pass was crossed, while at Amaravilla double headed WDM2s hauled an oil train.

A very crowded 6525 disgorged the local passengers in Trivandrum at 09.16, 6' late.

New Delhi - Amritsar: 2003-11-13

Yesterday I made a return trip to Amritsar from New Delhi using the Swarn Shatabdi both ways. Unfortunately I lost my notebook on arrival back in Delhi, so this will be brief.

Loco was WDP2 15513 on a load of 2Gen, 2 EC 7CC. On the outward journey, there were 4 vacant EC seats but these were occupied on departure: there were no vacancies in CC.

Departure was right on time, but there were stops and delays just after the start, so that the first 14 kms took 30'. After this, speed increased to a steady 112-113, until further delays before Ambala. Most station averages over the longer distances up to 60 or so kms were 112-113 until the delays hit. The Howrah-Amritsar Exp was overtaken; it was over 4 hours late.

Ambala was a few minutes late, and then there was faster running, up to 116 kmh; but further delays hit, and eventaully Amritsar arrival was 35' late.

The return journey started right time and the chart showed no vacancies. I suspect that single line working may have been in place as we stopped at one stage for 15', a train passed us, and after this we departed.

A nice dinner was served, and there was some attempt at a sort of silver service style with separate offerings of some items from baskets. Fruit-apples on the outward, apples and bananas on the return-wwas offered. Menu cards for all three services were distributed. Butter chicken was the non-veg item for dinner, palak paneer the veg.

The cars rode very well.

Kolkata: 2003-11-27

Have not had much opportunity to report recently, so lots of backlog.

Thanks to Mrinal and Samit for their hospitality in Kolkata recently. I think I was the only Australian in Kolkata last Tuesday not at Eden Gardens.

Thanks to the courtesy of Mrinal's ER connections, we were taken on a visit to the Howrah Route Panel. It was very interesting indeed to see the working of the 151 points, 84 turnouts and 1134 routes. Each day 60 Mail/Express trains are handled, plus more than 500 EMU local workings.

By contrast, we also travelled on two ferry routes, and the day ended with my first Metro ride.

Howrah Rajdhani: 2003-11-27

I travelled from New Delhi to Kolkata on the Howrah rajdhani on Friday 14 November, choosing this day and train so as to travel on the Patna-Howrah route for the first time.

Loco was WAP7 301210, but I was not able to record all the rake details. There were two 1A between the leading WLLR and the PC, followed by 5 2A.

The chain was pulled just after the on-time departure from New Delhi, and Ghaziabad was passed at 17.44, with Kanpur 22.10-22.20.

The printed menu had a clip art logo of a US 4-4-0 at the top, and it was a pleasant dinner.

There was one mysterious sighting the next morning. We passed Fatuha slowly at 06.36, and stopped for 4 minutes at Karauta halt. Then two stations later, at what I recorded as Darh ( I don't have the relevant TT so cannot check the names-sometimes I can only catch a few letters), we overtook a stationery Rajdhani headed by a WAP7. Any suggestions as to what this train was?

Near Kiul there was a blue WDM on a pass with a milk tanker in the middle of the rake.

Speeds beyond Kiul were up to 100 kmh, but there were a number of slowings.

Jasidih stop was from 09.31 to 09.35, followed by Madhupur 10.00 to 10.02.

I really enjoyed the run south, as so much of the landscape looked like those familiar from S. Ray's films.

Beyond Andal ( 11.14) speed rose, with much running at 128 kmh: indeed the average over 50 kms from km 167 was 127 kmh.

Burdwan was passed slowly at 11.57 and a WAM4P headed the Toofan Exp here.

Howrah arrival was at 13.18, after an enjoyable journey.

Catching up: 2003-12-06

The last you heard from me was a message about Kolkata, and a visit thanks to Mrinal and Samit,to the HWH Panel Room, followed by my first Metro ride.

I left there on the Darjeeling Mail from Sealdah on 19 November. Samit had warned me that although my hotel was only 10 minutes from the station, to make sure I allowed for a traffic jam.

Sure enough, there was a huge one on the way, and I was not able to record all of the composition of the Mail, nor the loco. From the rear, the load was CTQV 1606 ( Reserved Saloon), SLR, 8xSL 2x 3A 2x2A 1x1A/2A.

