Bangladesh December 2019 – Western BG – Rajshahi & Rajbari and branches
Originally, I planned to head to NE India at the end of this trip but instead, chose to head to Bangladesh for 5 days to cover the Western side of the country before the recently ordered Progress Rail GMs arrive and change the dynamic of Bangladesh’s BG system for good. I didn’t plan anything too ambitious and would only cover part of the BG system as a result but as Bangladesh Railways only publish times for their Express, IC & Mail trains, almost a full week was spent at the computer downloading station departure board photos from Google Maps and then translating them from Bengali to English. The good thing about which, was that I could read Bengali numbers fluently by the time I’d finished and putting the hard work in before the trip always pays off.
Booked through Emirates
EK066 1350 Stansted – Dubai
EK526 0330 Dubai – Hyderabad
EK585 0100 Dhaka – Dubai
EK001 0745 Dubai – Heathrow
Booked through Indigo
6E-1858 1610 Kolkata – Dhaka
Dhaka – Nagar Valley Hotel – I’d stayed at the Nagar Valley Hotel on my last visit to Bangladesh the previous year and the guy at reception remembered me! I was quickly checked in and shown to room 508, which was a decent sized room on the upper floors of the hotel, with good AC and piping hot water, so much so that I was told to leave it running for a few minutes when I first turned it on and only realised that it was instantly hot when the whole room was steamed out and I couldn’t actually see the shower head in the bathroom as it was that thick! Most staff at the hotel spoke decent English and the food I ordered was soon sent up and made refreshing change not to be spicy, like India. It was very good though and didn’t touch the sides. The hot shower was also very welcome but the bity little fuckers that came out when I was asleep that night weren’t! I’d gone a whole month in India without a single mosquito bite and couldn’t even manage a day in Bangladesh without being bitten to death, the little shits!
Rajshahi – Dalas International – is a 10-minute walk from Rajshahi station, straight out of the station, right onto the main road and its eventually visible on the left. My room was TK2300 per night and I was expected when I arrived, having had the Nagar Valley staff ring through to confirm a reservation. The room wasn’t massive but was an adequate size. Toiletries and toilet roll were provided, there was AC and a fan but no hot water. At least the WiFi was strong and the 6th-floor restaurant served up some decent food every time I used it. Breakfast was complimentary but I was never there late enough to try it! Due to the lack of hot water I had to do some clothes washing in cold water and thankfully, with the fan left on all the following day, they were dry when I got back from my day’s bash. Unfortunately, I let my guard down on the mosquito front again that night and although I couldn’t see any in the room before I went to bed, there clearly were as I’d been bitten quite a few times by the time I got up.
Rajbari – Hotel 71 & Resort – I walked down the tracks to the level crossing at the Faridpur end of Rajbari station, turned right onto the main road and walked down to the Hotel 71, which is one of two hotels in Rajbari that are right by each other. The young lad at reception spoke no English but the other lad he summoned did, and was expecting me, and helped me fill the hotel register in, which was in Bengali only. I was initially given a room without a hot water geyser but was swapped to one that did have one when I asked. The difference in price, just for hot water was TK1000, with my room costing TK3000 for the night. It was sizable, clean had AC, which wasn’t needed as it was quite cool, and came with complimentary water and toiletries.
Bangladesh – all bought at stations. Despite BR having online tickets available, this is only available if you have a Bangladeshi sim card to set the account up and you can only pay with a Bangladeshi payment card.
Saturday 14th December 2019 (Morning in Kolkata, afternoon in Dhaka)
Despite the cold 3AC coach, I did manage a decent night’s sleep and when the whole coach came around at about 7am; it was time for everyone to get up. MGS WAP4 22797 had charge of 13232 1645 (P) Patna Jn – Kolkata, and I can only presume UDL WDM3A 16106 had shunted the through Giridih portion off 53520 2210 Giridih – Madhupur Jn onto it at Madhupur? I was sock on when the shunt occurred and didn’t see Madhupur Jn at all the previous night!
A slightly late arrival into Kolkata had 13132 arriving just after the cloakroom opened at 8am but I didn’t need to collect my bag straight away as BGA WDS6 36229 was in the adjacent platform about to shunt the stock out off the arriving 13146 1750 (P) Radhikapur – Kolkata and by the time it had done so, classmate BGA WDS6 36112 was already dropping onto the stock I’d arrived on, to shunt it into the carriage sidings next; so, I was kept occupied at Kolkata for a short while and when I did go and collect my bag from the cloakroom it was the only bag there!
With an afternoon flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh, I decided one vegetating at Sealdah of a morning, having done Howrah two days previous, and Uber provided the transportation between Kolkata and Sealdah for RS140 and the journey took around 25 minutes. There are Uber collection/drop-off points at all the main stations in Kolkata and when using the app to book your ride it even directs you to the collection point to make sure you’re in the right location to be picked up.
On arrival at Sealdah I dropped my big bag at the cloak room, which has relocated to the parcels office, behind where the original cloak room used to be; and I say used to be, as it was in the process of being demolished when I walked by. The guy in the new cloakroom told me that the old building had been sold privately and was no longer owned by Indian Railways, so god only knows what will become of the space, which is limited as it is at Sealdah.
I was pressed straight into action when I got onto the platforms when BGA WDS6 36086 dropped onto the stock off 13150 1525 (P) Alipurduar Jn – Sealdah and eventually drew it out into the carriage sidings. There was then a bit of a lull in both arrivals and departures at Sealdah so I went for a wander off the end of the platforms and towards the carriage sidings, bumping into three other tourists in the process who came bumbling out of a random alleyway; which I wasn’t expecting at all. Despite being allowed to wander around the carriage sidings the guys there eventually started to quiz me about what I was taking photographs off, after the track workers in the carriage sidings became concerned that I was there on official business. With recent memos around the whole of Indian Railways calling for forced retirement of many older hands and an assessment of whether each man’s job is actually required, they probably had a right to be concerned when some random white guy turns up and starts pointing a big camera in their direction without announcement; so I headed back to the station.
After ASN WAP4 22863 arrived with 12384 0645 Asansol Jn – Sealdah, BGA WDS6 36108 dropped straight in behind it to take the stock out. The shunter on it was one of those I’d been chatting with in the carriage sidings and the selfie he’d taken with me was already on Facebook; simply because we were both railway workers! I didn’t have too much time to chat with him though as HWH WAP4 22338 arrived shortly afterwards with 13104 0540 Lalgola – Sealdah (which had started at Plassey) and BGA WDS6 36092 dropped straight in behind it; so now I had a choice and had to wait it out on the blocks until the first one set off; and as usual it was a first-in-last-out scenario and the stock off the Lalgola went out first.
After a leisurely morning, the fact that 13134 0835 (P) Varanasi Jn – Sealdah was down the plan gave me an option to head out to Bidhan Nagar Road on an EMU to do it back in; as while it’s billed as an express, it’s about as express as a local passenger, stopping at almost every lamppost along the way, even when the train runs through to Delhi; depending on the day of the week! Still, I wasn’t complaining when freshly outshopped BWN WDM3A 16265 arrived into Bidhan Nagar Road and when BGA WDS6 36088 followed us in to take the empties out I was grateful of BGA WDS6 36091 being available for a lift back to the buffer stops as it took the stock in for 53175 1240 Sealdah – Lalgola passenger; which I’d be doing out to Dum Dum Jn on my way to Kolkata airport. And after collecting my bag from the cloakroom I was ultimately Bangladesh bound when ASN WAG5 23075 eased 53175 out of Sealdah.
