Trip to Bangalore and Mangalore
by Shashanka Nanda
Just returned from a trip to Bangalore and Mangalore. In bangalore I was met my veteran IRFCAN Mr. Srinivas with whom I made a sunday evening trip to Channasandra bypass and Bayappanahalli station. Evenings being a busy time around SBC, we encountered traffic almost every 5 minutes keeping the gateman at the CSDR bypass cabin rather busy.
First up was the Chennai bound Shatabdi express, behind a WAM4-6PD from AJJ shed. It was followed by the jam packed Marikuppam passenger with a KJM WDM2 incharge, while we also saw in the distance, the Yeshwantpur-Howrah Express using the CSDR bypass to avoid SBC. It too was behind a KJM WDM2. Not surprisngly, these locos dominate the area, and they look magnificent especially when hauling a matched livery air brake rake.
While standing on the unused overpass at CSDR, we saw the Bangarpet-Kolar Railbus standing in the distance on the BYPL station. Mr. Srinivas told me that its visits SBC station on weekends for a mechanical checkup and pick up its supply of diesel for the week. Quick as a flash we drove down to BYPL station and caught up with the Railbus. I took shots of the railbus, which you all know is basically been built on a Ashok Leyland bus chassis, suitably modified for railway use. The interior of the Railbus was slick with diesel and indeed there were numerous jerry cans carrying the bus' fuel supply. Soon a long empty BCN/BCNA rake entered from the SBC from the BYPL freight and stopped on the platform loops. It was behind a pair a WDMs from KZJ shed. Soon the Railbus got its starter signal and with almost a truck like blast from its horn, it scooted away and was crossed by a light WAG5 from AJJ presenting a nice contrast of machines :o)
Soon the 7085 Exp. to HYB appeared with its usual power a WDP4 running LHF this time. The train entered the station really slow and continued at the restricted 15kmph on the HYB line branch. Amongst other trains, we caught the Guntur-SBC passenger behind a GTL WDM2 and a few WAG5 variants from AJJ running light. After that Mr. Srinivas took me to see the ramp from BYPL which climbs and joins the line to Salem. As already reported by Apu and other members, I saw the 1:100 grade marker facing the wrong way...and pondered on the authenticity of the inclines mentioned as to the naked eye, the grade seemed much more than what was inidicated..........
The ramp was soon put into use by the incoming passenger from Salem, which coasted in behind my favorite WDM2... a loco from GOC... I just love the green gold livery of GOC locos. At almost the same time, the Karnataka Exp. with twin Itarsi WDM2s leading as usual proceeded on its 42 hr sojourn to Delhi. A bit later, the ramp was again used by the another train (can't remember which one) behind a KJM WDM2 (??) and while the loco huffed and puffed up the incline.... while it whistled into the dying sun, me and Srinivas sir, headed back home.
A few days later, I had to travel to Mangalore and since there is no direct rail link between SBC and MAQ, I had no option but to take those wretched, pseudo sleeper buses which tear across the highway all day and night. After a fitful night of being tossed around on curvy ghat roads, with popping ears, I woke up to a wet grey morning in MAQ. Constant downpours prevented any serious attempt at railfanning even when there wasn't much work for me. But on my last day in MAQ, I just stopped bothering about the rain and went to Kankanadi station to check some action out. But due to a miscalculation on my part, I ended up there on the leanest hour possible. All that was there on the station was a light WDG2 coming in for a refuel. A brisk walk towards the loco revealed a surprise. The loco was WDG2A with no shed markings on the long hood end. The loco was #14944 but a look on the loco sides reavealed something else. As usual the letters "SHAKTI" were emblazoned in Devnagari/Hindi script, but below that was the surprise. In neat Hindi letters was stencilled "VATANUKULIT" which means Air-conditioned. This is the same loco which Mr. Atul Singh from DLW mentioned in his post recently (Mr. Singh, I guess you wrongly mentioned #15944).
I started chatting with the driver who by then had shut down the loco and the assistant was refuelling it. The fuel tank looked positively huge and the driver told me it held 6000l of fuel rather than the 5000l of a WDM2. I asked him about the performance of the A/C cab, he said though the A/C wasn't 'that' effective, it was still better than being baked/roasted/fried/boiled depending on the part of the country you were in. I guess its high time we gave the drivers ther due and install more creature comforts for them.
Thats all I managed at Kankanadi and to add salt to my wounds my camera broke down :o( , I hope that I have taken atleast one shot of the loco. Returning SBC the next day, I proceeded the same evening to HYB by the 7086 exp. Mr. Srinivas was kind enough to drop me at the station where we were met by IRFCAN Ravi Sundarajan. We saw a WAP4 waiting with the coaches for the MYS-MAS exp, a KJM jumbo WDS6 doing shunting duties and the twin WDM2s from Itarsi waiting for the Karnataka exp. Surprisngly both the locos were 17XXXR locos !!! first time I saw an MU of two rebuilt locos. My train was hauled that day by WDP4 #20002 running SHF. The same loco was in Mumbai for the Jan Shatabdi Exp. can some Mumbai member let me know, which 2 WDP4s are visiting ur town these days ???