The 1A Composite , 98039 was in good condition, unlike those I encountered on the Golden Temple and Kalka Mails, with clean toilets and surfaces; the only blemish was that the bracket light in my compartment had no globe.

Departure was on time at 7.35; there was a long stop enroute to Burdwan where the arrival was 30' late at 22.05.

There was thick fog the next morning, and Kishanaganj was over an hour late, at 06.53-06.58, while New Jalpaiguri arrival was 48' late at 08.38.

The Railway Officials were busy on this day, as there were two functions in the area advertised in the morning paper. The NG line has been removed from the platform at NJP, and remodelling work is being done.

New Jalpaiguri to NDLS: 2003-12-07

I left Darjeeling on the morning of 24 November, and caught 2423 Rajdhani from NJP. Loco was WDM2 16573, and departure was 30' late at 13.10.

A little time was regained to Katihar 16.16-16.27 ( 27' late), and reversal at Barauni was from 19.15-19.47 ( 42' late). There were armed guards patrolling the platform at Barauni.

More time was lost to Patna, 22.05-22.15 ( 60'late) and sniffer dogs inspected my compartment, but did not display much interest in my collection of smelly socks.

Five minutes had been regained by Kanpur departure at 05.58 ( 55' late), but soon came the first of many stops.

Etawah was passed slowly at 07.47, Tundla at 08.33, Hathras at 9.06, Aligarh at 09.23, while there was a brief stop at Ghaziabad 10.27-10.28. There had been some fast running after Etawah, eg the average speed from passing Etawah slowly to pass Shikohabad was 119.8, rising to 122 kmh on to Tundla. Then came more delays and a fall in average speed to Aligarh to 93 kmh, with a revival before the stop at Ghaziabad to 100 kmh average from Aligarh to Ghaziabad.

New Delhi arrival was at 11.19 ( 69' late).

The loco was uncoupled so quickly, that it had moved off to the trip shed by the time I could reach the front of the train.

Dehra Dun: 2003-12-07

The morning after my arrival from Darjeeling I caught the Shatabdi to Dehra Dun. Loco was WDM2 16765 on 11 bogies.

There was a double header seen arriving as we left New Delhi-2 x WAM on a parcles train, and also two WAP 7 on Express arrivals.

At Ghaziabad we overtook the outbound North East Express. As it was accelerating from the start, I saw an alarming sight. A man was on the footboard of the leading GS trying to get in. It was very crowded, there was a crowd and luggage in the doorway; the door was not being opened. He seemed to be hanging on grimly, and the train was getting up to speed.

Ironically, the next GS was virtually empty.I don't know what happened as the trains separated.

Two passenger trains hauled by WDM were crossed before Meerut, and speed had been held steadily at 106-112.

Beyond Meerut there was a WDP2 on an Express and a WDM on a pass waiting on the single line.

Beyond Muzzaffanagar there was a long stop, for 25', where the derailed coaches of the JS are still present, and the Jalandahar -NDLS Exp, was crossed.

Saharanpur arrival was at 10.08, and departure after reversal was at 10.29. WDM2 18949 hauled the Ujjain-DD Exp.

Dehara Dun arrival was at 13.01 on a clear sunny day.

I returned on the evening Shatabdi a few days later, and the same WDM2 16765 hauled a diferent rake ( I think the DD rake works to LKO on Saturdays).

There is very little to report, apart from a virtually full complement in EC-and a very appetising dinner. New Delhi arrival was a little late at 22.53.

In Parliament: 2003-12-10

Thanks to the hospitality of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, I was able to spend most of Tuesday in Parliament. I was present in the Lok Sabha for a very lively Question Time indeed. This is not completely off-topic as there was a question about metros. At this stage, I did not realise that there was a translation service available through headphones, and so I did not fully understand the question/answer.

But what I gathered is that 200 crores have been allocated to Metro studies in places such as Hyderabad, Raipur, Bangalore, Patna, Trivandrum, Gwalior and Ahemdabad.

NDLS - Pune via ALD: 2003-12-12

As described in Shanx's Railfanning@NDLS mail I caught the Prayag Raj on Tuesday night after meeting Shanx and Gautam. Perhaps you will be as surprised as we were by Shanx's dress that night-but you will have to wait until the photos can be loaded-?