I was able to get an Uber to pick me up outside the station at Dum Dum Jn and was at Kolkata airport with plenty of time to allow me to spend more money than I wanted on crap food at the airport. As my big bag was going into the hold on my Indigo flight to Dhaka I had to wait for the check-in desks to open before the x-ray security staff would allow my bag through and put their sticker on to confirm the seal of approval. Check-in was simple and security/immigration wasn’t an issue either. The flight departed the gate 2 minutes late but even with holding over Dhaka the short-hop flight was still on the ground well before booked arrival time.
If there’s one thing that the Bangladeshi’s do well it’s bureaucracy and immigration looked like it was going to be a nightmare initially, with every lane being about 15-20 deep. I had a stroke of luck when a couple of desks opened up to deal with the rush though and went from back of the queue to front in seconds, without really realising what had just happened; but trust me, I wasn’t going to complain as I bet some were queuing for ages!
My bag was already on the carousel when I goth immigration and I didn’t waste any time at the airport after I’d collected it, other than to exchange some money; with the rate for GBP being TK110 to the £1. I “should” have taken the time to get a local sim card at the airport but as I’d spent RS995 while in India, to activate my Vodafone sim for international roaming, I didn’t think I’d need one. The fact that the fecking thing didn’t work the whole time I was in Bangladesh meant that I had needed one! That was a conversation I’d be having with Vodafone when I got back to the UK later but for the whole trip my only contact with the outside world would be when using WiFi in hotels.
I had an agenda for the evening, which started with attempting to get a couple of tickets for the long distance journeys I’d need to make to Rajshahi and return and I walked the short distance from Dhaka Airport to the nearby Biman Bandar station, which is 15km from the main Dhaka Kamlapur. Any hopes I’d had of getting tickets were soon dashed when I found huge queues in both the current and advance booking counters. What I hadn’t realised was that I’d arrived into Bangladesh on a holiday weekend with 16h December being Bangladesh’s Victory Day, when they gained independence from Pakistan in 1971; which would explain why there were massive queues at the booking office of a Saturday evening.
While pondering what to do about train tickets on the platform, while drinking a nice refreshing diet Pepsi, DLW build BED30 6510 arriving with 763 0840 Khulna – Dhaka took me away from any chance of buying a ticket that night when I headed into Dhaka with it and was then straight back out with DLW build BED30 6512 on a late running 776 1700 Dhaka Kamlapur – Sirajganj Bazar; which should have departed Dhaka before my flight had landed. A guy later told me that all trains in and out of Dhaka would be late on this and the following day due to the amount of people travelling for the holiday weekend; which wasn’t a statement I’d really wanted to hear, but it was what it was and I had a habit of choosing holiday weekends to be in Bangladesh for, after our first trip had landed us there right at the end of the main Eid Festival!
The queues hadn’t subsided at Biman Bandar so at this point I decided it was probably best to head to my hotel and call it a day, and just turn up in the morning and see what the score was with tickets then. And just as I got my torch out to head down the track, which is the easiest way to reach the Nagar Valley Hotel, I was stopped in my tracks by MLW build MEM14 2318 when it arrived with, what I later found out to be, 48 1300 Dewanganj Bazar – Dhaka Kamlapur; and a second quick return trip to Kamlapur followed. I wasn’t disappointed though as MLW build MM14 2407 was sat waiting to depart with 12 2020 Dhaka Kamlapur – Noakhali and I was at the hotel by 2115, having not bought a ticket for anything all evening!
I’d stayed at the Nagar Valley Hotel on my last visit to Bangladesh the previous year and the guy at reception remembered me! I was quickly checked in and shown to room 508, which was a decent sized room on the upper floors of the hotel, with good AC and piping hot water, so much so that I was told to leave it running for a few minutes when I first turned it on and only realised that it was instantly hot when the whole room was steamed out and I couldn’t actually see the shower head in the bathroom as it was that thick! Most staff at the hotel spoke decent English and the food I ordered was soon sent up and made refreshing change not to be spicy, like India. It was very good though and didn’t touch the sides. The hot shower was also very welcome but the bity little fuckers that came out when I was asleep that night weren’t! I’d gone a whole month in India without a single mosquito bite and couldn’t even manage a day in Bangladesh without being bitten to death, the little shits!
Gen for Saturday 14th December 2019
22797 MGS 13132 1645 (P) Patna Jn – Kolkata
16637 BWN 13149 1525 (P) Alipurduar Jn – Sealdah
36086 BGA ECS ex 13149 1525 (P) Alipurduar Jn – Sealdah plat 9B
22338 HWH 13104 0540 Lalgola – Sealdah (start Plassey 0710)
36092 BGA ECS ex 13104 0540 Lalgola – Sealdah plat 8
22863 ASN 12384 0645 Asansol Jn – Sealdah
36108 BGA ECS ex 12384 0645 Asansol Jn – Sealdah plat 9A
16265 BWN 13134 0835 (P) Varanasi Jn – Sealdah
36088 BGA ECS ex 13134 0835 (P) Varanasi Jn – Sealdah plat 9B
36091 BGA ECS for 53175 1240 Sealdah – Lalgola plat 8
23075 ASN 53175 1240 Sealdah – Lalgola
2318 48 1300 Dewanganj Bazar – Dhaka
2407 12 2020 Dhaka – Noakhali
6510 763 0840 Khulna – Dhaka
6512 776 1700 Dhaka – Sirajgonj Bazar
Moves for Saturday 14th December 2019
|22797||Madhupur Jn||Kolkata Chitpur||1645 (13/12) Patna Jn – Kolkata Chitpur||13132|
|36229||Kolkata Chitpur Paltform 3 West||Kolkata Chitpur Paltform 3 East||ECS ex 1750 (13/12) Radhikapur – Kolkata Chitpur|
|36112||Kolkata Chitpur Paltform 2 West||Kolkata Chitpur Paltform 2 East||ECS ex 1645 (13/12) Patna Jn – Kolkata Chitpur|
|Uber||Kolkata Chitpur||Sealdah||RS140, 25 minutes|
|36086||Sealdah Platform 9B South||Sealdah Platform 9B North||ECS ex 1525 (13/12) Alipurduar Jn – Sealdah|
|36092||Sealdah Platform 8 South||Sealdah Platform 8 North||ECS ex 13104 0540 Lalgola – Sealdah|
|36108||Sealdah Platform 9A South||Sealdah Platform 9A North||ECS ex 12384 0645 Asansol Jn – Sealdah|
|EMU||Sealdah||Bidhan Nagar Road||1115 Sealdah – Naihati||31421|
|16265||Bidhan Nagar Road||Sealdah||0835 (13/12) Varanasi Jn – Sealdah||13134|
|36088||Sealdah Platform 9B South||Sealdah Platform 9B North||ECS ex 13134 0835 (13/12) Varanasi Jn – Sealdah|
|36091||Sealdah Platform 8 North||Sealdah Platform 8 South||ECS for 53175 1240 Sealdah – Lalgola|
|23075||Sealdah||Dum Dum Jn||1240 Sealdah – Lalgola||53175|
|Uber||Dum Dum Jn||Kolkata Airport||RS180, 25 minutes|
|VT-IHK||Kolkata||Dhaka||1610 Kolkata – Dhaka||6E-1858|
|6510||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||0840 Khulna – Dhaka Kamlapur||763|
|6512||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1700 Dhaka Kamlapur – Sirajgonj Bazar||776|
|2318||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||1300 Dewanganj Bazar – Dhaka Kamlapur||48|
|2407||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||2020 Dhaka Kamlapur – Noakhali||12|
Photos for Saturday 14th December 2019
Photos of Bangladesh Station Departure Boards during the trip
Sunday 15th December 2019 (Heading from Dhaka to Rajshahi)
A combination of the cold air in Dhaka, the bity little bastards overnight giving me the once over and the remnants of my cough resulted in a pretty crap sleep and I was up well before I wanted to be. I took this as an opportunity though, but it didn’t lead to what I thought it would when I found the booking office to be closed at Biman Bandar! The station master confirmed that it would open “after some time” and he also confirmed that my train to Rajshahi would be late as it hadn’t gone into Dhaka Kamlapur yet. So, one opportunity led to a completely different one when DLW built BED30 6513 arrived with a late running 725 2020 (P) Khulna – Dhaka, and off I went, after all, it was completely pointless hanging around at Biman Bandar when the stock for my train hadn’t gone in itself yet.
