Jonathan Lee

Worldly Images

India November 2017 – Khajuraho, Bihar & Assam

This trip would end up being a trip with a difference, and it would take away some of the luxuries we’d been used to while travelling around India’s rail network for the previous 13 years! SD Enterprises Ltd, the agent in London we’d used from day one for Indrail Passes, had only been able to sell us Sleeper Class passes for this trip. This due to Indian Railways not restocking his AC classes of passes. This resulted in us booking AC class tickets on either the IRCTC website or the Clear Trip website for long-distance overnight journeys; which can be a bit of a faff to get set up with. IRCTC is the main Indian Railway’s sponsored site for ticket booking but Clear Trip links to it and is slightly easier to use; but does require you to have an IRCTC login to be able to use it! So, nothing it straightforward but once your IRCTC login details are set up, it’s simple to use either website. Tickets booked, and ready for a trip with a difference, where flexibility was still there but not in the upper classes we’d been used to, on Friday 20th October 2017 Indian Railway dropped a bombshell that would change Indian cranking forever! They withdrew the Indrail Pass from sale completely. Which would have repercussions for every trip we planned in the future.

 

Other than the above, this trip had a few variations at the planning stage and I’d ultimately regret the last change, which saw me knock out attempting to cover trains on the Barak Valley, in the hope of finding something worked by an Alco. I’ll not spoil the surprise, but I wasn’t happy! With so many other bitty bits to cover in the country, a trip to Khajuraho was added in, to recover what I’d missed on my previous trip; not once did I think I’d end up having to plan a third trip there! There were various bits of new line to cover, including Agra – Shamshabad – Etawah, Munger Bridge, Bihar Shariff – Daniyawan in Bihar, Lohardaga – Tori Jn, Mayanguri Jn – New Changarabandha – New Cooch Behar and at long last we’d plucked up the courage to cover the Mairabari Branch in Assam; which only had one train in/out per day, which spends the night at Mairabari! So, there was no shortage of things to go horribly wrong, with most of these newly opened bits of track only having one loco-hauled train per day over them, and with the ever-changing face of IR bringing in more GM’s, and with electrics releasing GM’s elsewhere, we had every right to be a little skeptical about what may, or may not, happen during our trip.

 

Flights

Booked through British Airways direct

BA142 1100 Heathrow – Delhi IGI

BA118 0700 Bangalore – Heathrow

 

Booked through Indigo direct

6E-316 1735 Guwahati – Bangalore

 

Hotels

Booked through Booking.com or direct with the hotel on arrival at their reception

Etawah – Hotel Vishal Prem – outside the front of Etawah station

Khajuraho – Hotel GW Greenwood – one of the nearest hotels to Khajuraho station but a 5-minute auto ride away, just beyond the airport

Rajgir – Gautam Vihar Resort – a 5-minute walk from Rajgir station

Khagaria – Hotel Bhavana – a 5-minute walk from Khagaria Jn station

Malda Town – Hotel Shine – a 5-minute walk from Malda Town station

Guwahati – Hotel Amrit – a 10-minute walk from Guwahati Jn station

Haibargaon – Hotel Bluebird – a 10-minute walk from Haibargaon station and just across town from Nagaon station

Yesvantpur – Hotel Grand Bee – just down the access road to Yesvantpur Jn station

Bangalore City – Hotel Signature Inn – a 10-minute walk from Bangalore City station

 

Train Tickets

Indrail Pass 30 Days (Sleeper Class)

Booked in the UK through SD Enterprises Limited

NOTE – as of Friday 20th October 2017 Indian Railways withdrew Indrail Passes from sale!

 

All AC Class tickets booked through either IRCTC or Clear Trip online or via their Apps

 

Friday 10th November 2017 (Getting to Heathrow)

 

Due to the ECML having booked diversions via the joint at weekends in November, it wasn’t possible to finish work off a night shift on Saturday morning and get to Heathrow for the flight, so the alternative option was booking a hotel in Heathrow and going down the night before; which was allowable thanks to one last day’s annual leave at work!

 

As Virgin Train East Coast’s performance had been pitiful over the previous week, you couldn’t even rely on them to get you do your destination, but they managed to do so. Options were pretty limited for “old” 91’s to London though so we did 91103 Doncaster York on the 1530 Kings Cross – Glasgow, which had been caped at York & Peterborough respectively the previous two days, and then 91101 to London on the 1530 Edinburgh – Kings Cross.

 

We timed it right at London for a tube to Hatton Cross and changed there for one forward to Heathrow Central. Our choice of hotel was the Ibis and free buses, No’s 105, 111 & 140, are available from Heathrow Central bus station as far as Harlington corner; so, it’s easy enough to get to all the surrounding hotels. Bus 423 is the one to use to/from Terminal 5.

 

As an Accor member, checking in online allows for a breeze through reception at all Accor hotels and a free welcome drink depending on your Accor status. Sometimes this is only offered to the person with the account and sometimes it can only be used on certain drinks. On this occasion though my card was changed on arrival to allow both of us a welcome drink and we could have anything we wanted, so two Fullers London Pride it was! And at £5.25 a bottle it was definitely worth have a free bottle each!

 

After a second beer and some food we retired, only to be rudely awoken at 2am by a bunch of noisy bastards in the next room. After 30 minutes I decided to have a word and went to bang on the door. There were at least 5 young lads in the room at the time, but they seemed to get the message. After another 10 minutes though I was down in reception and following the security guard back up. That didn’t solve the issue and eventually the extras were removed from the room and all was well; but not until about 3am! Not a lot of sleep occurred that night as a result…

 

Saturday 11th November 2017 (Flying out to Delhi)

 

With an alarm set for 7am, we planned to be on the 0747 No.423 bus from Harlington Corner to Terminal 5 but as it was raining we got the next bus to Heathrow Central and did the 0756 Heathrow Express from Heathrow Terminals 123 to Terminal 5; and arrived at around the same time. Heathrow Express/Connect trains are free between Heathrow terminals, so the net result was the same. Unfortunately, the result we were wanting at Heathrow Terminal 5, after breezing through security, didn’t materialise as the bloody Crown Rivers (Wetherspoons’s) was closed for refurbishment; so, we had to get breakfast upstairs at Huxley’s, which was actually very good and no dearer than Wetherspoon’s, and I’d actually go as far as to say it was better quality!

 

The plane was on the stand with plenty of time before departure, yet it still managed to take off 45 minutes late; thanks to late boarding of a full plane. Having not slept much the previous night, and coming off nights the previous morning, I mostly spent the whole 8-hour flight dozing. Arrival into Delhi was almost one time, despite the late start, and the flight had been a decent one too.

