Thursday, August 09, 2001

Bhopal Railfanning Trip

Hi All!

This report is about the trip which I and Vaibhav Sarin made on the weekend of 28th July. The prime motive of the trip was to travel in one of the Shatabdis as I haven't been on any one of them and experience sustained high speed. So initially we thought of going to Gwalior which was not very far yet could give good experience of Shatabdi. But later on I proposed to go to Bhopal to which Vaibhav agreed readily. So we did reservation for Bhopal by Shatabdi(2002) Chair car for 28th July and return by Bhopal Express(2155) 3A on 29th July. We were looking for a branch line travel in Bhopal other than mainline Delhi-Chennai. Only other line that goes from Bhopal is towards Indore which comes under Western railway to our surprise. On morning of 28th 5.30 am we were on pf no. 1 of NDLS. The rake was already put in place when I came. The first generator was of Rajdhani and making loud noise. Loco was WAP-5 30000. We then came back and settled in our seats. The coach was dull. Color was pink tinge in coffee color. The lights were not bright enough. Outside rain made the interior very damp. Our seats were the last in coach 67,68 near the door. Other coaches were better with good lighting, wall paintings and color. The number of foreign tourists seemed to outnumber the number of local travelers in train. The windows were having double glass with white moth balls inside them which looked odd. Train
started slow and stopped just outside the pf. The Bareilly Shatabdi also took off with us and ran
parallel for some time. Again on Hazrat Nizamuddin (NZM) we stopped for 2 minutes. The run was slow till Tughlakabad (TKD), then it suddenly gained speed. We passed Faridabad (FBD) at good speed (100+). We chatted for some time with catering staff. He told us that though train belongs to NR but everything is looked after by CR people, even the drivers are from CR. He did justify by saying that it runs mostly in CR territory. The run mostly was good around 100 but it did not excite me as I used to dream that it will run at sustained speed of 120. Why shouldn't I be as till some time ago it was the fastest train on IR! It hardly touched 120, I am not sure. We were delighted to see 2952(Mumbai Raj) on its way to NDLS just outside Mathura on Mumbai tracks. We reached Agra, 30 minutes late. That was a disappointment as I thought that if it reaches Agra at 7.55 am, average of 100, then it must run sustainably at 100+ for it to makeup slow run till Faridabad and slow runs due to other reasons. Vaibhav was totally unexcited as he told me that he has seen higher speeds in Howrah Raj which has reportedly been cleared for
140. We reached Gwalior 29 minutes late. Most of the foreign tourists alighted at Agra and Gwalior. Now strength in the train was very meager. We went through whole train. Coaches were empty. The passengers too were mostly sleeping. The low occupancy plus most of the passengers sleeping made the atmosphere dull. Bhopal Shatabdi seemed to have very low patronage. We sat on different seats of different coaches. The executive class too was empty. It hardly had 10-12 passengers when we saw it. We went to attendant with cassette of "Lagaan" to play it. The speakers of our coaches were poor. Very little sound was coming overwhelmed by clickety-clat and rumblings of train. We could hardly enjoy the music. Though it was better
in other coaches. We reached Jhansi (JHS) 20 minutes late.There we were surprised to see Hazrat Nizamuddi-Trivandrum Raj. We could not see any reason except that there maybe some problem in Konkan railway. We bought CR timetable at Jhansi. At Jhansi lunch was loaded.
Vaibhav was delighted to know that lunch will be served. The Jhansi to Bhopal run was good with average mostly above 90. Train did not stop anywhere in between. At one time it looked as if train is going to reach before time. But it reached on time 14.10. The rake is cleaned at the platform itself for return journey which is at 14.50. That is why in the announcements the announcer urged passengers to carry mineral water bottle with them so that they save on time to clean. Very few passengers alighted from train. At Bhopal train was virtually empty. I think
catering staff were more in number than the actual passengers. The rake was quite old and return of coach in which we travelled was due in coming October. Overall satisfactory journey but no feeling of high speed and glamor of Shatabdi. One thing is that I have traveled to Bhopal many times while going to other places but this was effortless travel and never felt like I am 705 kms away from home when alighted.

Same day we went to Habibganj station to find out about Indore line trains and trainspotting. The station is very neat and clean with 3 pfs. 3-4 trains originate and only 5-6 trains stop there. The tracks adjacent to were so clean like we had never seen. Photographed station from over bridge and NDLS bound Dakshin Exp. Next day at 5.30 am we were at Bhopal Jn. to catch
8234 Narmada Exp to Ujjain. It was already there. We sat in the SLR coach next to loco WDM2. It was 19 coach all maroon. It left 10 minutes late at 6.00 am. It is passenger from Bhopal till Indore though from Bilaspur it is exp till Bhopal. So it stopped at all the stations except one station "Panchwan" if I remember correctly. There are a LOT of stations in between. A station used to come at every two minutes. But still train ran on time and stopped for hardly a
minute at most stations. Bhopal till Ujjain is electrified but double only in few sections. The route
was very beautiful. Green and green and green but not dense forest like. Also not much human population to be seen. Traffic on route also seem to be very less with only one passenger and 2-3 freights crossed us in opposite direction and none crossed us in our direction. Journey was therefore uneventful but we still enjoyed. We reached Ujjain at 11.00 am. We roamed a bit at Ujjain station. Vaibhav was delighted to see MG train. Pf 3 was for MG and a train to Mahu
was ready to leave. We shot 2-3 photos with one that of new WAP4 of BRC with new livery of small yellow band and grey bottom.