There was no time to consider buying tickets for my train t Rajshahi at Dhaka Kamlapur either when I came across Hitachi built MEH14 2506 with a late running Turag commuter, which I’d initially passed off as an empty stock until a security guard asked where I was going and ended up telling me that the train I was looking at went to Biman Bandar. I was the only person in the front coach and there couldn’t have been more than a dozen people on the train when it departed Biman Bandar; possibly as it was a Sunday? It was a nice bonus move of a morning though and a consolation for the lack of sleep, I guess? And we passed the inbound stock to form my 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi on the way back to Binman Bandar.
Surprisingly, there was no queue at the ticket office for long-distance tickets, which is the ticket office at the Kamlapur end of the station, unfortunately though there were no tickets available on any train from Dhaka to Rajshahi all day and I had to buy a standing ticket as a result. Having watched a few other trains arrive and depart Biman Bandar I’d watched people clamber into the AC coaches on the MG trains, so, knowing that the AC coaches were towards the front of my train to Rajshahi, when DLW built BED30 6524 eventually arrived about 90’ late, I chanced it and ultimately spent the whole journey sat on the attendant’s seat in the vestibule of one of the AC coaches; and it was quite a pleasant journey. My “foreigner” status seemed to allow me to be there but nobody else could stand in the vestibules in the AC coaches and anyone attempting to do so was thrown out. Even the TTE didn’t bother asking me for any more money when he eventually came around, and just left me be on my seat. It was quite a pleasant 5-hour journey as a result.
The lure of a good old Alco built BEA20 was enough to entice me off the train at Arani when 6014 was sat in the passing loop with a late running train 6, the 0830 Chapai Nawabganj – Sirajganj Bazar. I was wary of the late running but being quite close to Rajshahi, and having all day to get to my hotel, I wasn’t concerned with what the afternoon might throw at me and at Abdulpur Jn MLW built BEM20 03 was sat waiting with 783 0645 Gobra – Rajshahi and got the road to go more or less the moment train 6 came to a stand; so I had to be quick from one to the other and was into Rajshahi only about an hour later than train 769 would have been.
It was almost another cross-platform leap but for the fact that Alco built BEA20 6017 hadn’t even been tied onto its train, the late 31 1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn, when we arrived so I had a few minutes to figure out what the hell was going on, on the Chapai Nawabganj/Rohanpur line. MLW BEM20 6116 arrived with a late running 566 1000 Chapai Nawabganj – Rajshahi and ran straight round to head back out with a late running 565 1300 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj while Alco BEA20 6008 arrived with a right time 58 1300 Rohanpur – Rajshahi and ran-round in readiness to head back out with 77 1520 Rajshahi – Rohanpur.
I would have liked to have taken my bag to the hotel but with 6017 enticing me to do otherwise I was soon heading back out towards Abdulpur Jn on train 31, which thankfully wasn’t that full; although it was full of inquisitive locals all wondering what I was doing on their train. As nobody on board could speak English though, nobody found out and there were some confused looks when I got off at Abdulpur Jn; where the station master was keen to confirm that both train 24 0910 Parbatipur Jn – Khulna and train 23 0930 Khulna – Parbatipur Jn were running late, which provided a nice little early evening move to Ishardi and back, although I was only at Ishardi for a few minutes with Alco BEA20 6001 taking me there on train 24 and Alco BEA20 6010 taking me back to Abdulpur Jn on train 23.
Had I waited it out at Abdulpur Jn for train 15 1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj Jn Alco BEA20 6005 would have completed a nice 6-loco 12-cylinder Alco bash of an afternoon but when DLW BED30 6502 stopped out of course with 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi, I didn’t smack the gift horse in the mouth as time was getting on a bit and I was ready for bed, let alone something decent to eat. I only discovered that 6005 would have completed the move when I came across it the following morning at Rajshahi. I have the new fast express to thank for my bonus earlier finish as DLW BED30 6520 hadn’t passed through Abdulpur Jn long before train 755 turned up behind it; and at Rajshahi 6520 was in the carriage sidings so it had undergone a loco change at Rajshahi before continuing to Chapai Nawabganj; which I can only assume from observations the following morning had been 6520 off for 6513 on.
As the only two hotels bookable online in Rajshahi aren’t that ideal, with the better Star International being 5km from the station, I’d asked the staff at the Nagar Valley the previous night to ring the Hotel Dalas International in Rajshahi and reserve me a room. The Dalas International is a 10-minute walk from Rajshahi station, straight out of the station, right onto the main road and its eventually visible on the left. My room was TK2300 per night and I was expected when I arrived. The room wasn’t massive but was an adequate size. Toiletries and toilet roll were provided, there was AC and a fan but no hot water. At least the WiFi was strong and the 6th-floor restaurant served up some decent food every time I used it. Breakfast was complimentary but I was never there late enough to try it! Due to the lack of hot water I had to do some clothes washing in cold water and thankfully, with the fan left on all the following day, they were dry when I got back from my day’s bash. Unfortunately, I let my guard down on the mosquito front again that night and although I couldn’t see any in the room before I went to bed, there clearly were as I’d been bitten quite a few times by the time I got up; at 0445!
