Thursday, September 10, 2009

A DIARY OF PLATFORM 10

Occupying the pride of place in the scheme of things at Central, Platform No. 10 sees the arrival and departure of many an important train, most of which are the longest – 24 coaches – to operate out of Chennai.


Starting from the Kovai Exp at 06.15, when the early morning calls of kaapi..kaapi rustle the silence of bleary eyed people both in the outside the train, a lone newspaper vendor, who is perennially short of small change sells the hottest news of the day. As the train leaves, he should be the one who makes a neat pile – courtesy small change.


Then the turn of the incoming trains starts – the Cheran, the Grand Trunk Exp or the Tamil Nadu Exp – some of the 24 coach trains that come into Chennai are received here – there are only 6 out of 11 platforms that can handle this length. The hustle and bustle as the trains troop in – the passengers happy to be on PF 10 – the call taxi stand and the suburban platforms are nearby. Passengers haggling with porters, some with auto drivers who have made their way well into the complex, some stopping at the Food Court for a cup of long lost filter coffee are some of the scenes you can encounter.


The lull thereafter lasts till about 1.15 p.m., when the Tirupathy Exp arrives, disgorging a whole load of passengers, many of them flower vendors who carry fresh jasmine from places nearby Nagari in AP. Loads are stacked in the aisles, toilets (!), under seats, and are pulled out and headed off to the flower bazaar – may be your next puja is with one of these strands of flowers.


The Grand Trunk, which is truly the Grand Daddy of trains is the next to leave Chennai at 4.30 p.m. Huge parcels fight for space with leaden footed passengers lugging heavy baggage, as the contractors of the luggage vans make a killing – probably the most profitable train alongwith the Tamil Nadu Exp is about to leave. The Railways' earning also must be phenomenal – considering that it is difficult to book luggage on these trains unless you are an early bird. This entire scenario repeats itself again when the Tamil Nadu Exp leaves at 10.00 p.m.


As the GT, as it is fondly called, leaves, there is hardly any breather. The rake of the Charminar Exp is on the Platform – all 24 of them of 2005 make, and glistening in the evening sun bouncing off the coaches. This is the only train as of now to have rakes with the CBC couplers – considered to be technically superior. The passengers are also radiant with surprised at the newfound comfort. Men and women, some commuters from nearby places in AP – almost all with heavy luggage move here and there to find their seats till the train leaves.


The Tamil Nadu Exp is the next to leave at 10.00 p.m. and the scene is no different from that of 4.30 p.m. when the GT left. A very popular train, this is probably the fastest non Rajdhani type of train out of Chennai.


As the Tamil Nadu Exp leaves, almost fifteen to twenty thousand pairs of feet would have stamped their impression on this Platform. Almost a half of them would be passengers, the rest would be the people coming in to see them off and the vendors and the railway staff. No wonder then, that this could be the busiest and the most used Platform on the Chennai Central complex.


Silence will descend on the platform at around 10.30 p.m., if the Yercaud Exp leaves from some other platform. Else the Platform will go to sleep only close to midnight – a very short catnap till the rake of the Kovai Exp arrives – to start another day afresh.

2 Comments:

Blogger Swaminathan said...

GT AT 4.30 PM ?

09:37  
Blogger Sridhar Joshi said...

Swamiji,

For quite sometime GT had a departure at 1630 hrs, before it was moved to 1915 slot.

22:16  

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