Anyway, it was a nice send off to a luxurious night for me, as I had sole occupancy of a coupe in WGFAC 03002, dated August 03. The beds are already made up when the the rake arrives, but we folded back the LB and made ourselves comfortable.

It was a smooth ride , but I was awake at 04.30 which was during the stop at Kanpur ( due 03.45-03.58).

There was fog in the morning, but this did not hamper fast running.

Allahabad arrival was at 07.14 ( 24' late).

The AC 3T cars had consecutive numbers: 03105 03104 03103.

After breakfast and a look at WR ZB 72 plinthed outside the station, I waited for #2321 HWH-Mumbai Mail.

I chose this route to travel to Pune for two reasons: I have never travelled between Manikpur and Katni, and I have never seen the Thull Ghats in daylight.

While waiting a double WAG 9 hauled freight train passed through, and one loco was in a blue and yellow livery. The Mail was listed as right time, and I later learnt that it had been 30' late at Mughal sarai, but it eventually arrived behind WAP4 2252 hauling VPU SLR GS 8xSL PC 3A 2A H/A GS ( RMS) SLR CTQU 1072. Replacement loco was WDM2 18062.

Eventual departure was at 13.11( 87' late), but time was lost to Manikpur ( 15.25-15.28- 120'Late). It was dark before Katni 18.02-18.08- 126' late), and even more time was lost at Jabalpur 19.40-20.08- 148' late).

Morning saw an improvement, with Manmad at 07.05-07.09 ( 79' late), and Nasik Road 08.00-08.02 ( 47'late). Here there was a vertical boilered steam crane, CR 110.

Looc as far as Igatpuri was Itarsi WAM4 6P 20596 and the new loco was WCAM 3 21890, and the times were 08.58-09.20 ( 65' late).

I really enjoyed the descent of the Thull Ghat, and there seem to be some good photographic locations here.

There were some delays and stops before Kalyan, and departure was 60' late, and this lateness continued to the Dadar arrival at 12.15.

I alighted at Dadar and transferred to 7031 Hyderabad express, hauled by WCAM3 21937 on SLR GS 10xSL 2A 2x3A ( and I think more GS and SLR). The electronic signs which indicate the position of each bogie are a real boon at stations such as Dadar.

It was a punctual run apart from a 9' stop at Talegaon ahead of per way work, and this caused a 10' late arrival at Pune.

Waiting was a welcoming commitee of Apurva, Shyama, Iti and John Mani.

Dining on the Deccan Queen: 2003-12-17

I can confirm that the Deccan Queen does have a Dining Car, as I took breakfast in it yesterday morning as the train descended the Bhore Ghat.

The car code is WCD 8801.

There are 9 tables seating 4 on plastic chairs. There is a clock above the door to the saloon, and IR posters on the wall. There are thick curtains at the windows, plastic floral tablecoths on the table.

A nice touch was that when I asked for black tea I was asked "sugar" or "unsugared"; and the tea is in china cups, and the cheese toast was on a china plate.

Someone wrote that it was only accessible to AC passengers: this was not the case, most customers came from the Second Class cars ( I was at the table at that end). Service was quick, and turnover fast-a lot of passengers were waiting.

Still, it was a very nice "classic train" experience, enhanced by the dramatic scenery outside.

departure from Pune was a few minutes late as a an empty rake was being shunted across the track; Dadar arrival was on time.

LHB day 2: 2003-12-17

Thanks to Viraf and his friend Minoo who drove us around Mumbai yesterday, we were at MCT in time to see the second departure of the LHB rake.

The train left a few minutes late due to the loco not coupling to the rake.

There was a lot of interest in the rake; and the catering staff had their photographs taken outside the Hot Buffet Car. The 3 chefs were wearing toques.

The whole train looked very impressive indeed.

I was booked on the AK Raj; I hope to have the LHB rake on my return trip to Mumbai next week.

Times on Wheels: 2003-12-17

Along with two afternoon newspapers, copies of the 16 page colour glossy newspaper," Times on Wheels" are distributed to passengers on the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhanis, the Palace on Wheels, the ADI Shatabdi and BEST AC buses.

The lead story is unravelling the mystery of " Jassi" in the sitcom;inside are more entertainment related features, astrology, puzzles and jokes.