Gen for Sunday 15th December 2019
2506 Turag-1 0500 Dhaka – Joydebpur, Turag-2 0730 Joydebpur – Dhaka
DMU Tongi-1 0525 Dhaka – Tongi, Tongi-2 0830 Tongi – Dhaka
2932 709 0635 Dhaka – Sylhet
2935 788 0700 Dhaka – Chittagong
6513 725 2030 (P) Khulna – Dhaka, 726 0620 Dhaka – Khulna
6524 770 2320 (P) Rajshahi – Dhaka, 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi, 716 1415 Rajshahi – Khulna
6014 6 0830 Chapai Nawabganj – Sirajganj Bazar
6103 783 0645 Gobra – Rajshahi, 784 1530 Rajshahi – Gobra (to Ishardi)
6017 31 1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn
6116 566 1000 Chapai Nawabganj – Rajshahi, 565 1300 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj
6008 58 1300 Rohanpur – Rajshahi, 77 1520 Rajshahi – Rohanpur, 78 1745 Rohanpur – Ishardi
6522 760 1600 Rajshahi – Dhaka
6001 24 0910 Parbatipur – Khulna
6010 23 0930 Khulna – Parbatipur
6520 791 1315 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj (to Rajshahi)
6513 791 1315 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj (from Rajshahi)
6111 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (to Ishardi)
6502 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (from Ishardi)
6005 15 1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj (assumed)
Moves for Sunday 15th December 2019
|6513||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||2030 (14/12) Khulna – Dhaka Kamlapur||725|
|2506||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||0500 Dhaka Kamlapur – Joydebpur||Turag-1|
|6524||Biman Bandar||Arani||0600 Dhaka Kamlapur – Rajshahi||769|
|6014||Arani||Abdulpur Jn||0830 Chapai Nawabganj – Sirajganj Bazar||6|
|6103||Abdulpur Jn||Rajshahi||0645 Gobra – Rajshahi||783|
|6017||Rajshahi||Abdulpur Jn||1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn||31|
|6001||Abdulpur Jn||Ishardi Jn||0910 Parbatipur Jn – Khulna||24|
|6010||Ishardi Jn||Abdulpur Jn||0930 Khulna – Parbatipur Jn||23|
|6502||Abdulpur Jn||Rajshahi||1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi||755|
Photos for Sunday 15th December 2019
Monday 16th December 2019 (Covering the Chapai Nawabganj branch – Victory Day in Bangladesh)
I decided on an early start as I didn’t really know what to expect with the locals on the Chapai Nawabganj and Rohanpur branches, with regards to timekeeping; but I soon found out! It was surprisingly busy at Rajshahi station at 5am and I was able to get breakfast from the one restaurant type place there, along with coffee and snacks from the numerous stalls within the station building. Here were lengthy queues at the ticket window and as the morning moved on and the sun began to rise, I soon realised that I was in for a lengthy fester.
Initially, I thought that Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj would depart right time as BR BEA20 6013 was shunting the stock into the new concrete-built platform 6 when I walked onto the platforms. When the loco was shut down and the crew walked away, that set the alarm bells ringing; although the driver did confirm it was the Chapai Nawabganj train. BEA20 6008 then arrived with 563 0410 Ishardi Jn – Rohanpur and that too was shut down on arrival. I eventually established that both trains were being held for the Padma Express to arrive, which should have done so at 0440; but didn’t turn up until well after 6am with BED30 6522.
Meanwhile, BED30 6508 was waiting to depart with 733 0620 Rajshahi – Chilahati, BED26 6411 was stabled on the blocks at Rajshahi and BED30 6502 was sat with the stock for 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat. When the Padma Express eventually arrived those wishing to connect to the two branch trains swarmed around the station and clambered into their relative train, albeit once they’d confirmed which train was which. Then, randomly, 6008 was started up and despite being due out after Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj, it went first after BED30 6513 had come off the single line with 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka; and I went with it. At the first passing loop, which I confirmed later in the morning was Kakon, as it wasn’t shown on ME Maps, BEA20 6005 was waiting with 16 0540 Rohanpur – Khulna and I was soon heading back to whence I’d come from to join BEA20 6013 with the now very late running Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj. Which eventually departed Rajshahi 3 hours late!
Now, I wrongly assumed that Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj formed 6 0830 Chapai Nawabganj – Sirajganj Bazar but when we waited at Kakon for it to arrive right time with BEM20 6103, I realised I was mistaken and I eventually found out from the TTE that train 6 is formed off train 5 1220 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj which had run up the branch 7 hours late earlier that morning, vice the previous night. While waiting it was sad to see a couple of puppies mooching around the tracks fussing over their headless sibling, who I can only assume had been killed earlier that morning. Kindly, if not gently, a concerned citizen moved the dog’s body to the embankment and the two puppies were soon shown the error of their ways and moved along as well; bless them.
It was a pleasant enough journey to Chapai Nawabganj, in knackered old stock but it was an IC rake with soft seats in the front coach and by the time we pottered into the station at Chapai Nawabganj I was able to take my coat off as it had warmed up enough to do so. The guy I’d been talking to for most of the journey was off to the local market for the day to conduct some business and would be returning with the train that afternoon at 1430; which was when I figured out that the set we’d passed at Kakon had been train 6 to Sirajganj Bazar. The fact that nobody was boarding the stock we were alighting from, and it was being locked up, was also a giveaway that it wasn’t going back any time soon!
After buying a ticket back to Rajshahi, the kind TTE I got talking to managed to get me into the station master’s office to use his facilities and confirmed that my train back to Rajshahi would be along soon and would depart from the opposing side of the station, where there was no platform. So, when BEA20 6008 arrived with 582 0820 Rohanpur – Chapai Nawabganj, it had been Kakon – Rohanpur – Chapai Nawabganj while I’d been Kakon – Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj; and it was surprisingly less than an hour late arriving into Chapai Nawabganj. I allowed everyone to board while I got some photos and by the time everyone had settled there was still plenty of room in the front coach and I got talking to a local woman on the journey back, who travels Rajshahi to Amnura 6 days a week, where she works as a school teacher. As it was Victory Day in Bangladesh, a holiday that celebrates Bangladesh’s victory over Pakistan in 1971, everyone was travelling home early and not many people were at work. It was a pleasant journey back to Rajshahi, although the chicken the lady had in a bag under her seat probably didn’t think so, and it was after midday when we got back.
BEA20 6017 was sat waiting to depart with 31 1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn and it proved to be a useful train out when it crossed BED26 6402 at Arani with 732 0550 Chilahati – Rajshahi, and I was soon back in Rajshahi pondering what to do. Having looked on Google Maps the previous night I was aware of which trains stopped at Rajshahi Court and which trains didn’t, so with no other departures for a while I got a rickshaw out to Rajshahi Court to await the arrival of what turned out to be BEA20 6012 with 58 1300 Rohanpur – Rajshahi, which then ran straight round at Rajshahi to work back out with 77 1520 Rajshahi – Rohanpur.
BEA20 6013 arrived with 783 0645 Gobra – Rajshahi and ran-round its set. 784 1530 Rajshahi – Gobra didn’t run though so I can only assume that 784’s off-day is Monday and 783’s off-day is Tuesday; based on that observation alone as neither train are mentioned on the BR website’s train list with the Gobra branch being newly opened and not even marker on Google Maps it’s that new. Other arrivals of an early afternoon included BED30 6520 with 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi which went back with 716 1415 Rajshahi – Khulna and BED30 6504 with 715 0630 Khulna – Rajshahi which went back with 760 1600 Rajshahi – Dhaka. BED26 6402 went back out with 731 1500 Rajshahi – Chilahati and I chose to do 6504 to Abdulpur Jn, where I didn’t have to wait long for BEM20 6102 to turn up with a late running 24 0910 Parbatipur – Khulna, which I did through to Ishardi Jn where the opposing working of 23 0930 Khulna – Parbatipur was soon along with BEM20 6109 at its helm. The bonus of the evening was when 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi pulled up at Abdulpur Jn with BED30 6503 leading the way. Initially I’d not realised it was train 755 as I’d been expecting either 734 1400 Chilahati – Rajshahi or 753 1440 Dhaka Kamlapur – Rajshahi to turn up at some point, but the additional stop was welcome and I was back in Rajshahi at 2025 on a train that surprisingly arrived its destination spot on time!