 

Moves for Saturday 11th November 2017

332006 Heathrow Central Heathtrow Terminal 5 0740 Paddington – Heathrow Terminal 5 1T34
G-CIVJ Heathrow Terminal 5 Delhi IGI Terminal 3 1120 Heathrow – Delhi BA143

 

Sunday 12th November 2017 (A day in Delhi then overnight to Makrana Jn)

 

As we were towards the rear of the plane we were among the last off and the immigration hall was rammed when we got to it. Pelham had an E-visa and went off to sort himself out and thankfully I spotted Vic in the queue and managed to eff it half way through it; which saved a mass of time by the time we got through. There hadn’t been the need for a rush though as the bags took an age to come out; no thanks to Delhi’s very crap carousel design that holds bags back if there’s no space for them on the carousel itself. At least there wasn’t a monetary fiasco this time and changing money, at any of the kiosks, was a couple of minute affair as opposed to a couple of hour event!

 

Bags collected, and money changed, I got a Vodafone sim at the kiosk outside the airport’s initial exit (turn immediate right after going through the doors and it’s on the right near the pre-pay taxi booths. The current offer from Vodaphone is RS600 for a sim that gives 1GB data every day for 28 days and allows free texts/calls between Vodafone customers. What it doesn’t give, as I found out later, is any credit to allow you to text/call other numbers; so, you do need to put some credit on it to allow you to call anyone not on Vodafone. The sims aren’t activated until about 4-5 hours after purchase and the guys at the desk give you a number to call to go through the automated registration process, which can be done in English. This process can only be done once your phone registers on a network, despite it showing that it has reception on the screen. Once registered the data is turned on and then it takes about 30 minutes for everything else to get through the ether to allow you to use the services; only after the message comes through about your recharge being successful can you avail the full services that the package offers; as my frustrating hour at Delhi Sarai Rohilla showed me later that morning! Of note was the fact that they didn’t ask to see my hotel reservation before issuing the sim.

 

Attempts to get a pre-paid taxi from the Delhi Police stand to drop Pelham & I off at Delhi Cantt and then take Vic to his hotel near New Delhi failed miserably; as did the guy at the counter’s counting skills when he was trying to give us change after we booked separate taxis. At 0300 we parted ways and Pelham & I were Delhi Cantt bound; and standing on the platform with the first chai of the trip in hand 20 minutes later.

 

It was nice to hear SSB WDS6 36300 arrive into Delhi Cantt with an engineer’s train, formed of sleeper flats and some yellow plant, at around 0330; followed about 45 minutes later by the late running 54413 0320 Delhi Jn – Rewari. LDH WDM3A 16292 parted the blanket of smog as it hammered towards Rewari with 54413. This smog had recently engulfed Delhi thanks to the burning of crops stubs in neighbouring states and didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. It wasn’t hard to breathe but I’m sure long-term exposure to it would have some effect on your chest. Thankfully, we only had the one day in Delhi before disappearing south.

 

There was no time for chai at Gurgaon as 12982 Udaipur City – Delhi Sarai Rohilla had arrived at the same time as us. We couldn’t spot the Alco on it thanks to a freight being stood in the middle road. We weren’t even sure we were going to make it, as it had stopped before we’d even got to the footbridge but leapt on blind moments before it set off and discovered ABR WDM3A 18987 at the helm after we got off at Delhi Cantt. 12464 Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla was being announced before the Chetak Express had even left Delhi Cantt and was hot on its heels into Delhi Sarai Rohilla; with ABR WDM3A 16607 providing the entertainment.

 

Sarai Rohilla was where the fun began as my phone had registered itself on a network while we’d been at Delhi Cantt and I’d registered it with Vodafone on the way to Sarai Rohilla; yet despite having full reception on the Vodaphone network and data clearly active, nothing worked, and my Vodafone balance showed RS0.00! There wasn’t a recharge place outside Sarai Rohilla and I eventually ended up getting a random guy on the station footbridge to attempt to top my phone up online but for some reason the recharge wasn’t successful both time he tried. Never fear though, his mate was arriving shortly afterwards and was a Vodafone officer. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get it to top up either and I was back at square one when they all left; frustrated and assuming I’d been ripped off by the Vodafone stand at Delhi Airport.

 

ABR WDM3A 18987 had positioned itself ready to work 22421 0705 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur and we eventually let it leave, in favour of doing 54085 0655 Delhi Jn – Rewari passenger behind it and were ultimately bowled when that turned up with TKD WDP4D 40320 leading a dead WDG3A 14945. So, we decided to try and put our bags in the Sarai Rohilla cloak room before getting s bit of breakfast; one of those two tasks turned out to be successful and it wasn’t the cloak room. We had to ask the Station Master where it was to start with and when we got to the parcel go-down at the Rewari end of platform 1, we were joined by an India guy, also looking for the cloak room. It turned out that it’s in some little hut around the back of the main parcel area, which doesn’t have a secure storage area and they’ll only take your bag if its locked; so that was the end of that idea. Breakfast, on the other hand, was very nice at the Food Hotel over the road from the station; with piping hot, freshly made aloo parathas being the order of the morning.

 

Back on the station attempts to get a copy of the new Northern Zone timetable failed, mainly because they don’t seem to have been issued yet and the station booking office didn’t have any. The information board at the enquiry window revealed some interesting late runners and pretty much put us off even entertaining a move down the Rohtak line; so, we’d be confined to the Delhi – Rewari line for the day.

 

A random young guy overheard us talking about NTES and butted in to tell us how to access it. Once I’d explained I was having issues with my phone he turned his phone into a mobile hotspot and allowed me to connect to it; which allowed me just enough time to get NTES station screens open for Delhi Sarai Rohilla and Delhi Cantt before his train departed. And hey presto! Moments after he left did the final text message from Vodafone come though confirming that I could now avail all my services after the RS476 recharge had been successful; meaning all my services were active. I still had no credit though but could at least use data, which was all I needed for the purposes the sim was purchased though.

 

Despite still having to do a GM back out of Delhi Sarai Rohilla, at least we were fully fuelled as a result of our fester and had the capability of at least being able to try and string some moves together by this point. When BGKT WDP4 40074 dropped us back at Delhi Cantt with 22471 0840 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bikaner we entered into a new fester thanks to trains getting later and later coming from the north; and then arriving in a different order that we’d hoped/expected. At least we had SSB WDS6 36300 to photograph during our fester and the station dog posy entertaining everyone while they attempted to show the pigs, roaming around the tracks, who was boss. While the dogs gave it large, the pigs just ignored them and went about their business, eventually giving up on barking and making a stance as they were crap at it.

 

TKD WDM3A 18988 arrived with 19408 Dehradun – Ahmedabad, over 3 hours late, so we did it forward to Gurgaon to wait and view 22452 Chandigarh – Bandra Terminus behind it. And having flagged BGKT WDP4D 40083 back to Sarai Rohilla with 14660/2 Barmer/Jaisalmer – Delhi Jn we walked over to watch newly transferred LDH WDP4D 40471 arrived with 22452 and casually walked back over the footbridge to do BGKT WDP4D 40146 back to Delhi Cantt with 22481 Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, running 8h30m late; and no wonder as it’s a rake-share with 12401/2 New Delhi – Islampur Magadh Express, which is renowned for excelling at late running!

