India March 2018 – Bilara, Mavli MG, Khajuraho, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, Guwahati & NE India
Even though the wounds inflicted on the previous trip were still quite fresh, I altered this plan the day I got home from the last one; to attempt to deal with Khajuraho once and for all, at the third attempt. There had been quite a bit involving the MG in my plans but this all but disappeared when I also re-planned the trip to head straight back into Assam, after seeing a pair of NGC Shakti’s head down the Barak Valley on the previous trip too; randomly, on a train that I had originally planned to do on that trip, had I not changed the plan. There was a bit more to cover in the northeast too, with the likes of Mendipathar, Naharlagun & Bhalukpong all on the cards. The final disaster recovery plan was to cover the weekly 07149 Secunderabad – Guwahati special, which had been cancelled on us when last in the country and then stopped running for a period. It wasn’t until after I’d fully planned this trip that it was re-introduced, and a further re-plan was needed to fit it in.
Not wanting to leave it for a later date, now the old NG line from Jabalpur was open to Nainpur it seemed a sensible time to have a go at doing it. Unfortunately, with the introduction of the service extension to Nainpur, the services used two sets and passed each other en-route; resulting in a 4-hour fester at Nainpur off the two daytime circuits. It was expected to be fully electrified by the time it linked up with Balaghat though, so needs must and there wasn’t much choice in the matter.
As I prepared myself for this trip, which commenced only 5 days after I returned from an impromptu trip to India, others were already in the country being bowled by the GM invasion and things in the northeast seemed to change quite a bit since November; with some of the locals and expresses going over to GM’s. The big kick in the nads though, was the fact that the ever reliable Kamrup Express had been spotted twice with HWH WDP4’s and it was a train I was booked on from Howrah to Guwahati and vice versa. Not wanting to run the gauntlet as far as GM’s go, I took the risk out of the equation, which also involved a change of flight from Hyderabad to Kolkata.
So, by the time I’d finished changing the plan for this trip it looked nothing like it had done when I’d put it together!
Booked through British Airways
BA143 1120 Heathrow – Delhi
BA142 0150 Delhi – Heathrow
Booked through Indigo
6E-539 2220 Hyderabad – Kolkata
Booked through Air India
AI428 1920 Varanasi – Delhi IGI T3 – not used!
Booked on the day through the Indigo Website
6E-508 1750 Patna – Delhi IGI T1D
Jodhpur – Govind Hotel – out of Jodhpur station, turn right and it is behind the big tree in the pavement! It shares its access with a bank, at least I could get into the building and surprisingly the night porter was sat up in the reception area seemingly waiting for me to arrive. I was shown straight to my room and made it to bed just before 1am. It’s a family run business and the owner is a very nice, and genuine, chap.
Khajuraho – Hotel GW Greenwood – it’s about a 3km auto journey from Khajuraho station. The hotel was empty compared to last time I’d stayed and there were no issues with my pre-booked room, although I’m pretty sure the guy at the front desk didn’t have a clue what I was talking about as he wanted to see my Booking.com voucher; as they call them in India. My room was exactly like the last one we’d stayed in, spacious, had AC, TV and piping hot water. I used the restaurant for food, which had a very limited menu, but an egg curry sufficed. I was the only person in the restaurant.
Jabalpur – Hotel Polo Max – is right outside Jabalpur Jn’s platform 6 exit, on the left. It’s still a relatively new hotel and I’d booked it through booking.com, noting that the hotel rates had gone up quite a bit since it’s opening about 18 months prior. I checked my reservation before heading out to India and as the same room was £11 less at the time, I cancelled my original booking and re-booked at the lower rate. When I told the guy at reception that the prices had increased, he suggested that using one of the Indian booking engines would reveal the best price as they give discounts, even though the hotel will still take the same rate from them, that they charge in-house. This isn’t the first time I’d been told this and I keep forgetting to use the Clear Trip app when booking hotels in India. I was checked in quickly and my room was a quiet one on the 1st floor. It had a queen bed, AC (which didn’t work), fan, flat-screen TV, tea/coffee making facilities and a decent power shower (that I couldn’t get hot water out of). Toiletries are provided and if you need any utensils they can be purchased from reception. WiFi is free, only works in the rooms, and has a good signal strength.
Ahmedabad – OYO 978 Marshall The Hotel – now an OYO chain hotel and right next door to the Ritz, a five-minute walk from Ahmedabad station. It was my first time at an OYO hotel, but they’d contacted me the previous day, through Booking.com, to confirm my arrival time and check-in was as simple as it came. I was given a choice of rooms on the 4th floor, both away from the noisy street out front, and both were the same. They were massive but were comfortable enough, with a comfy chair and table to boot. The AC worked, there was hot water and a few toiletries were provided. The room was very quiet too, considering how much was going on out at the front side of the building.
Guwahati – Contour Hotel – right behind Guwahati station, outside the exit from the high numbered platforms on the south side of the station. I’d booked it through Booking.com and was given an upgrade from my deluxe room to a premium room on checking in. The staff were friendly at the front desk and the reception area was clean. The room was huge with very good AC and a great view onto the station. This comes with its downfalls, of course, in that sometimes the trains sound like they’re in the room with you! The bed was very comfy, with decent pillows but the bathroom didn’t have much in the way of toiletries. There was a kettle and tea/coffee with two small bottles of mineral water as well. The WiFi worked well too.
Rangiya – Lodge Happy View – over the road from Rangiya Jn station. I was shown a room before I committed, and I opted for one with a private bathroom too. The room itself was rough around the edges and if I’m honest with myself, a bit of a shithole; but it was habitable and preferable to spending the night on a station bench and looking on the bright side, I was only spending RS500 for the night’s accommodation. Bert gave me a mosquito coil and helped me put the mosquito net up around the bed too, and even gave me a blanket and a sheet to put on the bed; which made the bed look a bit more inviting. If you don’t like massive spiders, like me, then don’t stay here!
Indrail Pass 60 Days (Sleeper Class) – £172
Booked in the UK through SD Enterprises Limited
NOTE – this was the last Indrail Pass to be issued after Indian Railways withdrew them from sale in October 2017. ALL tickets for Indian train travel must now be booked for each individual journey. Withdrawal of the Indrail Pass takes away the flexibility that came with it and they will be sadly missed.
Tuesday 6th March 2018 (Travelling to Delhi)
After my struggles to get home from Bangalore the previous week, resulting from a 3h30m flight delay and the ECML being in utter chaos because of the snow, the journey back to London for round 2 was much more of a breeze. I did think that 91131, working 1A01 0535 Leeds – Kings Cross, had given up the ghost at Grantham though. Thankfully, it persevered to Kings Cross eventually, with a man in the know telling me it was loss of air in the DVT that had been causing the problems.
Heathrow Airport was a doddle when I got there, there were no queues at all at security and I was sat in Huxley’s stuffing my face moments after arriving. My plane was sat at gate B35 long before I got there and when the cabin crew started to turn up for the flight, the lack of people waiting for it gave the impression that the flight wasn’t going to be well loaded at all. Once through the farcical boarding process, made so by some dim member of BA staff who even her colleagues were shaking their head at, it was onto the empty plane. When I got to the rear part of the cabin it was empty and when the plane took off there were about 30 people in it; for 145 seats. It was the emptiest plane I’d ever been on, with row after row, from one side of the plane to the other, being completely empty.
The flight would have been very relaxing but for the dumb fuck that joined us at the last minute. He was so fat that he could hardly walk, or breathe for that matter, he couldn’t figure out where his seat was, couldn’t put his bag in the overhead locker, couldn’t fasten his seatbelt, couldn’t work the touch-screen TV, couldn’t figure out how to plug the earphones into the socket, couldn’t stay seated in one seat and wouldn’t shut up! It was like having a fat, stupid child on board and he was testing the patience of the staff, let alone mine. Thankfully he was kept out of my ears by the noise of a film for the first couple of hours and he was one of those people that couldn’t talk quietly either and he was an obnoxious wanker too. It was typical that the emptiest flight of my life was marred by some fat twat that was nothing short of a nuisance and possibly a danger to others on board.
Moves for Tuesday 6th March 2018
|91131||Doncaster||Kings Cross||1A01||0505 Leeds – Kings Cross|
|G-CIVT||Heathrow Terminal 5||Delhi IGI Terminal 3||BA143||1120 Heathrow – Delhi|
Wednesday 7th March 2018 (Delhi to Bilara)
Our arrival into Delhi was early, at 0110. It was a clear morning and we were on stand by 0120. As we exited the plane and joined the main passageway to immigration, I soon realised that another flight had just landed from China and made my way to the immigration desks as quickly as possible. 2 weeks previous the queues had been non-existent, on this occasion, had it not been for the last one, I’d have been very pleased with the 5-minute wait to get through and I was standing on the platform at Delhi Cantt station at 0201; after an interesting ride there, with the driver not having much regard for his car over speed bumps or much speed awareness when going around corners. For my RS360, I was delivered safely enough though and using the Delhi Police Pre-pay stands at Delhi Airport is always the best option for a taxi from there.
I’d never known the chai stall at Delhi Cantt be open at 2am but I made use of it while watching most of the rest of the station sleep. VTA WDG3A turned up from the north with a freight and propelled it back to some sidings. BGKT WDG4 soon followed with a three-coach military train, which it deposited in the through road and I later saw the loco heading light towards Rewari. At about the time 54413 0315 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn was due, ABR WDM3A 16434 rolled through the platform with 19610 Haridwar – Udaipur City, which went through just that bit too fast to board with my two bags; so, I watched it trundle through and waited for 54413, like a good boy.
While waiting, ABR WDG4D 70583 arrived with 15623 Bhagat Ki Kothi – Kamakhya weekly express. This train had been my get out of jail card when it had rolled into Delhi Jn 2 weeks previous with ABR WDM3A 16814. It seems that even ABR aren’t playing ball now! As always seemed to be the case though, LDH provided the loco for 54413 and on this occasion WDG3A 13281 did nicely; and I was Gurgaon bound. Unfortunately, the Loco Pilot was crap and didn’t loco the loco up fully until well after the transition.
We passed ABR WDM3A 16796 with 12982 Udaipur City – Delhi Sarai Rohilla well before Gurgaon but IZN WDG4G 70373 was sat in at Gurgaon when I got there with 12464 Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, which I didn’t realise until later that it wasn’t booked to stop there and was right away through Rewari too. This was another train I’d expected an ABR Alco on, having had one on the opposing working in November, and surely the IZN link was an off-link. Either way, I did it back to Delhi Cantt and waited for 12458 Bikaner – Delhi Sarai Rohilla there.
When BGKT WDP4D 40474 rolled in with 12458, I got the impression that changes were afoot with the ABR Alco links on all the morning trains in & out of Delhi Sarai Rohilla and feared the worst for my booked 22421 0705 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur; which was a rake share with 12458. Upon arrival into Sarai Rohilla though, ABR WDM3A 16796 was sat waiting to drop onto the other end of 12458’s rake, to work 22421. IZN WDG4D 70373 was just dropping onto the opposite end of its rake, having run-round it to work 14812 0650 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Sikar. LDH WDM3A 16320 was just being prepared to drop onto its set and work 14625 0645 Sarai Rohilla – Firozpur and SSB WDS6AD 36324 was being attached to a set in platform 4, I think off the Udhampur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla; which was where my attention went.
After 36324 had done its stuff, I had enough time to nip over the way to the Hotel Raj and a nice freshly made Aloo Paratha went down a treat. ABR WDM3A 16796 was firmly bolted to my stock for 22421 when I got back and coach HA1 was the closest AC coach to the front, 5 behind the loco, and 16796 turned out to be a very good loco. Despite having had a bit of sleep on the plane, my bed was made up on 22421 before departure and I was horizontal when the TTE came for tickets, after Delhi Cantt.
I thought it best to drag myself out of my pit at around midday, just as we were arriving into Churu Jn; where ABR WDM3A 18987 was heading the opposite direction with 22471 0930 Bikaner – Delhi Sarai Rohilla. I remembered from the last time I’d visited Churu, via the MG from Jaipur, that there’d been nothing much on offer and chai had to suffice. By the time I’d realised that there was a guy with some samosas further down the platform, it was too late; and the loco blew up for departure as I set off in his general direction. Dinner was saved by the coach attendant though, who came around shortly after Churu taking dinner orders. When it turned up in a nice plastic lunch tray, I was a bit amazed to see it pack so well, I was even more amazed when he asked for RS150; which to put in context is less than £2 but still way over the odds for an on-train meal in India. He wasn’t backing down though and RS150 I paid, and, in the end, it was worth it as it wasn’t the usual slop I’d expect a piping hot, tasty and very spicy. My head was dripping with sweat, my nose dribbling candles and my mouth was on fire afterwards, but I recovered after a bit more dozing of an afternoon.
On my original plan, I was going to do 22421 to Jodhpur for the once a day train to Bilara but since the timetable change, 22421 was only a plus 5’ onto 54825 1800 Jodhpur – Bilara passenger, so I had no choice but to get off 22421 at Merta Road Jn as it didn’t stop anywhere else between Merta Road and Jodhpur. However, that didn’t solve the problem of making 54825 as Merta Road Jn was the wrong side of Pipar Road Jn, where the Bilara line branched off. It didn’t help that my 22421 was about 30’ late either, as there wasn’t actually a train after 22421 arrived Merta Road, to get me to Pipar Road in time for 54825 but 14814 Bhopal – Jodhpur was a minus 25’ off 22421 if both trains were right time. Luckily for me 14814 was 90’ late and was only 30 minutes behind 22421 so, I had enough time for chai after the machine that was ABR’s 16796 had departed and welcomed scabby RTM WDM3A 14072 as it rolled in with 14814. Now, I’d thought 16796 had been the engine of the day but 14072 gave it a run for its money as it screamed towards Jodhpur, with its empty, late running 14814.
In the end, having kept an eye on NTES for 54825 departing Jodhpur, I could have done 22421 through to Jodhpur and it made 54825 on about a plus 45’! As 54825 is formed off the incoming 54814 1300 Barmer – Jodhpur it seems its always going to be late, as it’s only a 15-minute turnaround at Jodhpur, which in turn is formed at Barmer off 54882 1030 Munabao – Barmer, again with only a 15-minute turnaround time. The net result being that 54825 was 1h10m late from Jodhpur and I did 14814 through to Jajiwal for it; I daren’t risk going any further.
ABR WDM3A 16675 was the nag when 54825 arrived into Jajiwal, which was a relief. This also meant that 54881/54882 Barmer – Munabao – Barmer were still worked by ABR locos as the loco and rake work around that circuit; so maybe there was still hope for me to eventually cover the line out from Barmer to Munabao, beyond Gadhra Road, which was as far as I got the last time I attempted before being arrested!
Thankfully 54825 picked up a bit of time to Pipar Road Jn and it is slackly timed on the Bilara branch, but needed to be as it’s a bit of a stagger; with the 41km branch being timed for 1h58m. As it was dark I didn’t see much through the gloom and was glad to get to Bilara before 2200! Now came the issue of accommodation for the night. I’d attempted to ring the only hotel I could find in Bilara earlier in the day but there was no answer, but the Hulchal Guest House did exist and is only a short walk from Bilara station. You know when you walk in to these wayward hotels that something isn’t quite right, and I feared that they may not take foreigners; as has been the case in places in the past. However, I was told immediately that there was no room at the guest house, which sometimes means they can’t take foreigners, but either way I now had an issue as the next, and only, train back to anywhere was at 0500 in the morning and I didn’t fancy roaming the streets of Bilara for the night. The hotel staff were very helpful though and after asking where I was going the following morning, they suggested taking a bus back to Jodhpur, to which I counter-suggested taking a taxi. That flummoxed them a bit and I got the impression there weren’t many taxis about the place. After they deliberated, one of the guys from behind the desk produced a set of keys and told me he would take me. We agreed upon a price of RS2500 for the 80km journey but before we departed I rang the Govind Hotel in Jodhpur and confirmed there was room. I’ve stayed there every time I’ve stayed in Jodhpur and the owner was just about to go home for the night when I rang but confirmed there was room for me and he’d leave the keys with the night porter. After a quick piss, that was us on the road and the easy journey took a little under 2 hours. My driver wasn’t a menace on the roads but more of a good driver that knew what he was doing; which helped a lot on the way.
The streets of Jodhpur were very calm when we arrived and outside the Govind Hotel, which I had to guide my driver to, it was deserted. As the Govind Hotel shares its access with a bank, at least I could get into the building and surprisingly the night porter was sat up in the reception area seemingly waiting for me to arrive. I was shown straight to my room and made it to bed just before 1am. Had I not had the lengthy journey during the day to catch up on some sleep, I’d probably have been a zombie by this time; but was still grateful for a bed for the night.
Gen for Wednesday 7th March 2018
16434 ABR WDM3A 19610 2000 (P) Haridwar – Udaipur City
70583 ABR WDG4D 15623 1530 (P) Bhagat Ki Kothi – Kamakhya
13281 LDH WDG3A 54413 0315 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn
40095 BGKT WDP4D 19032 1520 (P) Haridwar – Ahmedabad (5h30m late)
40474 BGKT WDP4D 12458 2230 (P) Bikaner – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, 22472 0840 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bikaner
40430 IZN WDP4D 15014 2040 (P) Kathgodam – Jaisalmer
15005 TKD WDP1 54309 0520 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn
16320 LDH WDM3A 14625 0645 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Firozpur
70373 IZN WDP4D 12464 1900 (P) Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, 14812 0650 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Sikar Jn
16796 ABR WDM3A 12982 1715 (P) Udaipur City – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, 22421 0705 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bhagat Ki Kothi
70780 xxxx WDP4D at Patel Nagar at 0730 with the Maharaja Express set
18987 ABR WDM3A 22471 0930 Bikaner – Delhi Sarai Rohilla
14072 RTM WDM3A 14814 1725 (P) Bhopal – Jodhpur
40060 BGKT WDP4B 22481 1845 Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla
16675 ABR WDM3A 54814 1300 Barmer – Jodhpur, 54825 1800 Jodhpur – Bilara
Moves for Wednesday 7th March 2018
|13281||Delhi Cantt||Gurgaon||54413||0315 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn|
|70373||Gurgaon||Delhi Cantt||12464||1900 (06/03) Jodhpur Jn – Delhi Sarai Rohilla|
|40474||Delhi Cantt||Delhi Sarai Rohilla||12458||2230 (06/03) Bikaner Jn – Delhi Sarai Rohilla|
|36324||Delhi Sarai Rohilla||Platform 4||Shunt an empty set out of platform 4|
|16796||Delhi Sarai Rohilla||Merta Road Jn||22421||0705 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bhagat Ki Kothi|
|14072||Merta Road Jn||Jajiwal||14814||1725 (06/03) Bhopal Jn – Jodhpur Jn|
|16675||Jajiwal||Bilara||54825||1800 Jodhpur Jn – Bilara|
|Taxi||Bilara||Jodhpur Jn||RS2500, 80km, 2h05m|
Photos for Wednesday 7th March 2018
Thursday 8th March 2018 (Jodhpur to Mavli via Marwar & the MG)
I was up at 7am thanks to the general hustle & bustle outside the hotel. The hotel owner was at his desk when I went for breakfast and told me he was very pleased I’d returned to his hotel. He wouldn’t let me pay for breakfast and insisted I take chai with him while my breakfast was being prepared. The hotel, he told me, was a gift from his father in 1996 and he’s been running it ever since. ‘s proud of how well his hotel is received but as he told me later, don’t expect great things from it as what you’ll find will disappoint. He aims to be simple, professional and courteous to his guests but has had some Indian guests recently that he has had to put his foot down with as they were taking the piss! He went on to tell me that in 2017 tourism in India, especially in Jodhpur had taken a massive hit and if it hadn’t been for Indian tourists his hotel may well have shut down as there were sometime consecutive days when the hotel was completely empty. It seems that things were recovering a little though and while not busy, the hotel had a few folks staying. When my breakfast of omelette, toast and more chai was ready, I was summoned to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant to eat it. I remember the view towards Jodhpur Fort being perfect, but for the massive billboards in the line of sight. These were now starting to fall to bits, so maybe in time the view would once again be perfect?
The whole time I was sat eating my breakfast I was being watched by a chipmunk, which knew exactly what it wanted and how to get at it but had a mutual respect for the fact that I knew what it was doing and watched it with my own eyes the whole time. It was quite fascinating watching it clamber around the fencing trying to get a better view of my food but when it came to it, it just didn’t have the bottle to scurry up the table leg and onto the table. Now, had it done so, out of respect, it would have got itself some breakfast!
It was a shame I had to rush off as the hotel owner clearly had more to say but I had a train to catch so paid my bill, which he only takes cash for, then stumbled down the road to Jodhpur station. A quick glance from the station footbridge revealed almost solid Alco’s in the station area, of which I counted 5 different ones. After I discovered ABR WDM3A 18798 in platform 5 with the stock for 54803 0845 Jodhpur – Ahmedabad, I then realised, when they were announcing it as ready to depart, that I could do 14813 0800 Jodhpur – Bhopal out to Raika Bagh Palace, which was just being shunted out of the carriage sidings when I walked over the footbridge, by VTA WDG3A 14878. The stock was backed down onto the rear of the set I’d just walked down on platform 5, so I only had to walk half way down the platform to leap in, just before the guard stuck his flag out and whistled the train away. The auto back to Jodhpur cost RS100 and I was back on the platform 15 minutes after departing.
54803 is one of the passenger trains in that number series that has sleeper class in its rake and sure enough coach S1 was three coaches from the front. There was no TTE on board for the run to Marwar and it was a free for all as far as seating went. I managed to bag myself a nice side-lower berth in the middle of the coach and wasn’t bother by anyone or anything all the way to Marwar; other than chai walla’s, who I wanted to be bothered by. As 54803 rolled out of Jodhpur, I realised that 54826 0500 Bilara – Jodhpur passenger hadn’t made it, so I was now a step ahead of it with being on 54803. There was an alternative to get me to Marwar, in 22475 Bikaner – Coimbatore Superfast but it was only a plus 47’ onto the 1400 Marwar – Mavli; so, I was pleased with the way things had turned out, and even more so later in the afternoon.
At Bhagat Ki Kothi, my friend from the previous day, ABR WDM3A 16796, was waiting to depart with 22422 1055 Bhagat Ki Kothi – Delhi Sarai Rohilla and as we rolled into Luni Jn, where the Barmer line diverges, BGKT WDP4B 40082 was waiting to depart with 14888 0645 Barmer – Kalka and between Luni & Marwar, at Rohat, we waited for shiny new SBI WDP4D 40548 to come off the single line with 17037 2355 (PP) Secunderabad – Bikaner.
After a very relaxing journey to Marwar, I was minding my own business as we arrived, trying to figure out what platform we were arriving on, when I spotted two YDM4’s on BG flat wagons, which looked to be parked out the front of the station entrance. Investigation revealed that they were right outside the station front, on a dead-end spur. 6657 & 6666 both had Sabarmati written underneath their numbers, which I was thankfully told by someone after posting the photos on Facebook. Both were in slightly different shades of blue, with 6557 in the lighter shade, which resembled the IZN light blue, and 6666 in the darker shade, which resembled the dark blue used by NKE. Both had yellow stripes down their sides that went to a V-shape on the short hood end. YDM4’s in the exact same livery had been exported to Senegal two years previous but these two had been recently spotted at IZN on POH and at this point we could only assume that they were on their way to Gujarat? There was nowhere to offload them at Marwar anyway and it didn’t make sense to send them to Marwar for offloading when they had all the facilities to do so at Mavli anyway?
When I got back onto the station a walk onto the footbridge revealed two things, one that the train I’d just got off was still in the station and two, that the old MG platforms for the Mavli line were in the middle of a construction site; which was for the dedicated freight corridor that was being built. Initially, I thought that the MG had closed without anyone knowing but then I spotted the purpose-built MG platforms right over the far side of the station area, which could only be accessed through the construction site as the footbridge to them was in the throws of being built.
While I was festering on the footbridge, figuring out what to do with the next few hours, I figured out from NTES that I could do the train I’d just got off, forward to the first stop, Auwa, for 54805 2330 (P) Ahmedabad – Jaipur passenger back. Quite why I’d not picked up on that earlier, I’m not sure, but I think that spotting the YDM4’s as I’d arrived put everything else out of mind. It was a good job I did do it in the end as I wouldn’t have been too pleased if I’d watched ABR WDM3A 16839 arrive into Marwar while I was stood there; it was a lot better getting off it and walking to the chai stall to celebrate another new ABR engine with fried bits and lots of chai.
When the time came, I braved the afternoon heat and walked through the construction site to the MG platforms and then down towards the end of them, to get some photos of 52076 0700 Mavli – Marwar arriving. For a recently built MG platform, it was well constructed and even had toilets at the top end. The rails were of good quality and it was all built as though it was done so to last. The poor old station though was just maroon in the building site, largely untouched but with ballast piled up all around it; it was quite sad to look at it in that context. The last, and only, time I’d done the Marwar – Mavli line was back in 2007 and the trains had departed from the marooned MG platforms then.
I had a young kid for company while I waited, he spoke no English but spoke at me constantly, expecting answers that I couldn’t give. He’d ridden his bike down the platform with purpose and just parked it at the side of me while I waited in the shade by the toilets. Despite me attempting to tell him that it wasn’t a good idea, he insisted on putting the plastic bottle back between his kickstand and rear wheel before he set off back down the platform. Not only did he struggle to comprehend how to do it, but he clearly had no idea that the constant rubbing of the bottle on his tyre was going to wear it out very quickly. If he wanted everyone to know he was coming, he was onto a winner, if he wanted to ride his bike practically and safely, he was not; and I’m guessing it would have all ended in tears at some point, either with the bottle getting stuck in his spokes, the tyre blowing out or his kickstand being ragged off. His bike, his issue! I was just glad when he rode away as his constant talking at me was starting to wear a bit thin.
As arrival time approached, the horn of a YDM4 could be heard in the distance and it was rolling into the platform spot on time; with me using the walls of the toilet to gain some height for my photos of it arriving. I was amazed at how few people got off the load 5 MG rake and hoped that it was as empty on departure back to Mavli an hour later. FL outbased MVJ YDM4 6655 was the nag and it was immediately ran-round in readiness to head back to Mavli with 52075 1400 Marwar – Mavli. After I’d used the water storage tank to gain height for some more photos, I decided to take up residence in the coach behind the YDM4, knowing that the loco would run-round at Phulad. There were only 6 people in the front coach on departure, which was prompt at 1400. 54806 0535 Jaipur – Ahmedabad passenger had only made the train by 5 minutes, with LDH WDM3A 16153 as the power, and it was interesting watching a husband and wife clamber across the construction site, up and down large soil embankments, and over the ballast to get to the MG train. They made it though, and as we departed, I realised that 22475 Bikaner – Secunderabad hadn’t made it. This meant that my fiasco in Bilara the previous night had saved the day from going very wrong. Had I missed the 1400 Marwar – Mavli, I’d have had to find a new way of getting to my overnight that night, which was 19666 Udaipur City – Khajuraho and I was on board from Mavli, all the way to Khajuraho. Luckily, I wasn’t in that predicament and could enjoy my 6-hour MG journey to Mavli instead.
6655 wasn’t the best FL YDM4 by any means but the Loco Pilot knew where notch 8 was at least. His slowing for the 15kmph speed restrictions over the level crossings was quite aggressive though, but so was his notching back up afterwards. Phulad I expected a few more to join the train but there couldn’t have been more than a dozen waiting, which included 4 white folks; out on a jolly with a guide. After some photos before 6655 was detached, I walked to the front of the train, but all the bays were occupied, so decided to stay at the back in my bay, with an old bert for company.
It was a nice day for a run up the Ghats with the odd cloud shrouding the train in much needed shade for a while. 6655 did thrash away for a bit at the front but my previous experience of the line was only that of disappointment in the YDM4 noise stakes as they could only be driven at low speed and not thrashed to death. At Goramghat the army of resident monkeys were waiting and descended on the train, the moment the first person threw something out for them to scavenge. They weren’t afraid to clamber up the side of the train and take food right out of people’s hands either and were very inquisitive.
The run up from Goramghat twists and turns all the way and does a full 180 degree turn shortly after departing and within 10 minutes you’re looking back down on Goramghat station from the opposite side of the valley. There are views across the plains down below of Phulad and you can see for tens of miles into the distance. At the Summit of the Ghat section, which isn’t the highest point on the line, the signals for the loop outside Khambli Ghat and for Khambli Ghat station itself are on the top of the hillocks by the railway, so the crew can see them from a distance and arrival into Khambli Ghat is on the flat. Over the back side of the station are a load of coaches, some of which look in better condition than some that are in service. Chai was provided by a local wallah, so I got 4 to keep me going. Bert in my compo did look parched so I offered him one, three was enough for me to handle.
Before departure from Khambli Ghat, I noticed some very old dates on the rails on the loop line and wondered whether they were actually dates at all. The rails were all from Cammells Steel, with some being dated in the 1920’s and others had 1894 on them, with one even having 1893! I couldn’t quite believe that rails from 1893/4 were still in use, but they looked in decent condition and probably didn’t get used often, if at all; so why change them I guess?
Beyond Khambli Ghat the area around the railway turns into something you’d expect to see in Star Trek when Kirk (William Shatner of course) lands on a hostile planet. Desert style surroundings with rocky outcrops lead the way for quite some time, until places start springing up out of the blue, all of which look to have been lost in time, giving the Marwar – Mavli line a very old world feeling to it.
At Charbhuja Road, I noticed that some of the roads on approach to the station were purple with dye after the recent Holi celebrations and as we rolled into the station so were many of those stood waiting for the train; clearly not having been able to get the dye washed out yet, even a week after the event! Charbhuja Road looked like the place to go to celebrate Holi and as we departed I noticed loads more people, mingling with others, who were still coloured a very distinct purple.
Darkness eventually fell and turned the journey into nothing more than just that, a journey. There was nothing to see, it was pitch black outside, and my compo area had filled up by the time we reached Kankroli. At Nathdwara NKE liveried FL outbased MVJ YDM4 6732 was waiting with 52074 1850 Mavli – Marwar and as we departed I failed to notice, until it was too late, that there was a YDM4 sat on a BG flat wagon in the BG station platforms at Nathdwara; which made no sense at all with Mavli being down the road and it would have had to go through Mavli to get to Nathdwara in the first place!
The one thing about the Mavli – Marwar MG line is that it still has good speed on the tracks approaching the stations at either end and we hammered up the section from Nathdwara to Mavli, parallel to the BG tracks and only slowed at the last minute to curve right into Mavli station and the train was brought to a controlled stop in the platform at bang on 2000; spot on time. The journey was timed for 6 hours and the journey took 6 hours, very rare for an MG journey these days to do exactly as it says on the tin!