The travel items are on Goa and Dharamasala, with a boxed item on 3 Mumbai weekend getaways.

A very fast run - and a stroke of luck: 2003-12-17

I recently enjoyed what I am fairly confident is the fastest, and longest non-stop run I have ever recorded in India.

The train was the southbound Trivandrum Rajdhani and the loco was WAP 4E 22553 hauling a 12 bogie rake. Just before departure, the AK Rajdhani arrived 4' early with WAP 4E on an 18 bogie load.

The Trivandrum train departed just a touch late, and soon picked up speed, reaching 113 kmh. However, Ballabagh was passed very slowly, and checks continued all the way to Mathura. I don't know the scheduled passing time, but Mathura Jn was passed very slowly, at 12.50, having taken 108.5 minutes from NZM.

However, what had been causing the delay as far as Mathura was now out of the way and a remarkable run began, with speed soon rising to reach close to the 130 kmh limit. But there is a speed restriction before Bharatpur, and the average from passing Mathura slowly to passing Bharatpur was 102 kmh.

Due to the serving of an excellent lunch, I missed recording the passing time at Bayana; but suffice it to say that the average over the 119 kms from Bharatpur to Gangapur City was 121 kmh. Speed, apart from some restrictions, was mostly in the 124-129 range.

The entire section from NZM to Kota was run non-stop, even though there was a signal check outside Kota, and it did seem as though the train was about to come to a stand. Nonethless, the section was run without a stop, even though there were speed restrictions and per way slacks, as well as the signal slacks already mentioned.

From the slow passing of Mathura to the stop at Kota ( including the near stop outside), the time for the 325 kms was 180'33" ( 3 hours and 33 seconds), an average speed of 108 kmh including the observance of all restrictions and the final signal check. For the 310 kms from post 1240 to post 930, the time was 164' 33", an average of 113 kmh ( 70.3 mph).

Some highlights from this 310 km section include:

  • 120 kms from post 1153 to post 1033 in exactly 60 minutes: 120 kmh.

Other fast section, chosen almost at random, are:

  • 50 kms from post 1150 to 1100 in 23' 12" an average of 129.8
  • 15 kms from 1111 to 1096 in 6'53" an average of 130.8
  • 10 kms from 1046 to 1036 in 4'34" an average of 131.4.

Kota arrival was at 15.51, and departure at 16.07 ( 27' late), but arrival at Baroda was 2' early, with an on-time departure at 22.40.

Mumbai Raj: 2003-12-18

On Tuesday I left Mumbai on the AK Rajdhani: I chose this train as I will be travelling by the Mumbai Rajdhani in a week's time and wanted to compare the two trains, not knowing that the LHB rake was to appear.

Seeing the gleaming LHB rake I regretted choosing the AK a month ago, but still I have that LHB journey to anticipate!

Departure was a little late for as soon as the train started to move, it pulled up and a number of out of breath passengers scrambled aboard the last coach, which is 1AC. Those with luggage had a difficult walk as the adjacent car is the Pantry Car.

By Bandra, three newspapers had been distributed, along with pillows and water, and then shortly after, chilled orange juice arrived.

Just 30' after the start came the first of a number of out-of-course stops, and the tables were set up for snacks. The tea was in a pot, with separate hot milk, china cups: a hot samosa, packet of almonds, packet of Madras mix, a vegetarian sweet and a chocolate bar.

Despite the stops, Valsad was only 2' late.

The table was set for dinner on a floral plastic placemat, but with a linen napkin, and the cutlery was laid out in position ( in other Rajdahanis it has been wrapped in a packet). Cream of vegetable soup was served individually from a tureen into the soup bowls, and there were bread sticks as well as a hot bread roll and butter.

Again, the bread was presented individually, and the whole meal service was close to a classic silver service. There was a salad, macaroni, vegetable patties, peas, beans and carrots.

This was a more than sufficient meal in itself, but later came another silver service presentation of rotis, pullao and a capsicum based vegetable dish, with a tub of masti dahi.

Later still was a large wedge of strawberry icecream, already plated.

I was most impressed by the standard of the meal and especially the smiling service from two stewards.

The other passenger in my compartment alightred at Surat; and a father and two teenage boys boarded. They were also served the whole meal, with some extra icecream for friends of the boys visiting from another carriage further along the train.