 

En-route to Delhi Cantt we passed LDH WDM3A 16630 with 54412 Meerut Cantt – Rewari late running passenger and LKO WDM3A 18751 with the late running 14646 Saharanpur – Farukh Nagar Intercity; both of which were new for us and would be factored into the late afternoon moves. Having watched BGKT WDG4 12267 depart with 12414 Jammu Tawi – Ajmer, 8h30m late, we had ourselves another extended fester at Delhi Cantt and had the pleasure of watching IZN WDG4 70306 arrive & depart with 14322 Bhuj – Bareilly, which was being announced as 14321 Bareilly – Bhuj at the time and 14321 was being announced as the Bhuj – Bareilly but running 3 hours late; which was why I got a little confused when the train I was looking out for arrived from the opposite direction; and was spot on time! God knows what sort of confusion it caused among the waiting masses.

 

By the time TKD WDP3A 15520 arrived with the late running 54421 1115 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn, we couldn’t really risk Gurgaon for 14545 Farukh Nagar – Saharanpur return working, so had no choice but to get off at Palam to make sure we managed to do both 14545 & 54416 returning from Rewari. It would have been touch and go at Gurgaon, given what time 14545 arrived into Palam, and we were soon back at Delhi Cantt watching what we could have had if things had been a bit better at time keeping; when VTA WDM3A 18741 was next to grace Delhi Cantt with its presence, with the late running 19566 Dehradun – Okha, which we could have had earlier if it hadn’t been 3 hours late. Shed-mate VTA WDM3A 18993 was next, hammering through the middle road with 09414 16xx Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Ahmedabad special; and BGKT WDP4D 40280 was in the mix with 12916 1520 Delhi Jn – Ahmedabad Ashram Express. Last up was ABR WDM3A 16818 with 12066 1530 Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin – Ajmer Shatabdi, which runs via Patel Nagar to run-round, before heading south; this had Vic on board, who’d successfully managed to get a bit of sleep in his hotel in Delhi, before coming back out to meet up with us.

 

It wasn’t long afterwards that we were all Delhi Sarai Rohilla bound when LDH WDM3A 16630 arrived with the late 54416 Rewari – Delhi Jn passenger, which then gave us options at Sarai Rohilla from both the main station and Vivekanand Puri Halt on the Rohtak line platforms. Content with the fact we’d end up doing 54011 Tilak Bridge – Rewari toward Patel Nagar we ended up caning in LDH WDG3A 14833 when it rocked up with the late running 54033 1725 Delhi Jn – Narwana Passenger and then had an interesting 45 minutes at Dayabasti; complete with RPF escort on the station as they wanted to make sure we were safe and having got off 54033 on the Rohtak line platforms they weren’t so keen on us walking over the footbridge to the Rewari line platforms at all, telling us it was dangerous; and no sooner had we walked over did they follow us and begin to shine their torch in the face of anyone who even remotely looked in our direction. It was a lot dodgier than being on the main Rohtak platforms, less lighting, no staff about and pretty much out on a limb; but with three of us, we’d have been ok. They were sociable enough though and didn’t give us any hassle themselves and after they attempted to get us through the fence and onto a passing 54417 Delhi Jn – Rewari passenger, which didn’t stop on the loop in the end, they were well confused when we gave up waiting for 54011 and headed back over to the main platforms to do 54034 Jind – Delhi Jn passenger back into Sarai Rohilla; where we called it a day.

 

Food, before our overnight to Makrana Jn, was sought at the Food Hotel over the way again and a decent Kashmiri Dum Aloo was served up, in what was a very busy restaurant of an evening. As we were only on a plus 1h27m from arriving into Makrana Jn off 12463 2225 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur, we were keen for it to get off to a good start but ABR WDM3A 16607 sat in the middle road, between platforms 1 & 2, until 15 minutes before departure. And confusion reigned on the local population when BGKT WDP4D 40335 arrived at 2205 with 12461 Delhi Jn – Jodhpur. Despite the train being announced, people clambered aboard thinking it was their 12463 Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur. As the train departed I noticed a couple speaking to the TTE, who looked to be telling them that they were on the wrong train and they needed to get off; which they’d of course have to do at Delhi Cantt and wait now the train was on the move.

 

No sooner had the GM buggered off with 12461 did a DMU roll up with a local passenger on the Rewari line, which people were also clambering onto! 16607 eventually shunted our stock out and into platform 1 after the DMU had gone, only 20 minutes before departure. The train wasn’t too wedged on departure from Sarai Rohilla, which was a heroic effort by Indian Railway standards, to be only 5’ late away. As Pelham & I had been up all day we were completely and utterly drained, to the point where I’d almost fallen asleep on the platform; stood leaning against a post! Beds were immediately made up and we were horizontal and dossed out the instant our heads hit the pillow. I did hear a bit of a commotion down below when the TTE was swapping people around near us but as I could see that our names had been crossed out on his list, thanks to Vic being gripped first, my head was back on the pillow and the next thing I knew we were in the platform at Jaipur, over 4 hours later!

 

Gen for Sunday 12th November 2017

16808 VTA WDM3A 0xxxx xxxx (P) Haridwar – Bikaner
36300 SSB WDS6 engineer’s train at Delhi Cantt @ 0345
16292 LDH WDM3A 54413 0320 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn, 54414 0705 Rewari – Delhi Jn
18987 ABR WDM3A 12982 1715 (P) Udaipur City – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, 22421 0705 Delhi SR – Bhagat Ki Kothi
16607 ABR WDM3A 12462 1945 (P) Jodhpur – Delhi Sarai Rohilla, 12463 2225 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur
15030 TKD WDP1 54309 0520 Delhi Jn – Rewari, 54310 0930 Rewari – Delhi Jn
40074 BGKT WDP4B 22471 0930 (P) Jodhpur – Delhi SR (12 hours late), 22472 0840 Delhi SR – Bikaner
40320 (14945 dit) 54085 0655 Delhi Jn – Rewari
36546R Delhi Sarai Rohilla station pilot
14833 LDH WDG3A 54424 0500 Bhiwani – Delhi Jn
18993 VTA WDM3A 09413 1610 (P) Ahmedabad – Delhi SR, 09414 1550 Delhi SR – Ahmedabad
40084 BGKT WDP4 12915 1715 (P) Ahmedabad – Delhi Jn
40127 TKD WDP4D 12985 0600 Jaipur – Delhi SR
40088 BGKT WDP4 22482 2315 (P) Delhi SR – Jodhpur (11h15m late)
40083 BGKT WDP4 14660/2 Jaisalmer/Barmer – Delhi Jn
16818 ABR WDM3A 12065 0545 Ajmer – Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin, 12066 1530 Delhi HN – Ajmer
40471 LDH WDP4D 22452 0545 Chandigarh – Bandra Terminus
16630 LDH WDM3A 54412 0645 Meerut Cantt – Rewari
18751 LKO WDM3A 14546 0605 Saharanpur – Farukh Nagar, 14545 1310 Farukh Nagar – Saharanpur
40146 BGKT WDP4D 22481 1845 (P) Jodhpur – Delhi SR (8h30m late)
12267 BGKT WDG4 12414 1810 (P) Jammu Tawi – Ajmer (8h50m)
70306 IZN WDG4 14322 1705 (P) Bhuj – Bareilly Jn
15520 TKD WDP3A 54421 1115 Delhi Jn – Rewari
40280 BGKT WDP4D 12916 1520 Delhi Jn – Ahmedabad
18741 VTA WDM3A 19566 0550 Dehradun – Okha
14833 LDH WDG3A 54032 1725 Delhi Jn – Jind Jn
15509 TKD WDP3A 54417 1610 Delhi Jn – Rewari
16665 LDH WDM3A 14625 0645 Delhi SR – Firozpur (13 hours late)
40335 BGKT WDP4D 12461 2115 Delhi Jn – Jodhpur