The vendors at Mavli were in full swing but the samosas I had turned out to be very greasy and upset my stomach a bit, not to the point that I was ill, but still, it didn’t like the influx of oil none the less and I was thankful of the squat bog in the station waiting room later. I had grand plans of heading into Udaipur on 12992 Jaipur – Udaipur, which would enable me to do 19666 2220 Udaipur City – Khajuraho throughout and allow me to get something proper to eat in the refreshment room at Udaipur City. Those plans went out of the window when VTA WDG3A 13290 arrived with 59606 1930 Udaipur City – Chittaurgarh passenger and waited for the late running 12992 Jaipur – Udaipur to arrive; which it did so with ABR WDM3A 14096. There was only one choice, especially as food time would be out of the window when 12992 reached Udaipur anyway, and off I set on an impromptu late evening bash, which revealed more than I’d bargained for. As immediately behind the monster that was 13290, was an even louder monster, in the shape of RTM WDM3D 11533 with 19330 2035 Udaipur City – Indore. I was so glad I didn’t flag it as the loco pilot had it in notch 8 from the off and it was the loudest ‘3D I’d heard in a long time; it really did make my night, as did the fact that RTM WDM3A 16581 was sat in waiting at Kapasan with 19327 1645 Ratlam Jn – Udaipur City, which I was able to do back to Mavli to join 19666 at my booked place, rather than doing 19327 through to Chittaurgarh and then going through the seat allocation rigmarole.
After showing the bog who was boss back at Mavli, 19666 was soon along with ABR WDM3A 16792 leading the way. The AC coaches were towards the rear of the 21-coach rake and no sooner had I got on was the TTE harassing me for my ticket; before I’d even walked into the coach to find my lower side berth, No.45. He seemed confused by my ticket and I initially began to worry that I’d booked it for the wrong night when he couldn’t find me on the list. Then it clicked with him and he flicked to the back of his sheets and found my name elsewhere, I’d been auto-upgraded to 1AC free of charge. Unfortunately, it was in one of the 4-berth compartments, in an upper berth and already in it were two guys snoring their heads off, with the fourth person joining at Chittaurgarh an hour later. I pleaded with the TTE to give me a berth in 2AC as I’d been looking forward to holing myself up in a lower-side berth and forgetting about things for the night. When he couldn’t give me a berth in 2AC I asked when the next lower berth would become available and he just didn’t want to know; so, I had to lump my 1AC berth, in a cabin that rattled and was already full of snorers! I wasn’t impressed. Of course, the lights went on at Chittaurgarh when a nun became the fourth person to join us and I eventually managed a bit of sleep after that; it didn’t last long though….
Gen for Thursday 8th March 2018
40219 BGKT WDP4D 12461 2115 (P) Delhi Jn – Jodhpur
14878 VTA WDG3A 14813 0800 Jodhpur – Bhopal
18798 ABR WDM3A 54803 0845 Jodhpur – Ahmedabad
16796 ABR WDM3A 22422 1055 Bhagat Ki Kothi – Delhi Sarai Rohilla
40082 BGKT WDP4B 14888 0645 Barmer – Kalka
40548 SBI WDP4D 17037 2355 (PP) Secunderabad – Bikaner
16839 ABR WDM3A 54805 2330 (P) Ahmedabad – Jaipur
16153 LDH WDM3A 54806 0535 Jaipur – Ahmedabad
13290 VTA WDG3A 59606 1930 Udaipur City – Chittaurgarh
14096 ABR WDM3A 12992 1400 Jaipur – Udaipur City
11533 RTM WDM3D 19330 2035 Udaipur City – Indore
16581 RTM WDM3A 19327 1645 Ratlam Jn – Udaipur City
18987 ABR WDM3A 12996 2135 Udaipur City – Bandra Terminus
16792 ABR WDM3A 19666 2220 Udaipur City – Khajuraho
6655 MVJ YDM4 52076 0700 Mavli – Marwar, 52075 1400 Marwar – Mavli
6732 MVJ YDM4 52074 1850 Mavli – Marwar
6557 & 6666 SBI YDM4’s on BG wagons at Marwar Jn
6xxx YDM4 on a BG wagon at Nathdwara
Moves for Thursday 8th March 2018
|14878||Jodhpur Jn||Raika Bagh Palace||14813||0800 Jodhpur Jn – Bhopal Jn|
|Auto||Raika Bagh Palace||Jodhpur Jn||RS100, 2km, 5mins|
|18798||Jodhpur Jn||Auwa||54803||0845 Jodhpur Jn – Ahmedabad Jn|
|16839||Auwa||Marwar Jn||54805||2330 (07/03) Ahmedabad Jn – Jaipur Jn|
|6655||Marwar Jn||Mavli Jn||52075||1400 Marwar Jn – Mavli Jn|
|13290||Mavli Jn||Fatehnagar||59606||1930 Udaipur City – Chittaurgarh Jn|
|11533||Fatenagar||Kapasan||19330||2035 Udaipur City – Indore Jn|
|16581||Kapasan||Mavli Jn||19327||1645 Ratlam Jn – Udaipur City|
|16792||Mavli Jn||Khajuraho||19666||2220 Udaipur City – Khajuraho|
Photos for Thursday 8th March 2018
Friday 9th March 2018 (On board 19666 Udaipur City – Khajuraho all day)
Having managed a little bit of sleep, eventually, Jaipur came along and the whole compo was alive then, lights on, bags being moved about, the compo door being slammed, loads! Then as the two guys moved out, a woman and her kid moved in and the lights were straight back on. Thankfully, I got straight to sleep after we left Jaipur and expected to get woken up again by the TTE coming to check the woman’s tickets, which never came and made sense why later in the morning.
It was gone 10 o’clock when I surfaced and as both lower berths were occupied I went to find the TTE to see if there were any lower berths free, even in 2AC would have done. What he showed me was that there should only have been two people in my compartment at that point but that berths 19/20 were free in 2AC if I wanted to use those as well. As it turned out, the woman and her kid were reserved in HA1 berth 7, in 2AC, not 1AC; so, they were thrown out of the compo and all was well, until Agra anyway.
At Agra Cantt I was off in search of food and came back to find two other white folks in the compo, who showed me their tickets, which confirmed they were in 1AC berths 5 & 6; despite the TTE telling me there was nobody else getting in to Khajuraho. So, I ate my snap in berths 19/20 in 2AC and set up camp there until the TTE came around again. Had the previous TTE looked at the correct sheet, he’d have seen the two people getting on at Agra. The result of my conversation with the new TTE confirmed that compartment C, berths 9 & 10, were indeed free all the way to Khajuraho; again, despite the previous TTE telling me they were occupied from Agra! Thankfully, that was my last seat moving incident on board 19666 and all I had to struggle with from that point was attempting to get my plug to stay in the socket, so I could charge stuff up. It was a harmless run towards Jhansi and then onwards to Mahoba Jn, but for the delays caused by electrification works taking place. While 16792 ran-round at Mahoba, JHS WDM3A 16082 arrived off the Khajuraho branch with 22447 1820 Khajuraho – Hazrat Nizamuddin; a portion for 11447 Manikpur – Hazrat Nizamuddin that would arrive shortly after 19666 had set off down the branch.
I’d already got myself a lift from Khajuraho station to the GW Greenwood Hotel, having sent a message to Golu, who’d been our auto driver from Khajuraho station back in November. He’d given me his contact number if I needed a lift again and responded within minutes of me sending him the text, to confirm he’d collect me off my train. He even called me just before we arrived into Mahoba and asked me to message him when we departed there. When I did, he told me he’d meet me at the main entry/exit gate to the station.
On the approach to Khajuraho I was stood in the doorway with my torch, prepared for the worst. Last time we arrived into Khajuraho, on the same train, a GM had been sat in opposite platform with the set to form 51817 0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi the following morning; and had done exactly that. That had ruined our day completely and was the only reason I was back in Khajuraho so soon after the last trip. When the shape of an Alco came out of the gloom, attached to a set of stock in the opposite platform to that which we were arriving into, I was so, so relieved. In fact, once we’d arrived there was nothing but Alco’s in the station; our ABR 16792 and two JHS liveried ones that I couldn’t get the numbers of, even with my torch.
I wasn’t sure if I’d recognize Golu as I approached the exit gate on platform 1 but I didn’t need to as he shouted my name out as I approached. He took me to his auto and then went to try and find some other foreigners to take to town, after he’d dropped me off en-route. Had I known, I’d have asked the two Italian guys to come along, who I’d been talking to on the train. They’d already got themselves a lift though but Golu managed to find himself a French couple, who I’d seen fending off all the auto driver’s advances as we walked out of the station. They were staying at the same hotel that Golu was involved with and as he spoke fluent English, French, Italian & Spanish, he had no problems calming their nerves and getting them into his auto. He told me along the way, that he’d been left in charge of the front desk at his hotel and hadn’t planned to do the evening auto run but had made an exception when I’d sent him the message.
When Golu dropped me at the GW Greenwood, after the previous visit’s issues, he waited to make sure everything was ok before heading off. The hotel was empty compared to last time and there were no issues with me pre-booked room, although I’m pretty sure the guy at the front desk didn’t have a clue what I was talking about as he wanted to see my Booking.com voucher; as they call them in India. With an agreed collection time of 0630 the following morning, Golu took his French guests, who spoke very little English, on to town while I checked in.
My room was exactly like the last one we’d stayed in, spacious, had AC, TV and piping hot water. I used the restaurant for food, which had a very limited menu, but an egg curry sufficed. I was the only person in the restaurant, after two German girls left, and it was quite a peaceful evening as a result. Despite the 20 hours I’d spent on the train from Mavli to Khajuraho, I was still knackered, and it took no persuasion to get to sleep.
Gen for Friday 9th March 2018
40406 JHS WDP4D 59825 1430 Gwalior – Bhind
36260, 36263, 36352 JHS WDS6AD’s Jhansi station pilots
16082 JHS WDM3A 22447 1820 Khajuraho – Hazrat Nizamuddin
Moves for Friday 9th March 2018
Nil – on board 19666 all day
Photos for Friday 9th March 2018
Saturday 10th March 2018 (Khajuraho to Jhansi via Lalitpur then overnight to Jabalpur)
I wasn’t the first up at the hotel but as I’d already paid the bill the previous night I was first out. Golu was already waiting for me outside the front doors and we were Khajuraho station bound before 0630. The station wasn’t very busy when he dropped me, but the car park was bustling with gathering auto driver already, in anticipation of 22448 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Khajuraho portion arriving. Golu told me he meets this train every morning, and that’s his second trip of the morning too!
Having bode farewell to Golu, I was passing his details on to Youth later in the day, who was in Khajuraho two weeks later. I never thought anything of it when I walked onto the platform, having seen the loco and stock for my train the previous night; but I could have sworn that the Alco I’d seen had been the opposite way around on the stock, with its short hood leading. I never got its number the previous night as it was too far away from my door and I couldn’t be arsed messing about. Either way, I’m sure we spotted the loco last time we’d arrived into Khajuraho and it had been the same one the following morning. Thankfully, it was JHS WDM3A 14156 bolted to the stock and the crew had just started it as I bought my first chai of the morning.
Before we departed JHS WDG4D 70572 arrived with 22448 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Khajuraho portion and then we were off, pretty much on time. The train was empty on departure from Khajuraho and never filled up completely en-route. Tikamgarh was probably the place where most people got on but there was still plenty of space for everyone, which made the journey quite pleasant. The final section of the new line to Lalitpur only opened from Tikamgarh to Khajuraho 12 months ago and currently only sees two trains a day each way, the Jhansi – Khajuraho – Jhansi passenger and 22163/22164 Bhopal – Khajuraho – Bhopal Shatabdi. Before the Shatabdi’s recent introduction, it was only the passenger each way. The line speed was good, the track quality seemed ok and the train was well used. Most of the line is elevated above the main farmland below it and its very rural throughout the whole journey. Other than enjoying the scenery, the only thing I noted was towards the end of the journey at Udaipura, where there’s a big works complex, and sat in the exchange sidings was an Alco numbered “RITES 146”. It was in a WDG3A shell but was probably a WDS6AD? Other than that, the only other thing to note was JHS WDP4D 40407 with 22163 0650 Bhopal – Khajuraho. Vic had spotted this train with an Alco twice on the previous trip, after we’d been bowled at Khajuraho ourselves, so I was thinking it could be a decent back-up if needed; but maybe not eh?
The new line approaches Lalitpur Jn by running parallel to the main line for a while and then cuts in just before Lalitpur station. I’d decided I was going to go through to Jhansi on 51817, but IR had other ideas. Both 51817/51818 had been terminating/starting at Lalitpur for some time now but having checked on NTES earlier in the trip neither had been on the partially cancelled list, so I’d assumed that this practice had ceased; I was wrong. There was one announcement telling everyone that 51818 Lalitpur – Khajuraho was standing on platform number 1. Had I missed that I would probably have been none the wiser as 14156 set off, after running around, then branched back off onto the Khajuraho line! Despite this practice having been ongoing for some time now, there’d been no time adjustment for 51818 and it just ran 2-hours late back towards Khajuraho; and with no connection at all from Jhansi, its patronage was pretty much restricted to the Lalitpur – Khajuraho catchment areas only; so, a local train for local people, no less.
When planning my trip, I hadn’t realised that I’d be at Lalitpur the same day that 01707 Jabalpur – Atari Special Fare Special passed through on its way north. It was only when I scanned Youth’s plan that I picked up on the fact, so all wasn’t lost when 51817 was pined at Lalitpur; it was just a 3-hour fester until it was due though. NTES provided me with something to do, in the form of the Jhelum Express, 11077 Pune – Jammu Tawi, north to Babina for the Punjab Mail, 12138 Firozpur – Mumbai CST, back to Lalitpur. This produced boring GZB WAP7 30346 on the Jhelum but surprisingly BL WAG7’s 28640/28674 on the Punjab Mail! Both trains were standing room only in SL class and it was right about this time that I was missing the luxury of a 2AC Indrail Pass, let along the fact that a SL class Indrail pass would soon become luxury compared to what lay ahead for future trips.
KTE turquoise liveried WDM3A 18930 was the power for 01707 Jabalpur – Atari special, and the train was only 10’ or so late and had plenty of room in SL class; and by room, I mean there were some places to park my arse for the journey to Jhansi, which was a relief. I don’t mind SL class travel during the day at all, mainly as you can head the engines, but if its rammed it becomes more of an endurance as opposed to an enjoyment. With big bags in tow as well, freedom of movement is restricted as well, making the experience more annoying if you’re already feeling that way inclined. It wasn’t an endurance on this occasion though and as 18930 snaked into the far platforms at Jabalpur, I counted no less than 9 Alco’s in the station area. 4 were WDS6’s with 36046 stood in the carriage sidings, 36199 shunting in the freight sidings, 36352 in the sidings by the south end bay platforms and 36263 just dropping onto a set of stock in the north end bay platform; which JHS WDM3A 16083 had just arrived with, as 51804 Kanpur Central – Jhansi passenger. Also knocking about were JHS WDM3D 11402 in the carriage sidings, JHS WDM3D 11286 shunting a couple of coaches in platform 1, ET WDM3A 16220 stabled in the sidings by the south end bay platforms and JHS WDG3A 14989 stabled in the headshunt at the end of platform 2/3.
Before I dropped my bag at the cloak room, which is outside the main station building to the right, I hurried over to the north end bay platform and made use of the set of stock there for a facility break; and what do you know, it started moving while I was using them. I was off well before the end of the platform though and then headed the long way down the platforms to get rid of my big bag. The easiest way to get to the cloak room is by using the non-public exit near the buffer stops of the south end bay platforms, and its right in front of you. If going out of the main entrance of the station, turn right, and walk across the front of the station buildings and it’s in front of you.
Big bag safely dropped and locked up, I could move more freely about the place and the next stop was the south end bay platforms to see what would do 51805 1725 Jhansi – Banda Jn passenger. It wasn’t looking good with JHS WDG4D 70559 being first up and ET WDM3A 16220 next in line, with KTE WDG4D 70725 behind that and JHS WDM3D 11286 was just being shut down over the back by the time I’d ambled down the platform. However, JHS WDS6AD 36352 was just being prepared and this eventually shunted the stock in for 51805 Banda passenger, JHS WDG4D 70559 was then dropped onto it and ET WDM3A 16220 shunted KTE WDG4D 70725 onto a different set of stock and then deposited the lot into platform 1, to form 51828 1810 Jhansi – Itarsi. And until the ET ‘3A was removed from the train, I thought it was going to work it, vice ET electric. I was mistaken though and AJNI WAG7 27263 was eventually dropped on top of the GM to work it. Meanwhile, JHS WDS6AD 36353 had appeared from nowhere and shunted the stock into the north end bay platform for 5183 1815 Jhansi – Agra Cantt, which GMO WAG7 27084 dropped down to work.
With there not being a great deal of choice, and the fact that I was at Jhansi on the only day of the week that 11802 1725 Jhansi – Etawah didn’t run, I decided to speculate and did JHS WDG4D 70559 out on 51805, which followed ABR WDM3A 18657 out with 19666 Udaipur City – Khajuraho. NTES kept me on my toes and I needn’t have bothered keep checking how 54160 Allahabad – Jhansi was doing as at Orchha KTE WDM3A 18776 was waiting the road ahead, with the late running Chambal Express, 12177 Howrah – Mathura; which had been GM’s solid the last time I’d been in the area.
Thanks to the late running Chambal, I was back in Jhansi in time to do 51828 out to Bijauli with AJNI’s 27263. Last time I’d done the Bijauli move, the late running 19165 Sabarmati Express had got stopped at Bijauli and we’d done that back. On this occasion though, RTM WDP4D 40267 had already arrived into Jhansi with 19165 Ahmedabad – Darbhanga Sabarmati Express, so 51811 Bina – Jhansi passenger back it was; and what a disappointment it was when GZB WAP7 30662 rolled in, looking rather pristine. If I’m gonna do can’s then they can at least be freight ones, hence doing the local trains for local people!
As I wasn’t booked to depart Jhansi until 2315, I had plenty of time to kill and decided to head north to cover 11107 Gwalior – Varanasi, which had been a very sore point on the last trip when it turned up at Jhansi with JHS WDG4D 70572! I was hoping for better luck this time as CNB WAG7 28009 started off from Jhansi with 11123 Barauni – Gwalior, which I did to Datia for a WAP4 north to Sonagir on 11058 Mumbai CST – Amritsar; where further disappointment greeted me as GZB WAP7 30138 rolled in with 51816 1445 Agra Cantt – Jhansi, another train I’d only ever seen freight electrics on! The inevitable happened at Datia too, with JHS WDP4D 40458 producing on 11107 Gwalior – Varanasi; so, it was a pretty dud late evening really, but at least I was kept occupied! On a plus note, JHS WDS6AD was just being attached to the stock off 51816 in platform 2 when 11107 arrived into Jhansi; so that kept me occupied for a few minutes, as did an egg curry from the refreshment room afterwards.
Having paid the RS15 fee at the cloak room, I was adamant that JHS WDG3A 14989 was going to work my 12190 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur forward to Jabalpur, but when I noted ET WDM3A 16220 stood beside it, running, it made sense that and ET loco would return to whence I came from; although every other time I’d done the train in the Jabalpur area it had been a JHS Alco. Other things of note during the evening were LKO WDM3D 11129 arriving Jhansi with 54160 0625 Allahabad Jn – Jhansi passenger, JHS WDP4D 40408 arriving with 51808 1750 Banda Jn – Jhansi and JHS WDM3D twins 11259/11263 arriving with 12447 1705 Manikpur – Hazrat Nizamuddin. When GZB WAP4 22229 arrived into Jhansi with my 12190 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur, that was my cue to get my bed made up and then get horizontal. As it was early, and the 2AC was right at the front of the train, the TTE had done tickets, my bed was made up, I’d watched ET WDM3A 16220 drop onto the train and my earplugs were in; all before the train set off. My upper side-berth was a haven away from the morning rush too, but unfortunately it didn’t keep the morning noise out of my ears.
Gen for Saturday 10th March 2018
14156 JHS WDM3A 51817 0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi (cape at Lalitpur), 51818 0650 Jhansi – Khajuraho (start Lalitpur 2h late)
70572 JHS WDG4D 22448 2010 (P) Hazrat Nizamuddin – Khajuraho
16792 ABR WDM3A 19665 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City
RITES146 at Udaipura in sidings (electrified to here)
40407 JHS WDP4D 22163 0650 Bhopal – Khajuraho
30022 GZB WAP5 12002 0600 New Delhi – Habibganj
30346 TKD WAP7 11077 1720 (P) Pune – Jammu Tawi
28640/28674 BL WAG7’s 12138 2140 (P) Firozpur – Mumbai CST
18930 KTE WDM3A 01707 0915 Jabalpur – Atari Special
16083 JHS WDM3A 51804 0610 Kanpur Cen – Jhansi
36263 JHS WDS6AD shunt stock out of plat 7 ex 51804
18657 ABR WDM3A 19666 2220 (P) Udaipur City – Khajuraho
36352 shunt stock into platform 6 for 51805
70559 JHS WDG4D 51805 1725 Jhansi – Bandra Jn
40267 RTM WDP4D 19165 2100 (P) Ahmedabad – Darbhanga
36353 JHS WDS6AD shunt stock into platform 7 for 51831
27084 GMO WAG7 51831 1815 Jhansi – Agra Cantt
18776 KTE WDM3A 12177 1745 (P) Howrah – Mathura Jn
27263 AJNI WAG7 51828 1810 Jhansi – Itarsi (70725 KTE WDG4D dit)
30662 GZB WAP7 51811 1500 Bina Jn – Jhansi
36353 JHS WDS6AD shunt stock out of plat 5 ex 51811
11129 LKO WDM3D 54160 0625 Allahabad Jn – Jhansi
25016 ET WAP4 11015 2245 (P) LTT – Gorakhpur
28009 CNB WAG7 11123 1845 (P) Barauni – Gwalior
30138 GZB WAP5 51816 1445 Agra Cantt – Jhansi
36353 JHS WDS6AD shunt stock out of plat 2 ex 51816
11259/11263 JHS WDM3D’s 12447 1705 Manikpur – Hazrat Nizamuddin (to Jhansi)
40408 JHS WDP4D 51808 1750 Banda Jn – Jhansi Jn
40458 JHS WDP4D 11107 2040 Gwalior – Varanasi
22229 GZB WAP4 12190 1605 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur (to Jhansi)
16220 ET WDM3A 12190 1605 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur (from Jhansi)
11402, 11286, 16220, 16083, 14989 at JHS
Moves for Saturday 10th March 2018
|14156||Khajuraho||Lalitpur Jn||51817||0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi Jn|
|30346||Lalitpur Jn||Babina||11077||1720 (09/03) Pune Jn – Jammu Tawi|
|28640||Babina||Lalitpur Jn||12138||2140 (09/03) Firozpur Cantt – Mumbai CST|
|18930||Lalitpur Jn||Jhansi Jn||01707||0915 Jabalpur Jn – Atari|
|36263||Jhansi Jn||Platform 6||Shunt stock out ex 51804 CNB – JHS|
|36352||Jhansi Jn CS||Jhansi Jn Platform 7||Shunt stock in for 51805 JHS – Banda|
|70559||Jhansi Jn||Orchha||51805||1725 Jhansi Jn – Banda Jn|
|18776||Orchha||Jhansi Jn||12177||1745 (09/03) Howrah – Mathura Jn|
|27263||Jhansi Jn||Bijauli||51828||1810 Jhansi Jn – Itarsi Jn|
|30662||Bijauli||Jhansi Jn||51811||1500 Bina Jn – Jhansi Jn|
|28009||Jhansi Jn||Datia||11123||1845 (09/03) Barauni Jn – Gwalior Jn|
|22xxx||Datia||Sonagir||11057||2330 (08/03) Mumbai CST – Amritsar Jn|
|30138||Sonagir||Datia||51816||1445 Agra Cantt – Jhansi Jn|
|40458||Datia||Jhansi Jn||11107||2040 Gwalior Jn – Varanasi Jn|
|36353||Jhansi Jn||Platform 2||Shunt stock out ex 51816 AGC – JHS|
|16220||Jhansi Jn||Katni Jn||12190||1605 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur Jn|
Photos for Saturday 10th March 2018
Sunday 11th March 2018 (Covering the newly converted line from Jabalpur to Nainpur; albeit not as planned!)
I was dead to the world while the usual morning commotion started in 2AC, while I had no clue where we were, and couldn’t be arsed to look at my watch, I wrongly assumed we were approaching Katni Jn. We’d only just left Satna, at stupid o’clock, and the rest of the coach were in full swing with the phone calls and jibbering amongst themselves, not giving a shit about the rest of the coach that might still be wanting a bit more kip. Maihar the noise just stopped, the coach pretty much emptied and those still in it were sock on; but for me of course! After that I gave it up as a bad job and found an empty compo to veg in while I charged my phone and figured out what was going on with my morning’s plan; which looked to be going down the pan, based on what time we’d departed Maihar.
The only reason for venturing to Jabalpur, at all, was to cover the newly converted line from Jabalpur to Nainpur, which had been opened in stages since gauge conversion from NG to BG had commenced; with Gunshore to Nainpur being the latest section to open, making it worthwhile doing. The only problem being, that since opening to Nainpur the trains now sat at Nainpur for 4 hours and crossed the opposing working en-route. Unlike when they were only running to Gunshore, where they were turning straight round and returning to Jabalpur. This made doing the 120km line a day long event, with the run being 3-hours in each direction and with 4 hours at Nainpur on top! I’d hoped to make 51705 1050 Jabalpur – Nainpur off 12190, which was booked to arrive at 0935. But with 12190 being already 75’ late approaching Katni, I wasn’t hopeful at all. What I didn’t realise at the time was that all the Nainpur services were now starting at Madan Mahal, 3km from Jabalpur, where the branch splits off the main line to Itarsi, and even though NTES later showed 12190 arriving into Jabalpur at 1045, I’d have been well annoyed to find out that I’d still miss the train as I wouldn’t have been able to get to Madan Mahal in time for the 1055 departure. So, it was a good job I decided to cut my losses when something took my fancy at Katni; but all was made right by the time I went to bed.
When I caught a glimpse of ET WDM3A’s 14165/16216 arriving into Katni Jn with 51701 0720 Jabalpur – Rewa, I was off 12190 and scurrying over the footbridge. Having passed ET WDM3A 18723 a few shacks out of Katni Jn, I knew there was a move on and sure enough, the twins were just arriving into Patwara, the first station towards Satna, as 18723 appeared in the distance with 51190 Chheoki Jn – Itarsi late running passenger. Back at Katni Jn, PTRU WDM3A 16780 was about to shunt the stock from the middle road to a platform, to work 51679 0915 Katni Jn – Chopan passenger; which had been sat there waiting when I’d arrived on 12190. I had all the best intentions of doing 51679, even after I’d done the shunt move, which was well loaded already, but when ET WDM3A 16526 arrived with 19809 Kota – Jabalpur, my attention was turned elsewhere; and I was soon Sihora Road bound.
KTE WDM3A 16717 was hot on the heels of 19809, with 22190 0600 Rewa – Jabalpur, but I waited in peace for KTE WDM3D 11578 with 11652 0455 Singrauli – Jabalpur; which was a bit of a truncheon and there was no rest for the wicked on arrival in Jabalpur. With everything being down the pan 51671 0425 Itarsi – Satna passenger had taken a hit and the crew were just preparing ET WDM3D 11307 for departure. It wasn’t particularly a move I wanted to entertain but as it wasn’t well loaded, and I could relax on board, I did entertain it; and was back at Jabalpur a lot quicker than I’d anticipated thanks to PA WDP4D 40416 on 12150 Danapur – Pune, waiting for the road forward at Adhartal. I was going to do an auto back anyway, but a free train is always better, even if it doesn’t have the correct traction on it!
I was pleased to get through the front door of the Hotel Polo Max, which is right outside Jabalpur Jn’s platform 6 exit, on the left. Its still a relatively new hotel and I’d booked it through booking.com, noting that the hotel rates had gone up quite a bit since it’s opening about 18 months prior. I checked my reservation before heading out to India and as the same room was £11 less at the time, I cancelled my original booking and re-booked at the lower rate. When I told the guy at reception that the prices had increased, he suggested that using one of the Indian booking engines would reveal the best price as they give discounts, even though the hotel will still take the same rate from them, that they charge in-house. This isn’t the first time I’d been told this and I keep forgetting to use the Clear Trip app when booking hotels in India. I was checked in quickly and my room was a quiet one on the 1st floor. It had a queen bed, AC (which didn’t work), fan, flat-screen TV, tea/coffee making facilities and a decent power shower (that I couldn’t get hot water out of). Toiletries are provided and if you need any utensils they can be purchased from reception. WiFi is free, only works in the rooms, and has a good signal strength.
I didn’t really have time for lunch at the hotel restaurant but did have a brainwave when I was in the room, and rather than wasting a complete day the following day, covering the line to Nainpur, I asked how much it would cost for the hotel to arrange me some road transport to return me from Nainpur than night, if I did the last train down there; arriving at 2300. The sociable guy was straight on the phone and quoted me RS3000, while he still had the phone to his ear. My attempt to barter down to RS2000 resulted in an amicable agreement at RS2500. I gave him all the details and my Indian phone number, to which he said I could exchange numbers with the driver later if I wanted to meet him before he set off? Which is exactly what I did, its one thing going to these wayward places and having a lift back but knowing who your lift is helps no end.
When back on the station I hadn’t realised that 22187 Habibganj – Jabalpur now formed 11265 1400 Jabalpur – Ambikapur, which made sense now the Ambikapur was daily, vice the three times a week that it used to be. The coaching & loco links now intermingle with 11265/11266 Jabalpur – Ambikapur, 22187/22188 Habibganj – Jabalpur, 22189/22190 Jabalpur – Rewa & 11651/11652 Jabalpur – Singrauli; and even have rotating nameboards on them to make changing them a lot easier. This rotating nameboard thing being a new thing in India. ET WDM3A 16352 was sat with 11265 1400 Jabalpur – Ambikapur and I had enough time to rush and egg curry down at the local refreshment room for local people, at the Katni side of the station exit on platform 1. There’s an IRCTC restaurant at the Itarsi end of platform 1 too.
En-route to Sihora Road we passed bright orange PTRU WDM3A 16416 with 11448 Howrah – Jabalpur Shaktipunj Express and on arrival into Sihora Road, ET WDM3A 18924 was just coming to a halt with the opposing working of 11266 0615 Ambikapur – Jabalpur, which I did straight back to Jabalpur. I had great expectations for the afternoon’s ned leaps to/from Madan Mahal, which would involve three sets of Alco twins, and it started well with ET WDM3A 18944 on 51672 1110 Satna – Itarsi passenger. As is usually the case, 13201/13202 LTT – Rajendranagar – LTT’s were out of sync but thanks to 51672 I was able to cover all three sets of twins without the need for any autos between Jabalpur & Madan Mahal, with the following being involved; ET WDM3D/A 11314/16095 on 13202 LTT – Rajendranagar, ET WDM3A/D 16412/11139 on 13201 Rajendranagar – LTT & KTE WDM3A’s 16011/18738 on 11093 Mumbai CST – Varanasi. I did get wrong ended at Madan Mahal though and did have to get an auto back to the hotel, where things degenerated into a farce!