Surat arrival was 6' early, and Baroda arrival was on time, but departure was held until 23.19, 14' late.

Running before Kota seemed to be very fast, but departure was 17' late, and when there was light we were running at reduced speed through thick fog.

So it was no surprise that departure from Sawai Madophur was 38' late at 07.10; an extra 20' had been taken from Kota.

Speeds northwards were mostly around 120 kmh, with some running at 124-129.

Average speeds were 79 Koata-Sawai Madophur, 85 on to Ganagapur City, 111 to bayana and 116 to Bharatpur, with 73 on the leg to the stop at Mathura. The start to stop average from Sawai M to Mathura was 95 kmh, the 216 kms having taken 136'39".

Arrival at Nizamuddin was 28' late at 11.23, one minute having been lost from Mathura.

The food and service on this train were the best out of the seven Rajdhani journeys I have made so far in 2003. The 1AC car-95003- was very clean and well maintained, with a good standard of finish.

It will be interesting to compare the journey south on the Mumbai Raj next Wednesday.

Lucknow Shatabdi: 2003-12-22

Went down to Lucknow today to meet Samar. Arriving just before departure time I did not walk to to the other end of the train to see the loco, so received a surprise at Lucknow: a dirty WAP 1 22022. The load was LHB: two generators, EC, 10 CC, all well loaded.

There was fog again in Delhi, and after an on time departure, there was slow running to Ghaziabad, 15' late. I was on the wrong side of the train to see the posts, and so could not time: but there were a number of delays, and Aligarh was 21' late, increasing to 28' late arriving at Kanpur.

The Catering Manager came through the EC greeted every passenger and presented a wrapped red rose; and this set the tone for a very pleasant morning's travel. There were choices in the breakfast menu: rools or hot toast or bread, and then a choice of cutlets or another veg dish, or omlette.

Just before Tundla ( 9.07) the first of the Rajdhanis went past. Unless I made an error, there were 5 Rajdhanis passing, one after the other, from 8.58 to 9.24,: two seemed to have a short consist, while one was longer, and I saw two 1A in this train. Is this the correct number of Delhi bound Rajdhanis for a Monday?

Lucknow arrival was 32' late at 13.02, and I met Samar on the platform. Despite his exhortations to stay longer, I had to return on the Shatabdi, with the same loco.

Kanpur departure was right on time, but the first of a number of stops occurred soon after. There was a 10' stop at Panki and some of the passengers from the waiting Howrah-Jodhpur Exp behind 22510 took a close interest in the LHB rake.

New Delhi arrival was 25' late at 22.35.

The LHB rake is very comfortable and rode superbly.

Bhopal Shatabdi: 2003-12-23

In 2000 I caught the Bhopal Shatabdi twice: once on the southbound journey only; and the second time wasa return journey on the same day. Except that arrival in New Delhi was at 01.15 on the following day due to fog.

The first run did have a fast Jhansi-Bhopal run and time lost earlier was regained.

So I was keen to have another trip in 2003, and chose last Saturday. The previous day I had made a return trip to Amritsar, and the Delhi arrival was only 9' late despite the fog.

Saturday was again cool, but the fog did not seem to be as thick as I walked to New delhi for the 06.00 departure time. WAP 5 30005 was the loco, and departure was on time. Many arriving trains were listed as being late.

The Punjab Mail was listed as having an 08.00 arrival, and when I saw this train later, it was running over 3 hours late, so I was glad that I had not continued onwards from Bhopal.

There were delays on the way to Mathura and the fog became a bit thicker by here. Agra arrival was 44' late at 08.39, and departure time was 42' late.

There were more delays onto Gwalior, and the fog suddenely cleared 10 minutes before Gwalior arrival, 51' late at 10.05.

The narrow gauge was not visible as a northbound coal train blocked the view: as the wagons carried labels saying that the load was low ash coking coal impoirted from Australia, I should have been feeling patriotic. ( Incidentally, Indian coal was once exported to Victorian Railways, but the high ash content affected the steaming: modern Indian locos had very large grate areas to compensate).

Another 4' was lost to Jhansi, and departure was at 11.29, 57' late.