 

Moves for Sunday 12th November 2017

16292 Delhi Cantt Gurgaon 0320 Delhi Jn – Rewari Jn 54413 LDH WDM3A
18897 Gurgaon Delhi Cantt 1715 (11/11) Udaipur City – Delhi Sarai Rohilla 12982 ABR WDM3A
16607 Delhi Cantt Delhi Sarai Rohilla 1910 (11/11) Jodhpur Jn – Delhi Sarai Rohilla 12464 ABR WDM3A
40074 Delhi Sarai Rohilla Delhi Cantt 0840 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Bikaner 22472 BGKT WDP4B
18988 Delhi Cantt Gurgaon 1535 (11/11) Varanasi Jn – Ahmedabad Jn 19408 TKD WDM3A
40146 Gurgaon Delhi Cantt 1900 (11/11) Jodhpur Jn – Delhi Sarai Rohilla 22481 BGKT WDP4D – 8h30m late
15520 Delhi Cantt Palam 1115 Delhi Jn – Rewari 54421 TKD WDP3A
18751 Palam Delhi Cantt 1310 Farukh Nagar – Saharanpur Jn 14545 LKO WDM3A
16630 Delhi Cantt Delhi Sarai Rohilla 1310 Rewari Jn – Delhi Jn 54416 LDH WDM3A
14833 Vivekanand Puri Halt Dayabasti 1725 Delhi Jn – Narwana Jn 54033 LDH WDG3A
15021 Dayabasti Vivekanand Puri Halt 1550 Jind Jn – Delhi Jn 54034 TKD WDP1
16607 Delhi Sarai Rohilla Makrana Jn 2225 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur Jn 12463 ABR WDM3A – via Jaipur

 

Photos for Sunday 12th November 2017

 

Monday 13th November 2017 (Makrana Jn to Etawah Jn via Parbatsar City & Shamshabad)

 

The Jaipur station stop on 12463 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Jodhpur is at 0300 in the morning and the guy in the upper berth opposite me was lucky to get off. He only did so thanks to the fact there was someone else reserved in the berth, that he was vacating, from Jaipur south. I’ve never seen an Indian move to get their clobber together so quickly. He did make it off ok and my interest was soon returned to checking out my eyelids for holes.

 

I was up before the 0445-alarm call and pleasantly surprised when NTES showed that we would arrive into Makrana Jn only 10’ late; after departing Jaipur 30’ late and standing about somewhere shortly afterwards to cross another train. Sure enough, ME Maps confirmed that we were in spitting distance of Makrana Jn at our booked arrival time of 0503 and in we rolled at 0511, only 8’ late. The town looked like a bit of a sleepy hollow as we approached but thankfully there were waiting auto’s outside the station exit; so, I jumped off as the train arrived and had a large auto sorted for the 25km road journey to Parbatsar City by the time Vic & Pelham had got back down the platform.

 

The auto cost RS400 and the journey is straightforward, but it took 46 minutes, despite the roads being good. Even though there was a bit of traffic coming in the other direction, there was nothing at all heading towards Parbatsar; other than us. We almost needed assistance when our driver missed seeing one of the speed ramps and I though he was going to turn and go over it at an angle; which had he done so we would have almost certainly ended up in a heap on the road, with the auto on its side. Thankfully he straightened the wheels up at the last minute and bore the brunt of the ramp, which did result in both the front and rear wheels leaving the ground, Vic banging his head on the roof and Pelham bashing his side on the front of his rear seat and scraping his ankle on the frame at the back; who clearly came off the worst. The auto driver couldn’t apologize enough and was a bit more cautious when going through the small hamlets for the rest of the journey.

 

On arrival into Parbatsar City our driver had to ask where the station was, and it was understandable why as it isn’t signposted at all and is hidden out of the way behind the main square and the small bus station. Once we’d confirmed that the rake for 04801 0430 Parbatsar City – Makrana Jn was headed by an Alco, we let the auto driver go and hot-footed it back into the small main square, which was waking up, and found some nice hot chai to thaw ourselves out after the cold drive down from Makrana. We waltzed back to the shack when the Loco Pilot had finished his chai and got ourselves a few photos of ABR WDM2 16827 before it set off on its morning jaunt back to whence we’d just got our auto from; Makrana Jn.

 

04801 0630 Parbatsar City – Makrana Jn was load three and of decent stock, which even had the toilets in use. The line speed wasn’t great, and the train wasn’t that well used, but the journey was sociable enough and we spent it having selfies with a group of youths who were on their way to Bikaner to Scout’s Camp. On arrival at Makrana Jn 16827 was run-round and shut down to await the train’s return to Parbatsar City as 54822 0915 Makrana Jn – Parbatsar City. There are only two return trips on the branch, both starting at Parbatsar so if you want to do it from Makrana you need to be on the 0915; this does however, involve festering around in Parbatsar until later in the afternoon for the 1630 return working!

 

While getting chai’d up and draining the station of electricity to charge our phones, we spotted BGKT WDP4 40085 with 22478 Jaipur – Jodhpur and LDH WDM3A 16355 with 59706 0500 Jaipur – Suratgarh passenger; before BGKT WDP4 40043 arrived with our 12466 0555 Jodhpur – Indore Ranthambore Express. We knew it would be a GM on 12466 when planning the move to get from Makrana to Sawai Madhopur but it was a necessity to get there for 19041 Bandra Terminus – Ghazipur City; which would probably have involved doing an electric from Delhi to Agra for had we not done Parbatsar City beforehand.

 

The journey towards Sawai Madhopur was harmless enough and at least we had reservations in Sleeper Class; although we did have to kick people out of our seats when we got on. The three guys sharing our compo area were sociable enough and it was a treat watching them dish out their dinner from all the different vessels they had stuff in; it was like a chimps tea party with the dishing out and as everything they’d finished with went out of the window, it wasn’t until they’d all finished that they realised one of the tubs they needed to put stuff away in had inadvertently gone out as well; they still had the lid though! It was like watching the three stooges as they all systematically blamed each other and then dossed out on the respective berths to sleep it off.

