Chennai-Hyderabad Trip by the Charminar

by Shyam A R

July 2004

Trip Report: Chennai to Hyderabad by 2759 Charminar express Date: July 5, 2004

The evening of Monday, the 5th of July found me at Mandaveli MRTS station, making my way to Chennai Central (MAS). I took the local from Tiruvanmiyur at 1715 thinking it would be free but I was in for a surprise! The puny 3 coach rake was fully loaded, and more people constantly boarded the train at subsequent halts like Tirumylai (MTMY). I feel SR should seriously consider increasing the rake length, at least during the peak hours. Anyway, I reached Park Town (MSPK) at 1730 and was well in time for my train.

Central was its usual busy self, and the evening time is especially so, since one can see departures like Yelagiri, Circar, Charminar, Ganga Kaveri / JP super fast and heavy weights like Navjivan, Corro and CSTM-MAS expresses arriving in quick succession. As before any trip, I paid my respects to Planet Yumm in the form of a vegetable cutlet and then was raring to go! Charminar was waiting on platform 9 and Jolarpet bound Yelagiri was on pf 10. I made the inevitable trip to the front to greet the beast of burden for the day, which turned out to be WAP4 #22517 of LGD. To my surprise, I could see the loco of Yelagiri right next to 22517, which was 22220 of ED, and it was attached to the rake! Which means that Yelagiri's length was more or less equal to that of Charminar!!! Very surprising for a short distance day train. Hmmmmmmmmm......does this train share its rake with some other train??? Pf 8 played host to Kakinada bound 6043 Circar, whose power was a BZA WAM4-6P #20518. Circar left on time at 1745.

By then it was time for me to get on board and Charminar pushed off at 1810 sharp. The coach composition was SLR-II-1A/2A-2 2A-2 3A-13 SL-2 II-SLR (23 coaches). Since when was the Tatkal coach removed? My coach S10 was up front, so I could listen to the loco horns quite clearly. I have come across twin tones, but this chap seemed to have a triple tone horn!!! I really heard three different horn sounds. Any special effects in play here???

We were moving slowly out of MAS, when 6011 CST-MAS express with an AJJ WAM4P6PD crossed us (time: 1815, 90 min late) followed by 6045 Navjivan express from Ahmedabad (ADI) at 1819 (64 min late), with ED WAP4 22568 in the lead. Soon after crossing Basin Bridge (BBQ), we picked up and quickly swept past Tondiarpet (TNP) and Korukkupet. However, we had to slow down at Tiruvottiyur, where we had to cross a WAG5 freighter standing on the main line. Why are freighters parked on the main line, forcing the overtaking express to pull into the loop, which has to be done at 10-15 kmph only, wasting at least 10 min?? Wouldn't it make sense to divert the freight into the loop and let the express pass at say, 50-70 kmph or whatever? I have seen this happening very frequently between KZJ and SC, forcing a right time train to run late! Can anyone explain the rationale behind this? Coming back to the trip, I saw two coupled WAP4s just before Tiruvottiyur, 22580 and 22232 of ED. Taking a joy ride I suppose:))). Also the WAG5 of the freighter I was talking about belonged to BNDM!!!! Isn't that Bondamunda or something? Exactly where is it (I could think of SER/SECR/ECoR)? And I thought there was a diesel shed there......In any case, an exotic loco!

All this while, I could see that the earth work for quadrupling the line till Gummidipoondi(???) was apace. Soon, we left the city and headed towards AP, consistently doing 90-100. However, Ennore creek was crossed at 30kmph or so, and there were more speed restrictions coming up all the while. It was so frustrating for me to sit and watch: pass a T/P sign, notch up and touch 90-100, and another some sign would surface and hence brake. I wonder how the pilots would feel about this......

The speeds weren't so spectacular and we reached Gudur at around 2100, some 15 min late. After Nellore, I gave up looking out the window and elected to sleep. Yes, I had a window for myself, a side lower berth, and could see the other line!! Alas, my seat faced the rear of the train and it had an emergency window, which was properly closed and so I couldn't look out in the real sense. I had to satisfy myself by just looking at the countryside and listening to the horns. It always helps when one has a seat facing the loco so that one can see the approaching train from far away. But for me, no such luck and so it was sleep. I woke up at Tenali (this time I was facing the loco, for I now had the whole berth to myself) and it was 0100. We were almost an hour late!!! Of course, an enormous slack is built into the TT here. Charminar takes 70min to cover a distance of 31km (Tenali-BZA). We reached BZA at 0145, around 20 min late only!! The ways of IR!!!!!! During the approach to BZA, we raced a freighter over the Krishna river bridge, which was coming from the Nellore side and had the track adjacent to us on the bridge. Two trains racing along a bridge at 20 kmph!!! After BZA, I was awake for some 30 min. During this period, I noticed a set of tracks joining the line to KZJ. Is that a bypass for BZA? Which trains use it?

Daylight woke me up at 0530 and we were just pulling out of Kazipet (KZJ), some 50min late. Charminar does not want to run on time any time!!!! I suppose the "on time" days are long gone by. But there was one silver lining. The chief now was a high spirited fellow. He notched up wasting little time as we touched 110. We consistently ran at 110 for some time, and to me it started looking as though we would reach SC on time at 0715!!! 132 km in 90 min??..It was not an impossible task. However, the ways of IR came into play again. Aler saw us crawling at 10kmph to overtake a double headed LGD WAG7 freighter through the loop. Fini!!! We lost 20 min here itself. Now all hope was lost. Just after Aler was an up-grade, and starting an upward slope at 10kmph is not a nice idea. We took a long time to reach the top, where the line curves left sharply and rises more. There was little our LGD beast could do. To add insult to injury, the next signal was at red. The chief, I suppose gave up out of sheer frustration. The remaining run to SC was nothing much to write home about, except that the NDLS bound SBC Rajdhani (LGD WAP4 22203 or 202 not sure which) and AP (LGD WAP4 22205) had to suffer a similar fate (for a villainous freighter was parked on the main line at some station in that direction also). So even the mighty Raj is susceptible to such stupid whims. Just imagine: had the freight at Aler been on the loop, Charminar doing 110 could have easily ascended the grade and crossed the next signal much earlier. Because of some stupid idea, we lost 20 minutes, if not more.

We reached SC at 0815, 60 min late.

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