There were a number of delays onwards: there seemed to be a lot of goods trains ahead, and at the station before Lalitpur there were both north nad south bound goods trains in the loops. At Lalitpur, the northbound Punjab Mail was passed, running 27' late.

Bhopal arrival was at 14.51, 46' late.

Return departure was 41' late at 15.26, with 3 passengers in EC: the staff were all surprised to see me back on board.

There were also delays in this direction, and Jhansi was 52' late with a 18.47 departure, but a little time was gained at Gwalior, with arrival 52' late, but departure 49' late.

Similarly, Agra was at 21.00-21.05, and New Delhi arrival was at 23.50, 50' late.

Amritsar Shatabdi and fog: 2003-12-23

I had occasion to make a quick return trip to Amritsar last Friday, the first of the North India fog days. Loco was WDP 2 15526 on a full load of 2 EC 7 CC 2 generators: I was lucky as I was WL in EC on the return, and it was confirmed before departure.

New Delhi departure was right on time at 07.20, but the first of the stops occurred soon after. There was fog, and the running reflected this. But I did not have a window seat and so cannot provide speeds.

However, speed did increase and Karnal was passed at 09.03, with Amabala arrival only 12' late at 10.02 and departure 14' late at 10.06. The Dadar-Amritsar Exp was overtaken here, behind WDM2 16102. Time was regained to Ludhiana with the departure 9' late at 11.26. Speeds were in the 106-116 range to Jalandhar, again left 9' late at 12.11.

Amritsar arrival was only 6' late at 13.12, and was a commendable achievement given the fog and the late running I have encountered previously on this train.

The same loco took out the return train, and at 17.15 we passed the same Dadar-Amritsar Exp overtaken at Amabala on the outward journey, 7 hours earlier.

Per way work for the electrification caused delays before Beas, which was 9' late, and the same lateness continued throughout to New Delhi arrival at 22.59, 9' late.

This was to be an early night as compared to what happened on Sunday.

Ajmer Shatabdi: 2003-12-24

It was a short Saturday night for me as I arrived in NDLS on the Bhopal Shatabdi at 23.50 ( see previous report) and departed on the Ajmer Shatabdi next morning at 06.10. Loco was WDM 2 16765, and the rake was the same as worked to Bhopal the previous day: indeed I occupied the same seat in WFCAZ 1703.

Departure was on time, but the slow run to Cantt was a sign of things to come: departure was 10' late. Quite a number of trains were crossed including one Express double headed by WDM-this one seemed to include 4 AC cars.

The fog was very thick at Alwar, where the train was 93' late ( 10.06-10.08). The fog cleared, but more time was lost to Jaipur, with arrival 94' late, and departure 100' late.

Ajmer arrival was at 14.13, 88' late in bright sunny weather. I had just sufficient time to make one visit in Ajmer, and so was unable to see any rail action there. Dep[arture was marginally early, and several goods trains were crossed en route to Jaipur, where YDM4 6420 was departing with #9651 Exp to Ajmer, and this train includes a ( MG) AC Chair car.

Jaipur arrival was on time, but departure was 2' late. Alwar was 3' late, but then the rot started, and Delhi Cantt arrival was 82' late at 23.09.

New Delhi arrival was 84' late at 23.44.

So it was another short night for me as I was to leave next morning for Lucknow ( see report already posted).

Mumbai Rajdhani: 2003-12-29

I have a long-standing invitation to spend Christmas Day with Viraf and his family in the northern sububs of Mumbai. I also wanted to avoid carrying my luggage on suburban trains, so I devised a plan which involved travelling down to Mumbai on Christmas Eve and returning to Delhi on Christmas Day.

The plan was devised months ago, and bookings made on the day reservations opened. That was long before any hint of the impact of Delhi's winter weather!

Christmas Eve in Delhi saw traffic chaos near the station, and I was glad my plan meant that I could walk to the station. But the Mumbai Rajdhani had been rescheduled to 17.30. The stock eventually moved at 17.40 and arrived on the platform at 17.55. The train was quickly boarded and the warmth inside was very welcome.

Loco was WAP 5 30001 on a LHB rake of:

2 generator, AS1-4 PC1 AS5-7 A1-A4 PC 2 H1

Deaparture was at 16.15, 135' late. On departure copies of Times on Wheels were distributed, followed by orange juice, water and pillows. The first out of course stop occurred in the first 8 minutes, and Mathura was not passed until 21.22, an average from the start of less than 50 kmh.