 

There wasn’t much doing at Phulera as we passed through and thanks to the large freight in the way we didn’t get a good view of the old MG DLS, but Pelham did spot at least half a dozen on the shed, all in FL brown livery; possibly ex Sikar after its recent closure? Jaipur didn’t have a great deal doing either and it was very sad to see the MG tracks missing completely with the MG platforms being completely decimated as they’re turned into their BG equivalent. Even the MG signalbox has been dismantled and all that remains on the MG side is the old shrine; which it being worked around by all the construction work.

 

Arrival into Sawai Madhopur was more or less on time and the GM was removed and replaced on 12466 by a WAP7, which I didn’t see the number of. Od was the order of the afternoon and the refreshment room outside the station exit didn’t have a lot going for it but there were a few roadside eateries up the road from it and one soon rustled up a good dhal fry and kept throwing chapattis at us until we couldn’t eat anymore!

 

Back on the station we had a bit of a dilemma as our Sleeper Class reservations on board 19041 Bandra – Ghazipur had been WL5-7 at the time of booking and again at the time of charting; so, we were without seats at all for what should be a 7-hour journey. I’d checked the AC classes on clear trip before we’d left the UK and they were all wait listed as well; it didn’t take us long to realise that we’d dropped a bollock in not booking 2AC tickets on 19041! I even tried the station master & enquiry window, in the hope we might have moved up the pecking order, but nothing had changed when our PNR was checked out. We wrongly assumed that there might be another, locally produced, reservation list for the remote location wait list (RLWL), but there wasn’t, and we had to make do with what we’d been dealt; which was a shit hand, I have to say.

 

The icing on the cake for our 19041 jaunt would have been it turning up with a nice shiny RTM WDP4, which we thought it might do after RTM had recently offloaded a raft of WDM3A’s to VTA; with 19041 being booked a RTM Alco. All eyes were peering into the distance when the train was announced at Sawai Madhopur and the relief was immense when an Alco silhouette came into view! 19041 is a new train, initially started as weekly train but now running twice a week, and it is the only loco-hauled train to cover the newly opened track from Agra to Etawah via Shamshabad; with the only other train being a DMU. Even as RTM WDM3D 11577 eased the train into the platform, we knew we were in for a rough journey as it was wedged in SL and the TTE was quick to tell us there was no room in AC either, as well as SL. All the doorways in SL were full and standing and we ended up leaping into an empty one as the loco horn blew for departure. We quickly realised why there was nobody stood there, as the floor area was completely soaked. We eventually figured out it was coming from the bin under one of the vestibule washbasins, which clearly had a leak straight into the bin; which was now overflowing into the vestibule. There was a dry spot by the door which we managed to get our bag piled onto, before setting about attempting to cure the overflowing issues. After brushing as much water out of the door as I could, with my feet, 3-day old new newspapers from Pelham’s bag mopped up quite a considerable amount and an old pop bottle we had was cut open by Vic’s penknife and used to scoop some of the water out of the bin, to be emptied away elsewhere. Another pop bottle was then cut open and stuffed over the tap to stop people using the basin at all; and this pretty much did the trick and we had the floor dried out in no time with the breeze from the open door. It didn’t stay that way though, but at least we had more space than most in our vestibule, thanks to it being wet when we got on. It would have been interesting getting into another one.

 

It was much of a muchness all the way to Agra Cantt, where we staggered in from the outskirts and arrived about an hour late. Food was readily available on arrival and egg biriyani was pretty much the staple example; the remains of what we couldn’t eat being taken by a beggar kid, who was almost screaming at me in horror as I went to put the remains in a bin on the platform. The extended fester at Agra seemed to be turning into a needless one and we eventually found out from a travelling fitter that the train was taking on water, at their request, but the staff doing the tanking weren’t working as they’d been asked and the whole debacle took over an hour and resulted in us strapping ourselves in for the final three hours of the journey, already being 2 hours late. The difference now being it was dark outside, cold and we were all dead on our feet.

 

Shortly after departure from Agra, which I was sat on my bag on the floor attempting to sleep, the SL TTE came by and told us he had a couple of seats at the opposite end of SL class and escorted us down to them. They were already rammed with way more people than they should be, but I was grateful of my perch on a lower side berth, which I shared with 3 others; it was better than the vestibule floor! The upper berth had three kids in it and the six berths opposite had at least 12 people scattered about them; the train was rammed, and this was our first taste of what it was like to be WL in SL class; thanks to Indian Railways discontinuing the Indrail Passes!

 

Eventual arrival into Etawah Jn was around 00:30, 2h25m late, which gave us a whole 4h40m before we’d be departing on 11802 at 0510 towards Jhansi; the set for which was over in the back platform when we arrived. There was a load of hotels outside the station though and we concluded that even 3 hours sleep in a hotel bed was better than a stock overnight in the station. The first two we tried were full but the Hotel Vishal Prem had a room available; a super deluxe one with extra bed coming to RS1150. Thankfully there was no paperwork to be done and we were shown straight to the room. It wasn’t the best, but it was habitable and big enough to get the extra bed in; which was a paper-thin mattress in the end. My request for a pillow never materialized but I was more than happy to use my coat and dossed out straight away; oblivious to the fact that the pillow never arrived!

 

Gen for Monday 13th November 2017

16827 ABR WDM2 04801 0630 Parbatsar City – Makrana Jn, 54822 0915 Makrana Jn – Parbatsar City
40085 BGKT WDP4D 22478 0600 Jaipur – Jodhpur
16355 LDH WDM3A 59706 0500 Jaipur – Suratgarh Jn
18791 VTA WDM3A 19410 0445 (P) Gorakhpur – Ahmedabad
40284 BGKT WDP4D 12181 2025 (P) Jabalpur – Ajmer
20095 BGKT WDP4 12955 1850 (P) Mumbai Cen – Jaipur
70444 ???? WDG4 12239 2315 (P) Mumbai Cen – Jaipur Duronto
20091 BGKT WDP4 18213 1600 (P) Durg – Jaipur
11481 RTM WDM3D 19022 0010 Lucknow – Bandra
11577 RTM WDM3D 19041 2325 (P) Bandra – Ghazipur City
21369 TKD WAG5 51881 1810 Gwalior – Agra Cantt
 

Moves for Monday 13th November 2017

Auto Makrana Jn Parbatsar City RS400, 25km, 46 minutes Auto
16827 Parbatsar City Makrana Jn 0630 Parbatsar City – Makrana Jn 04801 ABR WDM2
40043 Makrana Jn Sawai Madhopur Jn 0555 Jodhpur Jn – Indore Jn 12466 BGKT WDP4B
11577 Sawai Madhopur Jn Etawah Jn 2325 (12/11) Bandra Terminus – Ghazipur City 19041 RTM WDM3D – via Agra Cantt, Shamshabad

 

Photos for Monday 13th November 2017

 

 

Tuesday 14th November 2017 (Etawah to Khajuraho via Bhind & Jhansi)

 

0430 alarm calls are never great, even less so when bed only came at 0100! We were all still knackered, and Vic wasn’t feeling too good either. Thankfully JHS WDM3A 16211 was at the head of 11802 0510 Etawah – Jhansi Express and there was an empty bay in the front coach; this was turned into a sleeping compartment after we’d downed the 6 chai’s we’d lined up on the window sill.