Firstly, my driver was already in reception, waiting for me to return, so we exchanged numbers, he showed me his car and I gave him the arrival details. Cash for the journey was only handed over on arrival back at the hotel later. Pleased that the evening was sorted, I headed into the restaurant to fill up before I went to use the shower to freshen up. My order was simple, chilly chicken, plain rice & plain nan. Chilly chicken arrived, followed by a butter nan, so I sent the nan back and asked for my rice. After asking for my rice again, 12 minutes later both the nan and rice turned up, by which time my chilly chicken was going cold; so, I had a falling down moment, pushed everything back at the staff and went into the reception to have a rant. The result of that being that my food would be remade and delivered to my room, piping hot; which god knows who’s spit and stuff in in no doubt! It was tasty though and I devoured the lot.
While waiting for the food I’d tried the AC, just to cool the room down, and it kept turning itself off after a few seconds. When I collared the “boy” in the corridor, he tried it, had the same issues and returned minutes later to tell me I’d be changing rooms. The new room was on the 3rd floor and backed onto the station, which I immediately turned down. They then put me into a room on the opposite side of the corridor, right next to an Indian family, who had the TV on as loud as it would go, their door wide open and three kids making a racket to boot; so that got declined as well. When the guy from reception came up, I told him of my concerns and suggested that he just give me RS500 back, make me some chai and I’d be happy in the room I was originally in, even without AC, which he agreed to! I didn’t have the heart to moan that evening, about the fact that I’d had to have a cold shower, even after leaving the water running for 10 minutes! I did tell him the following morning though, to which he told me the hotel has hot water 24/7, and he was going to block room 101 off until he could figure out what was going on with it!
An auto delivered me back to Madan Mahal station, where KTE WDM3D 11530 was sat with the stock to form 51707 1915 Madan Mahal – Nainpur. I don’t really have much to say about the line as I did it under cover of darkness, but the line speed is ok, and it feels smooth enough, confirmed by the fact I managed to get a fair bit of sleep during the journey, on a lightly loaded train, but with a decent KTE ‘3D up front. My driver was waiting for me on the platform at Nainpur and I’d told him I’d be in the front coach, so he knew where to look. I’d left everything but the essentials back at the hotel so was straight off on arrival and was nodding most of the way back in the car too. The journey took 2h50m, which included a chai & piss stop en-route. I was in bed in Jabalpur smack on 2am!
Gen for Sunday 11th March 2018
16779 KTE WDM3A 15160 2025 (P) Durg – Chhapra
18723 ET WDM3A 51190 1920 Chheoki Jn – Itarsi Jn (4h late)
14165/16216 ET WDM3A’s 51701 0720 Jabalpur – Rewa
16780 PTRU WDM3A 51679 1015 Katni Jn – Chopan
16526 ET WDM3A 19809 1900 (P) Kota – Jabalpur
16717 KTE WDM3A 22190 0600 Rewa – Jabalpur
11307 ET WDM3D 51671 0425 Itarsi – Satna
11578 KTE WDM3D 11652 0455 Singrauli – Jabalpur, 22188 1610 Jabalpur – Habibganj
40393 ET WDP4D 11464 1200 Jabalpur – Somnath
40250 ET WDP4D 11062 1305 (P) Darbhanga – LTT
40416 PA WDP4D 12150 2255 (P) Danapur – Pune Jn
16352 ET WDM3A 22187 0650 Habibganj – Jabalpur, 11265 1400 Jabalpur – Ambikapur
12871 PA WDG4 12149 2055 (P) Pune Jn – Danapur
40480 ET WDP4D 22181 1500 Jabalpur – Ajmer Jn
11509 SPJ WDM3D 11651 1530 Jabalpur – Singrauli Jn
11278/11426 ET WDM3As 12141 2335 (P) LTT – Patliputra
18924 ET WDM3A 11266 0615 Ambikapur – Jabalpur
18944 ET WDM3A 51672 1110 Satna – Itarsi
11314/16095 ET WDM3D/A 13202 2215 (P) LTT – Rajendranagar
16412/11139 ET WDM3A/D 13201 2345 (P) Rajendranagar – LTT
16011/18738 KTE WDM3As 11093 0010 Mumbai CST – Varanasi
16416 PTRU WDM3A 11448 1310 (P) Howrah – Jabalpur
16422 KTE WDM3A 22189 1705 Jabalpur – Rewa
11155 LKO WDM3D 19058 0520 Varanasi – Udhna Jn
11425 ET WDM3D 12192 1730 Jabalpur – New Delhi
14086/16213 ET WDM3As 12167 0035 LTT – Varanasi
40163 ET WDP4D 51189 1130 Itarsi – Chheoki Jn (16322 LKO WDM3A dit)
11530 KTE WDM3D 51707 1915 Madan Mahal – Nainpur
Moves for Sunday 11th March 2018
|14165||Katni Jn||Patwara||51701||0720 Jabalpur Jn – Rewa|
|18723||Patwara||Katni Jn||51190||1920 (10/03) Chheoki Jn – Itarsi Jn|
|16780||Katni Jn Through Road||Katni Jn Platform 5||Shunt stock in for 51679 KTE – CPU|
|16526||Katni Jn||Sihora Road||19809||1900 (10/03) Kota Jn – Jabalpur Jn|
|11578||Sihora Road||Jabalpur Jn||11652||0455 Singrauli Jn – Jabalpur Jn|
|11307||Jabalpur Jn||Adhartal||51671||0425 Itarsi Jn – Satna Jn|
|40416||Adhartal||Jabalpur Jn||12150||2255 (10/03) Danapur – Pune Jn|
|16352||Jabalpur Jn||Sihora Road||11265||1400 Jabalpur Jn – Ambikapur|
|18924||Sihora Road||Jabalpur Jn||11266||0615 Ambikapur – Jabalpur Jn|
|18944||Jabalpur Jn||Madan Mahal||51672||1110 Satna Jn – Itarsi Jn|
|11314||Madan Mahal||Jabalpur Jn||13202||2215 (10/03) LTT – Rajendranagar|
|16412||Jabalpur Jn||Madan Mahal||13201||2345 (10/03) Rajendranagar – LTT|
|16011||Madan Mahal||Jabalpur Jn||11093||0010 Mumbai CST – Varanasi Jn|
|Auto||Jabalpur Jn||Madan Mahal||RS150, 3km, 7mins|
|11530||Madan Mahal||Nainpur Jn||51707||1915 Madan Mahal – Nainpur Jn|
|Taxi||Madan Mahal||Jabalpur Jn||RS2500, 10okm, 2h50m|
Photos for Sunday 11th March 2018
Monday 12th March 2018 (A day around Jabalpur before heading to Rajasthan)
Although I seemed to be knackered from my late-night jaunt, the sleep I had on the way to Nainpur must have been enough to let me get away with 4-hours sleep, as at 6 o’clock, it was all over. The noise coming from outside was in my head and the frustration at not being able to keep it out was what drove me to just getting up and having done with it!
An NTES line-up for Jabalpur showed the Narmada Express, which should be renamed the Narmada Fast Passenger as it stops almost everywhere, was showing right time and by the time I got outside the hotel I could hear it being announced as “arriving shortly on platform number 5”. The locos were coming under the footbridge as I got to the top of the steps and revealed themselves as ET WDM3D/A twins 11210/14102; and I was soon on my way to Sihora Road to view the precession of trains that would be reaching their destination of Jabalpur, after a full night on the go.
Viewing the precession didn’t last long at Sihora Road as ET WDM3D 11316 was already sat in with 15205 Lucknow – Jabalpur Chitrakoot Express and after a quick leap across the ballast, it was on the move. I’d spent no more than 20 seconds on the ground at Sihora Road, which was a shame as I was rather looking forward to breakfast there. However, a stroke of luck at Gosalpur had the Chitrakoot Express being checked down to a stand by signals and just arriving was ET WDP4D 40215 with 51701 0720 Jabalpur – Rewa. While not ideal, it did provide me with a move back to Sihora Road, both for breakfast and to view the precession, like I’d planned to do in the first place.
ET WDM3D 11340 was just leaving Sihora Road, as 51701 arrived, with 12182 Ajmer – Jabalpur and no sooner had it done so, was the next train being announced. In between 12182 departing and 12190 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur arriving, JHS WDM3D 11236 came to a stand at Sihora Road with 19064 Danapur – Udhna Jn; at which time I was conversing with the walla’s selling the morning round of fried balls, stuffed with aloo. One of them even recognized me from the last time I’d been cranking in the area and insisted that I buy his balls! As they’d only just started selling them, the balls were piping hot and a constant stream of them were being brought out from the kitchen they were being prepared in, until there were enough for the army of walla’s to attack every train that stopped at Sihora Road.
As ET WDM3D 11447 came along with 12190 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur, my time at Sihora Road was short lived and I was Jabalpur bound for the second time within the hour. I never made it into Jabalpur on 12190 either as when we were stopped outside Jabalpur, adjacent to the carriage sidings, for some shunt movements to take place ahead, ET WDS6 36254 was just preparing to set off from the pit roads with the empty stock for 11466 1000 Jabalpur – Somnath. There were already two guys walking over the tracks towards it when the WDS6 blew up to set off and I’d spied a door open at the front of the set. As it was a big load the loco pilot had to give the little WDS6 a bit of a caning on the way into the station and it was music to the ears listening to its 6-cylinder growl struggle with the heavy rake.
The Somnath Express rake was deposited into platform 6 and in platform 5 was 22913 1255 Bandra Terminus – Patna Jn Humsafar Express, waiting time with MGS WDM3A 16394 at its helm. W, this was the first time I’d been in a bit of a quandary since having to make do with only SL class Indrail passes, as I wasn’t valid on Humsafar trains with them being fully 3AC. As I had to walk the full length of the train to get to the loco, I had plenty of time to scan inside and see how much room there was. I did toy with the idea of speaking to the TTE to see how much it would be to upgrade to 3AC for a journey to Katni; but where would the fun have been in that, plus I couldn’t find him on the platform anyway. In the end, having risk assessed the situation, I figured that getting into one of the many vacant lower side berths, closing the curtains and hiding away would probably do the trick; and it did, although I was off at Sihora Road when the train got checked to a stand. And bizarrely, the departing 22913 passed the arriving 12190 just outside the station, so the Somnath ecs had gained me a move!
Unfortunately, ET WDM3A’s 14109/14108 were just departing Sihora Road with 51190 Chheoki Jn – Itarsi passenger as the Humsafar drew to a stand. The result of that leaving though, was ET WDM3A 16714 being brought to a stand with 17609 Patna Jn – Purna Jn, behind it, while 51190 cleared the section ahead. Then randomly, and I say randomly as it made no sense at all, 17609 was brought to a stand at Adhartal, alongside 51190; which then got the road to depart ahead of 17609. Obviously, I was on 51190 when it departed, and it was only as the twins pulled away from Adhartal that I realised the inside one of the pair, 14108, was shut down. At Jabalpur I checked and found that there were no multi jumpers up between the two locos anyway; so, 14108 was along for the ride.
I had a bit of respite time at this point and used the time to get some dinner at the Polo Max and then collect my big bag from my room. Checkout time is 1300 but they were a little lenient with the time. When I checked out, the agreed RS500 was refunded to me and the guy couldn’t apologize enough for the issues the previous evening. Despite those though, the hotel is a decent, and very handy, place to stay and the staff did do their best to rectify the issues as soon as possible; despite some irate white guy giving them a hard time.
The afternoon plan was a bit simpler than the morning had been, although you couldn’t have put that plan together on paper anyway. I’d seen on NTES that 11448 Howrah – Jabalpur Shaktipunj Express was running late and was banking on 11265 1400 Jabalpur – Ambikapur making it at Sihora Road. It wasn’t the end of the world if it didn’t but KTE WDM3D 11578, which had arrived into Jabalpur with 22187 0650 Habibganj – Jabalpur, was sat with the stock for 11265. Also sat with trains were, SPJ WDM3D 11509 with 22188 1610 Jabalpur – Habibganj & KTE WDM3D 11530 with 11652 1530 Jabalpur – Singrauli.
There was no need to worry about 11265 missing 11448 at Sihora Road and the latter was nowhere to be seen on arrival, but thankfully wasn’t t far away. The small flies that plague Sihora Road of an afternoon, were out in force and I was glad I wasn’t there long as they’re just a pest and have a fixation with faces and eyes for some reason; fucking things! PTRU WDM3A 16263 did the honours back to Jabalpur with the Shaktipunj Express, where ET WDM3A’s 18809/16014 was sat waiting to depart with 12141 LTT – Patliputra Super-Fast Express; note the term Super-Fast as I almost came a cropper for not doing so. I was so fixated on finding somewhere to stand in sleeper class that when the locos blew up to depart, I’d not considered where the next stop might be. I’d been planning to do one of 13202 LTT – Rajendranagar or 11093 Mumbai CST – Varanasi to Katni anyway but as one of the twins on 12141 were new, it would have been rude not to, although it would have been sensible to check the stopping pattern; which I only did after departure from Jabalpur, and only to find out what time 12141 was due at Katni. What I found, of course, was that 12141 didn’t stop at Katni and was right away to Satna Jn from Jabalpur! Doh! It wasn’t the end of the world and just meant I’d done myself out of covering 13202 & 11093 and would have to keep my big bag with me all afternoon. Thankfully, there was no question of me missing my overnight from Katni Murwara that night; and all would be well.
Another stroke of luck had all being well a lot sooner than I thought as at Adhartal 12141 was brought to a controlled stop and ahead of it were a heard of buffalo scurrying towards it, behind which was another train creeping towards said buffalo; with a green signal ahead for both trains! It seemed that a bovine incursion had saved the day and while there was only a dozen or so buffalo, there were enough to make a mess of a loco at speed and most loco pilots bring their train to a stand for one, let alone a crowd of the bloody things. They are a nuisance to the railway system in India and yet IR had announced this week that they would take measures to prevent this kind of delay to trains in station areas by fencing off such areas to prevent bovine incursion on the railway.
When the loco pilot of MGS WDM3A 16253 pulled up alongside the cab of ET WDM3A 18809, I was already on the ballast anyway. Judging by the conversation between the two crew’s, I got the impression that the loco pilot of MGS WDM3A 16253 working 12361 Asansol Jn – Mumbai CST had warned the loco pilot of the approaching 12141 of the potential hazards. While the freely roaming buffalo are a pain in the arse for the railways, they have been responsible for many an unplanned move due to trains stopping out of course d in this case they got me back on track when 12361 delivered me back to Jabalpur.
This time, I really did say farewell to Jabalpur, and the electrification works could well make it the last time I departed there on a train? An OHL DMU had been knocking about at Jabalpur station, with staff on top seemingly putting finishing touches to the OHL in the station area; which would also confirm that the OHL wasn’t live at Jabalpur yet. KTE WDM3A 16777 was knocking about Jabalpur with a short OHL train and ET WDS6 36163 was at Sihora Road with another short OHL train. Randomly the OHL between Jabalpur and Katni was at various stages of completion, with some areas being fully strung up and yet there were places that didn’t even have a mast in the ground! It was a similar situation between Katni & Maihar when I headed out there later, with higher level station footbridges being built to clear the OHL once installed. It would be bad enough once Itarsi – Jabalpur had been completed but when it got through to Katni what use would IR have for the masses of Alcos at both ET & KTE? It wouldn’t be too long before we found out, I’m sure.
ET WDM3A’s 14114/14094 gave a cracking run to Katni with 13202 LTT – Rajendranagar and on arrival at Katni I had just enough time to drop my big bag off at the cloak room and get a bottle of water and a chai, before 11093 was rolling into the same platform that 13202 had vacated; with 11093 having been stuck outside waiting 13202 to get out of its way. Without my big bag in tow I was able to find some standing space in the front SLR on 11093 Mumbai CST – Varanasi but KTE WDM3A’s 16550/18922 were decidedly average in comparison to 14114/14094 on 13202.
Maihar was as peaceful a place as they come, with no road noise, no people noise and just the mosquito population to be wary of. KTE WDM3A’s 16736/16740 were along with 11094 Varanasi – Mumbai CST but the unreserved at the front was wedged, so sleeper class it was; and no thrash back to Katni.
One of my favourite places to eat in India is right outside Katni Jn station, just up the main road and set back from it, up some steps. The Naman Food Centre is nothing much to look at from the outside but is presentable on the inside but even if not, the food they serve is excellent; my Aloo Dopyaza being no exception. I was stuffed afterwards and for RS160 (£2) it was well worth the effort, l washed down with a couple of chai’s from one of the many chai stalls outside the station front.
I wasn’t really looking for another move that night, but one came looking for me when it stood out on NTES. It was a move I’d done before, so knew the drill, and when I found PTRU WDM3A 18785 waiting to depart with 51675 2115 Katni – Chopan, it became a move I was going to do; and little did I realise that it would lead me straight into another move back at Katni. The PTRU machine delivered me to Katangi Khurd a good 15 minutes before its shed-mate PTRU WDM3A 16780 rolled up 6h30m late with 51680 0725 Chopan – Katni Jn. The stock off which then formed 51188 2220 Katni Jn – Bhusaval passenger and when KTE WDM3A’s 18857/16779 dropped onto the other end in platform 6 bay, I had a decision to make.
Decision made I headed out to Sleemnabad on 51188, when it departed right time, and had the pleasure of ET WDM3A 18721 back on 11271 1620 Itarsi – Bhopal. On board which, I got talking to a guy who was heading to Katni Murwara on arrival at Katni Jn. I asked if he wanted to share an auto for the short journey across town, but he declined, telling me he would stay on the train and get off at Murwara. After quizzing him about this, he told me that all trains that run through Murwara do so at a speed slow enough to get off at and it would save him the auto fare. Was a bit skeptical about his plan and also had my bag to collect from the cloak room, which I’d done in minutes, even before ET WAG5 23459 had been attached to the opposite end of the train. It was the WAG that enticed me, but I was safe in the knowledge that the first shack 11271 stopped at on departure from Katni Jn was a safety net as my overnight, 18207 Durg – Ajmer, also stopped there. Sure enough though, the WAG trickled through Katni Murwara slow enough to get off, safely enough, and once on the platform I watched some guy running down the platform with a large bag on his head, trying to keep up with a door so he could throw his stuff on; all the while, his mate was yelling at him from a different door, which is always encouraging when you’re potentially in a life or death situation, with too many variables to control! He made it on though, before running out of platform.
I didn’t have long to wait at the deserted Katni Murwara, which doesn’t have a great deal of trains stop at it, full stop.
Thankfully I didn’t have too much time to have to contend with the mosquito contingent but just enough time to get my phone charged on the platform, at one of the very unhandy high-level plug sockets that I could barely reach and had to leave my phone hanging by the lead from! 18207 1600 Durg – Ajmer is one of those trains that still has Alco’s on it, when it shouldn’t really but when R WDM3A’s 16345/16287 rolled in with the train I was eternally grateful for R to be still providing the correct traction for the train, despite it having travelled completely under the wires for the last 8 hours from Durg to Katni! I was also grateful that he AC was at the rear of the train at this point and very pleased that the 2AC was the rear most AC coach and only 3rd from rear; as after the locos ran-round at Kota the following morning I’d be right at the front and would be able to bellow at the Alco’s to my heart’s content. Or so I thought…….
The TTE was a pleasant guy on board and told me I could take the lower berth in my booked compo, as it was vacant. In the end I ended up with a lower side berth, so I could whole myself away and attempt to get a decent night’s sleep. It was 0115 when 18207 rolled out of Katni Murwara, only 5’ late, but those on board would be waking up a lot earlier than I wanted to, so the lower side berth was the best solution to attempt to prolong sleep.
Gen for Monday 12th March 2018
11210/14102 ET WDM3D/A 18233 1715 (P) Indore – Bilaspur
40215 ET WDP4D 51701 0720 Jabalpur – Rewa
14113 ET WDM3A 12159 1745 (P) Amravati – Jabalpur
16487 ET WDM3A 11272 1830 (P) Bhopal – Itarsi
11310 ET WDM3D 15120 2100 (P) Mandaudih – Rameswaram
11316 ET WDM3D 15205 1730 (P) Lucknow Jn – Jabalpur
40224 ET WDP4D 22182 1750 (P) Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur, 22181 1500 Jabalpur – Ajmer Jn
11340 ET WDM3D 12182 1530 (P) Ajmer – Jabalpur
11236 JHS WDM3D 19064 1640 (P) Danapur – Udhna Jn
11447 ET WDM3D 12190 1605 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur (from Jhansi)
36254 ET WDS6 shunt stock in for 11466 JBP Somnath
40208 ET WDP4D 11466 1000 Jabalpur – Somnath
16394 MGS WDM3A 22913 1255 (P) Bandra Terminus – Patna Jn
16422 KTE WDM3A 22190 0600 Rewa – Jabalpur
16717 KTE WDM3A 19809 1900 (P) Kota – Jabalpur
16714 ET WDM3A 17609 2310 (P) Patna Jn – Purna Jn
14109 ET WDM3A 51190 1920 (P) Chheoki Jn – Itarsi Jn (14108 ET WDM3A dit)
40047 ET WDP4B 51671 0425 Itarsi – Satna
11509 SPJ WDM3D 11652 0455 Singrauli – Jabalpur, 22188 1610 Jabalpur – Habibganj
11578 ET WDM3D 22187 0650 Habibganj – Jabalpur, 11265 1400 Jabalpur – Ambikapur
40409 SPJ WDP4D 22937 1330 (P) Rajkot – Rewa
11530 KTE WDM3D 11651 1530 Jabalpur – Singrauli Jn
16263 PTRU WDM3A 11448 1310 (P) Howrah – Jabalpur
18809/16014 ET WDM3As 12141 2335 (P) LTT – Patliputra
16253 MGS WDM3A 12361 1945 (P) Asansol – Mumbai CST
14114/14094 ET WDM3As 13202 2215 (P) LTT – Rajendranagar
16095/11314 ET WDM3A/D 13201 2345 (P) Rajendranagar – LTT
16550/18922 KTE WDM3As 11093 0010 Mumbai CST – Varanasi
16213/14086 ET WDM3As 12168 1025 Varanasi – LTT
16736/16740 KTE WDM3As 11094 1120 Varanasi – Mumbai CST
14100 ET WDM3A 51753 1800 Rewa – Chirimiri (to Katni)
16485 ET WDM3A 51189 1130 Itarsi – Chheoki Jn
18785 PTRU WDM3A 51675 2115 Katni Jn – Chopan
16780 PTRU WDM3A 51680 0725 Chopan – Katni Jn
11425 ET WDM3D 12181 2025 Jabalpur – Ajmer Jn
18857/16779 ET WDM3As 51188 2220 Katni Jn – Bhusaval
21344 Bhilai WAM4 51753 1800 Rewa – Chirimiri (from Katni)
11426/11278 ET WDM3As 12142 1105 Patliputra – LTT
40190 ET WDP4D 12165 0523 LTT – Varanasi
18721 ET WDM3A 11271 1620 Itarsi – Bhopal (to Katni)
23459 ET WAG5 11271 1620 Itarsi – Bhopal (from Katni)
16345/16287 R WDM3As 18207 1600 Durg – Ajmer (to Kota)
Moves for Monday 12th March 2018
|11210||Jabalpur Jn||Sihora Road||18233||1715 (11/03) Indore Jn – Bilaspur|
|11316||Sihora Road||Gosalpur||15205||1730 (11/03) Lucknow Jn – Jabalpur Jn|
|40215||Gosalpur||Sihora Road||51701||0720 Jabalpur Jn – Rewa|
|11447||Sihora Road||Adjacent to Jabalpur CS||12190||1605 (11/03) Hazrat Nizamuddin – Jabalpur Jn|
|36254||Jabalpur Jn Carriage Sidings||Jabalpur Jn||ECS to form 11466 Jabalpur – Somnath|
|16394||Jabalpur Jn||Sihora Road||22913||1255 (11/03) Bandra Terminus – Patna Jn|
|16714||Sihora Road||Adhartal||17609||2310 (11/03) Patna Jn – Purna Jn|
|14109||Adhartal||Jabalpur Jn||51190||1920 (11/03) Chheoki Jn – Itarsi Jn|
|11578||Jabalpur Jn||Sihora Road||11265||1400 Jabalpur Jn – Ambikapur|
|16263||Sihora Road||Jabalpur Jn||11448||1310 (11/03) Howrah – Jabalpur Jn|
|18809||Jabalpur Jn||Adhartal||12141||2335 (11/03) LTT – Patliputra|
|16253||Adhartal||Jabalpur Jn||12361||1945 (11/03) Asansol Jn – Mumbai CST|
|14114||Jabalpur Jn||Katni Jn||13202||2215 (11/03) LTT – Rajendranagar|
|16550||Katni Jn||Maihar||11093||0010 Mumbai CST – Varanasi Jn|
|16736||Maihar||Katni Jn||11094||1120 Varanasi Jn – Mumbai CST|
|18785||Katni Jn||Katangi Khurd||51675||2115 Katni Jn – Chopan|
|16780||Katangi Khurd||Katni Jn||51680||0725 Chopan – Katni Jn|
|18857||Katni Jn||Sleemnabad Road||51188||2220 Katni Jn – Bhusaval Jn|
|18721||Sleemnabad Road||Katni Jn||11271||1620 Itarsi Jn – Bhopal Jn|
|23459||Katni Jn||Katni Murwara|
Photos for Monday 12th March 2018
Tuesday 13th March 2018 (A day travelling through Rajasthan, with an unwanted twist)
It was 0645 when I had to poke my head between the curtain and tell they annoying bastards in the compo opposite to turn off whatever they were playing to the whole coach, which they did and apologized while doing so; which is what gets me with the Indian lack of consideration for others mentality, they apologize, so must know they’re being a fucking pain in the first place, surely? Anyway, I managed to get some more sleep and then spent the morning getting my crap up to date, eagerly anticipating our arrival into Kota, where the R machines would run-round and grace my ears with their racket.
I thought nothing of the fact that as 18207 snaked into the back platform at Kota, LDH WAG7 28298 was sat waiting the road in the opposite direction, and after getting some pop, biscuits and chai, I was back onto the train; where my pre-ordered dinner was quickly delivered. I didn’t even feel the bump while I was eating my rather good veg meal and it was only when I got off to dispose of the packaging that I noticed that the WAG7 had stealthed its way onto the opposite end of the train, with the R twins being nowhere to be seen. Even though the pantograph was up on the WAG, I was thinking that the twins would run-round soon and just drop on top; but that was just wishful thinking and the WAG got us underway 25’ late. What I couldn’t understand from the situation that arose that afternoon was that 18207 had just done a hell of a lot of travelling with diesels under the wires and then an electric is put on the train to work the token 108km from Kota to Sawai Madhopur, where KTE WDG3A 13032 was dropped onto the opposite end to work forward to Ajmer Jn. The only thing I can think of is, further to the aforementioned policy of fencing off railways to keep buffalo out, another suggestion by IR to prevent delay is to change locos at reversal points, instead of running locos around their train. This does save time as the forward crew have already prepared their loco(s) before putting them onto the train, so this could be implementation of that policy? Either way the R twins would now sit at Kota to await 18208 returning from Ajmer, some 16 hours later, while two other locos have been pressed into use in the meantime. To say I wasn’t impressed was an understatement, but I was so, so thankful that it was an Alco that had dropped onto the opposite end at Sawai Madhopur!
I’d been pondering what to do later, with two options on the table. A hotel at Marwar being the back-up option for 18207 missing 12468 1615 Jaipur – Bikaner at Jaipur or Phulera. As the hotel was so cheap, it didn’t matter if I didn’t turn up and the preferred option was to get off 18207 at Phulera and do the Leelan Express, 12468 1615 Jaipur – Bikaner, to Nokha for 16311 Bikaner – Kochuveli through to Ahmedabad. The only issue with the overnight from Nokha was that I didn’t discover the move until quite late on and was too late to manage to get a ticket in AC; so, had to let SDEL reserve me a berth in SL class instead. As it was a side-upper in the middle of the coach though, it was about as preferential as berths in SL come, so I was good with it.
At Jaipur BGKT WDP4B 40044 was just rolling in with 14864 0930 Jodhpur – Varanasi, JHS WDM3D 11402 arrived with 51973 0645 Mathura Jn – Jaipur passenger, BGKT WDP4 20098 backed the stock in for 19717 1640 Jaipur – Chandigarh, VTA WDM3A 18830 was sat waiting to depart with 19574 1640 Jaipur – Okha and in the south end bay platform ABR WDM3A 16030 was waiting to follow 18207 with 12468 Leelan Express; so that was the move sorted.
On the approach to Phulera I was at the door in plenty of time to cast my eyes over FL DLS. The entry points were all overgrown and there were BG works going on all around them. I was surprised there were still so many YDM$’s at FL DLS, with at least 9 examples being present, one of which was in LMG livery. I could get the numbers of only 3 of them, 6627, 6729 & 6472. Had I had more than 10 minutes at Phulera I’d have taken a walk up and tried to get around the shed; it just wasn’t conducive in the afternoon heat and with big bags in tow, with limited time.
I was grateful to the TTE for finding me an upper side berth in SL class on 12468 and it was a very relaxing run through to Nokha, most of which I spent horizontal. If the Leelan was anything to go by, my SL side-upper on 16311 would be nice and relaxing; which it wasn’t initially due to everyone not having settled down since departing Bikaner by this point. ERS WDM3A’s 14055/14048 led the way through the night and within 30 minutes of departing Nokha, all the lights in the coach were out and it was quite a pleasant coach to be in. I’m not a massive fan of SL class overnights, due to their unpredictability, but this one seemed ok, with no dossers on the floors; so obviously not wait-listed to the hilt!
