Thursday, September 06, 2007


The mainline trial run of the freshly overhauled Fairy Queen was held this afternoon – 6th September 2007 from Perambur Loco Works to the Padi station on the Villivakkam Annanagar line. A detailed trip report with photographs will be put up by Ranganath Eunny and Gowrisankar very shortly on the list and the website.

Meanwhile, here is something that happened - that has rudely shaken me and I wanted to share this with you all at the earliest.

The run from the PLW to the Perambur Loco Works station was uneventful. As we got the shunt signal to proceed from the wrong line on the Perambur Loco Works station to the down slow line - onwards to Villivakkam, I impulsively jumped out of the coach and on to the footrest alongside the entire length of the loco, and perched myself on that foot rest right near the entry to the loco.

The loco itself had about 8 people in a very small space that would seem to be crowded with just two people. The officers were there for mandatory inspection etc., and about a dozen others were perched outside on different footholds on the loco. As we moved under the FOB and passed on the mainline for about a hundred and fifty metres, it suddenly happened.

The rain of coal particles mixed water first came in a drizzle, and I was in seventh heaven soaking up the refuse of the Queen – so to say. The drizzle soon turned into a torrent and we were all bathed by black water – scalding to say the least. The Queen suddenly let out a lot of steam – most of it around 100 degrees centigrade, and visibility was nil, both on the outside of the loco and inside. I was scalding inside, with hot steam and torrents of hot rain pouring on me.

I instinctively mulled the option of jumping out – I dared not, since I was unsure of the footing I would get if I landed a bit wrongly on the soil or ballast drenched with overnight rain. I then pushed myself into the loco – and this was again a mistake. I literally jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

Ten shouting screaming humans were stuck inside – I was one among them. There was no way could we catch a breath in the steamy atmosphere. All of us were screaming at the top of our voices to stop. The pressure had apparently exceeded the limit and the safety valve automatically engaged to dissipate the pressure. The safety valve would close only when the pressure reached lower levels of tolerance. The fact that the place was crowded did not help matters at all.

The shutters to the coach were also closed – as its occupants were also literally facing the heat. Gowri and Ranga were praying that we all get out alive – and Ranga probably was thinking of a flowery obituary – should the worst happen.

Then, thanks to the magic of the prayers of the well meaning great friends, the loco came to a halt – and the steam dissipated. I jumped out of the loco – literally frightened and too shocked to even speak coherently. None of us were steamed to idlis, but shaken and stirred, Bond style. So, here I am – still up and about – writing out this piece to you all!

Well, if the Fairy Queen comes again two years down the line – I will still be there – soaking in the atmosphere. But I WILL NOT repeat the foolhardy thing I did this time.

Thanks Gowri and Ranga!


Blogger Pawan Koppa said...

Seems damn scary to me Sridhar, I read this post after reading what you had posted on the blog. Umpteen incidents reported by people really scares me. This one should really wake up anyone who thinks they can play around with trains or locos!


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