 

By Gwalior the train had filled up a bit and our compo area was the only remaining with people stretched out on the seats. It took us all a while to come around and Vic was suffering a bit, probably from the lack of sleep and being on the go? Food was readily available outside our coach and the hedge monkey’s that had taken up residence in the vestibule saw to it that no more sleep would occur. KTE WDM3D 11529 was sat in with the stock to form 51884 0830 Gwalior – Bina passenger and when an Alco arrived alongside us with 11802 Indore – Gwalior, I realised why we’d not departed on time as 16211 disappeared off to shunt the Jhansi portion off the rear and position it at the front of our 11802 for the journey south; which we embarked on over an hour late.

 

En-route we passed JHS WDM3A 16365 with 11108 Varanasi – Gwalior, over 3 hours late, and then on the approach to Jhansi we watched LGD WAG9 31472 depart with a Gorakhpur bound SCR union delegates special and while sat in the refreshment room on platform 1, woofing down an egg biriyani, WDG4 12650 arrived with another Gorakhpur bound delegates special, this on from the SWR with coaches marked SBC, MYS, YLK & UBL.

 

There were only two moves available of an afternoon in Jhansi, one of which was doing 51807 1230 Jhansi – Banda Jn passenger out towards Mahoba for 19666 Udaipur City – Khajuraho forward to destination. In the south end bay platforms at Jhansi there were two JHS WDG4’s stabled with JHS WDM3A 18979 and blocking the run-round loop was JHS WDS6AD 36352; which we initially thought might have to shunt-release whatever worked into Jhansi with the late running 51806 Manikpur – Jhansi passenger. When JHS WDM3D 11291 rolled through the station and dropped an SBI WDG4 off in the carriage sidings, it was soon clear what was going to happen; and indeed, it did. I left Vic & Pelham to it and went back to the main station to set about doing the alternative move.

 

On my way to platform 4 for 19665 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City I noticed JHS WAG7 24666 being detached from 51832 0620 Agra Cantt – Jhansi and could see the yellow of a WDS6 backing onto the opposite end of the set to shunt it out. When I found 36266 to be the WDS6 I opted to do the shunt, even if it meant missing 19665. In the end the shunt saved me a long walk down the staggered platform that was platform 4 and ABR WDM3A 16675 did the honours forward to Datia with 19665; which was rather empty in SL class. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for SL class on the opposing train 19666 2220 (P) Udaipur City – Khajuraho, which wasn’t particularly wedged but full enough, so I went to find the TTE and got myself a nice empty bay of 4 in 2AC and relaxed instead. I ended up gleaning the fare difference from SL to 2AC from the Clear Trip app, which was RS456; without a slip being issued though, my fare was RS300; which was what he also chung Vic & Pelham when they got on at Harpalpur. They’d got off 51807 as it had been festering around for 20-30 minutes at stations and they didn’t want to risk doing it to Mahoba for fear of being overtaken. There hadn’t been a need to worry though as 19666 sat at Harpalpur for an hour, after they joined, to allow for yellow plant carrying out electrification works on the section ahead of us; which might also account for 19666 being timed to arrive into Khajuraho at 1950 vice 1830 since the 1st November timetable change, yet with no change to the booked departure time from Mahoba!

 

We were all that tired that we spent the journey to Khajuraho asleep and only realised we were arriving as we hit the platform end; over an hour late on the 1950 arrival time! We were greeted by the sight of JHS WDP4D 40406 and a set of stock; which we had a bad feeling about, but the morning would confirm if it would be our day or not! We managed to get an auto outside the station and the guys that picked us up were quite sociable and spoke fluent English.

 

The Hotel GW Greenwood is one of the nearest to Khajuraho station and quite nice form the photos I’d seen. As we rolled into the nicely lit approach there were a couple of people in the courtyard, one of which I heard say “booking.com” as we stopped. As we got out of the auto one of the staff beckoned our auto driver over and then the hotel receptionist came over to us to tell us that he had no rooms for us and he’d told booking.com earlier. I saw red at this point, as I’d had nothing from booking.com so knew he was lying and let loose with my rant; right in his face. We then asked the auto guys to wait while the receptionist went inside and made some calls. I’d pretty much asked him what he was going to do for us, considering his most excellent news; which we really didn’t need to hear, being as knackered as we were. While in reception we noticed a load of bags on the floor and assumed that our rooms had been given away shortly before we’d arrived. In the end we were given a twin room with extra bed, which was clean, a nice size, had piping hot water and room service was quick as well. The auto guys we’d kept hold of would be returning to pick us up the following morning at 0630.

 

Feeling almost human again, we all managed to get clean before the room service arrived and we were thankful of a decent bed, with a decent amount of time to sleep in it, as we clambered in at about 2230. There was a large part in the hotel and the noise in the open plan area outside our room was very loud for about 10 minutes; then it fell silent at a moment’s notice and that was it until the alarms went off the following morning.

 

 

Gen for Tuesday 14th November 2017

16211 JHS WDM3A 11802 0510 Etawah – Jhansi
11529 KTE WDM3D 51884 0830 Gwalior – Bina Jn
16365 JHS WDM3A 11108 1745 (P) Varanasi – Gwalior
31472 LGD WAG9 at JHS with a Gorakhpur bound SCR delegate special
12650 ???? WDG4 at JHS with a Gorakhpur bound SWR delegate special from Hubli
11270 JHS WDM3D 51806 0220 Manikpur – Jhansi
11291 JHS WDM3D 51807 1230 Jhansi – Banda Jn
70033 JHS WDG4 12174 0150 Pratapgarh – LTT (to JHS)
24666 JHS WAG7 51832 0620 Agra Cantt – Jhansi
16675 ABR WDM3A 19665 0930 Khajuraho – Udaipur
30232 GZB WAP7 11077 1720 (P) Pune – Jammu Tawi
30543 ??? WAP7 18238 1610 (P) Amritsar – Bilaspur
18841 ABR WDM3A 19666 2220 (P) Udaipur – Khajuraho

 

Moves for Tuesday 14th November 2017

16211 Etawah Jn Jhansi Jn 0510 Etawah Jn – Jhansi Jn 11802 JHS WDM3A – via Bhind
36266 Jhansi Jn Platform 2 South End Jhansi Jn Platform 2 North End Shunt stock out ex 51831 Agra Cantt – Jhansi Jn JHS WDS6AD
16675 Jhansi Jn Datia 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City 19665 ABR WDM3A
18841 Datia Khajuraho 2220 (13/11) Udaipur City – Khajuraho 19666 ABR WDM3A

 

Photos for Tuesday 14th November 2017

 

 

Wednesday 15th November 2017 (Khajuraho to Allahabad; bowled all the way!)