Gen for Tuesday 13th March 2018
28298 LDH WAG7 18207 1600 (P) Durg – Ajmer (Kota – SWM)
13032 KTE WDG3A 18207 1600 (P) Durg – Ajmer (from SWM)
40044 BGKT WDP4B 14864 0930 Jodhpur – Varanasi
11402 JHS WDM3D 51973 0645 Mathura Jn – Jaipur
20098 BGKT WDP4 19717 1640 Jaipur – Chandigarh
16030 ABR WDM3A 12468 1615 Jaipur – Jaisalmer
18830 VTA WDM3A 19574 1640 Jaipur – Okha
14055/14048 ERS WDM3As 16311 2200 Bikaner – Kochuveli
Moves for Tuesday 13th March 2018
|16345||Katni Murwara||Kota Jn||18207||1600 (12/03) Durg Jn – Ajmer Jn|
|28298||Kota Jn||Sawai Madhopur Jn|
|13032||Sawai Madhopur Jn||Phulera Jn|
|16030||Phulera Jn||Nokha||12468||1615 Jaipur Jn – Jaisalmer|
|14055||Nokha||Ahmedabad Jn||16311||2140 Bikaner Jn – Kochuveli|
Photos for Tuesday 13th March 2018
Wednesday 14th March 2018 (An afternoon in Ahmedabad)
What I hadn’t realised when I got on 16311 at Nokha, was that there weren’t just 6 inhabitants in the compo opposite me, there’d been an army of kids hiding beneath the blankets, all of which were up by no later than 0700; which of course meant, all the mice on the mice organ were up with them, which then basically meant that the rest of the coach got no more sleep! I tried to defy this morning chorus, but resistance was futile and eventually I took the eye-mask off and earplugs out. I’d like to think it was the chant of “chai, chai garam, chai” that got me out of my pit, but I’d ignored a few passing vendors already. When the eye-mask revealed daytime, it also revealed that the kiddy winkles in the next compo opposite, also belonged to people in the next compo down and there appeared to be a large group travelling together; which was the passing vendor’s dream! Thankfully I got my veg cutlet before he emptied his plastic washing-up bowl of everything he had in it and the following chai wallah then sold more cups of chai in one go, than I’ve ever seen before. He’d have been as well just leaving the urn on their table and collecting it when it was empty. While they were a rowdy bunch, they weren’t as annoying as some large groups, and the kids kept themselves to their side of the coach, but when they all got off at an unscheduled stop north of Mahesana the coach became silent, and a load of others got off at the same time too.
At Mahesana the extent of the gauge conversion works at the old Taranga Hill MG branch platforms were clear to see. While there was no rolling stock left there at all, the BG works hadn’t progressed that well, all the MG tracks had been removed and BG platform works were taking place but there was nobody doing any work as we passed by. Beyond Mahesana, all the way to Ahmedabad, all the MG tracks have been lifted and while there was no BG track in situ at this point there were piles of ballast along the route and BG sleepers scattered about the place. All the old MG stations were left derelict and looked like they were in the middle of a demolition site, but again, no work was taking place at them; yet it seemed perfectly sensible to IR to get the gantries and masts up for electrification, rather than improve capacity and punctuality on the Mahesana – Ahmedabad section, but double tracking the section first! What a bunch of clowns. So, for example, at Ambliyasan station it looked like someone had dropped a bomb on the place, 16311 stood for 20 minutes waiting a Patan bound DMU coming from Ahmedabad and there is no sign of BG tracks being laid in the empty formation beside where 16311 stood, yet the OHL gantries are up and an electric loco had been seen at Mahesana the previous week on test; progress? My arse!
As 16311 curved around from Sabarmati Jn, the old Sabarmati Jn that is, as the MG station was known in its MG days, not to be confused with the now named Sabarmati Jn, which used to be Sabarmati Town, on the Ahmedabad – Rajkot line, I clapped eyes on my two friends from Marwar Jn the other day. YDM4’s 6557 & 6666 were sat in the sidings adjacent to Sabarmati Town station and in the MG sidings behind them were all the old Taranga Hill DMU coaches and a raft of MG stock; so maybe the YDM4’s are going to be offloaded and taken into Sabarmati after all? I did manage to get a glimpse of at least three YDM4’s in SBI as 16311 trundled by it at Kali Road but I couldn’t get any of their numbers; mainly since their paintwork was faded, and they were in various states of disrepair.
Shunting in Sabarmati Yard was a restricted WDM3A, VTA’s 018728, depicted so with a thick yellow band around the bottom of the bodyside. This was the first time I’d seen such a thing on the Western Railway and with WDM3A’s being shoved onto the sidelines, things really were getting dire. 17311 was held at the junction onto the main line to allow 17017 0525 Rajkot – Secunderabad go into Ahmedabad first, which was two hours late, and more concerningly had UBL WDG4s 70439/12037 up front! Concerning because I was doing the same train the following day from Ahmedabad to Secunderabad!
On arrival in Ahmedabad I headed straight to my pre-booked hotel. I usually stay in the Hotel Ritz Inn, for a bit of luxury, but getting rooms there in advance on Booking.com is hit and miss, so I booked into Marshall The Hotel, which is now an OYO chain hotel and right next door to the Ritz. It was my first time at an OYO hotel, but they’d contacted me the previous day, through Booking.com, to confirm my arrival time and check-in was as simple as it came. I was given a choice of rooms on the 4th floor, both away from the noisy street out front, and both were the same. They were massive but were comfortable enough, with a comfy chair and table to boot. The AC worked, there was hot water and a few toiletries were provided. The room was very quiet too, considering how much was going on out at the front side of the building.
I wasted no time at the hotel, other than to have a good rinse before heading back out. Coming into Ahmedabad on 16311, I’d passed VTA WDM3D 11415 on the bridge over the Sabarmati river with 59547 1200 Ahmedabad – Rajkot, so had no move out towards Chandlodyia for either the opposing working 59548, or 19120 Somnath – Ahmedabad back in. An auto would suffice to Sabarmati Town, which is now of course Sabarmati Jn, and I’d have time to get some photos of the YDM4s while I waited there for both trains to show up. I thought that the best plan of action would be to tell the auto driver to take me to Sabarmati Town station, basically as everyone in India seems to call stations by their original name. My message seemed to be understood as we set off down the road, then took a right turn and headed back towards Ahmedabad station, in the wrong direction. Luckily, I was armed with ME Maps and pointed out to the driver that Sabarmati was the opposite way; to which the response came “ahh, Sabarmati sir”! This kind of thing is all too common when getting into auto’s in India and I’ve learnt that its best to know which way you should be going, even if you don’t have access to maps on your phone. Once back on the right track, I made sure the driver made the correct turn for Sabarmati Town (now Sabarmati Jn) station and didn’t continue towards Sabarmati (was Sabarmati Jn), as it was either a long walk between the two or a long detour on the road to get back to Town. He acknowledged that he was going towards Town and dropped me outside the station a few minutes later.
YDM4 6557 was the more accessible of the two, adjacent to Sabarmati Town station, with 6666 being deeper into the undergrowth. I had no problems walking around the yard taking photos, even while VTA WDM3A 018728 was shunting; the crew of which, and the shunting staff, all acknowledged my presence and let me walk around freely. The vantage point from the top of the station footbridge just wasn’t enough for a short-arse like me, so I had to do a bit of clambering on the balcony to elevate myself high enough to get the electrification gantries out of the shots. The footbridge is also a good place to get shots in the afternoon of trains running by off the Mahesana line, it was just a little unfortunate that the first three trains that went into Ahmedabad all had GMs on them.
When VTA WDM3D 11244 turned up with 59548 0540 Rajkot – Ahmedabad, I decided to wait it out for 19120 Somnath – Ahmedabad behind, in the hope that it turned up after 19412 Ajmer – Ahmedabad had run by on the Mahesana; which would make a nice addition to the shot, with both YDM4’s in the foreground and the power station providing the backdrop. Having watched SBI WDP4D 40255 run by over the back line, with 19270 Muzaffarpur – Porbandar running 8 hours late, I watched it run through Sabarmati Town later, heading out west. Unique, well almost unique but for a few others, RTM livered, but I suspect now VTA based, WDM3A 18623 also headed out west with 12938 Howrah – Gandhidham, itself running 4 hours late. Followed shortly afterwards by KZJ WDG/M3A twins 14972/18890 with 17018 Secunderabad – Rajkot, which was a bit of a relief to see having seen 17017 with the UBL WDG4’s earlier! VTA WDM3D 11417 was soon heading the other way with 11091 Bhuj – Pune and moments later ABR WDM3A 14117 ran over the back line from Sabarmati, where it had been sat with 19412 0625 Ajmer – Ahmedabad for a while, waiting for the afternoon Patan DMU to arrive before proceeding towards Ahmedabad. My time was eventually up at Sabarmati Town when VTA WDM3A 18617 arrived with 19120 Somnath – Ahmedabad and delivered me back to Ahmedabad to chew the cud for a bit.
The MG side of Ahmedabad station is in disarray with all but one of the lines in the station area having been removed but the one remaining has debris, sleepers and boulders piled on it. The track is still in situ out towards Sabarmati, but it doesn’t go far, likewise at the carriage sidings end of the station, where there is still a good dozen or so MG coaches languishing; which now have no connection to get to Sabarmati Yard. Some bit of the station building seemed to be on their way out, while the main area was being used by the RMS.
As I had no plan for the afternoon, I hung around to see what would drop out. None of the WDS6’s shunting in the station area were new to VTA, with 36047 & 36257 being the only two I saw. ABR WDM3A 18797 followed 19120 into Ahmedabad, with 19224 Jammu Tawi – Ahmedabad, running 4 hours late. It then went on to work 59049 Valsad – Viramgam passenger forward to Viramgam later in the evening. Having seen BGKT WDP4 20078 from my vantage point at Sabarmati Town, when it ran into Ahmedabad with 12547 Agra Fort – Ahmedabad, it was no run-round ready to head back with 12548 1655 Ahmedabad – Agra Fort.
I had a choice of trains out that evening, 22959 Surat – Jamnagar to Sabarmati Town, which VTA WDM3D 11421 dropped onto, and 12957 1745 Ahmedabad – New Delhi Rajdhani out to Sabarmati, which VTA WDM3D 11245 brought the stock in for; so, the latter it was. Even though I wasn’t valid on my SL Indrail Pass, nobody bothered me as I stood in the doorway to Sabarmati, where as we approached I could see VTA WDM3A 11563, which I could only identify because of its livery, sat in Sabarmati Town waiting the road towards Ahmedabad and was we rolled into Sabarmati, BGKT WDP4D 40475 was just departing with the late running 19032 Haridwar – Ahmedabad; which was my free auto ride back to Ahmedabad out of the window. That was until I realised that 1 and train couldn’t leave Sabarmati Town if 19032 went over the junction ahead of it; so off I set down the ballast, as it’s easier to walk down the track and cross directly over the yard at the Ahmedabad end of Sabarmati Town station, than it is to try and clamber through the undergrowth and over wagons if you try to take the direct approach. The result of the brisk walk had me dripping with sweat, but I made it easily, with the back of 19032 still being visible when I clambered onto what turned out to be 1905 Porbandar – Howrah; and it took to Ahmedabad to recover, where I called it a day and headed for the hotel for some much-needed food and a derance.
Marshall The Hotel’s restaurant is veg-only, and I was the only one in it. The staff were attentive and for a veg only restaurant the choice was quite large. A piping hot and very tasty dal fry was rustled up and complemented with a very lardy cheese nan! The dal, rice, nan and a bottle of water came to a reasonable RS299 (£3.75ish) and I was stuffed as I headed back to my room. With the AC on full blast and the fan on to spread the cool air, the room was cooled quite quickly. The water from the shower wasn’t piping hot but warm enough to have a shower & shave with and with the room being cool it felt warm enough anyway.
It seemed that my SL class overnight had taken it out of me as I was ready for bed at 9 o’clock by 2130, pushing out the z’s, in a very comfortable bed, with decent pillows and in a climate controlled, quiet room. Who needed the Ritz!?
Gen for Wednesday 14th March 2018
20097 BGKT WDP4 19707 2055 (P) Bandra Terminus – Jaipur
16788 ABR WDM3A 19413 0605 Ahmedabad – Kolkata Chitpur
16818 ABR WDM3A 54804 0615 Ahmedabad – Jodhpur
16659 ABR WDM3A 19411 0910 Ahmedabad – Ajmer Jn
11415 VTA WDM3D 59547 1200 Ahmedabad – Rajkot Jn
12037/70439 UBL WDG4s 17017 0525 Rajkot – Secunderabad
11244 VTA WDM3D 59548 0540 Rajkot Jn – Ahmedabad
40255 SBI WDP4D 19270 1515 (PP) Muzaffarpur – Porbandar (8h late) in photo at SBT
18623 RTM? WDM3A 12938 2300 (PP) Howrah – Gandhidham (4h late)
11417 VTA WDM3D 11091 0855 Bhuj – Pune Jn
14117 ABR WDM3A 19412 0625 Ajmer Jn – Ahmedabad Jn
18617 RTM WDM3A 19120 0625 Somnath – Ahmedabad
18797 ABR WDM3A 19224 0750 (P) Jammu Tawi – Ahmedabad, 59049 0605 Valsad – Viramgam Jn (from ADI)
20078 BGKT WDP4 12547 2215 (P) Agra Fort – Ahmedabad (photted at SBT), 12548 1655 Ahmedabad – Agra Fort
11421 VTA WDM3D 22959 1330 Surat – Jamnagar (from ADI)
11245 VTA WDM3D 12957 1740 Ahmedabad – New Delhi
11563 VTA WDM3D 12905 0750 Porbandar – Howrah (to ADI)
40060 BGKT WDP4B 12915 1830 Ahmedabad – Delhi Jn
40475 BGKT WDP4D 19032 1520 (P) Haridwar – Ahmedabad
Moves for Wednesday 14th March 2018
|Auto||Ahmedabad Jn||Sabarmati Town||RS120, 5km, 15mins|
|18617||Sabarmati Town||Ahmedabad Jn||19120||0625 Somnath – Ahmedabad Jn|
|11245||Ahmedabad Jn||Sabarmati Jn||12957||1740 Ahmedabad Jn – New Delhi Jn|
|11563||Sabarmati Town||Ahmedabad Jn||12905||0750 Porbandar – Howrah|
Photos for Wednesday 14th March 2018
Thursday 15th March 2018 (A 24h30m journey from Ahmedabad to Secunderabad)
It was 0630 when I first woke up, having slept solidly for 8 hours, when I took my earplugs out Ahmedabad was in full swing outside. I’d not originally planned to head out before my train to Secunderabad at 1000 but as a quick NTES enquiry showed 16336 Nagercoil – Gandhidham as running about an hour late, I made the effort.
BRC WAP4 22678 was just being prepared for to depart with 22954 0700 Ahmedabad – Mumbai Central, when I got to the front of the train. With very apt timing on my part, VTA WDS6R 36506 was just approaching the platform end of the adjacent platform with the ecs to form 12655 0735 Ahmedabad – Chennai Central; which was a rather well-timed lift back down the platform to get some chai, if nothing else.
What I didn’t realise, when I got to Maninagar, was just how long I’d be waiting there and with 16336 not being reported on NTES since 0515, I was beginning to wonder where it had got to when it eventually showed up at 0815; with ERS WDM3A’s 16457/16459 leading the way, 90’ late. As the twins dropped into Ahmedabad, VTA WDM3A 018619 was just drawing out of the carriage sidings with a set for the station, so I leapt off as soon as the train was going slow enough to safely do so. Thankfully the footbridge wasn’t far away, and I was over it with plenty of time to find myself an open door on the set to form 19031 1005 Ahmedabad – Haridwar Yoga Express. As we drew into from the south, another set was being propelled into the adjacent platform, which turned out to be for 19411 0905 Ahmedabad – Ajmer, with VTA WDS6 36257 providing the traction. Sat adjacent to that, waiting to drop on once the WDS6 had done one, was ABR WDM3A 16155; which then had me rushing about the place, so I could get back to the station in time to do it out to Sabarmati.
Back at the hotel I quickly scanned the breakfast room for something appetizing, but nothing was and there wasn’t even any paratha, so I was straight to the room. As I’d already packed the night before, it was simple wash and brushing of teeth exercise and then down to pay the bill; which was a refreshingly quick and easy affair and my bill was e-mailed to me via Booking.com before I’d even reached the station again.
It wasn’t until I got over to the far side of the station that I noticed the VTA WDM3A I’d been photting at Sabarmati Town the previous day, 018728, attached to the Ashram Express stock, which had been arriving with BGKT WDP4D 40275 before I headed off to the hotel. As time was limited before 19411 would depart, I set my stall out to get the restricted WDM3A in as it might be in the bin by the next time I visited India and I nearly missed the opportunity as I’d not made it far up the platform by the time it set off. Having originally though the departure time of 19411 was 0905 and not 0910 as it was, I needn’t have worried in the end and was thankful that 19411 set off right time. 12958 New Delhi – Ahmedabad Rajdhani had been reported at Kalol a few minutes before we departed but despite that having further to travel, it would be touch and go if I made it at Sabarmati as 19411 would have to trickle out of the station. Once over the Sabarmati river bridge, with the road towards Sabarmati though, I knew I was going to make it as even if it was in the station it was going to have to wait for 19411 to clear the single line lead before it could depart. And even better still, I was greeted by VTA WDM3D 11126 waiting with 12958, which immediately got the road once 19411 had cleared the points. To say I hadn’t planned to get up, it had been a rather productive 3 hours by the time I got back to Ahmedabad and my early night paid off. I even had time to nip and grab a couple of omelettes from the wallah at the bottom of the steps, by the south end footbridge on platform 1. The job, as we say in the UK, was good ‘un.
Fed watered and with plenty of train-fodda in my bag, I was ready for the 24h30m journey to Secunderabad and when, as expected, KZJ WDM/G3A’s 18890/14972 rolled in with 17017 0525 Rajkot – Secunderabad, berth 37 in coach A2 would be my home, bedroom, office and restaurant for the next day! Thankfully, by Baroda, where the train loaded up a little, my compo was full, and its occupants weren’t little people either; apart from me of course. There was an air of calm about the place, but I’d discovered, exactly as had been the case the last time I’d done 17017 to Secunderabad, that the coach oscillated from side to side at speed, which had kept me awake on my last journey and look likely to have the same affect on this one.
En-route south, VTA WDM3A 16790 was sat in the adjacent platform at Vadodara with 19201 1500 (P) Secunderabad – Porbandar, which runs in the same path as 17018 Secunderabad – Rajkot but doesn’t have the same loco-link! At Ankleswar Jn, in the opposite platform, almost adjacent to my 2AC coach, was RTM WDM3A 16559. It was at with the two coaches that would form 59167 1630 Ankleswar Jn – Rajpipla; which is the only train of the day down the ex-NG branch. It returns at stupid o’clock the following morning, with the only train of the day out of Rajpipla. I’ve never understood why the set doesn’t do a return trip down the branch during the day as there’s more than enough time for it to do so while it sits there.
The air of calm on board was eventually shattered by a group of young girls, who’d obviously only met each other on board the train, who spent most of the time sitting in the upper side berth one along from me. They pretty much shouted their way through the journey, sang very loudly and made a nuisance of themselves right up until they all got off at Pune Jn, which unfortunately wasn’t until 2230. During the journey I asked the couple sat in the side berths opposite, if the racket that the kids were making was as off-putting to them as it was to me. As Indian though they have a greater level of tolerance, although they told me that a couple of people had already tried to tell the girls to make less noise. The woman went on to say that when she was their age, she did exactly as they were doing when on a train journey as it was a novelty, a place to meet new friends and somewhere you generally got away with being a bit naughty and loud. The couple’s son, on the other hand, was being very well behaved and didn’t want anything to do with the other kids on the train. They could only assume that it’s because they currently live in Edinburgh and that he’s been subjected to western culture for most of his short life. This also explains his very good English for a child of only 3-years old. However, this is a concern to them as he prefers to speak English at this point in his life and even though he clearly understands Mahrati when they speak to him in it, he always responds in English and even when playing with kids at their home in Pune he now speaks to them in English and they find themselves shaving to translate what he’s saying to his friends.
My time speaking to the couple broke the afternoon up a little and was cut short when my dinner arrived. It was touch and go at first, but I’d taken a punt and used the IRCTC App to order food to be delivered to my berth. It such a simple thing to do, once I’d downloaded the catering side of the app, which thankfully I had 4G to do. All you must do is type in your PNR number and the app does the rest, it knows your berth No. and where you’re travelling from and to, then lists stations en-route their the IRCTC at-berth service is available, showing their booked arrival time and halt time. From there it’s very much like using the Jut Eat app in the UK, select the place you want to order from, add whatever you want to your basket and then checkout. The good thing about the app is that you don’t have to pay in advance and can pay cash on delivery; which is what I chose when ordering a Domino’s Pizza to be delivered to my berth at Kalyan Jn. I ordered quite early in the day and had both text and e-mail confirmations, along with a message confirming my pizza would be delivered piping hot and a link to track it. Upon arrival into Kalyan 17017 was about 25’ late, having been sat around outside the station area for a while. E train only stopped for the booked 2 minutes and when we set off again there was no sign of my pizza; which at least I hadn’t paid for. Then, the train came to a stand again, 30 seconds later a Domino’s delivery boy came into the coach with my piping hot pizza and was gone again in a flash; apparently protesting that he needed to go as the train was about to start off. The couple I’d been talking with think that the delivery boy had stopped the train, just to deliver my pizza, and I was glad he had as it was a very good, hot pizza; exactly what I’d expect from Domino’s. The delivery to berth cost me RS473, which only RS25 of was for the delivery charge, so it wasn’t that cheap, but with the quality and service, I can’t complain; so all was good by the time we reached Karjat at the bottom of the Bhor Ghats.
It seemed that I needed to get with the program, as far as banking duties were concerned on the ghats from Karjat to Lonavala as I definitely wasn’t expecting KYN WCAM3’s 219945/21951 to be sat in the headshunt waiting to drop onto the rear of 17017, and in the station KYN WCAM3’s 21881/21943 were waiting to take their place after they shunted on, with KYN WAG7’s 27126/27397/27101 waiting their next turn in the middle of the station. At least I remembered to get the bankers this time and wasn’t in a state of flap like I was last time when I realised where we were and what was going on.
By the time we got to Pune Jn, my patience was running out and I only stayed up because of the racket from the girls and the fact that it seemed that most people in the coach were getting off, so there’d probably be a load getting on to replace them. The couple’s son couldn’t help shouting “bye” to me all the way down the coach as he was ushered to the door. The mass exodus didn’t bring with an equal amount of people getting back on and it wasn’t as noisy as I’d expected it to be in the process. As soon as the wheels were rolling from Pune Jn, everyone was settled, most lights were out, and sleep soon came; as predicted though, not for too long!
Gen for Thursday 15th March 2018
22678 BRC WAP4 22954 0700 Ahmedabad – Mumbai Cen
36506 VTA WDS6R ecs for 12655 0735 ADI – MAS plat 4
40275 BGKT WDP4.D 12916 1520 (P) Delhi Jn – Ahmedabad
16457/16459 ERS WDM3As 16336 1445 (PP) Nagercoil – Gandhidham
018619 VTA WDM3A ecs for 19031 1005 ADI – HW plat 7
36257 VTA WDS6AD ecs for 19411 0905 ADI – AII
018728 VTA WDM3A ecs ex 12916 DLI – ADI
16155 ABR WDM3A 19411 0910 Ahmedabad – Ajmer Jn
11126 VTAWDM3D 12958 1955 (P) New Delhi – Ahmedabad
14972/18890 KZJ WDG/M3As 17017 0525 Rajkot – Secunderabad
16790 VTA WDM3A 19201 1500 (P) Secunderabad – Porbandar
16559 RTM WDM3A 59167 1630 Ankleswar Jn – Rajpipla
Bankers at Karjat
21945/21951 banked 17017
Moves for Thursday 15th March 2018
|36506||Ahmedabad Jn||Platform 4 S-N||Shunt stock in for 12655 ADI – MAS|
|22678||Ahmedabad Jn||Maninagar||22954||0700 Ahmedabad Jn – Mumbai Central|
|16457||Maninagar||Ahmedabad Jn||16336||1445 (13/03) Nagercoil Jn – Gandhidam Jn|
|018619||Ahmedabad Jn||Platform 7 S-N||Shunt stock in for 19031 ADI – HW|
|018728||Ahmedabad Jn||Platform 9 S-N||Shunt stock out ex 12916 DLI – ADI|
|16155||Ahmedabad Jn||Sabarmati Jn||19411||0910 Ahmedabad Jn – Ajmer Jn|
|11126||Sabarmati Jn||Ahmedabad Jn||12958||1955 (14/03) New Delhi Jn – Ahmedabad Jn|
|18890||Ahmedabad Jn||Lingampalli||17017||0525 Rajkot Jn – Secunderabad Jn|
Photos for Thursday 15th March 2018
Friday 16th March 2018 (An afternoon in Secunderabad, before flying to Calcutta)
The coach was oscillating well throughout the night and it made sleep impossible while it was doing so. So overnight, I’d gone from fully refreshed to almost the opposite, which was all I needed when I wasn’t going to have a bed when I got to Kolkata later! Once daylight came it was fruitless trying to continue sleeping as the whole coach was awake and anticipating where they were going to get off. The guy in the side-berth opposite was trying to figure out why 17017 was timed 40-odd minutes to do Begumpet to Secunderabad when it was only 6km. When I told him, it was recovery time and that it wouldn’t take that long he told me I wasn’t understanding him! To which I told him that the train would be regulated in the Lingampalli area, which would make it sufficiently late enough to have a clear run from Begumpet to Secunderabad and arrive right time. And that’s exactly what happened, although I wasn’t on the train into Secunderabad as the Lingampalli regulation worked in my favour.
I’d been keeping an eye on NTES, so knew what was about and when we stopped in the station at Lingampalli to let an MMTS EMU go ahead of us, I was off and didn’t have to wait long for off-link R WDM3A 16074 to arrive, after 17017 had set off, with 17009 0650 Bidar – Hyderabad. When this went by 17017 at Sanatnagar, just north of Begumpet, I got off at Begumpet and had every intention of doing 17017 into Secunderabad at that point; that was until PA WDM3A 11361 arrived before it with 57155 0345 Gulbarga – Hyderabad. It wasn’t quite how I’d expected the morning to start off but when 57155 arrived into Hyderabad a massive bonus was waiting to take me around to Secunderabad on 17230 1115 Hyderabad – Trivandrum Central. I’d never seen the Sabari Express with anything but a WDP4, so KZJ WDG3A’s 13661/14939 were a sight for sore eyes and dropped me into Secunderabad right at the side of 57651 1050 Secunderabad – Repalle passenger, which of course should have gone by that point; with yet another off-link in GTL WDG3A 13467, vice the regular KZJ WDG3A. I didn’t have time to do what I wanted at this point and drop my big bag at the cloak room on platform 1, so it had to come with me to Moula Ali; where I was prepared to play the auto-roulette but yet another late running train saved the hassle. KZJ WDG3A’s 13378/14897 were stood awaiting the road forward to Secunderabad with 17234 0210 Balharshah – Secunderabad and there was no rush as they were waiting a few more minutes after 57561 departed.
When I eventually got to touch the ground for more than a few minutes at Secunderabad I was already aware that my usual afternoon move out to Bolarum on the Devagiri Express, for the opposing working back, wasn’t going to be happening as GY WDP4D 40186 was already being prepared on the stock for 17058 1225 Secunderabad – Mumbai CST when I’d left on 57651; at which point there’d been 9 GMs in or about the station/carriage sidings area at Secunderabad. The loco holding sidings between platforms 8 & 9 were also devoid of MLY twin Alco’s, which usually had quite a few pairs there at this time of an early afternoon. What I wasn’t aware of at this point was that MLY had recently lost about 30 WDG3A’s to other sheds. This would probably explain why both 17063 Manmad – Secunderabad & 12703 Howrah – Secunderabad had both arrived with GM’s instead of the expected MLY Alco twins; GY WDP4D 40152 & GOC WDG4 12806 respectively! With KJM WDP4D’s knocking about the place too it looked like the elastic band had finally snapped in the Secunderabad area and it too was now going to the dogs, with MLY losing a heft allocation of Alco’s. I always though that when MLY got an allocation of WDP4s that would be it but never considered that shipping Alco’s out and mopping up with GY WDP4s would do the trick! Bastards! Thankfully, it seemed that KZJ Alco’s hadn’t been pushed out of the equation yet but all their WDM2S’s had, with WDM3A 16388 being used as a station pilot, along with recently delivered WDS6AD 36344.
I’d never seen a WDS6 shunting in the greater Hyderabad area before so when 36344 drew the set out of the carriage sidings for a late 12791 1200 Secunderabad – Danapur, I was ready for it backing the set into platform 1; which delivered me nicely to the cloak room towards the bottom end of the platform. At most cloak rooms you pay the fee on collection but at Secunderabad the RS15 fee is required up-front. Bag dropped, I now had free reign and my alternative to doing the Devagiri Express to Bolarum was originally going to be doing the excessively late 57654 Nanded – Hyderabad passenger round to Hyderabad but when that rolled in with MLY refurbished WDG3A 14586 I had just enough time to leap onto the Konark Express and do that out to Begumpet, with LGD WAP4 22322, which dropped me nicely into KYN WDM3D 11471 with 12701 Mumbai CST – Hyderabad; and got me to Hyderabad the long way around Hussain Sagar triangle, instead of taking the direct route.
I wouldn’t have thought of it beforehand as I didn’t even realise 57131 Bolarum – Hyderabad was running so late; and if it had been on a station line-up for Secunderabad I’d probably have waited there for it after 57654 had departed anyway. As it happened though there was a late MMTS EMU that I could do back to Secunderabad and if it missed 57131 there, I could do another one back to Hyderabad to cover the return working of the Hussain Sagar Express, which would be a different KYN loco. I didn’t need the next EMU back as PA WDG3A 13548 was waiting at Secunderabad with 57131 and there was no rush to send it forward either. I didn’t realise until after arrival at Hyderabad that despite being a WDG3A, 13548 had WDM3D stickers everywhere it should have had WDG3A ones! This was the first time I’d seen this type of mistake on a loco in India.
By the time I got back to Hyderabad, PA WDM3D 11361 was sat with the stock for 57156 1725 Hyderabad – Gulbarga and KYN WDM3D 11363 had dropped onto the Hussain Sagar Express rake to work 12702 1445 Hyderabad – Mumbai CST. I’d not seen it behind the Gulbarga passenger rake but there was an Alco on the stock about to draw the set out ex 57654 Nanded – Hyderabad. It was a liver I’d not seen before but with the WDM2S’s out of the equation I wondered whether it was a new livery being applied to shunting locos; as there was one in the Kacheguda end carriage sidings at Secunderabad as well; both locos were blue with a green stripe around their body. Curiosity got the better of me and I leapt on the stock shunt anyway, only to find that when the stock was propelled back into the sidings the loco was GY WDG3A 14659!
I did a bit of photographing at Hyderabad and was soon accosted by an RPF guy, who’s attention had been pointed my way by someone on the platform. Yes, I was stood down the tracks by the signalbox, but I wasn’t doing anything everyone else in the country doesn’t do, other than taking a few photos. The obvious lecture on how taking photos was not allowed soon followed and I responded by confirming that it was allowed and showed the RPF the relevant paperwork. Wasn’t enough to appease him and he beckoned to me to follow him down the platform to the office; which I was having none of. I told him so, then also told him it was about time that the RPF were in possession of the correct facts with regards photography on IR property and that they shouldn’t just be harassing people for the sake of it. I also told him I wasn’t going with him to the office as he wasn’t wasting my time because he was misinformed, I then walked off as he half-heartedly attempted to beckon me back while shaking his head in disbelief, and never saw him again!