It had been a very productive day with BR throwing quite a few oldies my way. Back at the hotel though, I wasn’t the only person using the hotel restaurant, unlike the previous night. After a decent sized meal of noodles and chicken with onion I retired to my room, where the washing I’d strung up around the room had dried after the fan had been left on all day. I didn’t take any chances with the mosquitoes that night and was well deeted up before I clambered into bed and I was grateful of the lay-in.
Gen for Monday 16th December 2019
6502 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat
6508 733 0620 Rajshahi – Chilahati
6411 blocks at Rajshahi
6008 563 0410 Ishardi – Rohanpur, 582 0820 Rohanpur – Chapai Nawabganj, 566 1000 Chapai Nawabganj – Rajshahi, 565 1300 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj
6013 Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj (3 hours late start), Shuttle-2 1430 Chapai Nawabganj – Rajshahi
6522 759 2310 (P) Dhaka – Rajshahi, 754 0740 Rajshahi – Dhaka
6513 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka
6005 16 0540 Rohanpur – Khulna
6103 6 0830 Chapai Nawabganj – Sirajganj Bazar (formed off 5 1220 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj 7 hours late previous night)
6017 32 0315 Parbatipur – Rajshahi, 31 1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn
6402 732 0550 Chilahati – Rajshahi, 731 1500 Rajshahi – Chilahati
6520 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi, 716 1415 Rajshahi – Khulna
6504 715 0630 Khulna – Rajshahi, 760 1600 Rajshahi – Dhaka
6014 783 0645 Gobra – Rajshahi, 784 1530 Rajshahi – Gobra didn’t run (MX? As not in BR train list)
6012 58 1300 Rohanpur – Rajshahi, 77 1520 Rajshahi – Rohanpur, 78 1745 Rohanpur – Ishardi
6102 24 0910 Parbatipur – Khulna
6109 23 0930 Khulna – Parbatipur
6503 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (from Ishardi)
Moves for Monday 16th December 2019
|6008||Rajshahi||Kakon||0410 Ishardi – Rohanpur||563|
|6005||Kakon||Rajshahi||0540 Rohanpur – Khulna||16|
|6013||Rajshahi||Chapai Nawabganj||0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj||Shuttle-1|
|6008||Chapai Nawabganj||Rajshahi||1000 Chapai Nawabganj – Rajshahi||566|
|6017||Rajshahi||Arani||1230 Rajshahi – Parbatipur Jn||31|
|6402||Arani||Rajshahi||0550 Chilahati – Rajshahi||732|
|Richshaw||Rajshahi||Rajshahi Court||TK100, 4km, 7 minutes|
|6012||Rajshahi Court||Rajshahi||1300 Rohanpur – Rajshahi||58|
|6504||Rajshahi||Abdulpur Jn||1600 Rajshahi – Dhaka Kamlapur||760|
|6102||Abdulpur Jn||Ishardi Jn||0910 Parbatipur Jn – Khulna||24|
|6109||Ishardi Jn||Abdulpur Jn||0930 Khulna – Parbatipur Jn||23|
|6503||Abdulpur Jn||Rajshahi||1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi||755|
Photos for Monday 16th December 2019
Tuesday 17th December 2019 (Covering the Goalando Ghat branch and staying in Rajbari)
The sole purpose of the day was to head directly to Goalando Ghat and I’d be staying in Rajbari overnight to allow me to cover what I believed to be the only train of the day from Rajbari to Faridpur and return the following morning. I’d managed to book a ticket for 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat the previous night but there hadn’t been any 1st class available. I’d also managed to get the staff at the Dalas International to ring a hotel in Rajbari and book me a room for the night, more to make sure they’d take foreigners than anything else, which was easily sorted.
Rajshahi station quite busy again when I got there BED30 6513 was in charge of 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka again and BEA20 6013 was waiting to depart with the late running Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj and BED30 6505 arrived with the late running 759 2310 (P) Dhaka – Rajshahi and ran straight round to work bac out with 754 0740 Rajshahi – Dhaka; thankfully BED30 6522 was allowed to depart first with 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat. Right behind the engine of which was a saloon coach and behind that the first-class coach with all its compartments locked out. I later found out, while talking to a driver at Rajbari, that the general manager of Bangladesh Railways was travelling to Rajbari to inspect some of the newly opened railway in the area. Which also explained why BED30 6522 was replaced by classmate 6520 at Ishardi Jn, instead of the usual BEA20 or BEM20 and it worked all the way through to Goalando Ghat and back, instead of being swapped at Rajbari too. Which the driver I got talking to that night told me was the first and only time he’d known one come through to Rajbari, let alone go through to Goalando Ghat. So, while I was disappointed at not getting a BEA20 through to Goalando Ghat, the fact I had a BED30 was a bit of a bonus really.
The journey was quite a pleasant one, the train was full but not wedged and having a reserved seat counted for a lot, even to the locals. Everyone respected the reservations and it wasn’t a free-for-all, thankfully. At Poradah Jn the station platforms encompass both the line to Ishardi and the line to Rajbari and the train draws not the Khulna line then shunts the stock back into the Rajbari line platforms before the loco runs-round to continue onwards. It’s all very efficient and although we were a little late, I’m sure the driver was using full power on his BED30! I was three coaches back, but acceleration was quicker than usual, and the loco sounded quite well too. It was at this point that I was disappointed that it wasn’t a 12-cylinder machine up front.
We crossed BEM20 6113 at Kushtia with 506 0715 Goalando Ghat – Poradah, which went in the memory banks for later and I figured it would return with 505 1145 Poradah – Goalando Ghat. BEA20 6002 was sat in the station shunt spur at Rajbari and would have been the loco that went forward on 756 to Goalando Ghat under normal circumstances, but the loco cycles had now been buggered up with 6520 doing what it had done. As it turned out, most people travelling to Goalando Ghat were heading to Dhaka and using the ferry to cross the Padma River on the Daulatdia Ferry Crossing, where they’d then take a bus from Paturia Ghat to Dhaka.
Train 756’s arrival into Goalando Ghat was around 40’ late and was around the time 26 1300 Goalando Ghat – Khulna should depart. I had to rush to get a photo of 6520 and then rush to the opposite end of the station to get a photo of BEM20 6114 before it departed with train 26. The driver was fiddling with something under the engine when I got there but as I pointed my camera at the train the loco blew up and started moving. The problem then being that the front two coaches were parcels vans and I had to board the train in the third coach as it was departing. At least there was somewhere to stand through but as the train filled up towards Rajbari the standing space got less and less and at one point there was a bit of a commotion as a woman confronted a young lad and eventually found what she was looking for tucked up his shirt sleeve! It turned out, from what I can gather, that she noticed her train tickets on the floor, which had been in the side pocket of her handbag. When she then checked her handbag, she found her money to be gone but her phone still there. Quite how she put two and two together and grabbed the kid she did, I’m not sure, but she got her money back and the kid got a bit of a beating off a couple of guys stood by the door before being booted out of the coach. Luckily for him the train was still in the platform…..