 

Our 6 o’clock alarm allowed me enough time to pay the hotel bill before we headed off to the station at 0630. Due to the farce the previous night, and due to the fact, I had no choice but to pay cash, I insisted on a receipt being produced; and I was right to do so as later that evening I had an e-mail from Booking.com saying that the GW Greenwood had marked us as a no-show! How very dare they! I was that livid at the time that I replied to Booking.com immediately and on their drop-down selection there’s even an option to say that the hotel couldn’t honour the booking. The following morning, I had another e-mail from Booking.com apologising for the inconvenience and asking for receipts for any out of pocket monies spent as a result. Despite it being a decent hotel, with friendly staff, I wouldn’t recommend using the GW Greenwood; solely based on our experience and the sheer cheek of the management.

 

As we walked into reception to depart, our auto was just pulling into the drive. As we left I confirmed with the reception staff that we may return for breakfast later in the morning. Despite us having checked out, they were ok with this. En we got to Khajuraho station it was plain to see that our day was going to be off to a shitty start; with JHS WDP4D 40406 being the only loco in the station, other than ABR WDM3A 18841 for 19665 to Udaipur City later in the morning. Despite the writing being on the wall, we still had to confirm with the station master that the set, with the GM attached to it and driver in preparing it, was indeed the set to form 51817 0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi via Lalitpur. Of course, it was; who were we trying to kid! Our waiting auto driver, in the station car park, was soon taking us back to the hotel and after dropping us off he promised to return to take us back to the station again at 0845. He was never not going to turn up as he didn’t want paying until he’d taken us back again; he was possibly the most honest and reliable auto driver I’ve ever come across.

 

At 7 o’clock, when we walked back into the hotel reception, we were given our room key back and told that breakfast wouldn’t be ready until 8 o’clock. In the end there turned out to be no breakfast buffet at all as they had a large party to carter for; so, we got tea and toast served in our room instead. By the time we checked out, most of the hotel was up and making noise as they saw fit in the courtyard style hotel area. For the second time that morning, our auto driver was early and delivered us back to the station in good time for 19665 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City; which was just being shunted over the bridge as we approached the station. As he’d been so good driver, I took his details for when I returned to Khajuraho to attempt to get Khajuraho – Lalitpur in for the third time!

 

The TTE for 19665 recognized us from the previous day and was probably rubbing his hands together, thinking he was getting another RS900 in his back pocket. Unfortunately for him though, the SL had plenty of space for us to veg in and we managed to eventually get into a bay that wouldn’t be wedged out until after we’d got off at Datia. ABR WDM3A 18841 ran-round its train at Khajuraho while we got supplies and JHS WDM3A 16096 was in the carriage sidings with the stock off 21108 Varanasi – Khajuraho Link Express.

 

As we approached Mahoba Jn JHS WDM3A 18979 was just departing with 51806 0220 Manikpur – Jhansi, with WDM3D 11402 dead inside. In the station sidings, stabled up were JHS WDM3D 11236 & JHS WDG3A 14590. From Mahoba towards Jhansi, we thought we might catch 51806 up and hoped to overtake it, so we could get off and do 18979 into Jhansi; there was no such luck though and we followed it all the way, passing JHS WDM3D 11263 with 54159 0710 Jhansi – Allahabad passenger en-route. As we arrived into Jhansi, JHS WDM3D 11284 was being prepared to work 51807 1230 Jhansi – Banda; having dropped onto the rear of the set 18979 had arrived with as 51806.

 

By the time we departed Jhansi, for Datia, we knew ABR WDM3A 16609 was coming the other way with 19666 2220 (P) Udaipur City – Khajuraho, thanks to Jools; who had just departed Gwalior on board. Randomly both his 19666 and our 19665 got chained twice on departure from Gwalior & Jhansi respectively and we chewed the cud about the fact after we joined Jools in the front coach on 19666 at Datia. It was the closest to the thrash I’d been for a while and what a let-down ABR’s 16609 was; it sounded like a very poor WDM2 and nothing like a WDM3A at all; unlike it’s shed-mate 18841 that we’d had out to Datia.

 

Food was the first order of the day back at Jhansi and I couldn’t help but point out to everyone, the Upper Class waiting room where I’d spent a night the previous November after my overnight to Khajuraho became a day train when it was 8 hours late! That event was the sole reason I was even anywhere near Jhansi again and the bloody GM earlier would be the reason I’d have to make a third trip!

 

With options for the afternoon we first went to view 11801 1725 Jhansi – Etawah and found JHS WDM3A 16211 waiting with the train; which had been sat in the bay shunt platform at the opposite end of the station when we’d arrived. That resulted in option two being explored, which required a walk to the Mahoba end bay platforms. The bag of spanners that had bowled us earlier at Khajuraho, JHS WDP4D 40406, was sat in, having arrived with 51817 0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi and things weren’t looking good at the opposite end of the set when JHS WDP4D 40459 dropped on to work 51805 1725 Jhansi – Manikpur; using the same set of stock. We thought we were thrown a lifeline when KTE WDG3A 14793 arrived, just after 1700, but it turned out to be some sort of special and wasn’t advertised to the public at all; and we ended up watching it depart.

 

That done, both our options for Alco had been exhausted but as Jools had seen 51831 0600 Agra Cantt – Jhansi with an Alco at Gwalior earlier in the day, we decided to view the northbound; which involved yet another walk along the length of Jhansi station. As we got to the top end of platform 7 bay, the stock to form 51831 1815 Jhansi – Agra Cantt was just being backed down; so, Vic watched the bags while Pelham & I leapt on to scoop the WDS6 in that was backing it down. This turned out to be JHS WDS6AD 36262 and eventually GZB WAP5 300xx dropped on to work 51831; by which time we’d lost the will to live and decided to do ET WAG5 23573 out to the first shack with 51828 1810 Jhansi – Itarsi passenger, which was showing to be cancelled from Bina onwards on NTES. Dead inside the WAG5 was brand new WDP4D 40531, which had stickers in the cab windows showing it to be en-route to KJM shed. There was plenty of room in the rear coach for us to vegetate on the short journey to Bijauli.

 

As there were track works going on, Jhansi side of Bijauli station, everything going towards Jhansi had to come to a stand and it wasn’t long before RTM WDP4D 40266 was drawing up to the signal with 19167 Varanasi – Darbhanga Sabarmati Express. There was just enough room in one of the sleeper class vestibules for us to clamber aboard and we were back in Jhansi well before JHS WAG7 24674 was with 51811 1500 Bina Jn – Jhansi Jn. At which point Vic called it a day and headed off to his hotel and Pelham & I waited on the platform for Jools to arrive back from his north bound jaunt.