After sighseeing again came back to station at 14.00 to catch Malwa 9367 scheduled to depart at
14.50. It came at 1520 but the announcement of it coming started at 14.45 itself. We were quite
frustrated with this wrong announcements as we were to catch train to Nizamuddin at 2115 too from Habibganj. There was quite a rush in general coaches but we did manage to sit. There was a passenger train to Ratlam at pf 2. It came from Bina hauled by WDM but without taking
away its loco a spank new BRC WAP4 was attached in front of that 6-coach rake and departed in fromt of us. What a waste of power! Territory is that of WR. From Indore Malwa came hauled by WDM Ratlam but at Ujjain WAM4 was attached. Train reversed direction. This time we were at the last coach. It was 19 coach rake. It ran at good speed till may be 95 as I clocked it whenever it ran at good speed. It stopped only at few stations like Maksi etc.(forgot others). We sat on
the door alternately for most of the journey. Felt really good sitting there and whole long train
negotiating a curve. Satisfying moments. We reached Bhopal 1900 pm 15 minutes late but train covered up 15 minutes. Our faith in IR rose. Vaibhav fell on platform while alighting but is was not serious. He was alighting wrong way opposite to train movement.

We collected our stuff from our staying place after having dinner. We were again at Habibganj at 2100 to catch Hbb-HZN exp 2155. There was peace at platform, no hawkers,no beggars and no hustle bustle. We were in 3A. Both the rakes of this train are new. This one was definitely. I have never such neat and clean coach even in Raj. Toilet was clean. Washbasin area was good and a door mat kind of carpet provided near toilets. A mug was provided in toilet below the tap. Bed roll was spotless. Everything was good. At Bhopal we ran to see the loco. It was WAP-4 most probably Jhansi. We had to rush back as it stops only for 8 minutes there. As we were quite tired after to and from journey to Ujjain we slept immediately after train left Bhopal. This was for the first time that I slept so long at stretch in train and never got down before destination station if
I ignore Bhopal. I slept at about 2200 some distance after Bhopal and woke up only at Kosi Kalan at 0650 or so. Almost 9 hours. It made unscheduled stop at Ballabhgarh where Vaibhav alighted. It reached right time at 0755 at HZN. Comfortable journey.

Overall we travelled 705(NDLS-BPL)+184(BPL-Ujjain)+184(Ujjain-BPL)+ 701(Habibganj-HZN) = 1774 kms costing 850+26+52+676 = 1604 Rs. in four different trains all of which were new to us. From the luxury of Shatabdi to drudgery of Narmada and Malwa to 3A comfort of Bhopal Exp. Vaibhav had made AC coach travel debut in non-Raj train.

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Rewari Trip

This is about my trip to Rewari on Meter Gauge (MG). Few days ago there was a trip report to Jaipur where I realized that there is a MG track in Delhi too. Actually I never gave it a thought. I used to live near Delhi Cantt railway station some 12-13 yrs. back and our house was near the track. I had never traveled on this route. So on reading this mail, I made up my mind to do this "railfanning" trip. Firstly I decided to go up to Alwar and come back. I researched TAAG (Trains at a glance) which did not give information whether the train is an MG or BG. I also visited and found out the timings, though it also did not give info whether the train is MG or BG. So I decided to go station and find out there. So, on Saturday(03-02-2001) I reached Delhi Cantt station at 12.45 (I had to go to office in the morning for some work). There I saw the time table and enquired about train to Alwar. I was told that there is no train before Ashram Express at 3.05pm which was quite late. Then I thought to cut short my trip to Rewari for which a weekly train runs on Saturdays only at 1.50pm. So I bought ticket for Rewari which was just 15 Rs. and confirmed that it is on MG.

Delhi Cantt. station is a small one with platform no. 1&2 for MG and 3&4 for BG. Between 1&2 were 2 other MG tracks. And no overhead wires made the station so open. I tried to look for Palace on wheels rake, but it was not there. Two Fairy queen coaches were there, with Fariy Queen engine locked inside a compound. With bright sun, no activity and cold atmosphere made it perfect and I enjoyed standing on station. Then I saw Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Udaipur Chetak exp from Udaipur. It was hauled by YDM4 and was 15 coach train with two AC coaches. I wondered how the AC coaches, which are smaller than BG coaches, look from inside. It came on platform 2 and departed after 2 minutes. I took a quick lunch near station and came back on platform and waited for train to arrive. The crowd increased every minute. I was little bit worried how are so many people going to come into the train. Then I thought may be they were waiting for other
trains. Mostly the passengers were daily passengers or milk vendors with their milk cotainers. All the crowd looked rural. People were standing both side of the track i.e. on platform and on the ground to embark on train from both sides.