Dinner in AC1 was a hot roll, bread sticks, cream of cabbage soup; macaroni, peas, beans, carrots, and a vegetable dish like a small piece of quiche. Vegetarian main was rice, salad,dry vegetable, paneer, chapptis; strawberry ice cream. The non veg meal was fried fish followed by roast chicken.

Travelling in my compartment were a Surgeon and two senior Railway Officers, one CR and one WR. The railway Officers were given separate treatment, meals and refreshments prepared differently; for example, wheras the surgeon and I were given a banana each, the officers had plates of sliced fruits-apples, bananas, oranges-and they were given choices in the different courses, whereas for the surgeon and me it was just veg or non veg with no choices, and no extras.

Apart from this I thought the service was somewhat slapdash, and that overall the food and service were not nearly as good as on the AK Rajdhani the previous week.

The Train Superintendent made a few visits to ask if the officers were comfortable etc; and again the non-officer passengers were completely ignored.

Baroda times were 07.43-08.04, while at Kosamba at 09.16 a NG train of loco and two coaches was ready to depart.

Mumbai Central arrival was at 13.07, 4 and a half hours late.

Viraf met me, and we were quickly onto a fast train to Borivali for a much shorter Christmas Day than planned! I tried to think of an alternative plan, but I had no real choice other than to return on the train on which I had a booking.

The WR Officer told me that the northbound Rajdhani would be leaving on time as a spare rake is kept in Mumbai.

In the event, the same rake with a different crew was used; and that story will be in my next report.

Mumbai to Chennai the long way: 2003-12-29

I forgot to include in my previous report the loco which hauled the Mumbai Rajdhani into MCT was WCAM2P 21880.

The AK Rajdhani also arrived very late on Christmas Day: Viraf and I saw the train from an emu.

So after a very abbreviated Christmas visit, Viraf and I returned to MCT for my departure to Delhi. Sarosh also came to see me off, and I was glad for he had prepared a set of CDs for me, and also Sidney who I had met on the Pune excusrion; and Sidney brought me some home-made Christmas cake.

So we had a quick look at the LHB rake, and it seems to me that the most improved car is the pantry car. But I have no idea about how the staff feel about it.

Departure was right on time at 16.55, but due to the length of the train I did not get to record the loco number.

The Times on Wheels was distributed and I enjoyed the passing parade from the panoramic window for the hour or so until dark.

Initially,I did not feel like dinner, but ordered it just for the record.

In this direction, the staff were the same smiling professional crew who had been on the AK raj the previous week, and there was a distinct difference.

The soup was cream of pea, with warm rolls and bread sticks, served from a tureen. This time, everyone was offered choices: vegetarian was patties, macaroni, cabbage, peas, beans.carrots, while non veg had fried fish. The non veg choice was chicken masala or roast chicken. I did not write down the veg choices.

Surat was passed at 20.21, while Baroda arrival was 13' late at 21.55 and departure at 22.18 was 16' late.

Again, all the passengers complained about the lack of sleep due to the uncomfortable berths, but I was able to record that koat was on time at 04.30.

However, there was fog in the morning and before Sewar speed was around 60 kmh.

Even though the fog became thicker, there was a speed up after Bhartpur, and 10 kms were covered at at 131 kmh, and again the riding was excellent at this speed.

Mathura was passed slowly at 08.43, and there was some more fast running, with 10 kms before Kosi Kalan at 130 kmh.

But there were slowings, and eventually Nizamuddin was passed at 10.44. Another 38' to New Delhi seemed excessive, and so the arrival was 89' late at 11.24. By the time I reached the front of the train, the loco had cut off and departed for the trip shed.

I left for Chennai that night, on the Bangalore Rajdhani. There were two reason for this: it would give me the chance to see the ghat section south of Itarsi in daylight for the first time since 1980, and to allow a time margin for delays, to shower and change ( after all I would be spending 4 consecutive nights on trains!) and collect my luggage, and some last minute shopping perhaps.

So off to Nizamuddin on a cold wintry night to catch the Bangalore Rajdhani. Immediately after the on time departure, the chain was pulled.