It started to rain a bit while I was hanging around at Hyderabad, which was refreshing as it wasn’t anywhere near as scorching hot as it usually was in the area and the cloud cover had kept the sun at bay. When the crew turned up to prepare KYN WDM3D 11363 for 12702, my move out of Hyderabad was on the horizon but I was toying with the idea of returning to Hyderabad to cover 02731 1625 Hyderabad – Jaipur Special Fare Special but never even saw the train in the end. Shortly before 12702 set off from Hyderabad, PA WDM3D 11379 arrived with 11307 1015 Gulbarga – Hyderabad and PA WDG3A 13548 dropped straight onto the opposite end of the rake to work 11308 1600 Hyderabad – Gulbarga back out.
Coming out of Hyderabad behind an Alco on a decent load is always entertaining and 11363 was a good WDM3D too. Once clear of the station the LP opened the ‘3D up and hammered through Lakdickapul station on full chat, with everyone on the station staring at the loco in disbelief that it had just shattered the silence. As I wasn’t able to cover it, I was pleased when 17229 Trivandrum Central – Hyderabad Sabari Express passed by with UBL WDP4B 40018 in charge. As always seems to be the case, 12702 was held outside Begumpet, this is usually for the Secunderabad – Pune Shatabdi to go in front of it, as its supposed to, but the Shatabdi isn’t the best of timekeepers due to its short turnaround at Secunderabad. Thankfully the wait was only for a few minutes and 12702 arrived into Begumpet moments before 12748 Vikarabad – Gunter did so; which I did back into Secunderabad, rather than do an EMU back to Hyderabad to cover the Jaipur special.
KZJ WDG3A 14591 was sat on Hussain Sagar curve, having set off from Hyderabad with its empty coaches a good while ago. Meanwhile KZJ WDG3A 13444 was sat on the curve, heading the opposite direction, with another empty rake. On arrival into Secunderabad, GY WDP4D 40104 was just arriving with 17057 Mumbai CST – Secunderabad Devagiri Express, running an hour late, and GY WDP4D 40271 was dropping onto the rake to work 12770 1740 Secunderabad – Tirupati. KZJ twins 14928/18763 were poised to leave with 17233 1525 Secunderabad – Balharshah and KZJ WDG3A’s 14789/13417 were dropped onto the opposite end of the stock, which KZJ WDG3A 14585 (in the blue livery with green stripe) had brought in, to work 17016 1650 Secunderabad – Bhubaneswar. Shortly beforehand, KYN WAG7 27356 had brought the stock into Secunderabad for 17002 Secunderabad – Sainagar Shirdi, which blocked the main crossing when it came to a stand, so I used it as a lift up the platform and was over the footbridge before the back of the train had cleared the foot-crossing as a result!
I stood pondering what to do for a while, just as the cavalry arrived; in the shape of two sets of KZJ twins, 18890/14972 & 16333/18975, which coupled with KZJ twins 13447/18895, 14789/13417, 13378/14897 & 14031/18xxx meant there were 6 sets of KZJ twins in the station at that point; which is more like it! When KZJ WDG3A 14591 arrived to form 17027 1650 Secunderabad – Kurnool City I decided to call it a day and head out to Hyderabad airport via 17027 to Umdanagar. I collected my bag from the cloak room and took up residence in the front unreserved coach.
The run out to Umdanagar takes 40 minutes, even by express train, and is about 20km by rail from Secunderabad. The train loaded up at Kacheguda, but not too much, and on departure WDS6AD 36342 was running through the platforms, GTL WDM3A 16717 was in the sidings and found yet another great train for twin Alco’s that looked like it had turned to shit! 12785 1905 Kacheguda – Bangalore City was sat over the back of the station with KJM WDP4s 20038/20060 at the business end. Having only been in Bangalore 2 weeks previous, 12785/6 had been solid KJM Alco twins then, so to see this was a massive disappointment and it probably meant the end was nigh for Alco’s at KJM. Which was a shame as over the years KJM was renowned for having some of the best sounding Alco’s in the country!
I didn’t quite know what to expect at Umdanagar, but I was expecting at least a couple of autos’ to be waiting to take people away. As the station is set back from the main road and is hidden behind Shamshabad market, road access it limited to the station and I had to walk through the market to get to the main road. There I found plenty of auto’s, but all were plying routes and picking up / dropping off to suit. Some guy figured out where I was going and suggested that I just keep flagging down every auto that passed and ask for the airport, which got a bit boring after about the 10th person left me standing by the roadside. One guy had just emptied out by the market and wanted RS500 to take me to the airport, which he wasn’t going to get, so back to flagging down it was. Eventually a guy said he’d take me for RS250, after he’d dropped his other passengers further down the road. We were the only auto I saw all the way to the airport and with auto’s not being allowed into the airport confines he had to drop me at an interchange point about 1km from the terminal buildings, from where there’s a free shuttle bus to the terminals.
Once inside the buildings, getting myself sorted was easy, and I first had to go to an Indigo counter to present the credit card I’d booked the flight with, before my boarding card would be issued. This is true for all foreigners booking Domestic flights in India, so the airlines can confirm both validity of the card and that you are the person that booked the ticket. Security was a breeze but for the x-ray machine picking out my chain in the top of my bag, and then the timetables in the bottom of it for some reason; and then it was KFC for something to eat before waiting it out.
Hyderabad airport reminds me a bit of London Stansted in its layout and when boarding time came, I was confused as to why rows 10-20 were allowed onto a bus first, before 1-10 & 20-30, then it dawned on me that loading the middle of the plane first is actually a novel idea, especially as it can be done at both front and rear doors; then the front and rear folk don’t have to clamber over anyone. There’s none of this speedy/priority boarding crap that occurs in the western world! It’s a case of get on and fuck off…..
The plane was quite full, and I spent all the flight dozing, even to the point where the landing woke me up. By which time my long day had ended but an even longer one was about to start.
Gen for Friday 16th March 2018
36344 shunting at Secunderabad
16074 R WDM3A 17009 0650 Bidar – Hyderabad DN
11361 PA WDM3D 57155 0345 Gulbarga – Hyderabad DN, 57156 1725 Hyderabad DN – Gulbarga
40152 GY WDP4D 17063 2050 (P) Manmad Jn – Secunderabad, 12704 1555 Secunderabad – Howrah
40397 KJM WDP4D 12747 0545 Guntur – Vikarabad, 12748 1345 Vikarabad – Guntur
13661/14939 KZJ WDG3As 17230 1115 Hyderabad DN – Trivandrum Central
13467 GTL WDG3A 57651 1050 Secunderabad – Repalle
12806 xxx WDG4 12703 0725 (P) Howrah – Secunderabad
13378/14897 KZJ WDG3As 17234 0210 Balharshah – Secunderabad
40186 GY WDP4D 17058 1225 Secunderabad – Mumbai CST
30326 LGD WAP7 12713 0625 Vijayawada – Secunderabad
40278 KJM WDP4D 17319 2050 (P) Hubli Jn – Secunderabad
36344 ??? WDS6AD shunt stock in for 12791 1200 SC – Danapur
22322 LGD WAP4 11020 1525 (P) Bhubaneswar – Mumbai CST
11471 KYN WDM3D 12701 2150 (P) Mumbai CST – Hyderabad DN
14586 MLY WDG3A 57564 2330 (P) Nanded – Hyderabad DN (6h late)
11363 KYN WDM3D 12702 1445 Hyderabad DN – Mumbai CST
14659 GY WDG3A 57517 1215 Hyderabad – Tandur
13548 PA WDG3A 57131 0905 Bolarum – Hyderabad DN (3h late), 11308 1600 Hyderabad DN – Gulbarga
11379 PA WDM3D 11307 1015 Gulbarga – Hyderabad DN
40018 UBL WDP4B 17229 0715 (P) Trivandrum Central – Hyderabad DN
14928/18763 KZJ WDG3A/WDM3A 17233 1525 Secunderabad – Balharshah
40104 GY WDP4D 17057 2110 (P) Mumbai CST – Secunderabad
14591 KZJ WDG3A 17027 1655 Secunderabad – Kurnool City
40271 GY WDP4D 12770 1740 Secunderabad – Tirupati
14789/13417 KZJ WDG3As 17016 1650 Secunderabad – Bhubaneswar
20038/20060 KJM WDP4s 12785 1905 Kacheguda – Bangalore City
27356 KYN WAG7 ecs for 17002 Secunderabad – Sainagar Shirdi
14585 KZJ WDG3A ecs for 17016 Secunderabad – Vijayawada
36342 shunting at Kacheguda
KZJ twins at SC at 1630
Moves for Friday 16th March 2018
|16074||Lingampalli||Begumpet||17009||0650 Bidar – Hyderabad DN|
|11361||Begumpet||Hyderabad DN||57155||0345 Gulbarga Jn – Hyderabad DN|
|13661||Hyderabad DN||Secunderabad Jn||17230||1115 Hyderabad DN – Trivandrum Central|
|13467||Secunderabad Jn||Moula Ali||57651||1050 Secunderabad Jn – Repalle|
|13378||Moula Ali||Secunderabad Jn||17234||0210 Balharshah Jn – Secunderabad Jn|
|36344||Secunderabad Jn||Platform 1||Shunt stock in for 12791 SC – DNR|
|22322||Secunderabad Jn||Begumpet||11020||1525 (15/03) Bhubaneswar – Mumbai CST|
|11471||Begumpet||Hyderabad DN||12701||2150 (15/03) Mumbai CST – Hyderabad DN|
|EMU||Hyderabad DN||Begumpet||47209||1241 Hyderabad DN – Falaknuma|
|13548||Begumpet||Hyderabad DN||57131||0905 Bolarum – Hyderabad DN|
|14659||Hyderabad DN||Carriage Sidings||Shunt stock out ex 57659 NED – HYB|
|11363||Hyderabad DN||Begumpet||12702||1445 Hyderabad DN – Mumbai CST|
|40397||Begumpet||Secunderabad Jn||12748||1345 Vikarabad Jn – Guntur Jn|
|27356||Secunderabad Jn||Platform 6||Arriving with ECS for 17002 SC – SNSI|
|14585||Secunderabad Jn||Platform 2||Shunt stock in for 17016 SC – BBS|
|14591||Secunderabad Jn||Umdanagar||17027||1650 Secunderabad Jn – Kurnool City|
|VT-ITK||Hyderabad||Kolkata||6E-539||2220 Hyderabad – Kolkata|
Photos for Friday 16th March 2018
Saturday 17th March 2018 (A morning in Calcutta before heading to Assam)
I was booked on 07149 0730 Secunderabad – Guwahati Special Fare Special from Andul, at 1020, all the way to Guwahati. While waiting to get off the plane I checked on NTES to find that 07149 had departed Secunderabad 1h03m late at 0833 the previous morning, at which point I was in the Lingampalli area, and was currently around 1h30m late. While it had spent the whole day travelling I’d spend the whole day nedding about; and while it spent the whole night and following morning travelling, I’d be hopefully getting a bit of shuteye before having a morning nedding about around Howrah station and by the time I boarded the train, it would have been on the go for 27 hours, minimum, but 07149 was not renowned for being right time, or anywhere near it for that matter; so I was prepared for the extended fester in the Calcutta area, not that I wanted it of course.
Getting off the plane was as efficient as it had been getting on and a lot of airlines in the west could learn from how some of the Indian domestic airlines run their show. Indigo are among the best in India for me, they use nice clean planes, have courteous staff and strive to be on time; and I’ve never been on a late plane of theirs yet. Getting out of Kolkata Airport was simple, straight through luggage collection, out of the doors at the other side and then straight up to the government pre-paid taxi counter. A taxi to Howrah station cost RS315 and I was directed out of exits 4a or 4b to the yellow Ambassador taxis waiting out front and was on my way in moments.
The yellow beast was a bit cumbersome and the driver was struggling with the steering wheel most of the way to keep it straight, which of course could just be due to the road surface? The journey through the streets of Kolkata took about 30 minutes and once away from the airport area the roads became almost deserted, but my driver clearly knew where he was going, as he made this turn and that turn, as I was watching our progress on ME Maps. Once the massive metal structure of the Howrah Bridge came into view, I knew all we had to do was cross it and we were at Howrah station; which itself was deserted outside. There were loads of Ambassadors there, but they were all neatly lined up in the pre-paid taxi ranks in readiness for the masses arriving in the morning; with their owner’s limbs sticking out of doors and windows as they caught some sleep while they could. This silent Kolkata had a bit of eeriness to it, especially if you’ve seen it at its busiest; it’s amazing that the city even sleeps at all but as with most big city stations as well, Howrah had a quiet period between midnight and 4am and I was hoping to make use of that quiet period.
As soon as I got onto the station, it was already bedding down for the night and there were more people dossed on the concourse than I thought. Having spent a night at Sealdah once, during similar hours, they kick people off the station there, with only those going to the waiting rooms being allowed on; Howrah is different and seems to let people doss on the floor overnight. There was an announcement being made for 13009 Doon Express to Dehradun as departing from platform 10, but as there was nothing in platform 10 at that point it could only mean one thing; so, I walked up the platform and was greeted by HWH WDS6 36218 coming towards me before I even got to the end of it. Needless to say, I had a lift back to the buffer stops, where over on platform 1 I found 53042 Jaynagar – Howrah passenger had arrived with a WAP4, which I randomly didn’t note the number of, on top of HWH WDM3D 11313. I saw the same combination, although I don’t know if it was the same WAP4 but it was definitely 11313, on 53041 Howrah – Jaynagar later in the morning.
While having a chai at one of the open stalls, I noticed a map of the station, which showed me where the upper class waiting room was. Its located in the front part of the main station building, up a set of stairs and the balcony from it overlooks the taxi ranks outside the station and there’s a good view of Howrah Bridge, even if you don’t want to use the waiting room. There are charging sockets a plenty and the waiting room has AC; which was nice as it was 27 degrees outside. There were soft seats and hard seats, all of which were occupied, mostly by people in a horizontal position, and if you can’t beat them, join them; so, I found myself a nice clean bit of floor, used my bag as a pillow, put a bit of mosquito stuff on and got myself a couple of hour’s sleep.
It was when the station announcements started at a little after 4am that I gave up on anymore sleep. I felt quite refreshed for my nap, but it was time to see what WDS6’s were going to be in use on the morning empty stock moves. Dumping my big bag in the cloak room helped me move about more freely and it was the right thing to do for what I would get up to.
It was handy that the platforms were announced for both arriving and departing trains and helped with the note taking, just in case I needed to figure out which train was which when a WDS6 back down onto a set to take it out. The departing platforms were generally announced before the set had been brought in too, which helped in being at the right platform end before the set came in. Throughout the early morning there were quite a few arrivals and I found it advantageous to stand at the top end of platform 14, underneath a tannoy so I could hear the announcements, but it also gave a good view of the Southeastern side of the station, platforms 18 upwards; which used KGP locos for their stock shunts. The Eastern side take their stock to Tikiapara with HWH WDS6s and the Southeastern take theirs to Santragachi with KGP WDM/G3A’s mostly, and the odd WDS6.
I had no issues at all bumming about on the empty stocks in Howrah station and the one person that did ask what I was doing, I just told I was saving my legs and letting the train do the work for me. Doors are generally open in the front and rear SLR’s but there are sometimes other doors open mid-train. During the morning I noted the following in use on the eastern side of the station; HWH WDS6’s 36067, 36078, 36109, 36160, 36169, 36171, 36189, 36190, 36216, 36218 & 36221 and HWH WDM3D’s 11547 & 11572. On the southeastern side of the station the following were seen in use, with no WDS6’s seen at all; KGP WDM3A’s 16131, 16133, 16231, 16233, 16381 & 16646, KGP WDG3A’s 13134, 13522 & 13662 and TATA WAM4 21304! Quite what the WAM4 was doing in use, I don’t know but I saw it do at least one ecs in and one ecs out. All the trains on the southeastern side have the main train locos attached to the opposite end of the rake on both the inward & outbound esc movements but the same isn’t true on the eastern side, with all train locos being attached and detached in the station then running in/out light.
It was a mad couple of hours to 6am but then things quietened down, at which point my train from Andal to Guwahati, 07149 Secunderabad – Guwahati, was losing time in the Bhubaneswar area so I decided it would be a good idea to do HWH WDM3A 14138 out on 13017 0605 Howrah – Azimganj to pass some time. It was relatively empty in the front SLR, and it was a good run out towards Bandel as a result. Unfortunately, while 13034 Katihar – Howrah was late, and I’d made the minus 3h1om onto it, it was running 8 hours late, so I had to do an EMU back into Howrah; which thankfully, I got a seat on at Seoraphuli Jn as it was rammed to the rafters by the time it rolled to a stand at Howrah 30 minutes later. By which time, 07149 had been shafted at Cuttack and was 2h45m late. I was starting to flag a little by this time and my bedtime was getting later and later so I had to find something to do to pass the time.
I turned my attention back to the southeastern side of the station and found BNDM WDM3A 16118 on the blocks, having arrived with 22804 Sambalpur – Howrah weekly. At the opposite end of the rake was KGP WDM3A 16231 and just departing with another ecs, was KGP WDG3A 13522 with KGP WDM3A 16131 waiting its next job too. When I whipped my camera out for a photo, the staff in the rake off 22804 asked what I was doing. Obviously, I told them I was taking photos of the trains and went on to tell them it was my hobby and that I worked for the railway in the UK, which usually diffuses a situation before it can even arise. When I told them I was heading out to Santragachi Jn, they insisted I went with them, an offer I was never going to refuse; and I had actually been thinking of going out to Santragachi anyway, to see if 58016 Adra – Howrah passenger would produce a WAG. Which I didn’t end up going back on either!
On arrival into the carriage sidings the guys asked where I was going to next, to which I told them I was returning to Howrah and was merely passing the time. Confusion reigned when I told them I was going straight back to Howrah but when I mentioned the Indian phrase “time pass” all was ok; its as though “time pass” answers everything in India. Needless to say, I ended up riding back into Howrah with my new mates on the next ecs back in, which KGP WDG3A 13522 had charge of. It seemed the three guys were passing their own time, in between locking up sets at Howrah, by heading out to Santragachi and back just for the hell of it; time pass!
Back at Howrah, I was going to call it a day as I was beginning to flag a bit, and by a bit I mean a lot, and wanted to just get out to Andul and vegetate until my late running 07149 arrived; whenever it decided to. The guys on the train had been intrigued by the distance I’d covered since being in India and that I was then heading all the way to the NE after I left them. When I spotted KGP WDG3A 13134 with the next set of empties out of Howrah, I asked my pals if they’d be heading back out to Santragachi, sadly they weren’t but when I asked if I could ride back out with the next set on my way to Andul, I was marched round to the front guard’s compartment and put inside. There were some other guys in it, who were staff hitching a lift out to the shed. I never made it to Santragachi on the set as it got held at Ramrajatala. As it was only a cross platform leap, I made an early exit onto a late running Midnapore local EMU and was Andul 10 minutes later.
As Andul is merely a token stop in the Calcutta suburbs, before it weaves its way around the outskirts to join up with the main line north of Howrah, I wasn’t expecting much; but I did expect more than a station with just a token chai stall that was full of freights waiting to go in every direction. As I was in the mood for nothing but sleep, a station bench looked very appetizing, but I refrained from stretching out on one and settled for dozing while I was sat upright. During the 3 hours that I had at Andul, the only announcement for 07149 was when it was arriving, and even then, it had been held outside the station for 45 minutes to allow two EMU’s to use the same platform first. This seemed a little odd when the very same platform had been occupied by a freight for the previous 2 hours and the EMU’s had been using a different platform, which was empty when both used this one I might add. It seemed that 07149 had no priority whatsoever on the SE Railway and they treat it like a freight, which was a shame as it was a fast train and one that also had plenty of recovery time; but even with that they managed to shaft it royally! Still, when it arrived 4h35m late I couldn’t complain too much as at least it was running. It had been cancelled on us in November and the time I have set foot on the train, it was 11 hours late! I was also booked on 07149 again the following week from Andul to Guwahati but had decided to make a tentative alternative booking on the Kanchanjunga Express, 25657 Sealdah – Silchar, just in case it was well down the pan. I’d kept both reservations in play simply because my one for 25657 was RAC5 at the time of booking and I wasn’t going to cancel the one for 07149 until the other became confirmed. IR had other ideas though as I randomly came across some news on India Rail Info saying that 07149 was cancelled, departing Secunderabad on 23/03, along with the return working of 07150; not that IRCTC had informed me at all. The ticket got cancelled on IRCTC a few days later and the train was showing as cancelled then.
The fact that KGP WDG3A’s 13665/13523 were leading the way to the NE didn’t help my mood, especially as the AC coaches were right at the back of the train; and had been off the platform when the train came to a stand. What did help my mood though was nice afternoon snooze, once the TTE had found me a lower side berth to hole myself up in for the journey. There was no coaxing the eyelids shut when I got horizonal and when I woke up a couple of hours later I was just wondering where an evening meal might materialize from when a guy walked down the coach taking dinner orders; so that was that sorted, and dinner was delivered at Rampurhat. After which, with nothing else better to do, I got myself horizontal again and it was no surprise that I didn’t struggle to get to sleep after dinner.
Gen for Saturday 17th March 2018
22xxx xxx WAP4 53042 2010 (PP) Jaynagar – Howrah (11313 HWH WDM3D dit)
36218 HWH WDS6 ecs for 13009 HWH – DDN
28760 CNB WAG7 13008 2100 (PPP) Sri Ganganagar – Howrah (7h late)
(11572 HWH WDM3D ecs)
22640 HWH WAP4 11447 2350 (PP) Jabalpur – Howrah
(36169 HWH WDS6 ecs)
22992 VSKP WAP4 12840 2345 (PP) Chennai Cen – Howrah
(16381 KGP WDM3A ecs)
40340 HWH WDPD4 12508 1955 (P) Silchar – Trivandrum Cen (to Howrah)
22289 SRC WAP4 12508 1955 (P) Silchar – Trivandrum Cen (to Howrah)
16451 HWH WDM3A 13024 1220 (P) Gaya Jn – Howrah
(36067 HWH WDS6 ecs)
36160 HWH WDS6 ecs for 22387 0615 Howrah – Dhanbad
30478 HWH WAP7 22387 0615 Howrah – Dhanbad
36171 HWH WDS6 ecs for 13017 0605 Howrah – Azimganj
14138 HWH WDM3A 13017 0605 Howrah – Azimganj Jn
22575 HWH WAP4 15236 1545 (P) Darbhanga – Howrah
16133 KGP WDM3A ecs for 12021 0620 Howrah – Barbil
22878 SRC WAP4 12021 0620 Howrah – Barbil
16622 JMP WDM3A 13072 1930 (P) Jamalpur – Howrah
36190 HWH WDS6 ecs for 12331 0605 Howrah – Jammu Tawi
36169 HWH WDS6 ecs for 22321 0645 Howrah – Siuri
13662 KGP WDG3A ecs for 12821 0600 Howrah – Puri
16118 BNDM WDM3A 22804 2005 (P) Sambalpur – Howrah
(16231 KGP WDM3A ecs ex Plat 18)
40089 SGUJ WDP4D 15722 2015 (P) New Jalpaiguri – Digha (to Howrah)
22327 HWH WAP4 15722 2015 (P) New Jalpaiguri – Digha (from Howrah)
40499 HWH WDP4D 15960 1825 (PP) Dibrugarh – Howrah
13522 KGP WDG3A ecs for 12847 1110 Howrah – Digha
22839 SRC WAP4 12847 1110 Howrah – Digha
13134 KGP WDG3A ecs ex
13665/13523 KGP WDG3As 07149 0730 (P) Secunderabad – Guwahati Special (4h30m late)
Howrah SE side ecs locos (all KGP)
16233, 16381, 16133, 16646, 13662, 13522, 16231, 16131, 13134, 21304 TATA
Howrah East side ecs locos (all HWH)
36078, 36189, 36221, 11547, 11572, 36218, 36109, 36169, 36216, 36067, 36160, 36171, 36190
Moves for Saturday 17th March 2018
|36218||Howrah||Platform 10||ECS for 13009 HWH – DDN|
|36169||Howrah||Platform 12||ECS ex 11447 JBP – HWH|
|36160||Howrah||Platform 9||ECS for 22387 HWH – DHN|
|36067||Howrah||Platform 11||ECS ex 13024 GAYA – HWH|
|16381||Howrah||Platform 17||ECS ex 12840 MAS – HWH|
|16133||Howrah||Platform 19||ECS for 12021 HWH – Barbil|
|16646||Howrah||Platform 18||ECS ex ???|
|13662||Howrah||Platform 19||ECS for 12821 HWH – PURI|
|14138||Howrah||Seoraphuli Jn||13017||0605 Howrah – Azimganj Jn|
|EMU||Seoraphuli Jn||Howrah||37222||0630 Bandel Jn – Howrah|
|16231||Howrah||Santragachi CS||ECS ex 22804 Sambalpur – Howrah|
|13522||Santragachi CS||Howrah||ECS for 12847 Howrah – Digha|
|13134||Howrah||Ramrajatala||ECS ex 12814 TATA – HWH|
|EMU||Ramrajatala||Andul||38815||1025 Howrah – Midnapore|
|13665||Andul||Guwahati Jn||07149||0730 (16/03) Secunderabad Jn – Guwahati Jn|
Photos for Saturday 17th March 2018
Sunday 18th March 2018 (An afternoon/evening in Guwahati)
I was very thankful that the little baby in the compo opposite me was as quiet as a mouse all night and let me get the sleep I needed. I felt quite refreshed when I woke and wasn’t surprised that we’d lost more time in the night. We’d just left New Cooch Behar when I surfaced, 6h12m late. NTES showed that 07149 had been picking up time during most of the night, only to get regulated and lose more! At its latest, 07149 was 6h30m late at Maynaguri Road but due to the very slack timings on the New Bongaigaon – Kamakhya – Guwahati section, and a decent run on the Goalpara line, 07149 rolled into Guwahati at 1305, 5h20m late; and should have been a lot earlier. To me, other than the extended fester at Andul when I was tired, the late arrival didn’t really affect much; as once the rush had gone in a morning, there’s nothing to do until the middle of the afternoon anyway, so I went straight to my pre-booked hotel to get sorted.
The Contour Hotel is right behind Guwahati station, outside the exit from the high numbered platforms on the south side of the station. I’d booked it through Booking.com and was given an upgrade from my deluxe room to a premium room on checking in. The staff were friendly at the front desk and the reception area was clean. The room was huge with very good AC and a great view onto the station. This comes with its downfalls, of course, in that sometimes the trains sound like they’re in the room with you! The bed was very comfy, with decent pillows but the bathroom didn’t have much in the way of toiletries. There was a kettle and tea/coffee with two small bottles of mineral water as well. All in all, I was pleased with the room and thanks to the running about the previous day, in hot conditions, I made use of the shower straight away.
There was a choice of directions to go in from Guwahati of an afternoon and with MLDT WDM3A 16484 sat waiting to go with 55754 1420 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon and SGUJ WDP4 20001 waiting to follow it with 55802 1730 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon Manas Rhino passenger, MLDT WDM3D 11575 got my attention, which was sat in platform 7 waiting to head east with 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur BG Express. It was standing room only at the front, but I didn’t mind as I was only planning on going as far as Jagi Road anyway. It was a nice afternoon and it was a pleasure standing at the front door, listening to the WDM3D do its stuff while the line twists and turns through the green Assamese countryside. As we crawled by NGC DLS demic Alco’s 17839 & 17915 were visible on shed, along with an LDH liveried demic Alco, which was behind a tree. NGC WDS6 36083 was just shunting into the shed and there were a few more Alco’s knocking about, as well as a WDP4D on shed. Relic NGC Alco WDM2 18667 was shunting in the carriage sidings near the shed too. Not many of these left around the country at all now, evening as WDM2S’s.
The bit of the trip out to Jagi Road that stuck in my mind was when we bowled a cow over at speed. I’d seen the loco pilot waving his flag out of the cab and the horn was being blown a little excessively, it was the way he was waving his flag that gave it away, as if to gesture to something to get out of the way. As soon as the cow came into my line of sight, I knew it wasn’t getting out of the way in time and we hit its rear end at about 70kmph. I half expected it to explode but it was skittled down the tracks and went flying ahead of the train, in one piece, coming to rest on the adjacent line; with its neck resting on the railhead. The next train in the opposite direction, which turned out to be the train I was on, would have severed the head; but I was pretty sure the poor thing was already dead anyway, if not it would have been in a lot of pain and put out of its misery quite quickly.
On arrival into Jagi Road, MLDT WDM3A 16168 was sat waiting to head back west with the late running 15718 0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati. I had to scurry over the tracks to make it and didn’t make it anywhere near the front before it was on the move. I did have the pleasure of talking to a decent guy on the way back though, who had randomly been accepted into a college in Hamburg, Germany, to start a course the following year. He was asking what it was like in Germany and how hard it would be to learn the language; as it transpired that he needed to be able to speak German as part of the course enrolment, which he told me was never part of the application process. His reasons for going to Germany, instead of an English-speaking country, were due to the Germans waving tuition fees for their courses, so he told me, and I spent the journey back towards Guwahati trying to teach him some of the basic German that I knew. Which I explained to him, was pretty much the same phrases and questions that those learning basic English in India area taught; and they then practice them on foreigners like me! The conversation passed the time and the journey seemed to fly by on the way back to Guwahati, where a brief interlude at the hotel sufficed, before an evening of nedding about.
When SGUJ WDP4 20013 arrived with 15928 0545 New Tinsukia – Rangiya, that confirmed that two of the trains that had been worked by Alco’s on November 2017 were now in the hands of SGUJ WDP4’s instead, which coupled with a load of transfers of NGC Alco’s to MLDT had seen a big shift around in the NE during the turn of 2018. It had also been noted that Alco’s had been appearing more and more on the north bank of the Brahmaputra River recently, on the Rangiya – Rangapara – Murkongselek services, which left me wondering if IR had actually done something sensible for a change and taken the GM’s off piddly short rakes and put them onto bigger trains like the Manas Rhino passenger and Rangiya – New Tinsukia/Dibrugarh Express, leaving the Alco’s to mop up the links that involved shorter rakes? It didn’t however, explain the shift of power away from NGC to MLDT.