Train arrived I don't know at what time as this was one of the few days when I forgot to tie my watch so I don't remember any timings. People tried to get into it haphazardly. I was also standing on the ground on other side of track. I had already decided to doorplate, so I did not try to get into the train. Milk containers were clunged to window bars. I also got into one of the coaches standing at the door. Train started moving. It was crowded but not packed. It went upto 60kmph and after few minutes came Palam station whose view I could see from distance as train
curved into it. It was so crowded that I thought, are they all going to borad this train? I have seen this station many times but only deserted. Soon Palam station came but nobody get off, only to embark. I got down to let people get in. The train now was packed. Then I saw few people going on roof from the space between coaches. Trains hardly stopped for one minute. The coach in which I was travelling was so packed, people leaning out of the door that I had to find a
different coach. I could get hold to one of the door bars and space to keep my foot. Train started, I was completely out of door, holding on to bar and door. 2-3 other people were like that. Same condition of other coaches. People were leaning out with their bags on their shoulders, completely out of train. When train attained some speed I was a bit scared that I should not fall off or bang on some pole of tree branch as I have not travelled like this anytime, but nothing happened. There were few people more out of the coach than me. It was so amusing, people were carrying wooden table and chair and other heavy luggage with them in such a crowded train. The cool breeze and scene of "yellow mustard fields" made me a bit happy. I decided that I will get off the train, take a bus and go home as I found it a bit dangerous. Then came Shahbad Mohammad Pur station which was not that crowded. Here also people only embarked. I remained in that coach. Again I was leaning out of coach. At Bijwasan also, people only embarked, in coaches and on roof. I again decided to get off the train but persisted. Train was usually doing around 40-50 kmph. My palms were aching holding the vertical bar and bars of window in door. At some curve, I had a view of the roof. It was completely full, I could see people walking on roof while train is moving and one of the gentleman sleeping with his blanket, his legs
coming upto side face of the coach. Few women were also on the roof. With people on roof, milk containers on every window, and people leaning out of doors, I remembered the picture of a crowded train in which people leaning out, on roof, on engine etc. Only difference was that here nobody was on engine. Then we reached Gurgaon. It was also crowded but there were few people to get off. After a minute, train departed with a man running after it on platform with few
others yelling "baccha rah gaya" (child left on the train). I don't know where the man was looking, on the roof or in the coach. After few seconds, he stopped, may be some of his relative was also travelling on the train with whom remained the child. There were few chain pulling cases but resolved within 3-4 minutes. The single MG track was always on the right of BG and I was on the right side of the coach i.e. I could not see BG track and any activity on that. Changing side was not possible. But I never a heard a train passing only except a freight. After some time came "Garhi Harsaru Jn.". I wondered what other route goes from this station. Then I saw an MG track going on the right and disappearing into the field with an MG train "Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Farukh Nagar" waiting on the platform with live YDM4 with only 6 coaches. Farukh Nagar line is the oldest MG line in the whole world laid in year 1883. Many stations passed where now people started getting off and milk containers also getting off. I changed side so that I could see BG track. Now the train emptied a bit. But people on roof did not try to get down and crowd the coaches. I expected some train on BG track but could not see any. I also forgot time table of trains on this route so that I could logically expect some train. Standing on the door with mud blowing, all my face filled with mud and clothes got dirty. But I could see open green field, cool breeze, bright sun, and most importantly very few people in the open except the train. I had never been to villages of Haryana but this trip was a cover up. Then came one station called "Kumbhawas Mundhalia Dabri" which can also qualify for longest station name. Reached Rewari junction after "Khalilpur", I don't know at what time as I did not have a watch. I
could sense approach of Rewari as there were consistent mile stones on ever kilometer indicating
distance from Delhi. I knew, Rewari was 83 kilometer which came out to be. The train was really a rural train. Even a goat travelled with us. I don't think most of the people had bought any tickets.

Rewari was a big station with many parallel track, both MG and BG. Also saw one MG freight and 1-2 empty MG rakes. I did not know how to get back to Delhi i.e. go by train or bus. Till now I did not see any BG train. One BG train I saw on one of the platform was Rewari-Bhiwani passenger. I knew, Ashram express will be coming as it was to leave at 3.00 pm from Delhi. So
I waited on the overbridge for it. The tracks come straight into Rewari station so you can view train coming from quite a distance. I thought it would be quite a scene to watch long express train crawling into the station. When I reached Rewari, there were people already ready for this MG train. Also the loco got detached immediately, so I sensed that it will be going back soon. Instead of Ashram, I saw "Chetak exp" from Delhi. It stopped very oddly. It came on middle
track and crossed over to track beside platform and stopped. Out of 15, 5-6 coaches remained on middle track including the 2 AC coaches. After waiting for 1/2 hour, and no sign of any BG train from any side, I decided to go back to Delhi by bus. I was also looking forward to travel on Delhi-Jaipur National Highway no. 8 on which I had never travelled. I came to bus stand by rickshaw. It took 33 Rs. for ticket to Delhi as compared to Rs. 15 for train. So train travel was much
cheaper. Rewari was a small town, crowded in market area. From there I took bus to Delhi and came back home at 7.30 pm.