Saturday, July 11, 2009


It was a rather impulsive decision to travel to MYS and return on the same day by the 2007/08 Shatabdi Express. A call confirming that Madrasplus would like to have a feature on the new rake came in at around 1130 hrs—I scurried calls to home to get my wife book tickets on IRCTC for the next day. I was wait listed at 36 for the onward and 9 for the return.

I left home at 0510 hrs, well in time to catch the AM4 EMU to Chennai. The train arrived at around 0520, three minutes late. As we passed Vysarpadi, I caught a glimpse of the debris of the horrible runaway train and the WDS 4B loco, which were involved in a crash a few months ago. We made it to Moore Market Complex at 0535 hrs. I just walked out on the opposite side and had a relaxing puff or two, and returned to the main concourse at MAS.

I had earlier received a call that 2007 was berthed on PF2A (the only double discharge platform in MAS, not counting the suburban platforms at MMC), and I entered into my C3 coach and placed my bag on seat 19, a window seat. I just wandered off to check a few things, one of which was that my coach number was LACCZ 08152C. The occupancy was very good, with just about eight seats or so vacant in most coaches—this can be explained by the increased carrying capacity of LHB coaches.

The composition: Loco-EOG-C7 to C1-EC-EOG

We left at 0600 hrs, headed by the monster 22390, with just one short little jerk—I was already enjoying the ride! I was also looking forward to more jerks as described by other trips on LHB coaches elsewhere. We made our way through the points and picked up the first green signal immediately, just before the Wall Tax road bridge. It was just the beginning of a wonderful green-ridden ride, as I was to discover at about 2115 hrs later that evening.

Immediately, the catering staff gave us a water bottle, the newspaper of the day—I settled for Deccan Chronicle, having purchased The Hindu, The New Indian Express and The Economic Times at the stall in MAS. We also got a tray welcoming us to the train, with a pack of two Brittannia Mariegold and two Nutrine Eclairs chocolates, followed by a cup of coffee/tea. I opted for a rather good cup of coffee, and got myself another cup to drive away the morning blues.

We passed the Veysarpadi (yes, that is how the cabin is spelt) Junction at 30 kmph and by the time we were passing the accident-destroyed debris, the short rake meant that we were doing around 45 kmph. We passed Perambur (PER), my base at close to 100 kmph at around 0609 hrs. I refrained from making a call home—as I usually do from a long-distance train—not wanting to disturb the lady of the house the kids. Gowri’s den was passed at mps, and we immediately slowed down for a caution order at Korattur (KOTR). We were then treated to what I have probably never experienced before. In 31 minutes, at around 0631, we were slowing down to change tracks after the Tiruvallur home signal from the down fast to the down line. We passed the Tiruvallur (TRL) cabin at 0632—that would be timing declared by TRL to the controller. As we passed TRL, we were already close to 110 kmph, the MPS for the section. The MAS TRL distance is about 42 kms.

We slowed down again as we entered Arakkonam (AJJ) at around 30 kmph at 0701, which meant we had done 70 kms in about 61 mts. The LP picked up speed like there was no tomorrow, and we were waltzing along merrily like Alice in wonderland. We, for just the second time in my life, were doing about 75 kmph as we passed Katpadi (KPD), crossing an unknown Express parked on the platform line. We zoomed past the loco of the train hauled by an AJJ WAM4 at 0735, taking exactly 34 minutes to do the 62 kms from AJJ—with one caution order of 20 kmph!

I was always moving around in the coach—I had shifted to seat 68 and was all alone. The catering manager got a bit queasy about this and got a bit suspicious that I could be from IRCTC, doing a surprise quality check. I could overhear him telling in Malayalam to one of his staff asking him to take good care of me  Breakfast was served as we were crossing KPD, and the catering staff asked me whether I would eat Veg or Non-veg. He confirmed that Pongal vada was on the menu for Veg breakfast, and I opted for the same, obviously. My love for this is explained here:

I was extremely disappointed to see upma, and not Pongal in the casserole. It was tasty, though a disappointment for a diehard Pongal lover. The man came and handed me another casserole comprising an Omelet, seven French fries and exactly seven baked peas! The bread slices, butter chiplet and jam were wonderful—just a bit too tedious to spread—and I would have preferred them made ready to eat! After having a leisurely breakfast, I down another cup of coffee that was offered to me, oblivious what was happening inside the train, immersed in the world that was zooming past me at 110 kmph, give or take a few kms.

We crossed our pairing train—2028 SBC MAS Shatabdi—a rather poor cousin in ICF coaches, at Ambur at around 0813 hrs. We hit the brakes rather hard entering Jolarpettai (JTJ) and crossed the platforms at 0835, crossing the UBL MAS Exp and the TVC MAS Superfast. This meant that we covered the 84 kms from KPD in about 60 minutes, and the 214 kms from MAS in about 155! We then changed points and crossed over to the tracks that would lead us into a new zone, a zone which, according to the LP of the day, has upgraded the entire distance from JTJ to SBC to 110 kmph. I must say I was rather surprised by this news, as I had always thought that the JTJ SBC track was cleared for only 100 kmph! I ran to the door to soak in the rather cloudy atmosphere on the massive curve, and I was not disappointed at all. One of the two trains we crossed at JTJ should have left by this time, and we were treated to a double delight. The Lalbagh Exp, with a JS AC CC, crossed us right on the curve!

The LPs did not relent; neither did the stray caution orders dampen our mood. We hit the Pachur Mulanur ghat section a bit subdued, and exited the section honking furiously. I did not note the time, but just after Bangarpet (BWT) we crossed the MAS Exp. We were at mps right after BWT and just slowed down for the cautions. We crossed the Suvarna Ratha rake stabled at WFD close to mps, and hit SBC at 1028 hrs, 22 mts before time! We had covered the 362 kms in about 268 minutes!

The loco change ritual progressed at a leisurely speed, given the fact that we had ample time—32 mts against the scheduled 10, with the staff struggling a bit on the new kind of couplers for them and the loco 20068 of KJM. I made a few calls to our SBC fellow-railfans and got into the coach as the starter turned amber. We left at 1101, and made our way across the points. The mps was 100 between SBC and MYS and there were seven caution orders, one more than the number on the MAS SBC section. After a few minutes, we got a watery tomato soup, and then the flop of the day, the lunch. A very small portion of veg biriyani and a smaller portion of curd rice was the menu—even the most filled baby would find the portions rather too small, leave alone a hulk of 80+ kilograms! I received call from Pawan Koppa informing that they were on the Tippu / Siddhaganga Exp bound for SBC, and would call again as they halted for our crossing. I received the call just in time—as we picked up speed exiting a caution order just about a km before Maddur. I ran to the door, and was surprised to see our train touch close to mps in such a short stretch.

I saw Shishir taking pics of our train and had started the waving ritual well before we entered the platform. Pawan was looking out for me, and what a wave it was! The wave came in waves—trust me, there is nothing like waving out to a fellow railfan when traveling close to mps. We crossed an unknown Express at Yeliyur and then made our way to MYS, which we reached at 1313, three minutes late.


Blogger Sriram said...

Really interesting trip report! Read it in the group.. but wanted to go thru it again :)

Blogrolling you!

Blogger Sridhar Joshi said...

Sriram: Thanks.

Blogger Sridhar Joshi said...

Sriram: Thanks.

Blogger Krishna Kumar.S said...

Nice trip report Joshi. Good luck :-).

Blogger manmathan said...

Very Nice Trip Report.

Keep Blogging.


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