The journey gave me a bit of a reality check with the attempted theft being so close to where I was stood, although I’m guessing the kid had been watching on the platform and seen where things had been stashed in bags, and took the opportunity when it presented itself. At Rajbari I had a few minutes to gather my thoughts and get some snacks before BEM20 6113 returned from Poradah with 505 1145 Poradah – Goalando Ghat as predicted. Which in turn put me back into Goalando Ghat around the time 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi should depart, and having learnt from my previous experience I clambered straight from one train to the other and BED30 6520 blew up almost immediately and set off to whence it had come from earlier.
I went through to Kalukhali Jn on 755, to meet the returning 1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari, which was already in, run-round and waiting to go with BEA20 6003, and back at Rajbari I was about to call it a day but with people boarding the set I’d arrived on I became curious as I couldn’t figure out from the timetable on the wall what the train was going to form. Eventually I asked the station master, who’d seen me taking pictures of the departure board, and he told me the train was the 1715 Rajbari – Faridpur and it returned from Faridpur at 1840, arriving into Rajbari around 1930. Neither train was on the timetable on the wall as they’d only started running a few month ago. So, off to Faridpur I went, a day earlier than expected and on a train I hadn’t even realised ran when the day started. Unfortunately, it was a run in darkness in both directions but the train wasn’t wedged so it was a nice evening jaunt.
After a brief chat with the driver that was looking around BEA20 6002, who told me it would be working 513 0600 Rajbari – Goalando Ghat the following morning with the planned loco swap on 756 not having taken place earlier, I was talked into having a tea with a couple of local lads who’d spotted me at the station earlier, before I walked down the tracks to the level crossing at the Faridpur end of the station, turned right onto the main road and walked down to the Hotel 71, which is one of two hotels in Rajbari that are right by each other.
The young lad at reception spoke no English but the other lad he summoned did, and was expecting me, and helped me fill the hotel register in, which was in Bengali only. I was initially given a room without a hot water geyser but was swapped to one that did have one when I asked. The difference in price, just for hot water was TK1000, with my room costing TK3000 for the night. It was sizable, clean had AC, which wasn’t needed as it was quite cool, and came with complimentary water and toiletries. As there was no room service, I had to nip back out to get some food and came across the pleasant Ayat Biriyani House & Restaurant which specialized in grilled chicken and served a mean tandoori bread. The owner spoke fluent English and was very accommodating, and the food I was served was very good.
I was ready for bed when I got into it but with BEA20 6002 being allocated what it was the following morning, it was going to be a shorter sleep than planned.
Gen for Tuesday 17th December 2019
6522 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat (to Ishardi)
6520 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat (from Ishardi), 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (to Ishardi?)
(1st class locked out on 756 due to Saloon being conveyed – BED30 used vice BEA20 due BR GM on board to inspect Gopalganj & Bhanga)
6513 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka
6013 Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj (3 hours late start)
6505 759 2310 (P) Dhaka – Rajshahi, 754 0740 Rajshahi – Dhaka
6010 57 0700 Ishardi – Rohanpur
6512 715 0630 Khulna – Rajshahi
6113 506 0715 Goalando Ghat – Poradah, 505 1145 Poradah – Goalando Ghat, 508 1600 Goalando Ghat – Poradah, 507 1945 Poradah – Rajbari
6114 26 1300 Goalando Ghat – Khulna
6003 779 1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari, ??? 1715 Rajbari – Faridpur, ??? 1840 Faridpur – Rajbari
Moves for Tuesday 17th December 2019
|6522||Rajshahi||Ishardi Jn||0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat||756|
|6520||Ishardi Jn||Goalando Ghat|
|6114||Goalando Ghat||Rajbari||1300 Goalando Ghat – Khulna||26|
|6113||Rajbari||Goalando Ghat||1145 Poradah – Goalando Ghat||505|
|6520||Goalando Ghat||Kalukhali Jn||1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi||755|
|6003||Kalukhali Jn||Rajbari||1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari||779|
|6003||Rajbari||Faridpur||1715 Rajbari – Faridpur||Shuttle-3|
|6003||Faridpur||Rajbari||1840 Faridpur – Rajbari||Shuttle-4|
Photos for Tuesday 17th December 2019
Wednesday 18th December 2019 (Goalando Ghat, Faridpur & Bhatiapara Ghat then back to Rajshahi)
Despite a shorter night’s sleep than planned, I felt quite refreshed when I rolled out of bed at 5am. I was very grateful of a hot shower though, as it was a cool morning, and I walked out of the hotel the poor reception guy came pottering out of his room, looking very bleary eyed when he took the keys off me.
The main road to the station was almost deserted, with no sign of life until I reached the level crossing by the station, where people were just preparing themselves for the morning rush and getting their shops ready to provide breakfast to passers-by. On the station one of the stalls was open to at least provide a hot drink, and true to the previous night’s gen, BEM20 6113 was sat in the stabling road by the level crossing at the Faridpur end of the station, and BEA20 6002 was just shunting the stock for 513 0600 Rajbari – Goalando Ghat into the station.
It was a pleasant totter to Goalando Ghat and back, on a not wedged train, it was just a cold morning and I was well wrapped up during the journey. During which I was relieved of a few Taka, in each direction, by the travelling grippers, who were all full of the joys of the morning. It was a bit grim and misty at Goalando Ghat and I was glad of the quick run-round, and back at Rajbari BEA20 6003 was sat waiting to head to Faridpur with 783 0750 Rajbari – Faridpur; so, after a quick photo and scoot over the footbridge for a warm tea, I was Faridpur bound on another non-wedged train, well not at the rear of it anyway, the front two coaches didn’t have any space.
At the second time of asking, visiting Faridpur during daylight as least shed some light on the place. The station building looked new, but the platforms and station sign looked like they’d been around a while. There was no queue at the booking office, and I was easily able to get myself a thicket through to Bhatiapara Ghat, before getting a few photos of 6003 after it had run-round the set.
It was a pleasant run back to Rajbari, where the train re-numbers from 784 0920 Faridpur – Rajbari to form 779 1030 Rajbari – Bhatiapara Ghat. During the downtime I got a few photos and watched the driver prepare his loco for the forward journey by tightening up some loose panels in the engine room, close to the generator. He seemed quite perturbed by the fact they were loose in the first place and it was nice to see the Alco branded covers when he checked the power unit was ok and dipped the oil.
While milling around, approached by a bubbly guy with a bright pink beard who was curious to understand what I was doing and why I was taking photos of the train. I didn’t think much of it at the time and he allowed me to carry on taking photos after our conversation. BEM20 6111 arriving with 25 0200 Khulna – Goalando Ghat made for a nice approach shot as everything at Rajbari station is olde-worlde, with semaphores dominating the landscape in both directions.
The run through to Kalukhali Jn was ok and I had a seat all the way. The train got fuller and fuller as it went though and I was glad of the respite at Kalukhali Jn, where BEA20 6003 ran-round and locals then piled their goods onto the loco running boards for the run down the newly opened branch; which now also has a second branch splitting off near Bhatiapara, to Gobra. Ironically, unlike the previous day, 779 1030 Rajbari – Bhatiapara Ghat was held at Kalukhali Jn to await the arrival of the late running 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat. Which dropped into Kalukhali with BEM20 6103 only 2 minutes earlier than BED30 6520 had done the previous day; and it wasn’t annoying at all, although if it had had made the previous day, I wouldn’t have had a BED30 to Goalando Ghat.