To my surprise, a full dinner was served after departure: tomato soup with croutons, bread roll, rice paneers, dal, salad, curd, apple, ice cream.

The Delhi fog brought me a bonus: Bhopal departure at 05.58 was 68' late, and there was just enough light to enable me to see some of the Bundi ghat section too, and the ealy morning scene in this area is very eastern Australian in appearance too.

Itarsi was passed at 71.15, but dark rain clouds set in, and the rest of the day was overcast.

Nagpur at 11.07-11.17 ( 45' late) gave me the chance to see the loco, BRC WAP 4 F 22560, and the load was blue gen, 5xAS AS Extra PC 1A 4x2A gen.

At kazipet came the news that the loco had failed, and we stopped from 17.26 to 17.54 while it was replaced by a WDM2. During this time, the AP Express, due at at 16.34, arrived at 17.45.

Our arrival at secunderabad was at 20.15, 65 late, with departure at 21.01, 96' late.

This gave me extra time to chat with Stuart Kean who was visiting Hyderabad, and came to meet me at the station.

Bangalore arrival next morning was behind WDM 16545 at 9.06, 101' late.

WAP4 21240 brought in 2007 Mysore Shatabdi and I caught this train for a quick trip to Mysore. There were two genarators, six CC and one EC 98006 which is very comfortable and has some unique ( in my shatabdi experince) features. These are decorative touches such as tiled walls, and painted wooden friezes which run over and below the window sills and vertically in the panels between the large windows.

Deparature was 19' late, and was pleasantly surprised to be served soup, biiyani, sandwich, a spicy and very tasty wet dish, rice cooked in curd with pomegrante seeds, and a banana.

Mysore arrival wwas 24' late, and WDM 16585 quickly ran around the train.

There were snacks before Bangalore, and here Srinivas was waiting to meet me. We photographed a WDP4, and then the loco change to WAM4 21221, and my meeting with Srinivas was much too brief.

Back on the train, more snacks and then a full dinner was served. The journey was marred for me by a group of 3 children who were very noisy, and ran completely out of control for the whole journey. Their parents had been on a work group tour and made almost as much noise as the children. So the comfortable ambience of the very well finished EC car was shattered, and I was glad when Chennai Central was reached only 3'late. ( I was in seat 34 and the group extended to seat 44).

Incidentally, this brought the distance I have travelled since October 8 up to 38,000 kms.

Chennai to Cochin HT: 2003-12-30

I achieved an ambition this morning: travel to Cochin Harbour Terminus.

I departed on 2623 Trivandrum Mail from Chennai Central, leaving 5' late. I don't know the loco as my coach was at the rear, and it was a long train, and I did not like to leave my luggage.

The 1A/2A composite was 900032, and Compartment A had not been cleaned: there were empty water bottles on the floor, the carpet needed sweeping and the seat was dirty.

Katpadi was 10' late and alwaye 36' late departring at 06.43.

Time was regained to Ernakulam Town arriving at 06.57, 22' late.

I alighted here, and while waiting, a WAM headed through with #3352 Alleppy-Dhanbad Exp.

Arrival of both Down and Up Cochin-Shoranur passengers, 647/648 was almost simultaneous, and WDM 2 10448 on # 647 departed at 07.50.

During the stop at Ernakaulam Jn, the lights and fans were turned off.

What a fantastic trip it is to Cochin Harbour Terminus!

Speed across the Willingdon Island Bridge was very slow, and the bridge made the most wonderful noises under the train, road traffic was zooming past, with the remaining passengers looking down as the train made a very stately progress across the bridge, with its wonderful variety of craft tied up at the wharves.

There was brief stop at Mattancheri halt, and the station here is at ground level, the station name is prominent on the gable of the building.

Less than six minutes later, # 647 arrived at Cochin HT ( the timetable allows 42' for the 2 kms), 15' early.

The loco cut off, ran ahead and then proceeded back towards Ernakaulam. It may have gone to do some shunting ( although the sidings I saw looked overgrown-but so too did the run-around loop). The rake was closed up, and it seemed as though it would remain there until the 17.10 departure of # 650.

To my relief, there were some autos dozing in the morning sun outside the station, and I saw the WDM further down the line as I made my way to Fort Cochin.

It's a short ride from Ernakulam, but one full of interest!

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