I did the GM out to Kamakhya anyway as 15770 1510 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn was running late and looked touch and go to make 55817 1430 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati anyway. It was quite busy at Kamakhya station with a rake of stock occupying platform 2, with KTE WDM3D attached to it. There were loads of people milling about the place too, most of which had tags around their necks, which on close inspection revealed their name and the berth number they had on whichever train they were travelling on. I could only assume that the rake with 11528 was for them as it had no nameboards on it at all and only had stickers to identify which coach was which. Most of the women were sat on the floor keeping themselves occupied by singing, while most of the men were drinking chai and taking photos of the station buildings on their smart phones. It was a proper busman’s holiday situation and like the blind leading the blind as nobody had a clue where they were going or what they were doing! Which went for the rest of the station too it seemed, as every time a train was announced the whole station seemed to move from one platform to another, at which point it became total gridlock on the station footbridge; as Indians don’t do moving about the place efficiently or quickly!
Having spent time at Kamakhya recently, I knew the drill and was perched on the footbridge waiting for a sign of the stock being backed in for 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek. It was announced as departing from platform 4 before the stock was in view, which was handy as I got almost to the end of the platform before the first coach did; and I wasn’t the only one looking for an open door as the set was propelled in. While I opted to leap into the guard’s compartment, the few waiting scoured the unreserved coaches for an open door, which the obviously couldn’t find as one of the guys decided that attempting to get into a moving train through the emergency window was a good idea. He looked like a right treat with his legs sticking out of the train until his mates gave him a hand to get all the way into the train. The only problem with doing stock moves is having to make your way back down the length of the train to spot the loco, before it disappears into the ether. They didn’t waste much time detaching NGC WDS6 36135 and I was grateful that it wasn’t a long rake as a result. MLDT WDM3A 16167 was soon dropping onto the front to work 15613 and at the same time MLDT WDM3A was arriving into platform 1 with 15770 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn and NGC WDM3A 14969 was arriving into platform 2 with 55817 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati passenger.
NTES managed to force me another move out of the late evening when the Shakti delivered me back to Guwahati. With 55602 Lumding – Guwahati passenger being late coming in, it would have been rude not to do NGC WDM3D 11559 out to Narangi for it on 15603 2045 Guwahati – Ledo; and when NGC WDM2 relic 18689 rolled into Narangi with 55602 I was chuffed that I’d done the move as this I’d not had a WDM2 yet on the trip and though that it could well turn out to be my first trip without having a WDM2 at all; the dying breed that they are.
I did call it a day back at Guwahati and noted ET WDM3A/D twins 16214/11277 as I headed over the footbridge back to the hotel for some food; and assumed that they’d arrived earlier with 15647 LTT – Guwahati. The hotel restaurant wasn’t open when I got back but they were willing to open it up for me though, room service would suffice, and a very good chilly chicken was delivered to my room 15 minutes after ordering. It had been a nice relaxing afternoon and evening, but I was ready for a good sleep in a decent bed, which didn’t move; I just hoped my earplugs would keep the loco horns out overnight.
Gen for Sunday 18th March 2018
16282 MLDT WDM3A 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
13046 UDL WDG3A 15655 1045 Kamakhya – Katra
20002 SGUJ WDP4 12346 1230 Guwahati – Howrah
16484 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
20001 SGUJ WDP4 55802 1730 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
11575 MLDT WDM3D 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
16168 MLDT WDM3A 15718 0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati
16214/11277 ET WDM3A/D 15647 0805 (PP) LTT – Guwahati
16544 MLDT WDM3A 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar
16845 MLDT WDM3A 55603 1810 Guwahati – Mairabari
20013 SGUJ WDP4 15928 0545 New Tinsukia – Rangiya
36135 NGC WDS6 ecs for 15613 2030 KYQ – MZS
16167 MLDT WDM3A 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek
16514 MLDT WDM3A 15770 1510 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn (20082 SGUJ WDP4 dit)
14969 NGC WDG3A 55817 1430 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
11559 NGC WDM3D 15603 2045 Guwahati – Ledo
18689 NGC WDM2 55602 1425 Lumding – Guwahati
17839 17915 demic NGC
36083 & 18589, 18667 & 18689 at NGC
Moves for Sunday 18th March 2018
|11575||Guwahati Jn||Jagi Road||15665||1430 Guwahati Jn – Dimapur|
|16168||Jagi Road||Guwahati Jn||15718||0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati Jn|
|20013||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||15928||0545 New Tinsukia Jn – Rangiya Jn|
|36135||Kamakhya Jn||Platform 4||Shunt stock in for 15613 KYQ – MZS|
|14969||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||55817||1430 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Jn|
|11559||Guwahati Jn||Narangi||15603||2045 Guwahati Jn – Ledo|
|18689||Narangi||Guwahati Jn||55602||1425 Lumding Jn – Guwahati Jn|
Photos for Sunday 18th March 2018
Monday 19th March 2018 (A day around Guwahati before heading north of the Brahmaputra overnight)
I was up in time to view 55803 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon and the Kamrup Express, 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah. Unfortunately, the latter arrived just as MLDT WDM3A 16222 was disappearing under the road bridge, towards Kamakhya, with 55803; so, I did HWH WDP4D 40418 out to Kamakhya, on the Kamrup Express behind it. SGUJ WDP4D 40365 was waiting at Kamakhya with a very late running, 17h30m, 15934 Amritsar – Dibrugarh and I went straight back into Guwahati to view 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon. This had departed at 0830 when I’d been in Guwahati the previous November and was now being announced as a “passenger special”. UDL WDG3A 14871 brought the stock in for the train, which was nice until they removed it in favour of MLDT WDM3D 11555; but not the end of the world and I still did the train anyway.
The Departmental Tea Stall on platform 2/3 at Kamakhya had been closed the previous evening and I’d feared the worst, however, it was back in business and chai was soon flowing. I could have drowned in chai with all the morning inbound passenger trains being late and stopped at 4. As now seems to be the link, SGUJ’s pioneer WDP4 20000 arrived with the Manas Rhino Passenger, 55801 0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati, and next to arrive was MLDT WDM3A 16640 with 15769 0320 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding Intercity and hour late. Thankfully it got me back into Guwahati in time to find NGC WDM3A’s 16439/16006 waiting to depart with 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha. The twins been sat in the bay platform at the top end of platform 1 earlier that morning and it made a welcome change for the train to depart right time. I was booked on 15636 the following Monday from Guwahati to Varanasi so a right time start would be appreciated then, along with the correct traction of course!
The opposing working of 15636, which is 15635 Okha – Guwahati, always seems to be hours late and is due into Guwahati on the same day 15636 departs; just 3h45m minutes before 15636 departs! The fact that 15636 made 15635 at Rangiya Jn shows just how late 15635 was. When I’d been in Ahmedabad earlier in the trip, 15635 was announced as being 8 hours late there, so I could only assume that 15636 is equally as late by the time it’s travelled across the whole country? Back to the day at hand though, 15635 was 7 hours late into Guwahati, and the bit that mattered, the traction, was most welcome in the form of NGC WDM3D’s 11502/11503. Vic had done 15636 himself two weeks previous, which had been NGC twin Alco’s then but 15635 coming the other way had arrived with a GM!
Back at Guwahati, a brief interlude back to the hotel to checkout didn’t take long and my big bag was left with them; I’d be staying there again towards the end of the week. Back at the station I was surprised by two things, one was UDL WDM3A’s 16647/16174 sat waiting to depart with 15930 Dibrugarh – Tambaram as it had been a UDL WDG4D the last time I’d seen it, and two was UDL WDG3A 14871 dropping onto the set to work 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn, especially after it had duped me earlier in the morning. With no time to waste, and NTES showing that things were in my favour, the Shakti led the way to Kamakhya, where roti & subzi were consumed at the Departmental Tea Stall, before the UDL twins whisked me towards Rangiya.
The day in Guwahati had been a bonus day for me, after I’d changed how I got from Kolkata to Guwahati. Vic had seen HWH WDP4D’s on the Kamrup Express on a couple of occasions in the two weeks prior to me being booked on the train from Howrah to Guwahati. And randomly, when I’d booked it I had no idea that Youth and his wife were booked on the same train as far as New Jalpaiguri! Whereas I made changes to my plan to escape the possible massive bowl-out, Youth didn’t but he dropped very lucky when HWH WDM3D’s 11498/11246 produced for 15959 1735 Howrah – Dibrugarh; and obviously took great delight in telling everyone, so I knew they were coming my way. After he got off at NJP he also told me that UDL WDM3A’s 16175/16178 were heading my way with 12551 Yesvantpur – Kamakhya. I ended up with a choice in the end as both 12551 and 15636 got stopped at Changasri to allow SGUJ WDP4D 40442 through with 12088 1520 Guwahati – Naharlagun Shatabdi. I chose the Kamrup pair though and they were sat waiting in the adjacent platform at Rangiya as 15636 arrived. A quick leap across the ballast, a chai from a roaming wallah and that was me heading back east; without touching the platforms at Rangiya at all.
I didn’t make it far back east before coming across NGC WDG3A 13019 at Changsari with 15815 1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon and thanks to a signal check for the Kamrup Express too, I was soon on my way back to Rangiya, which wasn’t really what I needed to be doing this late in the evening but needs must! You can always rely on late runners to get you back to where you need to be, well sometimes anyway and on this occasion 14056 Delhi Jn – Dibrugarh Brahmaputra Mail was that train. Unfortunately, it was SGUJ WDP4B 40028 (with 70414 dead inside it) but it got me back to Guwahati for when I needed to be; just that I never ended up back there!
I’d spotted MLDT WDM3A 16765 in the carriage sidings at Kamakhya earlier in the afternoon, so wasn’t surprised to find it sat in platform 4 at Kamakhya when the Brahmaputra Mail arrived. It was with the stock for 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek and put in two minds whether to get off for it or not, as I was booked on 15617 2120 Guwahati – Naharlagun; from Guwahati. In the end, greed got the better of me and I did 15613 back to Rangiya, where my greed did at least allow me to get myself a decent meal at one of the restaurants opposite Rangiya station; which served up a bloody good dal fry, a massive portion of rice and two soft tandoori roti’s to go with it.
Having seen MLDT WDM3A 16518 at Rangiya earlier, it had arrived with 55896 0600 Murkongselek – Rangiya and run-round to depart with 55893 1820 Rangiya – Rangapara North, I was hopeful about my planned move the following day to Bhalukpong, on the only train of the day. I’d been a little skeptical when planning the trip as I assumed that most, if not all, of the trains on the north side of the Brahmaputra would be SGUJ GM’s; and according to a response to my post on the IRFCA forum, this was very possibly the case up until recently, as I’ve previously mentioned. When MLDT WDM3A 16517 arrived with 15617 Guwahati – Naharlagun, I was pleased to find my berth still empty and was quick to set up camp in my lower side berth; and didn’t see a TTE at all before I went to sleep.
Gen for Monday 19th March 2018
16222 MLDT WDM3A 55803 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
20072 SGUJ 15927 0530 Rangiya – New Tinsukia
40418 HWH WDP4D 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
40365 SGUJ WDP4D 15934 1545 (PPP) Amritsar – Dibrugarh (17h30m late)
11555 MLDT WDM3D 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
20085 SGUJ WDP4 15612 1920 (P) Silchar – Guwahati
16639 MLDT WDM3A 15614 1900 (P) Murkongselek – Kamakhya, 15772 1600 Kamakhya – Alipurduar Jn
20000 SGUJ WDP4 55801 0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
16640 MLDT WDM3A 15769 0320 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding
16845 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0400 Mairabari – Guwahati
16439/16006 NGC WDG3As 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha
16510 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati
16544 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
11405 HWH WDM3D 12509 2340 (PPP) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati (7h late)
16514 MLDT WDM3A 15771 0500 Alipurduar Jn – Kamakhya
16166 MLDT WDM3A 12503 1015 (PPP) Bangalore Cantt – Agartala (22h45m late)
40325 SGUJ WDP4D 15910 1945 (PPP) Lalgarh – Dibrugarh (10h15m late)
40359 SGUJ WDP4D 14055 2325 (P) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn
40510 SGUJ WDP4D 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati, 12346 1230 Guwahati – Howrah
20015 SGUJ WDP4 15651 1310 Guwahati – Jammu Tawi
11502/11503 NGC WDM3Ds 15635 1140 (PPP) Okha – Guwahati
11551 MLDT WDM3D 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
40442 SGUJ WDP4D 12088 1520 Guwahati – Naharlagun
16647/16174 UDL WDM3As 15930 2345 (P) Dibrugarh – Tambaram
14871 UDL WDG3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
13019 NGC WDG3A 15815 1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon
16088 MLDT WDM3A 55811 0700 Dhubri – Kamakhya
16175/16178 UDL WDM3As 12551 0830 (PP) Yesvantpur – Kamakhya
11498/11246 HWH WDM3Ds 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh
40028 SGUJ WDP4D 14056 2340 (PP) Delhi Jn – Dibrugarh (5h late) (70414 SGUJ WDG4D dit)
16518 MLDT WDM3A 55896 0600 Murkongselek – Rangiya, 55893 1820 Rangiya – Rangapara North
16765 MLDT WDM3A 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek
16517 MLDT WDM3A 15617 2120 Guwahati – Naharlagun
Moves for Monday 19th March 2018
|40418||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||15960||1825 (18/03) Dibrugarh – Howrah|
|40365||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15934||1545 (16/03) Amritsar Jn – Dibrugarh|
|11555||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55818||0810 Guwahati Jn – New Bongaigaon|
|16640||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15769||0320 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding Jn|
|16439||Guwahati Jn||Rangiya Jn||15636||1045 Guwahati Jn – Okha|
|11502||Rangiya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15635||1140 (16/03) Okha – Guwahati Jn|
|14871||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55754||1420 Guwahati Jn – Alipurduar Jn|
|16647||Kamakhya Jn||Rangiya Jn||15930||2345 (18/03) Dibrugarh – Tambaram|
|11498||Rangiya Jn||Changsari||15959||1735 (18/03) Howrah – Dibrugarh|
|13019||Changsari||Rangiya Jn||15815||1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon|
|40028||Rangiya Jn||Kamakhya Jn||14056||2340 (17/03) Delhi Jn – Dibrugarh|
|16765||Kamakhya Jn||Rangiya Jn||15613||2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek|
|16517||Rangiya Jn||Naharlagun||15617||2120 Guwahati Jn – Naharlagun|
Photos for Monday 19th March 2018
Tuesday 20th March 2018 (A day north of the Brahmaputra, which ended in disaster that night)
So, imagine waking up on your train, after the stop you were supposed to get off at, and knowing that you would be in dodgy territory at that point. Well, that exactly what happened, thanks to my phone alarm not waking me, which was partially my own fault as I’d not plugged it into my powerpack correctly when I went to bed, thus it didn’t charge and the battery went flat!
Arunachal Pradesh (AP) is an Indian State that is restricted to foreigners and non-Arunachal Pradesh residents alike. Travel to & within it is allowed, with persons of Indian origin (POI’s) being allowed to just turn up at the state border and fill out the relevant paperwork, before paying a small fee to enter. For foreigners the process is a lot more complicated and they must apply for a Restricted Access Permit, which in true Indian style takes days, if not weeks to get, making it nothing but a farce attempting to get one. If you’ve got the time, I guess it’s not too much of a hassle, but for those on a time restricted tour, you don’t want to be spending an indefinite amount of time in Guwahati, for example, waiting for your permit to be processed; which can take days! The fee for foreigners, not surprisingly, is huge in comparison to that which POI’s pay, at a whopping £30. So, not only do you have to fuck around to get into the state, you then have to pay through the nose to stay in it; a lot of fucking about for zero gain as far as I can see.
Anyway, I’d managed to make into AP on a previous trip, thanks to our own stupidity and lack of gen. Thankfully on that occasion there were English speaking people about who got us back to the right side of the state border, hassle free. With my previous ventures into restricted territory ending up with me being arrested and spending time at Barmer police station, I was vaguely aware of how this could end; although I have ready articles saying that tourists have turned up at Naharlagun before and been processed there, with the help of local authorities. However, I didn’t have time to be processed, or spend any time at Naharlagun at all had places to be later in the day; and Naharlagun police station wasn’t on the list!
When I figured out that the train I was on was a plus 5 at Naharlagun onto 12087 0500 Naharlagun – Guwahati Shatabdi, there was some light at the end of the tunnel for a quick and under the radar escape. Having seen pictures of Naharlagun station, I knew it would be a cross-platform leap too, and that was exactly what it was and because it was only just starting to get light I slipped pretty much under the radar; but for the TTE on the Shatabdi watching me skulk across the platform. When 12087 departed, he then wanted to know why my ticket was only valid from Harmuti. The fact that he’d watched me scurry from one train to the other at Naharlagun helped the situation and he accepted the fact that I’d overslept and didn’t charge me the extra from Naharlagun to Harmuti; which in hindsight, I wish he had as I’d have a ticket I wasn’t supposed to have then, as a souvenir of my 5 minutes in AP. It was a bit of a relief to get back to somewhere that I was allowed to be and I was back on track as SGUJ WDP4D 40442 led the wat to Rangapara North, where I got off to first head into Dekargaon, before hoping that the correct traction would work the only train of the day to Bhalukpong, right on the AP border; which is somewhere I wish I’d gone in the MG days!
When 55721 0600 Rangiya Jn – Dekargaon rolled into Rangapara North, I thought that was my day over and I hesitantly got on for the run to Dekargaon, fully expecting the WDP4 to run-round there and work 55719 1100 Dekargaon – Bhalukpong. When we arrived into Dekargaon, which I didn’t recognize at all from it’s MG days, I was so relieved to find MLDT WDM3A 16518 waiting to drop onto the opposite end of the stock. I wasn’t caring much how or why the Alco had ended up on the train but suspected it was something to do with the aforementioned recent link changes, which had started producing Alco’s on the north bank of the Brahmaputra very recently. What I did care about though was why my camera didn’t want to work when I tried to get a couple of shots at Dekargaon!
Departure from Dekargaon was smack on time at 1100 and it didn’t take me long to figure out what was wrong with my camera; I had no bloody battery in it. I’d taken it out to charge two night’s previous, when at the Contour Hotel, but because I’d packed my bag up I’d completely forgot about it when I checked out as it was plugged into the wall at the opposite side of the room and wasn’t in sight from my bedside. The reason for it being there was so the orange flashing light didn’t bother me I usually leave a reminder that I need to do something of a morning, and then again, I don’t usually forget things though. The saving grace was that I was going back to the Contour Hotel, so at least I could collect it and a quick call to them while I was at Rangapara, stationary, confirmed that they had found it and had even put it into my bag in their storage room for when I got back. That also explained the missed calls on my Indian sim, with the number being different to the usual cold-call series of numbers. Happy, but not, I enjoyed the journey to Bhalukpong, I was accosted on arrival by the local Government Railway Police (GRP).
Now, I had checked on various maps that Bhalukpong station was indeed not in AP, so I knew I was ok there. The three guys that accosted me were straight in with the questions though and wanted to know where I was going, where my permit was and why I was there. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell anyone official in India that you’re where you are because you can be, want to be and are perfectly in your rights to be there! I went about telling them this in a bit more tactful way and explained that I’d never been to Bhalukpong before, so just wanted to take the train there and return straight back to Rangapara, to say I’d been there. To which they asked again if I was heading into AP, to which I told them no and they could watch me depart on the train if they liked. They weren’t the friendliest bunch and kept tabs on me the whole time I was there; I could see then watching me, even when I was sat on the train. So, when it departed, I gave them a wave, just so they knew I’d left their vicinity; and I wasn’t going to rush back with that kind of hospitality. Which is what I don’t understand with some countries, they want tourists to embrace their country, but firstly they make it a nightmare to get in, then they make it hard work to get to places that people might want to go and then they treat you like a criminal sometimes when you get there. So, why bother in the first place? My reasons are simple, but for a general tourist, why put yourself through the hassle; I mean, even filling in the application form and going through the online process for an Indian visa is nothing short of a nightmare! Anyway, rant over, but there was going to be an even bigger one later!
I’d hoped to make a minus 25’ at Rangapara North, onto 55896 0600 Murkongselek – Rangiya, but there was no such luck, so I stuck with plan A and went back into Dekargaon to do 55722 1645 Dekargaon – Rangiya passenger, all the way back to Rangiya. Making the minus 25’ at Rangapara would have gained me 3h30m at Rangiya and meant I would have been able to get back to Guwahati, instead of having to spend the night in Rangiya; even if I did have a pre-booked hotel there. In hindsight, making the minus 25’ would have been bloody marvelous!
It wasn’t surprising that SGUJ WDP4D 40393 worked 55722 1645 Dekargaon – Rangiya but having done what I needed to do, I was happy to suffer the 142km off it back to Rangiya; where it at least arrived a couple of minutes early. Unfortunately, anything that was late, that could have got me back to Guwahati that night, was so late that I’d possibly see the trains in the morning. Now, this is where my fun-packed evening began!
I had a reservation at the Hotel Nandan, which I’d made via e-mail after using the direct link to the hotel’s website from its location on Google Maps. I was going to walk it initially, but was glad I didn’t, and it was the darkness that put me off. However, none of the auto guys I asked to take me to the Hotel Nandan knew where it was and in fact one of them told me it didn’t exist; which of course, knowing better, I dismissed as stupidity and insisted I’d direct one of them to it using Google Maps on my phone. Was only about 1km away on the map and it was easy to direct the guy to it, and when I say it I should probably say the location where “it” should be. There were no neon signs in sight when we got there, and nothing built up at all that would even pass as a hotel. A little confused, and concerned, I asked one of the traffic police at the junction where the hotel was, he didn’t know and asked someone local; who then showed me exactly where the Hotel Nandan was, when he pointed to the sign above a local roadside eatery, which looked like a hovel. That was when the reality of the situation set in, and when my blood started to boil as this situation was very Indian. Since Booking.com has come along, Indian Hotels have started showing their hotels on Google Maps nearer to railway stations than they are, just to get bookings from those that want to be near a transport hub; which I’ve been caught out with twice! They also tell you that they have no room when you turn up, despite having a confirmed reservation from Booking.com, and they also tell you they have no clue of your reservation, again, even though you have a confirmed reservation through Booking.com; and then the cheeky bastards even go on to tell booking.com that you were a no-show, after you’ve paid at the hotel. Those are all situations I’m aware of but this one was new. What the clever fuckers have done is use the food place hotel Nandan, link it on google maps to the Hotel Nandan’s website, which is in Guwahati, and then poor, unsuspecting dickheads like me end up fucked over for the night when they trust in what they see!
I was certainly trusting in what I saw and now had a big issue. The guy that had showed me to the fooderie place in the first place, suggested that I head back to the station and that there were places to stay there; and he wasn’t wrong. The first place I tried didn’t want to know but the second place, Lodge Happy View, did have room and at least the guy at the reception spoke a bit of English. He showed me a room before I committed, and I opted for one with a private bathroom too; not that it mattered in the end but more on that later. The room itself was rough around the edges and if I’m honest with myself, a bit of a shithole; but it was habitable and preferable to spending the night on a station bench and looking on the bright side, I was only spending RS500 instead of RS3500 for the night’s accommodation. Bert gave me a mosquito coil and helped me put the mosquito net up around the bed too, and even gave me a blanket and a sheet to put on the bed; which made the bed look a bit more inviting.
After sorting my shit out in the room, I headed downstairs and used one of the eateries along the same row and the dal fry that was put in front of me was very good and just what I needed after a day on the go with very little food. I was back in the hotel room by 2230 and dossed out straight away under the mossie net, with the coil still going strong too. I was aware of some late running trains on NTES but didn’t want to be us too early so set my alarm for 7 o’clock, with a view to doing 15769 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding Inter City to Guwahati at 0745; if nothing else was available.
Gen for Tuesday 20th March 2018
40442 SGUJ WDP4D 12087 0500 Naharlagun – Guwahati
40393 SGUJ WDP4D 55721 0600 Rangiya – Dekargaon, 55722 1645 Dekargaon – Rangiya
16518 MLDT WDM3A 55719 1100 Dekargaon – Bhalukpong, 55720 1350 Bhalukpong – Dekargaon
Moves for Tuesday 20th March 2018
|40442||Naharlagun||Rangapara North Jn||12087||0500 Naharlagun – Guwahati Jn|
|40393||Rangapara North Jn||Dekargaon||55721||0600 Rangiya Jn – Dekargaon|
|16518||Dekargaon||Bhalukpong||55719||1100 Dekargaon – Bhalukpong|
|16518||Bhalukpong||Dekargaon||55720||1350 Bhalukpong – Dekargaon|
|40393||Dekargaon||Rangiya Jn||55722||1645 Dekargaon – Rangiya Jn|
Wednesday 21st March 2018 (Bumbling around Guwahati then to Mendipathar of an evening, before Silchar overnight; I hoped!)
I was over at Rangiya station for 0630 and there’s a very good reason why. As if the fiasco of not having a hotel to stay at the previous night wasn’t enough, I think the one I did stay in will traumatize me for some time. At 0234 precisely, I decided to give it up as a bad job and clambered out of bed to go for a piss, torch in hand. Upon opening the bog door, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye but was relieved when I realised it was one of those spangly legged stupid spiders, so in I stepped, which was when the moment became very surreal. As I was about to do my business I caught movement in the corner of my eye again, but this time it wasn’t slow. A quick glance downwards had me clapping eyes on the biggest, ugliest and fastest spider I’d ever had the misfortune to clap eyes on. It was darting about the place very quickly and at one point, before I could react to the situation, it was nearly out of the door and into the room; which would have been the end of that and resulted in me being out in the corridor! While still dancing about like a girl, I managed to not stand on the fecking thing while maneuvering myself out of the door and making sure it was closed firmly behind me. A quick inspection revealed that there were no gaps either beneath or at the top of the door, so I was safe. It took me a minute to realise what had just happened, and I was amazed at how unimpressed I was by this little thing that was darting about on the floor. It wasn’t even like it was behaving like a normal spider as it was crawling about sideways, like crabs do, and was quite flat-looking for a spider. I remember thinking moments after I’d shut the door that I’d been in there bare-footed as well and the what-ifs started running through my mind. Its absolutely crazy that I should be scared of something that I’m thousands of times bigger than and yet the whole scenario prevented me from getting any further decent sleep, just because my mind knew what was behind the bloody bog door; ludicrous, yet I resorted to pissing in a bottle for the rest of the night!
I crept out of the hotel just after 6, with my bottle of piss under my arm, which was put in the first bin I came across, leaving the room key, on its Chelsea FC keyring, on the desk as I left; behind which bert was asleep on the floor. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling great after my lack of sleep and even a few coffees didn’t wake me up a great deal. NTES was only showing the one train as running late enough for me to view, which was 15631 Barmer – Guwahati at 7h45m late; which I wasn’t holding my hopes up at producing anything that would result in me doing it, and at this point I was looking at a fester until 15769 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding turned up. NGC WDM3D’s 11574/11573 took me totally by surprise when they rolled in with 15631 though and were a welcome sight, for sore eyes. There was even the odd sleeper berth free as well, so I could relax on the way to Guwahati.
On arrival into Guwahati, MLDT WDM3A 16086 was being prepared to depart with 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, a bit late, and when I departed on it UDL WDG3A 13310 was just being dropped onto the stock to form the next New Bongaigaon passenger, 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon. So, a short wait at Kamakhya, drinking chai at the Departmental Chai Stall, then had me doing 13310 forward on 55818, towards Rangiya. As both 55818 and 55753 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding stopped at all stations there was never going to be an issue doing one for the other and they crossed at Changsari; with MLDT WDM3A 16484 already being in waiting when 55818 arrived.
I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do with the day as I needed to be on 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar to its destination, so couldn’t venture too far away. The answer to my quandary was sat waiting for me back at Kamakhya, in the shape of a battered LKO WDM3A 16004, un-refurbished for 10 years and looking like it was going to be a bit of a beast. The front SLR on 15668 1100 Kamakhya – Gandhidam was empty and before it set off, NTES confirmed I’d likely have a choice of two trains back from Goalpara Town; 15619 Gaya – Kamakhya was running late and 55811 Dhubri – Kamakhya passenger if I missed the former.
LKO’s 16004 didn’t disappoint either and didn’t have those horrible metallic screaming turbos’ either; it was a good old-school example of what DLW’s 16-cylinder Alco fleet should sound like without all the micro-processing shit on them; unfortunately, as is the case with everything now, the one thing it lacked was a violent transition on full power. It was immense back in the day when everything had transitions on full power and nobody gave a shit; with the loco coming straight back in on full power after lurching when it cut out to bring the transition in; god, I miss those days, but still, it was a very pleasant ride out to Goalpara.
NGC WDM3A 16488 led 15619 Gaya Jn – Kamakhya into Goalpara, which 15668 was held at Goalpara to await arriving. Was another pleasant journey back to Kamakhya in a non-wedged coach at the front of the train and as I went to board the train I told the chai stall walla’s that I’d be back to see them later. NGC’s 16488 wasn’t a patch on LKO’s 16004, but it was by no means a bad example of the fleet and was better than a lot of the recent refurbs; which to be honest, sometimes are just shocking and what DLMW have done to them is sheer sabotage from an Alco perspective.
With not much time on my hands of an afternoon, I was surprised when the eastbound Kamrup Express, 15959 Howrah – Dibrugarh, turned up with HWH WDM3D’s 11xxx/11xxx but wasn’t complaining as I used the train to get me back into Guwahati in readiness for my afternoon move out to Mendipathar. Thankfully I had time to nip out to the Contour Hotel and get a proper meal inside me before heading off for the night.
55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar is formed off the arriving 15718 0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati, booked into Guwahati at 1530 but is often late; and this day was one of those days it was late, with it not arriving into Guwahati until 1615. When I’d been in the area in November both the loco & stock continued to Mendipathar but now the loco off 15718 is removed and a fresh loco then uses the same rake to work 55820, which adds time to 55820’s departure if 15718 is late. The result being 55820 departing 60’ late, with MLDT WDM3A 16282.
Mendipathar is in Meghalaya, and with the opening of the railway line to it, this became the first railway in the state. I was going to do it on the previous trip in November but didn’t get my act together to sort out the arrangements for getting to or from Mendipathar by road, to get to or from the train; which is the only train of the day down the branch and it sits there overnight, with no places to stay in the village. This time I was more prepared, and by default had come up with a good move just because I was planning on doing the line on the day 12518 Guwahati – Kolkata Garib Rath ran. I was well ahead of the game and had asked the friendly staff at the Contour Hotel if they’d contact a hotel in Goalpara and see if they could arrange me road transport to take me from Mendipathar station to Goalpara Town station. Initially I thought my request was going top fall flat on its face, but as is often the case, these things take time while people ring around to find someone willing to do the job. And, as turned out to be the case, the person doing the job is generally an employee at the establishment you’re asking at, or a friend of one of the employees; they never use a taxi firm as the cash is too hard to refuse for themselves, but at least you know what you’re getting. What I got was a car arranged to meet me at Mendipathar station, with the driver being an employee at the Hotel Moon Moon in Goalpara. I’d been given his mobile number and he’d responded to WhatsApp messages earlier in the afternoon confirming he would be there to meet me; so, the job was a good ‘un, albeit but for the late running of 55820; which was a little concerning as I only had 2h43m to get from Mendipathar to Goalpara for the Garib Rath to New Bongaigaon.