After 6103 had set sail for Goalando Ghat, 6003 could head down the branch to Bhatiapara Ghat. It was a nice potter and I even managed to find a seat when everyone re-boarded as the token was handed to the driver. Thankfully it had warmed up enough to enable the coat to be removed by the time we reached Bhatiapara Ghat but by the time I’d got out of the coach 6003 had already been detached and was running-round the set, so I took the opportunity to get myself a ticket back to Kalukhali Jn then walked up to get some photos; or so I thought! I was greeted by the guy I’d been talking to at Rajbari, as I walked down the platform, whose identity came out then. It turned out he’s a police officer and travels with trains around the area. Unlike the earlier conversation, this one felt a bit more inquisitive and there were more questions about what I was doing in Bangladesh and where I’d been before that earlier; which were enough to keep my camera in my bag and I ultimately managed to wriggle away from the conversation by making an excuse to grab some snacks from the only stall on the station, before the train departed; which I didn’t need but bought some bits anyway.
Time seemed to fly by at Bhatiapara Ghat and BEA20 6003 drew out of the single platform spot on time with 780 1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari and dropped me nicely into the slightly late running 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi, with BEM20 6113 at its helm; which I assumed had re-engined 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat at Rajbari on the way down. As I already had a ticket for the train, bought at Rajbari the previous day, I had a seat for my journey back west and ended up sat opposite a nice couple, who spoke no English, and a young lad who came to talk to me until he got off. It was a pleasant journey and one where everyone in my vicinity joined in the conversation, even though I only had one translator nearby. I was made very welcome and it was a shame that I made a mad dash for it at Poradah Jn on arrival, although it was an interesting moment when I saw everyone again later that evening!
When 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi rolled to a stand at Poradah Jn, BEA20 6012 was just arriving off the Khulna line with 15 1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj. So, before 6113 could run-round and propel out and to run into the same platform, I made a bid for train 15 and got to Ishardi Jn earlier as a result. When BEA20 6012 was replaced by classmate 6008, I was almost on the brink of going forward with it until BED26 6412 came off shed and sat in the adjacent platform. My decision to watch 6008 leave paid off when 6113 arrived shortly afterwards with 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi and was immediately replaced by BED26 6412 for the run forward to Rajshahi. Re-joining the train and sitting in the same seat I’d quickly vacated at Poradah did bring around a bit of surprise from the locals on board but the journey through to Rajshahi was in relative silence without the help of my translator!
Arriving into Rajshahi spot on time was something of a bonus and I was in the Dalas International restaurant within half an hour, and troughing down a large portion of noodles and chicken in onion sauce for the last time. After getting my crap in order and packing, ready for my early departure the following morning, I had to pay the hotel in cash as their card machine wasn’t working; so that got done before bed as opposed to at 6am the following morning.
Gen for Wednesday 18th December 2019
6002 513 0600 Rajbari – Goalando Ghat, 506 0700 Goalando Ghat – Poradah
6003 783 0750 Rajbari – Faridpur, 784 0920 Faridpur – Rajbari, 779 1030 Rajbari – Bhatiapara Ghat, 780 1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari
6111 25 0200 Khulna – Goalando Ghat
6103 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat (Ishardi – Rajbari)
6113 756 0800 Rajshahi – Goalando Ghat (from Rajbari – assumed), 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (to Ishardi)
6412 755 1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi (from Ishardi)
6014 784 1530 Rajshahi – Gobra
6012 15 1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj (to Ishardi)
6008 15 1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj (from Ishardi)
6005 78 1745 Rohanpur – Ishardi
Moves for Wednesday 18th December 2019
|6002||Rajbari||Goalando Ghat||0600 Rajbari – Goalando Ghat||513|
|6002||Goalando Ghat||Rajbari||0700 Goalando Ghat – Poradah Jn||506|
|6003||Rajbari||Faridpur||0750 Rajbari – Faridpur||783|
|6003||Faridpur||Rajbari||0920 Faridpur – Rajbari||784|
|6003||Rajbari||Bhatiapara Ghat||1030 Rajbari – Bhatiapara Ghat||780|
|6003||Bhatiapara Ghat||Kalukhali Jn||1350 Bhatiapara Ghat – Rajbari||779|
|6113||Kalukhali Jn||Poradah Jn||1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi||755|
|6012||Poradah Jn||Ishardi Jn||1100 Khulna – Chapai Nawabganj||15|
|6412||Ishardi Jn||Rajshahi||1500 Goalando Ghat – Rajshahi||755|
Photos for Wednesday 18th December 2019
Thursday 19th December 2019 (Heading back to Dhaka on the homeward stretch)
Having already sorted a ticket for my journey back to Dhaka when in Biman Bandar earlier in the trip, I was able to amble to the station and use my hanging around time to drink coffee rather than join a lengthy queue to attempt to get a ticket. BEM20 6113 was waiting to depart with Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj and BED26 6413 departed with 762 0640 Rajshahi – Khulna before BED30 6523 arrived with 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka Kamlapur, which was almost empty on arrival, but far from it on departure.
I was in non-AC chair car, which was pleasant enough and due to the cold day, AC wasn’t a requirement for the journey anyway. BEA20 6010 was waiting at Abdulpur Jn, with BED26 6401dead on the rear, with 57 0700 Ishardi – Rohanpur and we passed BED30 6512 with 726 0620 Dhaka – Khulna and BED30 6520 with 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi along the way, and overtook a very late running Tangail-2 commuter, 0645 Banga Bandhu Setu East – Dhaka Kamlapur at Banga Bandhu Setu East with BED30 6517 and a very empty rake; at just the 4 hours late! While running over the Jamuna Bridge I was almost certain that I’d clapped eyes on a whale while peering into the abyss below but as it was all over so quickly I couldn’t be sure what I’d seen in the murky water but curiosity did get the better of me and I did do a Google search for what I might have seen in the Brahmaputra; of course, there was nothing conclusive online.
During the fast run to Dhaka I concluded that if the main line from Dhaka to Ishardi was double tracked then most BG trains in Bangladesh would probably run on time. The fact it isn’t screws it over massively and with some trains waiting in excess of 30 minutes for crossings, there’s no wonder trains end up hours late. The fact that there are signs of double tracking along the route does mean things might improve soon.
Biman Bandar eventually came around and I managed to make it to the Nagar Valley Hotel and back before 6517 could make it from Banga Bandhu Setu East with the severely late running Tangail-2 0645 Banga Bandhu Setu East – Dhaka Kamlapur; and there started an afternoon of non-stop action, which saw me flitting between Biman Bandar and Dhaka Kamlapur for the rest of the day on a mixture of BG & MG trains, with a variety of traction. Which included, on the MG, MEM14, MEH14 & MED14 Alcos, along with a MEL15 GM and on the BG just BED30’s. I did spot two different ancient 1953 built MEG11’s on lengthy container trains, 2021 & 2032, one heading through Biman Bandar with a Chittagong bound train and the other running through Dhaka Kamlapur with a train bound for the port.