As it turned out I didn’t need to worry and having told the guy collecting me where I was in the train, he was stood on the platform waiting for me; obviously I was easy to pick out in the crowd, even if it was dark, and with 1h40m to get to Goalpara at that point a fast drive ensured I had enough time for a quick chai at Goalpara before doing the empty Garib Rath forward to New Bongaigaon. It all worked out a treat, my driver was good too and while he understood the need to make the train at Goalpara, he didn’t drive like a mentalist to get there, thankfully. The agreed RS2000 was handed over on arrival, I bode him farewell and went about my bash quite pleased with how the previous few hours had worked out.
HWH WDM3D 11297, sporting an all over orange livery that HWH seemed to be systematically applying to it’s ‘3D fleet, rolled in right time with 12518 Guwahati – Kolkata Garib Rath, which was when I realised I’d not been as prepared as I’d though; having only got a SL class Indrail Pass for the journey to New Bongaigaon. There was loads of room on board and some coaches were almost empty, but it didn’t stop one of the TTE’s finding me. When he saw my Indrail Pass though, he wasn’t interested in what I had to tell him and was quite satisfied with the fact I was going to New Bongaigaon, not even realising that my ticket wasn’t valid on his train!
The AC on board the Garib Rath was quite overpowering and very cold and I was so glad I wasn’t doing it for any distance as it might have killed me! Unfortunately, by the time I got off at New Bongaigaon, only an hour after getting on, the damage had been done and the cold I could feel coming on, in the back of my throat, was brought to the surface and in an hour I’d gone from fending it off with paracetamol to full blown sniveling mess; which is always a good thing when you’re about to spend 16 hours in AC and its hot outside! The lack of sleep the previous two nights probably hadn’t helped the situation and despite trying to fend it off, I’d succumbed….
When MLDT WDM3A 16681 arrived into New Bongaigaon with the Kanchanjunga Express, 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar, I found the TTE on the platform and thankfully he was able to give me a side-lower berth, instead of my allocated berth #7 in a compo, which allowed me to hole myself up and die; although not quietly I might add and the crap coming off my chest was almost as rancid as the spider from the previous night, which I blame for not being able to fend off the cold I was now lapping up! Despite being tired, the coughing and spluttering I was doing kept me awake most of the way to Guwahati; by which time I was absolutely fucked!
Gen for Wednesday 21st March 2018
11574/11573 NGC WDM3Ds 15631 2230 (PPP) Barmer – Guwahati (7h late)
40383 SGUJ WDP4D 12516 1955 (P) Silchar – Trivandrum
16086 MLDT WDM3A 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
11246/11498 HWH WDM3Ds 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
20002 SGUJ WDP4 55801 0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
13310 UDL WDG3A 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
16548 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0400 Mairabari – Guwahati
40045 SGUJ WDP4B 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
40025 SGUJ WDP4B 14020 2355 (PP) Anand Vihar – Agartala
16088 MLDT WDM3A 15816 0515 Dekargaon – Kamakhya
16680 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
16484 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati
16004 LKO WDM3A 15668 1100 Kamakhya – Gandhidham
16488 NGC WDM3A 15619 1255 (P) Gaya Jn – Kamakhya
11575 MLDT WDM3D 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
16765 MLDT WDM3A 15772 1600 Kamakhya – Alipurduar Jn
11497/11205 HWH WDM3Ds 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh
16282 MLDT WDM3A 56820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar
40510 SGUJ WDP4D 55802 1730 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
11297 HWH WDM3D 12518 2100 Guwahati – Kolkata Chitpur
Moves for Wednesday 21st March 2018
|11574||Rangiya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15631||2230 (18/03) Barmer – Guwahati Jn|
|16086||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55804||0720 Guwahati Jn – New Bongaigaon|
|13310||Kamakhya Jn||Changsari||55818||0810 Guwahati Jn – New Bongaigaon|
|16484||Changsari||Kamakhya Jn||55753||0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati Jn|
|16004||Kamakhya Jn||Goalpara Town||15668||1100 Kamakhya Jn – Gandhidam Jn|
|16488||Goalpara Town||Kamakhya Jn||15619||1255 (20/03) Gaya Jn – Kamakhya Jn|
|11497||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15959||1735 (20/03) Howrah – Dibrugarh|
|16282||Guwahati Jn||Mendipathar||55820||1620 Guwahati Jn – Mendipathar|
|Taxi||Mendipathar||Goalpara Town||RS2000, 44km, 1h20m|
|11297||Goalpara Town||New Bongaigaon Jn||12518||2100 Guwahati Jn – Kolkata Chitpur|
Photos for Wednesday 21st March 2018
Thursday 22nd March 2018 (Dying while travelling through the Barak Valley)
When 25657 pulled up in platform 1 at Guwahati, I was seriously considering getting off and heading back to the Contour Hotel to give myself time to get over my streaming cold, in relative comfort. When NGC WDG3A’s 14916/14759 replaced their MLDT classmate, which is what I’d been hoping for, I decided to brave it while the gift-horse was throwing them at me; dying or not!
I’d been in a similar state a couple of years ago, with a long-distance journey from Samastipur to Delhi ahead of me and had sweat it out on that and by the time I reached Delhi I was almost human again. Not wanting to paint myself into a corner, if things took a shift for the worse at Lumding, I set my alarm to wake me there, so I could check out the loco situation; which I needn’t have bothered doing. Thankfully my tired eyes only had to brave the bright daylight for a minimal amount of time as SGUJ WDG4D’s 70453/70526 propelled a HCPV onto the opposite end of the rake, while the Shakti’s remained attached to what would become the rear of the train on departure from Lumding. NGC WDS6 36080 was shunting about in the station and the old LMG MG DLS was in tatters, with works going on inside the grounds that I couldn’t really see much of. When the WDG4’s got the train underway towards Haflong, with the Alco’s still attached to the rear, I was content with things and at last managed to get some sleep; after discarding the pile of snotty tissues from my berth. And I really did sweat it out on the journey towards Badarpur, it was quite rancid being in a cold coach but overheating to the max, while my nose was running almost constantly, and I was coughing crap up with nowhere to spit it!
It wasn’t one of the most pleasant journeys I’d ever made, and yet should have been one of the highlights of my trip; I just didn’t get to enjoy it, unfortunately. From the confines of my lower side berth, which at least had a shit up window to keep the glare out when I drew the curtains back every now and again, I managed to spot SGUJ WDP4 20085 with 55516 0700 Silchar – Guwahati, which I did manage to notice had no banker(s) on the rear. Other than that, I was pretty much a recluse all the way to Badarpur and as my berth was on the wrong side of the train I couldn’t glance across the valley towards the old MG alignment either. What I did notice, when I’d used the facilities on board, was that as we approached Ditokcherra, which is where the new BG alignment joins back up with the old MG alignment, was that there was no way a connection could be restored from the new BG station to the old MG network; without a lot of work being done to make it happen. The new BG platform was right on the old MG alignment and the old MG tracks were nowhere to be seen. This for me, was a very short-sighted decision by IR, especially as there was now talk of trying to restore part of the section in the Haflong area for tourists; which I reckon will never happen and IR will have lost one of its best pieces of heritage, ever, because of their lack of foresight!
By Badarpur I made the effort to venture outside, which is always a good thing when you don’t feel good and have a streaming nose, going from a cool coach to the warm air outside. I didn’t stay out long as the warmth was too much but did venture onto the footbridge to ogle at the new BG yard adjacent to the new BG station. In it were SGUJ WDG4’s 12391 & 70666 waiting their next jobs. On the far side of it, where there had previously been a load of MG steam locos stabled behind the wall, in relative safety, there was nothing. They’d all gone, but for the boiler of one rusting hulk, which I remembered from my previous trip to Badarpur had been dumped at the end of the yard and in the undergrowth anyway; serving as nothing more than something for locals to tie string to, to act as a washing line. I wonder where the hell they’d all ended up? Some of them hade been restored by local staff and one even looked like it might run, given a bit of TLC!
That was me back in my box at Badarpur, after a brief leg-stretch, and being in the airconditioned coach, I hate to say, was the lesser of the two evils’; but I knew it was doing me no good either. To add insult to injury, the Shakti’s were removed from the Kanchanjunga Express at Badarpur and were replaced by SGUJ WDP4D 40376 for the run into Silchar; the WDG4’s were also removed and left in the yard at Badarpur. As we were spot on time from Badarpur, we had an extended wait at Arunachal Jn for SGUJ WDP4D 40511 to arrive off the single line with 55686 1525 Silchar – Maishashan passenger. All the lovely semaphores that made Arunachal Jn a fascinating place had now been replaced by colour light signals with feathers, making the place just another junction station which had no character and was a shadow of its former self. Arrival into Silchar was 25’ early and upon arrival, 40028 became the 5th GM to grace the place with it’s presence, with WDP4 20047 waiting to depart with 55667 1645 Silchar – Bhairabi, WDG4 12623 waiting to depart behind it with 55677 1730 Silchar – Dharmanagar, WDG4 12372 shunting in the carriage sidings and HWH WDP4D 40340 sat with the stock for my 12508 1955 Silchar – Trivandrum.
Thankfully it wasn’t mega hot in Silchar and I managed to find somewhere to sit, out of the way, where a nice breeze cooled things down a little. I was quite surprised that Silchar station had hardly changed after gauge conversion and was pretty much how I’d remembered it from its MG days. Even the fence, that I’d used to dry my washing on one occasion, was still intact at the end of the platforms. As I was feeling a little adventurous of an afternoon, coupled with the fact that I didn’t want to sit around on a station bench at Silchar for 4 hours, I decided to do the Bhairabi passenger out to Arunachal Jn for an auto back into Silchar. I’d noted loads up the road from the station as the Kanchanjunga Express had departure earlier but wasn’t in need of one when I came across SGUJ WDG4 12732 waiting at Arunachal with what I figured out to be 55666 1355 Jiribam – Silchar. Which depending on which source you look at this train runs either FO or MThFO and runs beyond Jiribam to Vangaichunpao. However, using the horse’s mouth, so to speak, NTES shows 55666 starting at Jiribam at 1355 and running MThFO; which was good enough for me.
SGUJ WDG4 12623 was still in platform 2 at Silchar, which had been parked behind the Bhairabi passenger set when it had left, with the stock to form 55677 1730 Silchar – Dharmanagar. As I’d not needed the use of an auto back from Arunachal on the previous visit, and as the Dharmanagar was a freight GM, I headed back out to Arunachal for the second time that afternoon; and probably against my better judgement based on the rough auto ride back into Silchar. I’m not saying that the ride was the culprit for the dal fry and rice coming back up 20 minutes after I’d eaten it, but it can’t have helped. I mean, it wasn’t as though the eatery outside the station was spotless either, and to be honest, it was the best of a bad bunch, but the food had been great; it just made my nose run more as I ate it. Thankfully, I managed to avoid any snot running into my dal, but my choice of food might not have been the best choice of the evening. The parathas that I braved a bit later went down a bit better and at least stayed down and while I was sat at the end of the platform, feeling sorry for myself while watching Silchar go about its business, I witnessed three people attempting to move a cow off railway premises. It was comical to watch as the cow, even though it wasn’t a fully grown one, was very strong and everything the trio tried to do to move it was nothing more than a waste of time. They were never going to hurt it, although I eventually figured out it had a knackered back leg anyway, but even grabbing its ears and trying to pull it along was very little use, even with two others attempting to push it from behind! In the 15 minutes I watched them, they managed to move it about 15ft. I think the fact that it was nursing a bad leg had something to do with its unwillingness to move, as it looked like it was quite painful when it did shuffle along. That same fact was probably wheat had prevented the cow from being a bit more aggressive at the same time and its potential unwitting victims probably had even realised they’d had a lucky escape? Said cow was last seen laying on the floor by the running in hut, minding its own business and licking its bad leg; causing nobody any grief whatsoever.
I knew it would be a tall order in managing to get Alco’s in both directions through the Barak Valley, so was content with the fact that I was going to have to suffer HWH’s WDP4D 40340 back to Lumding on 12508 1955 Silchar – Trivandrum; which did sometimes seem to get HWH Alco’s, which was why I’d picked the train to do back. I’d also taken a punt when planning my trains and booked 12508 Silchar to Rangiya and then a separate ticket from Rangiya to Howrah. At the same time, I’d made a reservation on board the Kamrup Express from Lumding to Howrah in SL class with my Indrail Pass and had then booked 07149 Secunderabad – Guwahati special back from Andul to Guwahati, with a back-up ticket purchased for 25657 0635 Sealdah – Silchar as well, which was RAC5 at the time of making the booking. So, I had options galore initially but with 07149 being cancelled by IR and 12508 being a GM, both 07149 and the ticket on 12508 from Rangiya to Howrah were canceled off on the IRCTC app; which is very efficient I might add. So, my eggs were left in one basket when I departed Silchar on 12508 that night.
The stock for 12508 was initially backed into platform 3 with no 2AC coach in the train consist. Thankfully, it was then split again and 40340 shunted about a bit, before retuning to piece the train back together, this time with a 2AC coach with it. As per my down the Barak Valley, I had a lower berth in a compo, which I soon figured out had an unpredictable and very noisy child next door. While I was leaning out of the door with my torch, trying to figure out what berths were free, the TTE came along and helped me find a lower side berth, which was vacant until Rangiya. By the time we reached Badarpur, I’d moved all my bedding and had my lower side berth, in the middle of the coach, not over the bogied like my previous one, all made up and fit for a sniffling wreck to clamber into; as soon as he’d figured out what was going on with the bankers at Badarpur. Which are always referred to as bankers, in both directions, but the “bankers” always end up as the leading locos and the train loco becomes the banker; whether at Lumding or Badarpur.
Initially there was no sign of locos moving. The pair of WDG4D’s that had worked down on 25657, 70543/70526, were sat in the yard attached to a freight and 70666 was also attached to a freight. 12391 had disappeared and nothing seemed to be going on at all. It wasn’t until some of the coaching staff knocked on the door, on the offside of the train, to be let in, that all became clear; and I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing when a pair of Alcos ran down the offside of the train. Initially I just assumed that they were the same pair I’d had down earlier, which were nowhere to be seen, but when consecutively numbered NGC WDG3A’s 14836/14837 ran by and dropped onto the business end of the train, I was made up; and my suffering became even more bearable with managing to get Alco’s in both directions through the Barak Valley. Although, braving it probably wasn’t one of the best decisions I’ve ever made while travelling about in India and I just hoped the consequence didn’t become greater than the toll I’d already suffered for making the bad, but correct, decision in the first place.
Made up with what was attaching to the front of 12508 at Badarpur, I clambered into my berth quite a happy guy and set my alarm for 0200 before managing to drift off to sleep, probably through sheer tiredness more than anything else; hoping that by Lumding I was feeling a little more human again as the reality of the situation would make or break the next few days if not.
Gen for Thursday 22nd March 2018
16681 MLDT WDM3A 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar (MLDT to GHY)
14916/14759 NGC WDG3As 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar (From GHY to BPB on rear LMG to BPB)
70453/70526 SGUJ WDG4Ds 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar (From LMG to BPB)
40376 SGUJ WDP4D 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar (From BPB)
16634 MLDT WDM3A 55810 0500 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
11551 MLDT WDM3D 15666 2145 (P) Dimapur – Guwahati
16174/16647 UDL WDM3As 15629 2145 (PPP) Tambaram – Guwahati
11559 NGC WDM3D 12067 0630 Guwahati – Jorhat Town
20081 SGUJ WDP4 56516 0700 Silchar – Guwahati (No banker)
40511 SGUJ WDP4D 55686 1525 Silchar – Maishashan
20047 SGUJ WDP4 55667 1645 Silchar – Bhairabi
12732 SGUJ WDP4B 55666 1355 Jiribam – Silchar
12623 SGUJ WDG4 55677 1730 Silchar – Dharmanagar
40340 HWH WDP4D 12508 1955 Silchar – Trivandrum Central (On rear BPB to LMG)
14837/14836 NGC WDG3As 12508 1955 Silchar – Trivandrum Central (BPB to LMG)
Moves for Thursday 22nd March 2018
|16681||New Bongaigaon Jn||Guwahati Jn||25657||0635 (21/03) Sealdah – Silchar|
|14916||Guwahati Jn||Badarpur Jn|
|70453||Lumding Jn||Badarpur Jn|
|20047||Silchar||Arunachal Jn||55667||1645 Silchar – Bhairabi|
|12732||Arunachal Jn||Silchar||55666||1355 Jiribam – Silchar|
|12623||Silchar||Arunachal Jn||55677||1730 Silchar – Dharmanagar|
|Auto||Arunachal Jn||Silchar||RS100, 5km, 15mins|
|40340||Silchar||Lumding Jn||12508||1955 Silchar – Trivandrum Central|
|14837||Badarpur Jn||Lumding Jn|
Photos for Thursday 22nd March 2018
Friday 23rd March 2018 (There’s nothing like a good change of plan to keep you on your toes!)
Surprisingly, my alarm woke me up, at which point the train was stationary and there was an eerie silence about the place, but for a noise I couldn’t quite pinpoint initially. Drawing back the curtains revealed two things, one that I needed to get my arse into gear as the train was sat in Lumding station and two that it was absolutely pounding it down with rain; which explained the noise I couldn’t quite pinpoint. Thankfully, I got onto the platform sheltered from the rain and with plenty of time to spare before the train set off towards Guwahati. I wasn’t feeling a shit as I had yesterday but wasn’t quite back to normal yet. The sweats had gone away though and the running nose was nowhere near as bad, but now I had to contend with coughing up more shit off my chest; which was pretty rancid to see when I spat it out and to think it was just there on my chest, causing me a bit of discomfort and needing me to constantly clear my throat to get it up was a bit rancid when I thought about how much I got out while standing at Lumding in the rain.
What the rain did do was cool the place down a little so while getting out of an AC coach should have felt like stepping into a sauna, it didn’t and was quite pleasant, and without artificial cool air too. While standing around, I assessed whether I really was fit to be doing a SL class long distance move, all the way to almost Calcutta and decided to see how I felt once I’d got on board the Kamrup Express, which wasn’t far behind 12508 when it departed. Having an upper side berth in SL is sometimes the best place to be and, on this occasion, it certainly was as there were no windows to allow the rain to leak in and people didn’t bash into you as they walked down the corridors. There was no surprise that I had to chuck someone out of my berth, before I could clamber into it, but the train wasn’t that wedged, so the guy went wondering down the coach and clambered into a lower berth with someone else; which made no sense.
HWH WDM3D’s 11205/11497, which I knew would be coming having seen them heading east before I’d headed off to Mendipathar, were at the head of 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah. When I boarded my plan was, if I felt well enough, to do them through to Bandel and then get myself a local EMU to Barddhaman Jn for the Kanchanjunga Express back to Guwahati. While it wasn’t an ideal situation, it did rely on the Kamrup Express being reasonably to time, which it wasn’t renowned for. As a worst-case scenario though, I was willing to get off at Malda Town, stay there the night and then do the Kanchanjunga Express from there that afternoon instead; which again wasn’t ideal with the Kanchanjunga being RAC/WL but at least it would be daytime for most of the journey.
I didn’t stress too much about what may or may not happen as I dozed during the journey towards Guwahati. Listening to the ‘3D’s do their thing up front was quite therapeutic too and on the approach to Guwahati I felt quite good so attempted some of what the pantry-car walla’s were selling and the omelette went down a treat, followed by a couple of nutrigrains bars I had in my bag; it was as though I wanted to eat everything and anything I could get my hands on, a feeling which always seemed to follow a period of illness and/or loss of appetite while in India.
I had grand plans to get chai and more food while the Kamrup was at Guwahati but none of those materialized, and it was only thanks to someone occupying the platform-side door that I even looked out of the off-side door and I was very thankful to them when I clapped eyes on a pair of NGC Alco’s in platform 4 as we arrived. I couldn’t see what they were due to other stock being in the way as we arrived into platform 1 and had no clue what the train was either, with NTES not giving much of a clue either. Knowing that the Kamrup would be at Guwahati for a while, as there were always plenty of parcels to load into the vans at the front of the train, I ventured over to platform 4; and not a minute too soon. It was only the Kanchanjunga Express running 3 hours late, on this occasion running as 15659 Sealdah – Agartala with NGC WDG3A’s 14861/14856 at the helm. Ironically, had I holed up in a hotel the previous day to get over my cold, I would have probably stumbled across these twins when I came out to play the following morning; and then been able to head down the Barak Valley in a better state and frame of mind. In hindsight getting off them at Hojai, for MLDT WDM3A 16202 heading the other way with 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati, probably wasn’t the best move and I should have carried on towards Lumding and then down the Barak Valley with them; but I still wasn’t thinking that straight. For the rest of the morning I questioned my choice of moves and couldn’t help but wonder if the Shakti’s would go all the way to Agartala. That question was eventually answered the following night when I watched the return working arrive into Guwahati with a GM and the Shakti’s were stood over the back of the station on a rake of stock which seemed to have been involved in some kind of railway union special, judging by the flags on it.
In the end, I was grateful that 15670 Dimapur – Guwahati was a bit late, as it was the only reason that the Kanchanjunga Express stopped at Hojai. Getting back into Guwahati at 11 o’clock allowed me to get myself a much-needed early lunch, as my curiosity turned to the UDL Twins I’d seen attached to the stock for 15630 1500 Guwahati – Tambaram, which I’d seen in the carriage sidings when arriving on 15670. I wasn’t going to be too hasty at either booking a hotel for the night, or counting my chickens, but while perusing the Railtime App over lunch I figured out that I could do 15630 to Rampurhat for my booked Kanchanjunga Express back to Guwahati the following morning; which was actually a better move that doing the Kamrup Express to Bandel and messing about trying to get to Barddhaman for the Kanchanjunga. It was something I never considered as part of my plan because the trains that re-engine at Andal & Durgapur, which are booked for UDL locos, all seemed to be UDL WDG4s in November. That’s certainly not the case now, with two different sets of UDL twins having been seen so far.
The result of my perusal of apps concluded that if there was room on board 15630 then the move was a goer, and I was feeling loads better by this point as well. While I sat waiting for the stock to be shunted into Guwahati, I even tried to see if there were any Tatkal tickets available on the IRCTC App for 15630; but there was nothing in any class. The stock was in quite early for 15630, well some of it was anyway. It was immediately split when UDL WDM3A’s 16647/16174 brought it in, which got my attention straight away, as I’d noticed NGC WDM2 18589 stood by the coaching shed earlier, and sure enough, it was just being attached to the opposite end of the stock when I got to the carriage sidings end of the station. The shunt took place with everyone who’d already boarded, still on board, and needed two locos to carry it out, with 18589 drawing its part of the train into the pit roads while MLDT WDM3A 16510 propelled the missing bits of the puzzle onto it, with 18589 then shoving the lot back onto the main train in platform 4. It amazes me at how much chaos amongst those already on board, a simple shunt like this causes and confusion briefly reigns while people flap about the train moving and their stuff being on board, while others on board flap about family members on the platform getting chai etc, all while there’s still 90 minutes before the booked departure of the train! Just what exactly do they think is going to happen their coaches, especially when they’re being taken in the opposite direction, towards a dead-end?
Once the train was back together, calmness prevailed and the otherwise still station seemed to have a bit of freight action going on, with KGP WDG3A 13621 being first up, which was a way from home and heading east. It was followed by KTE WDG3A’s 14986/13439, which were even further from home and heading west, finally, even further away from home than any of the others was LDH WDG3A 13005, again heading east. Add to this the fact I’d spotted VSKP WDG3A 13646 a couple of days earlier, it shows just how far some of these locos get from home depot.
When I spotted the staff sticking the reservation sheets to 15630, I was in hot pursuit down the platform behind them. Things didn’t look good from the length of the SL class lists and there didn’t look to be any room at all in there. It was the same for 3AC, all 3-coaches worth, but for the odd berth, allotted to the New Alipurduar Quota, not being allocated; which wasn’t much use really. Now, while 2AC had all of its New Alipurduar quota unallocated, it couldn’t be relied upon that there would still be some free after then, but, I notice d a gem in amongst the Malda Quota, where a berth wasn’t allocated between Guwahati & Malda Town at all; and that’s what the topic of conversation was between the TTE & I when he got to the train. Surprisingly, and not for the first time during its validity, the TTE was happy that I had an Indrail Pass to cover my journey even though it wasn’t valid in the AC classes. He was happy to give me the vacant side berth to Malda but couldn’t guarantee that there’d be one free from there to Rampurhat. This fact didn’t bother me too much as it was only just over 2 hours to Rampurhat from Malda and I’m sure something would come up, but the main issue was solved and I had a berth for the 13 hours to Malda and when 15630 set off, bang on time, I was feeling loads better, had managed to get some food inside me, had done a bonus move with Shakti’s that morning and was now on a way better move than I’d originally planned; so, all in all, things had worked out very nicely and I even found the momentum to get my gen, moves and trip writing as up to date as I could and with the battery fully charged on my laptop, I got to watch the final episodes of Falling Skies too, which even though there’d been some crap acting all the way through the 5 series, it had still ben good to watch.
The pleasure of the journey was short-lived though and eventually turned into frustration. Having departed Rangiya at 1647, a mere 17’ late, it then took 4h05m to cover the next 109km to New Bongaigaon, where the train was by then a whopping 4h22m late and only 157km into its 2789km journey! It had been an utter stagger from Rangiya, signal to signal and sometimes standing for an hour at a time and one thing was for sure, this nice little move I’d worked out looked to be going down the pan before it got moving properly. Thankfully, after New Bongaigaon the twins got a shift on and it seemed that whatever had been the issue was now behind us. With an alarm set for 7am, I wasn’t quite sure where we were going to be when I woke up; but went to sleep hoping that the fact wouldn’t keep me awake during the night.
Gen for Friday 23rd March 2018
11205/11497 HWH WDM3Ds 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
14861/14856 NGC WDG3As 15659 0635 (P) Sealdah – Agartala (From GHY)
16202 MLDT WDM3A 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati
16166 MLDT WDM3A 15769 0320 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding
20000 SGUJ WDP4 12346 1230 Guwahati – Howrah
16222 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
40173 ET WDP4D 15645 0805 (PP) LTT – Guwahati
40359 SGUJ WDP4D 14055 2325 (P) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn
20049 SGUJ WDP4 15910 1945 (PPP) Lalgarh – Dibrugarh (12h late)
16845 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn (20085 SGUJ WDP4 dit)
16647/16174 UDL WDM3As 15630 1500 Guwahati – Tambaram
18589 NGC WDM2 shunt 15630 together in platform 4 at GHY
16510 MLDT WDM3A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
18667 & 18689 NGC WDM2s at NGC DLS
Moves for Friday 23rd March 2018
|11205||Lumding Jn||Guwahati Jn||15960||1825 (22/03) Dibrugarh – Howrah|
|14861||Guwahati Jn||Hojai||15659||0635 (22/03) Sealdah – Agartala|
|16202||Hojai||Guwahati Jn||15670||0600 Dimapur – Guwahati Jn|
|40359||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||14055||2325 (22/03) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn|
|20049||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15910||1945 (20/03) Lalgarh Jn – Dibrugarh|
|18589||Guwahati Jn||Guwahati Jn||Shunt stock together for 15630 GHY – Tambaram|
|16647||Guwahati Jn||New Farakka Jn||15630||1500 Guwahati Jn – Tambaram|
Photos for Friday 23rd March 2018
Saturday 24th March 2018 (A long journey back east)
When my alarm woke me at 7am, I’d bee pretty much dead to the world the whole night and the couple of times I did wake to turn over we’d been bowling along nicely. However, at 0700 15630 was stood in the station at Kishanganj, at that point 6 hours late, exactly. It wasn’t the end of the world by any means as the plus at Rampurhat onto 25657 had been 4 hours anyway, so it seemed that either New Farakka or Pakur would now be the option and my need for a berth from Malda had now gone away.
I was grateful of the pantry-car walla’s on board 15630 and breakfast was done well before we arrived at Malda Town. The stop there did allow for some decent chai to be sought from the refreshment room on platform 1, where the guy serving recognized me from my previous trip; having remembered that I’d wanted to take photos of the gen they had on the history of the Darjeeling Mail. 15630 had plenty of recovery time in its schedule and when we departed Malda Town at 0930, 45 minutes had already been recovered with the train now being 5h15m late, so it looked like Pakur was the move; that was until we rolled into New Farakka Jn and UDL WDG3A’s 13041/13001 were just doing the same in the opposite platform.
The name boards confirmed the train at 15941 Jhajha – Dibrugarh, which was a train I’d not noticed on a recent Pakur line-up but didn’t matter as I wasn’t wasting the opportunity to get the Shakti’s in; and across the ballast I went. Unfortunately, the TTE in AC couldn’t confirm if there would be any berths available from Malda, until the sheets got on with the next TTE; he couldn’t even speculate either. He’d not asked about my ticket at this point and I didn’t press the situation either; and just stood at the door in 2AC to Malda, where I was among the first to accost the TTE. It seemed that my luck had run out by this point as there was no availability in either 2AC or 3AC all the way to Guwahati and he couldn’t make it fit with what he had in front of him by juggling me around into different berths either, mainly because the charts that would be produced for NJP might scupper what he could do for me. Still, there was room in SL class to Goalpara, so I took the TTE up on his offer, knowing I would only have to stand for 90 minutes at the end of a 13-hour journey; if it came to it. This guy was a bit keen too as he questioned the Indrail Pass validity with it only saying “Second Class” on the front. I had to get the printout from the Indian Railways website for him to believe that it was valid in SL class. Issues dealt with though, I was given a berth towards the front of the SL accommodation, not far from the front of the train; which was some commiseration for not managing to get into the AC classes.
I ended up falling on my feet too as I’d been given a lower berth in a compo and when I wouldn’t allow someone else to put the middle berth down, in the middle of the day, the guy sat in the lower-side berth opposite offered to swap, allowing me to sit up for the afternoon, him to lay down on a lower berth as he had been, and the ada that wanted the middle berth out to do as she pleased!
The fact that I’d charged everything I had the previous night, at least allowed me to use all my electronic devices during the day and the lower-side berth was a godsend, allow me to appreciate the thrash, which was immense, and grab chai along the way from the comfort of my berth. I was on the wrong side to do much train spotting but the two trains I did manage to spot along the way had surprising links, with 12505 0945 Guwahati – Delhi Jn Northeast Express having SGUJ WDG4 12623, which I’d had in Silchar only the previous afternoon, and 15632 1045 Guwahati – Barmer with NGC WDM3D’s 11574/11573; which probably wasn’t that surprising as I’d seen them work into Guwahati with the opposing working a few days earlier.