There were quite a few Hitachi MEH14’s knocking about, more than on my last visit, with 2514 & 2516 acting as Dhaka Kamlapur station pilots and 2506, 2511 & 2517 all making appearances on passenger trains. The DLW built MED14’s seem to be a bit scarce these days though with only 2803 making an appearance on train 10 1845 (P) Sylhet – Dhaka Kamlapur, which was 6h30m late. Most locos on the MG, including even the newer MEI15 GM’s, are in a bit of a state with various bits missing and some even have white bits painted where they used to have marker lights! Loads look to have been in a collision at some point during their life and very few MG locos look road worthy at all; yet they soldier on. In fact, the ancient MEG11’s look to be amongst the better-looking engines in the whole of the MG fleet.
Time keeping was a bit of a mess all afternoon and at times I struggled to identify some trains. The most interesting train of the afternoon/evening had to be the good old Turag commuter, Turag-3 1715 Dhaka Kamlapur – Joydebpur, which was absolutely rammed and with only being load 6 made it interesting trying to get off at Biman Bandar. I literally had to barge my way to the door but still managed to pay homage to MEM14 2324 up front before it departed. The evening eventually came to an end with MEH14 2511 dropping me at Biman Bandar while working 12 2020 Dhaka Kamlapur – Noakhali.
It had been a long day and the respite of the Nagar Valley Hotel was welcome, as was a good meal, a hot shower and a bit of time chilling before I had to leave for the airport and fly home. Thanks to Emirates changing my original flight time from 11am the following morning to 1830 the same night, my only option to get home on the day I’d originally planned was to change to Emirate’s 0100 Dhaka – Dubai and eliminate a night in Dhaka. As it was so close to Christmas, and I’d been away for almost 5 weeks, it seemed like a sensible move on paper. The hotel staff booked me a courtesy Uber to take me to the airport as their van was otherwise engaged, and I was soon checked in and queuing to get through immigration. Our plane ultimately departed 45’ late due to the sheer volume of people being processed out of the country, and the fact immigration seemed to take an age in Bangladesh!
Gen for Thursday 19th December 2019
6413 762 0640 Rajshahi – Khulna
6113 Shuttle-1 0530 Rajshahi – Chapai Nawabganj
6523 792 0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka, 791 1315 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj
6010 (6401 dor) 57 0700 Ishardi – Rohanpur
6517 Tangail-2 0645 Banga Bandhu Setu East – Dhaka (4h late)
6512 726 0620 Dhaka – Khulna
6520 769 0600 Dhaka – Rajshahi (2h30m late)
6516 705 1000 Dhaka – Panchgarh
6524 551 0500 Ishardi – Dhaka, 776 1700 Dhaka – Sirajgonj Bazar
6505 754 0740 Rajshahi – Dhaka, 753 1440 Dhaka – Rajshahi
6526 5 1220 Dhaka – Chapai Nawabganj
6521 1820 Dhaka – Banga Bandhu Setu East
6508 758 0720 Panchgarh – Dhaka
6514 764 1900 Dhaka – Khulna
6502 795 xxxx Benapole – Dhaka (from Ishardi?)
2311 39 1130 Dhaka – Mymensingh
2903 744 0630 Dewanganj Bazar – Dhaka
2926 717 1200 Dhaka – Sylhet
2906 774 0700 Sylhet – Dhaka, 773 1600 Dhaka – Sylhet
2720 68 1300 Dhaka – Chittagong
2914 789 1420 Dhaka – Mohanganj
2935 702 1500 Dhaka – Chittagong
2516 Dhaka station pilot
2514 Dhaka station pilot
2803 10 1845 (P) Sylhet – Dhaka (6h30m late)
2517 51 1540 Dhaka – Dewanganj Bazar
2721 35 1230 Brahmanbaria – Dhaka
2607 745 1640 Dhaka – Tarakandi
2324 Turag-3 1715 Dhaka – Joydebpur
2403 48 1300 Dewanganj Bazar – Dhaka
2511 12 2020 Dhaka – Noakhali
Moves for Thursday 19th December 2019
|6523||Rajshahi||Biman Bandar||0550 Chapai Nawabganj – Dhaka Kamlapur||792|
|6517||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||0645 Banga Bandhu Setu East – Dhaka Kamlapur||Tangail-2|
|2311||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1130 Dhaka Kamlapur – Mymensingh||39|
|6505||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||0740 Rajshahi – Dhaka Kamlapur||754|
|6526||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1220 Dhaka Kamlapur – Chapai Nawabganj||5|
|2803||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||1845 (18/12) Sylhet – Dhaka Kamlapur||10|
|2517||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1540 Dhaka Kamlapur – Dewanganj Bazar||51|
|2721||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||1230 Brahmanbaria – Dhaka Kamlapur||35|
|2514||Dhaka Kamlapur||Dhaka Kamlapur||Stock Shunt at Dhaka Kamlapur|
|2324||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1715 Dhaka Kamlapur – Joydebpur||Turag-3|
|6508||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||0720 Panchgarh – Dhaka Kamlapur||758|
|6514||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||1900 Dhaka Kamlapur – Khulna||764|
|2403||Biman Bandar||Dhaka Kamlapur||1300 Dewangang Bazar – Dhaka Kamlapur||48|
|2511||Dhaka Kamlapur||Biman Bandar||2020 Dhaka Kamlapur – Noakhali||12|
Photos for Thursday 19th December 2019
Friday 20th December 2019 (Arriving home)
The late flight wasn’t an issue as I had plenty of time in Dubai and I managed a bit of sleep along the way. I was subjected to my first dose of anything Christmassy at Dubai and it seemed a bit strange hearing my first Christmas song on 20th December. It also felt a bit strange arriving home to a cold and Wintery UK, that didn’t seem very Christmassy as all in comparison to Dubai airport!
While I’d been away, something that might seem trivial to most started to happen on the ECML when class 91’s started going to Stirling after the withdrawal of LNER HSTs, the last run of which had been a few days earlier and the last day of the hastily arranged HST farewell would be heading back to Kings Cross later that evening. As I got to London in plenty of time I seriously considered doing 1W22 1500 Kings Cross – Stirling throughout to Stirling as 20/12/19 had been muted as the last day it would be a class 91 but as reliable sources had confirmed it would be a class 91 into the new year I glared at 91118, sat with the stock for 1W22, as I departed with 91106 on 1D17 1403 Kings Cross – Leeds. Ironically, had I done 1W22 I wouldn’t have had a 91 to Stirling anyway as it was cancelled at Edinburgh after a fatality at Prestonpans had heavily delayed it; so, every cloud has a silver lining!
The silver lining that night being the proper hot shower, the decent meal and the comfy bed. The fact that I was that knackered did mean a sleepless night for my wife though, who spent the night on the sofa as she couldn’t get to sleep for my horrendous snoring; which isn’t something I usually do, and only occurs when I’m very tired……
Moves for Friday 20th December
|A6-EPK||Dhaka||Dubai||0100 Dhaka – Dubai||EK585|
|A6-EUM||Dubai||Heathrow Terminal 3||0745 Dubai – Heathrow||EK001|
|91106||Kings Cross||Doncaster||1403 Kings Cross – Leeds||1D17|