15941 certainly took the scenic route back to Guwahati from New Jalpaiguri, via New Mal to Alipurduar Jn then from New Bongaigaon via Goalpara to Kamakhya; not that I saw any of it as it was dark. When the TTE came around after New Bongaigaon, I asked him about berth availability beyond Goalpara as the train been gradually losing time along the way and had been 2h15m late away from New Bongaigaon. Getting my head down for a bit would be a sensible idea and thanks to the TTE, I was given another upper side berth, in the next coach, right away; which had been vacated at New Bongaigaon.
While looking at NTES and the projected arrival time for 15941 into Guwahati, it was telling me that I’d not played a great move, thanks to the late running, but as I was comfortable in my berth and the train wasn’t heaving, I decided to go through to Lumding instead of getting off at Guwahati and checking into a hotel at 2am. My original plan wouldn’t have had me there until 0400 anyway, and I wasn’t planning on doing a hotel then; so, I wasn’t going to be much worse off, I might smell a little more and have a beard like Santa by the time I got to a hotel though!
Gen for Saturday 24th March 2018
13041/13001 UDL WDM3As 15941 2205 (P) Jhajha – Dibrugarh
12623 SGUJ WDG4 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
11573/11574 NGC WDM3As 15632 1045 Guwahati – Barmer
Moves for Saturday 24th March 2018
|13041||New Farakka Jn||Lumding Jn||15941||2205 (23/03) Jhajha – Dibrugarh|
Sunday 25th March 2018 (A final day in Assam before beginning the long journey home)
I think I played the right move in the end, having got a decent amount of sleep on the train, which NTES told me hadn’t got to Guwahati until after 1am, and then walking straight into HWH WDM3D’s 11246/11498 at Lumding, with the slightly late running Kamrup Express, 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah. I was amazed that there were loads of free berths in sleeper class too, and in some cases whole compos were empty. Having got some bonus sleep back to Guwahati, I was quite refreshed when the train rolled into platform 2; to chaos. I soon realised that the mass of empty berths were being taken by the raft of teens on the platform, who made it hard for me to get off the train initially, with them and their baggage pouring in through the doors.
When I did manage to get off the train, loading of the vans at the front had commenced, badly, and as the platforms are narrow at the end of platform 2, it was utter chaos with nobody orchestrating maneuvers. SGUJ WDP4D 40325 was in platform 1 with 12423 Dibrugarh Town – New Delhi Rajdhani, running late, and over the way were the two morning Guwahati – New Bongaigaon passenger’s. MLDT WDM3A 16765 headed 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon via Goalpara and still in NGC livery, recently transferred to MLDT WDM3A 16069 headed 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon via Rangiya. SGUJ WDG4 12532, which had been sat at Guwahati idling for 4 days, was just dropping onto the set to work 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar Northeast Express.
Once the teens boarding the Kamrup had settled down, I got talking to a few of them on the platform, who couldn’t believe I’d just bought an omelette off one of the pantry car walla’s and devoured it while on the platform. They then went on to tell me that they were all Assamese and were travelling to Calcutta to spend 5 days there in a hotel/hostel. I got the impression it was some of the less privileged kids to experience other parts of India but could be wrong; none of them looked underprivileged and all were behaving like normal teens. Given away by the fact that many selfies had to be taken with me before I got off at Kamakhya.
SGUJ WDP4D 40189 was sat there waiting with the Manas Rhino passenger, 55801 0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati, so I did it straight back into Guwahati and quickly leapt across the station to do SGUJ WDG4 12532 back out on the Northeast Express, 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar. At which point GD WDM3A 14106, waiting with the weekly 15655 1045 Kamakhya – Katra, took my fancy and with 55811 Dhubri – Kamakhya passenger running late coming the other way, it would be an easy make at Goalpara; so, my stall was set out for a relaxing early afternoon. Which is not what happened!
At Mirza my relaxing late morning turned into anything but when KGP WDG3A 13488 was sat in the middle road with 13282 Rajendranagar – New Tinsukia, waiting for us to come off the single line. It didn’t dawn on me at first that we were slowing to almost a stop, but I soon got my act into gear when I realised what was happening. As we had to run through the platform, the points meant slowing right down and luckily the loco pilot was a bit of a windbag, so I was able to clamber down to the bottom step and pick my moment to leap off. It didn’t help that the platform is low-level and not footstep level, but I got myself safely onto the ground and then had to wait for the train to go by before leaping over the ballast to board the waiting 13282; much to a few people’s amazement. Then started the frantic early afternoon.
At Kamakhya 13282 rolled in alongside a late running 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, which I wasn’t going to bother with initially but as I’d seen a few new MLDT Alco’s over the last few days my conscience got the better of me and I was glad it did. MLDT WDM3A 16234, which I’d not seen at all on the trip was up front; and that was me swapping trains at Kamakhya, which had the job around its neck with all 4 platforms being occupied and one of the two through roads as well! MLDT WDM3A 16588 was occupying one platform with the stock off 15615 Murkongselek – Kamakhya, the very late running Avadh Assam Express, 15910 Lalgarh – Dibrugarh, was in another with SGUJ WDP4D 40090 leading the way and the others were occupied by 13282 & 55753. It was no surprise when 13282 was allowed to head to Guwahati ahead of the Avadh Assam Express but it was very surprising when 55753 was then allowed to follow it on the adjacent line; although it never caught it up. With 55753 then forming 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn at Guwahati, maybe that was the reasoning behind the regulating decision?
Whatever the reason, the fact that two trains had been allowed to occupy both lines towards Guwahati meant that nothing could come the other way; which was a good thing when I spotted UDL WDG3A 13398 sat waiting with the legendary 15906 Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari; which covered 4262km during its 5-day journey from the far northeast to the far south. The Kamakhya congestion saved me from my own stupidity when I got off there, thanks to another freight occupying the second through road, 15906, which I hadn’t realised didn’t stop at Kamakhya, had to run through platform 1 and was going slow enough for me to get off at the bottom of the footbridge, before it trundled on through without stopping.
I’d been hoping for a bit of a rest after the hectic early afternoon, but IR saw to it that the only train back into Guwahati for some considerable time, was just late enough to have cause for concern. I was thankful when the late running 15647 LTT – Guwahati, unfortunately with ET WDP4D 40190, rolled into platform 7 at Guwahati and I only had to cross the platform to board 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn passenger, with one that I’d spotted the other day, MLDT WDM3A 16166, at the helm. I could have done it out to Rangiya for the late running Kamrup Express back but getting off at Kamakhya had me back in Guwahati, courtesy of a RS200 auto, and I had the comfort of the Contour Hotel to relax in for a while, before the evening trains started to depart; and I was in desperate need of a shave as my beard was starting to annoy me. That got dealt with while an early afternoon, massive portion, of egg noodles was being rustled up in the kitchen, and the AC was a nice respite from the 33 degrees it was outside too. So much for the cooler climate of Assam on this trip, it had been above 30 degrees every day.
The afternoon didn’t go anywhere near as I expected and after MLDT WDM3A 16282 brought 15718 Mariani Jn – Guwahati into Guwahati, it was immediately removed and the waiting MLDT WDM3A 16681 was put onto the set to work forward as 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar. Rather than hang around at Guwahati, I decided to do 55820 out to Kamakhya and see what the Kamrup rolled up with. Not that I was holding my hopes up anyway, but they were dashed when HWH WDP4D 40418 was just rolling to a stand as 55820 came around the corner. As we were crossing over t platform 1 there was no way the Kamrup could go without me but when MLDT WDG3A 14755 was still sat in with 15815 1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon, I then lost interest in the Kamrup completely. It seemed that 15815 was being held, waiting for 55820 to arrive, as quite a few people leapt across from one train to the other, including me. So Rangiya for another of the very good dal fry’s I’d had when there a few days earlier, it was!
Had 55817 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati been anywhere near to time, I wouldn’t have had to wait 2 hours for a train back towards Guwahati but as it was, there were two in 20 minutes, with 55809 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati following closely behind and by Kamakhya 55803 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati via Goalpara would be joining the party too; with three New Bongaigaon – Guwahati passenger trains being less than 60-minutes apart at Kamakhya. MLDT WDM3A 16069 had charge of 55817, having worked out with 55818 that morning. That dropped me nicely into Kamakhya, just in time to get NGC WDS6 36083 in while it shunted the stock into platform 1 for 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek, which then allowed me enough time to have a last few chai’s at the Departmental Tea Stall before heading back into Guwahati with MLDT WDM3A 16765 on 55803.
I’d been considering hanging around at Kamakhya to see if I was able to get onto 15905 Kanniyakumari – Dibrugarh as it passed through but figured that my luck my not hold out for it either going slow enough, or stopping, and of course, there was no guarantee that it would be an Andal Shakti, just because the opposing working had been. So, back to the hotel it was for a much needed derance and it was time to sort the bag out and prepare for the long journey home; which started at 10:45 the following morning when 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha set off from Guwahati. Unfortunately, I already knew it was going to lose time en-route as it was showing to be diverted between Fakiragram Jn & New Jalpaiguri. Luckily, I had a 9-hour cushion at Varanasi, before my flight to Delhi but if I missed my flight in Varanasi, then I’d be missing my flight home from Delhi!
Gen for Sunday 25th March 2018
16765 MLDT WDM3A 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, 55803 1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
40325 SGUJ WDP4D 12423 2035 (P) Dibrugarh Town – New Delhi
16069 MLDT WDM3A 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, 55817 1430 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
11246/11498 HWH WDM3Ds 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
12532 SGUJ WDG4 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
40436 SGUJ WDP4D 15967 0530 Rangiya Jn – Dibrugarh
40189 SGUJ WDP4D 55801 0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati, 12346 1230 Guwahati – Howrah
14106 GD WDM3A 15655 1045 Kamakhya – Katra
16598 MLDT WDM3A 15769 0320 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding
20000 SGUJ WDP4 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati
40340 HWH WDP4D 12509 2340 (PPP) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati (4h15m late)
16588 MLDT WDM3A 15614 1900 (P) Murkongselek – Kamakhya, 15772 1600 Kamakhya – Alipurduar Jn
16634 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
13488 KGP WDG3A 13282 1500 (P) Rajendranagar – New Tinsukia Jn
40090 SGUJ WDP4D 15910 1945 (PPP) Lalgarh – Dibrugarh (10h15m late)
16438 MLDT WDM3A 15816 0515 Dekargaon – Kamakhya
16284 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
13398 UDL WDG3A 15906 2305 (P) Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari
40190 ET WDP4D 15647 0805 (PP) LTT – Guwahati
16166 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
16517 MLDT WDM3A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
16282 MLDT WDM3A 15718 0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati
16681 MLDT WDM3A 56820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar
20000 SGUJ WDP4 55802 1730 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
40173 ET WDP4D 15646 1655 Guwahati – LTT
40418 HWH WDP4D 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh
14755 MLDT WDG3A 15815 1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon
36083 NGC WDS6 ecs for 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek
Moves for Sunday 25th March 2018
|11246||Lumding Jn||Kamakhya Jn||15960||1825 (24/03) Dibrugarh – Howrah|
|40189||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||55801||0425 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Jn|
|12532||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||12505||0945 Guwahati Jn – Anand Vihar Terminus|
|14106||Kamakhya Jn||Mirza||15655||1045 Kamakhya Jn – Katra|
|13488||Mirza||Kamakhya Jn||13282||1500 (24/03) Rajendranagar Terminus – New Tinsukia Jn|
|16284||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||55753||0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati Jn|
|13398||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||15906||2305 (24/03) Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari|
|40190||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||15647||0805 (23/03) Lokmanya Tilak Terminus – Guwahati Jn|
|16166||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55754||1420 Guwahati Jn – Alipurduar Jn|
|Auto||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||RS200, 6km, 15mins|
|16681||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55820||1620 Guwahati Jn – Mendipathar|
|14755||Kamakhya Jn||Rangiya Jn||15815||1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon|
|16069||Rangiya Jn||Kamakhya Jn||55817||1430 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Jn|
|36083||Kamakhya Jn||Platform 1||Shunt stock in for 15613 KYQ – MZS|
|16765||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||55803||1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Jn|
Photos for Sunday 25th March 2018
Monday 26th March 2018 (The long journey home, part A)
I was up by 0630, or should I say awake. With daylight streaming in through the gaps around the curtains, coupled with the fact I could hear the station announcements through the windows, there wasn’t going to be any further sleep for me. At least I’d had a sounder night’s sleep and the coughing that had plagued me the previous two nights hadn’t done so too much. I was, remarkably, still coughing crap off my chest though but the amount had dwindled as the days went by. This was it though, the journey home was going to begin on this morning and what better way to start it than with a nice hot shower, followed by a walk to the station to undo everything the shower had just done; but at least I was then sweating into clean clothes, at least!
While I didn’t intend on doing any moves before my 1045 departure back west, I ended up doing the Kamrup Express out to Kamakhya for a late running 12509 Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati back in. Unfortunately, the Kamrup turned up just too late for me to be able to do 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon passenger out to Kamakhya with MLDT WDM3A 16680, and I had to do HWH WDP4D 40504 on the Kamrup instead. At least 12509 coming back to Guwahati was Alco, with HWH WDM3D 11405 leading the way; and a good final run into Guwahati it was. I got to watch the bottle collecting gang do their thing at Kamakhya as 12509 rolled in and they, meaning the usual three suspects, were on board before it had stopped in the platform. As the train was rolling out, their big bags were thrown out onto the ballast, but they continued clambering through the coaches, throwing more bottles out of the windows, until the train was going as fast as they’d risk to get off. The sad thing about the situation was that all three of the kids had with them a small rag, which they lased with glue and rather than sniff it they were breathing it in though their mouths! I’d seen this going on amongst those living on or by railway premises more and more in recent years, and I was reliably told by my mates on the Kamrup Express the previous day that the tube of glue is only about RS15 and will last a group of kids a day or so. To me, it appears that nobody is doing anything to try and prevent these kids from killing themselves, which is what will happen, but again, I was reliably informed that there are steps in place to try and eradicate this new craze. Sometimes you can smell it on them as they walk by and I’ve seen some behaving very erratically as a result of this substance abuse; it’s a very sad situation, but if they manage to overcome the substance abuse, living in the Guwahati area, these kids only have alcohol abuse to look forward to as they get older, judging by the increasing number of make-shift places selling booze by the tracks between Kamakhya & Guwahati. There doesn’t seem to be an end to it……
Before heading back to the hotel, I found NGC WDM3A’s 16739/16864, in multi, in the bay headshunt at the Lumding end of platform 1. This is where the twins for 15636 had sat before working the train the previous week; so, I headed back to the hotel very hopeful indeed. And in fact, by the time I got to my room, I could see from the window, that they’d shunted onto the fueller in preparation.
For some random reason breakfast wasn’t being served in the restaurant on this particular morning and had to be ordered through room service. Still, the omelette and toast alike were both hot when they were brought to my room and I checked out just before 10 o’clock, feeling refreshed and full of life; and ready for 15636 Guwahati – Okha would bring me. I’d checked NTES the previous night for cancellations and rescheduled trains but was surprised to find 15636 listed in the diverted trains list. Due to ongoing doubling works between New Alipurduar & New Jalpaiguri via New Cooch Behar, 15636and whole host of other trains were being diverted via Alipurduar Jn, New Mal & Siliguri Jn to New Jalpaiguri. This had been the same the previous day and I’d noticed that 15959 Kamrup Express had dropped about 2 hours via the diversionary route; which I could live with. What I couldn’t live with, with only having 9h20m from arriving into Varanasi to my plane departing Varanasi airport, was the train being more than 7 hours late. Now if you think that’s late then I was shown a train the previous night that was enough to make anyone waiting for it weep. 05540 1420 Lokmanya Tilak – Barauni Jn Special, due to depart LTT on Thursday, had actually departed on Sunday, 2 days 13 hours and 48 minutes late! It was due into Barauni on Saturday at 0230 and wasn’t going to arrive until Monday evening! That would have certainly fucked my plans up!
Sure enough, NGC WDM3A twins 16739/16864 brought the stock in for 15636 Guwahati – Okha and it departed smack on time at 1045, with a relatively empty 2AC coach allowing me to veg out in a lower side berth for most of the day. By Rangiya we were 40’ late and it seemed that the next station towards New Bongaigaon had it around its neck as we had to wait for one to arrive before departing Rangiya and both loops at the next station were occupied as we hammered through. Lunch, in the form of veg biriyani, was sourced at New Bongaigaon and then I settled into my side berth to watch a few episodes of “The 100”; which was very short-lived. Typically, I managed to watch one episode before the next one wouldn’t play and when I checked the rest, only 3 of the 6 I had left would play. I blame the shit WiFi in the Contour Hotel for not downloading them correctly, even though my device said they’d downloaded! So that was that, the Ipod it was, and further to that nothing would charge properly in the coach either!
After initially having quite a good run towards New Mal Jn, things began slowing down quite a lot then, and at some stations we sat for 20 minutes or more, and the insult being that on most occasions it was to await a freight coming off the single line ahead. From New Mal to Siliguri the line seemed shot and there were lots of speed restrictions, some as low at 10kmph, and for considerable distances. At least I could watch the fire flies from the comfort of my standing position at the train door, if not listen to the Alco’s giving large up front; as they weren’t!
At Siliguri Jn we rolled in alongside 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar, which had departed Guwahati an hour ahead of us, and got the road towards New Jalpaiguri before us. The result of following the Northeast Express was just that little bit more delay before we got back onto our booked route at NJP, where we should have arrived at 1810, but didn’t do so until 2245; 4h35m late! So, the diversion had cost us, pretty much, 4 hours, whereas trains only seemed to be getting hit with around 2 hours the previous day. Now I know how late we were, my mind was settled, and I could go to bed, knowing that I still had a good 2h30m cushion before things started to look dodgy for me making my plane at Varanasi the following day.
Gen for Monday 26th March 2018
16680 MLDT WDM3A 55818 0810 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
11405 HWH WDM3D 12509 2340 (PPP) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati
40504 HWH WDP4D 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
40511 SGUJ WDP4D 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
16634 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0400 Mairabari – Guwahati
16739/16864 NGC WDM3As 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha
16167 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati
16085 MLDT WDM3A 15614 1900 (P) Murkongselek – Kamakhya
16681 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
40187 SGUJ WDP4D 15654 2245 (PPP) Jammu Tawi – Guwahati (15h late)
Moves for Monday 26th March 2018
|40504||Guwahati Jn||Kamakhya Jn||15960||1825 (25/03) Dibrugarh – Howrah|
|11405||Kamakhya Jn||Guwahati Jn||12503||2340 (23/03) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati Jn|
|16739||Guwahati Jn||Patna Jn||15636||1045 Guwahati Jn – Okha|
Photos for Monday 26th March 2018
Tuesday 27th March 2018 (The long journey home, part B; the flights!)
Every time I woke in the night we were hammering along nicely, apart from the when we stopped at Katihar at just after 2am, when the commotion of boarding passengers s the karma of the coach; and some ignorant bastard was shouting down the corridor at one point. No shame, no care and no understanding, its this crap that makes my blood boil in India and it always does it more when I’m going home; can’t think why! Thankfully, Katihar was over quickly and the coach settled down.
When I came around, the train was deep into Bihar, between Mokameh & Bakhtiyarpur Jn. When we departed the latter 5h08m late at 0750, is wasn’t as concerned as I was by the time we reached the outskirts of Patna. 15636 is timed for 1h38m to cover the 45km from Bakhtiyarpur to Patna Jn, which should have saw the train recover plenty of time and bring it back to well under 5 hours late. But no, 15636 staggered from shack to shack and might have well been a stopping passenger than a weekly express covering the length and breadth of the country. It took 2h05m to cover the 45km and by Rajendranagar Terminus, 3km from Patna Jn, I had a few words with myself as I didn’t like the situation that was unfolding. Thankfully I had 3G on my Indian SIM and was able to use Yatra.com to check the flight schedules from Patna to Delhi. Surprisingly there were 7 flights to choose from that would get me to Delhi in time for my flight home to the UK the following morning, three of which were Indigo flights and all the same price; not to mention the cheapest of the bunch at just under RS6000. During the stagger from Rajendranagar to Patna Jn I went through the booking process on Indigo’s website and hit the “pay now” button as 15636 came to a stand in the platform at Patna Jn at 0955, 5h35m late. At this point I should have been standing at the door waiting to get off at Varanasi, where 15636 was due to arrive at 1000! Thankfully, the payment went through first time and quickly and I was all booked for Indigo’s 1750 Patna – Delhi T1 flight. I rushed back to my berth, unlocked my big bag from beneath the seats and was back on the platform in a flash; leaving the two old’s, going to Dwarka, to their own devices. Randomly, they’d though that the delay the previous night had been down to problems with the locos and didn’t even realise that the train had been diverted, bless them!
So, there I was, stood at Patna Jn at 10am, with a flight at 1750 to Delhi and no plan whatsoever! A quick scour of the station revealed KTE WDM3A’s 16776/18857 sat waiting to depart with 19422 1010 Patna Jn – Ahmedabad Jn, and they did do before 15636 too; which eventually departed Patna Jn at 1020, 5h50m late. I’d resigned myself to the fact that if 15636 was more than 7 hours late by Varanasi that it was going to be tight for my 1920 flight, with the journey to the airport being a good 45m-1h by road too. Confident I’d made the right decision, I headed over the footbridge and stumbled onto 53232 0835 Danapur – Tilaya Jn passenger, just before it departed, with MGS WDM3A 16093 leading the way. Stabled in the middle road, between platforms 1 & 2, as 53232 departed were MGS WDM3A’s 16177 & 18847, one of which would no doubt be for the Magadh Express, 12402 New Delhi – Islampur, later that afternoon. Also, in the by behind platform 1 was SPJ WDM3D 11273 and shunting the carriage sidings was PTRU WDM3A 16404.
I didn’t have long at Rajendranagar before JMP WDM3A 16482 was taking me back into Patna Jn on 13401 0535 Bhagalpur – Danapur Intercity and I even managed to get a bit of breakfast in the refreshment room on platform 1, before heading back out to Rajendranagar on the Shramjeevi Express, with GZB WAP4 22707; not quite the twin TKD Alco’s of yesteryear eh? I had an extended fester at Rajendranagar and watched SPJ WDM3D 11509 head towards Patna Jn with 12567 0700 Saharsa Jn – Patna Jn, which by the time I got back to Patna Jn had run-round in readiness to work back with 12568 1245 Patna Jn – Saharsa Jn.
MGS WDS6 36066 provided the entertainment while I was festering at Rajendranagar, when it dropped onto the stock off 13202 LTT – Rajendranagar; which had arrived with a WAP4 I’d not paid attention to. It shoved the set back into the carriage sidings eventually, and not before time too as 18697 0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn was being announced when it was doing so. When SPJ WDG3A 14723 rolled in with 18697, that was me Patna bound and calling it a day. All the other diesel hauled trains through Patna Jn would be too late for me to cover, other than the Islampur-bound Magadh Express, which would be one of the ‘3A’s stabled between 1 & 2 that I didn’t need, so there was no need to hang around.
Outside Patna station is a bit chaotic and its very claustrophobic in the narrow streets. I needed to top both mine & Vic’s sim cards up but couldn’t find anything in the immediate vicinity of the station. Unfortunately, the 3G signal had dropped to E when I needed it and Google Maps wouldn’t load up, so I couldn’t search for a Vodafone store, so, I clambered into an auto, which took me to the airport for RS170. The journey took about 20 minutes and autos are allowed right up to the front gate. Getting into the airport confines was easy and when I attempted to use the Indigo desks to check-in for my flight, I was advised to use the self-service kiosks. When I explained that I might need to show the card that had booked the flight, I was told that I didn’t and once my boarding card was printed from the kiosk I was straight through security, without any hassles.
Patna Airport’s waiting area is a little cramped, to say the least, with there being 4 gates and not enough seats for all at some stages of the day. There are no places to get a meal at, only a couple of kiosks doing drinks and snacks and the place was infested with mosquitoes! I only had 4 hours to kill though, during which I managed 4 samosas, 2 coffees, got bitten by mosquitoes twice and changed seats three times! And, to add insult to injury, my flight eventually came up as delayed, on the screen. Ok, it was only 10 minutes delay, but it was still delayed. In true Indigo style though, the flight was on time into Delhi Terminal 1D, the plane had been clean, the on-board staff were very professional and polite, and their on-board service had plenty to choose from.
On arrival into Delhi Terminal 1D, which is the domestic terminal at Delhi IGI Airport, although some carriers have now started using Terminal 2 for domestic flights very recently, I headed out to the free shuttle bus that runs between Terminal 1 & Terminal 3, dropping at the Metro station, on the New Delhi line, on the way. Passengers with onwards connections, that can prove it, are entitled to free transfer on the bus but you must present your onwards flight details, and inward boarding pass before being given a ticket for the bus; which is a bit of a free for all. On it, there were a few confused westerners, who didn’t really understand where the bus was going, or stopping en-route and one woman, despite being told a few times, just wouldn’t get it into her head that Terminal 2 was adjacent to Terminal 3, and she would have to walk between the two, and insisted that she was going to the stop after Terminal 3; which she believed to be Terminal 2. The problems for her was that she had loads of luggage and probably not enough time to make her flight! She was last seen departing on the bus when it left Terminal 3, which I’m sure was then on its way to Terminal 1 again!
Before heading into the airport, I made a quick phone call as I’d had an incoming call while on the plane at Patna, which I’d dismissed. Moments later though, I had a message asking me to ring back and that it was a Vodafone employee wishing to speak with me. I wrongly assumed that this would be about my sim card not being turned off but when I rang it went straight through to an automated message, with music in the background, saying “to download this music press any key, charges will apply”! only key I pressed was the end call key; needless to say, I didn’t get another call from Vodafone!
Getting into Delhi Terminal 3 was easy but unfortunately, I didn’t have a printed boarding card as I’d checked in from my berth the previous night when the hoards had woken me at Katihar, so hadn’t been anywhere to be able to get it printed. The result of that being that I had to wait it out for 90 minutes until BA opened their check-in desks. As I only needed to print my boarding card I was straight in to the Business Class queue and it took 30 seconds to get me on my way. Once through security, it was more waiting it out and Dominos provided my dinner while I waited. When I eventually managed to get into NTES, I found that 15636 had arrived into Varanasi at 1700, 7 hours late, having taken 2 hours to do the 18km from Mughalsarai to Varanasi. At this point, I knew I’d done the right thing in getting off at Patna and making alternative arrangements. The unfortunate part of it was that I couldn’t cancel my Air India flight from Varanasi to Delhi online.
I was pleased to get onto the flight, which was a nice new plane, with decent entertainment systems and smaller overhead bins. It was interesting watching people put their luggage into one of the bins, seeing that it wouldn’t fit and just leaving it there anyway, as though some miraculous hole was going to emerge and swallow their stuff when it was time to close the bins; fucking clowns! It was a full flight, hence the luggage storage issues but I’m very pleased to report that there were no children at all and it was one of the most peaceful flights to/from India that I’ve ever been on. Unfortunately, to balance up that equilibrium, the food was shocking and quite possibly the worst food I’ve ever been presented with on a plane; which resulted in neither of my meals being touched, but for the initial mouthful. I was asleep before the first meal service was finished and it was all dark the next time I woke up.
Gen for Tuesday 27th March 2018
16532 MGS WDM3A 13236 0455 Danapur – Sahibganj
11247 HWH WDM3D 53043 1110 (P) Howrah – Rajgir
16093 MGS WDM3A 53232 0835 Danapur – Tilaya Jn
16776/18857 KTE WDM3As 19422 1010 Patna Jn – Ahmedabad
16482 JMP WDM3A 13401 0535 Bhagalpur – Danapur
22551 MGS WAP4 12368 1440 (P) Anand Vihar – Bhagalpur
22707 GZB WAP4 12392 1310 (P) New Delhi – Rajgir
36066 MGS WDS6 Rajendranagar carriage pilot
11509 SPJ WDM3D 12567 0700 Saharsa – Patna, 12568 1245 Patna – Saharsa
14723 SPJ WDG3A 18697 0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn
Moves for Tuesday 27th March 2018
|16093||Patna Jn||Rajendranagar Terminus||53232||0835 Danapur – Tilaya Jn|
|16482||Rajendranagar Terminus||Patna Jn||13401||0535 Bhagalpur Jn – Danapur|
|22707||Patna Jn||Rajendranagar Terminus||12392||1310 (26/03) New Delhi Jn – Rajgir|
|36066||Rajendranagar Terminus||Platform 2||Shunt stock out ex 13202 LTT – RJPB|
|14723||Rajendranagar Terminus||Patna Jn||18697||0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn|
|VT-ITS||Patna||Delhi IGI Terminal 1D||6E-508||1750 Patna – Delhi|
Photos for Tuesday 27th March 2018
Wednesday 28th March 2018 (The long journey home, part C; the train home)
After dismissing the shitty breakfast on the plane, I was quite glad to see the back of the plane, even though it had been a decent journey, and get my feet on the ground. We landed on time, immigration was empty, and I was on a tube to Kings Cross by 0715; after going through the usual rigmarole of having to go to a desk at immigration. I made the 0830 Kings Cross – Newcastle by 5 minutes and the guard was amenable to me riding back to Doncaster with him, rather than me waiting for the 0935 Kings Cross – Leeds that I was booked on. And with 91101 leading the way, was Doncaster bound, and it was great to know that I would never have to go through the advance ticket lottery on the ECML again since my wife had started working with Virgin East Coast; and my passes were all waiting for me at home. It was like all my Christmases had come at once, but just 20 years too late. Never smack the gift horse in the mouth though!
So, that was another trip to India over, which I’d come away from relatively unscathed with regards to GMs. I had ended up dead for a day though, which hadn’t happened for a few years, so I was probably due a dose of illness; can’t complain I guess? The writing is on the wall for Alco’s and we were just discussing the March 2018 Diesel availability targets while I was waiting for my plane home, with the likes of KJM sending WDM3A’s 14025, 14082, 14084 & WDM3D 11522 and some of their early 130xx Shakti’s to be razor blades, it did seem that things had gone a bit tit’s up! What with IR still rebuilding Alco’s at other depots, what they were doing at KJM made no sense. My only explanation for it all is this; total and utter buffoonery, with decisions being made by clowns.
Moves for Wednesday 28th March 2018
|G-VIIF||Delhi IGI Terminal 3||Heathrow Terminal 5||BA143||0150 Delhi – Heathrow|
|91101||Kings Cross||Doncaster||1N08||0830 Kings Cross – Newcastle|