 

Jhansi station seemed to be ticking along nicely of an evening, with people waiting around patiently for the trains, the announcer kept everyone up to date with proceedings and the dog & cow fraternity hoovered up anything left lying around on the platform. Luckily there were some phone charging facilities as the afternoon flitting through NTES had drained my phone to almost flat.

 

Jools had messaged to say he was heading back into Jhansi with TKD WAG7 28461 on the very late running 14624 1220 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Chhindwara. When the train was being announced to arrive on platform 3, we gathered our stuff to go and meet him; then came the message that said the pan had dropped on 28461 while 14625 stood just north of Jhansi station. This was followed by another message to confirm it was back up again, but nothing seemed to be happening, and finally a message saying the loco was buggered and the driver had scotched it. Eventually a fitter turned up to assist but didn’t seem to be able to rectify the issue. With the amount of WDS6’s in the station area at Jhansi, Pelham & I were considering walking down to the train as we could see the headlights in the distance. While it didn’t look that far, we gave up on the idea when JHS WAG7 24674 arrived with 51811 from Bina; as it made sense to detach that immediately and send it down to recue 14625; which is exactly what happened, and we gave Jools a wave, from the refreshment room on platform 1, as he eventually rolled into platform 2.

 

Our overnight that night was in 2AC, with tickets booked on IRCTC, on board 11107 2040 Gwalior – Varanasi. The only reason we weren’t doing the train through to Varanasi was because it was electric from Allahabad, via Janghai Jn. We were looking forward to bed when 11107 was eventually announced as departing from platform 1 but the mood changed when the glaring line of three mid-height headlights came into view; and that was us screwed over by JHS WDG4 70572 for the night, with no other option but to do it. I wouldn’t have minded if we’d not seen JHS WDM3A 16365 with the opposing working the previous day; cheers Indian Railways, that was twice in a day!

 

There were a load of tourists on board and Jools had the pleasure of sharing a 4-berth compo area with three Italian girls; which was nothing short of a farce. For a change, the Indian guys we were sharing a compo with were less of a farce than the foreigners and we were in our berths long before Jools had even made his up. The grip might as well not have been one and our names were ticked off the list on saying our names. Sleep wasn’t hard to come by again and I was dossed shortly after the grip; when I next woke up the lights were all out, the curtains drawn, and people were snoring nicely all over the place.

 

 

Gen for Wednesday 15th November 2017

40406 JHS WDP4D 51817 0710 Khajuraho – Jhansi
16096 JHSWDM3A 21108 1745 (P) Varanasi – Khajuraho (portion from Mahoba)
18841 ABR WDM3A 19665 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City
18979 JHS WDM3A  (11402) 51806 0220 Manikpur – Jhansi
11263 JHS WDM3D 54159 0710 Jhansi – Allahabad
11284 JHS WDM3D 51807 1230 Jhansi – Banda Jn
21373 ET WAM4 15064 1750 (P) LTT – Gorakhpur
22932 CNB WAP4 12630 0845 Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin – Yesvantpur
22882 ET WAP4 11124 1150 Gwalior – Barauni
14793 KTE WDG3A special at Jhansi at 1700
16211 JHS WDM3A 11801 1725 Jhansi – Etawah Jn
40459 JHS WDP4D 51805 1725 Jhansi – Manikpur
23573 ET WAG5 (40531 KJM being delivered) 51828 1810 Jhansi – Itarsi
40266 RTM WDP4D 19167 2050 (P) Ahmedabad – Varanasi
28461 14624 1220 Delhi Sarai Rohilla – Chhindwara (fail just north of Jhansi – rescued to JHS by 24674 off 51811)
24674 JHS WAG7 51811 1500 Bina Jn – Jhansi Jn
11525 JHS WDM3D 12175 1745 (P) Howrah – Gwalior
70572 JHS WDG4 11107 2040 Gwalior – Varanasi (to Allahabad)

 

Moves for Wednesday 15th November 2017

18841 Khajuraho Datia 0925 Khajuraho – Udaipur City 19665 ABR WDM3A
16609 Datia Jhansi Jn 2220 (14/11) Udaipur City – Khajuraho 19666 ABR WDM3A
36262 Jhansi Jn Platform 7 North End Jhansi Jn Platform 7 South End Shunt stock in for 51832 Jhansi Jn – Agra Cantt JHS WDS6AD
23573 Jhansi Jn Bijauli 1810 Jhansi Jn – Itarsi Jn 51828 ET WAG5 with KJM WDP4D 40531 being delivered dit; train being pined at Bina Jn
40266 Bijauli Jhansi Jn 2050 (14/11) Ahmedabad Jn – Varanasi Jn 19167 RTM WDP4D
70572 Jhansi Jn Allahabad Jn 2040 Gwalior Jn – Varanasi Jn 11107 JHS WDG4D – via Mahoba Jn

 

Photos for Wednesday 15th November 2017

 

 

Thursday 16th November 2017 (Allahabad to Varanasi; you just couldn’t write it!)

 

70572 was still firmly attached to 11107 on arrival into Allahabad. With our next long distance move not being until 1245 from Allahabad until 1245, things were looking ok on NTES for a couple of ned moves out towards Prayag/Phaphamau; we walked down to the opposite end, of what had become a quite sociable 11107 at Allahabad, watched TKD WAG7 27355 drop onto the set, very slowly, and then did the train forward to Prayag in an empty sleeper class coach. The aim had been originally to do 11107 to Phaphamau and step back towards Allahabad at Prayag but as 14126 Manikpur – Allahabad wasn’t that late, and the passenger’s behind were, we decided to just get off at Prayag, head back into Allahabad and have a leisurely dinner; Indian Railways soon changed that though and made us look like amateurs at the same time.

 

After we’d watched 11107 depart Prayag, I soon realised, having done a check on NTES for 14126 itself as opposed to a station lineup for Prayag, that 14126 was not going to be arriving anytime soon and it seemed to be stuck out in the Chilbila area; not moving. At least we had LKO WDG4 12462 to admire as it was dropped onto the stock in platform 3, to form 54375 0650 Prayag – Jaunpur passenger; eventually starting over 2 hours late. We could have done this to Phaphamau to pass the time and it was a mistake in not doing.

 

It was quite pleasant sat at the end of the platform at Prayag, in the shade, with no hassle from anyone, just chewing the cud; there were even piping hot samosas being touted around, which filled a gap in the food situation while we waited. Even when IZN WDP4D 40426 departed with 15017 LTT – Gorakhpur, we could have done that to Phaphamau to pass the time; the second mistake we made while at Prayag. Especially when LKO WDG3A 13340 eventually arrived with a train from the Phaphamau direction. We believed it was 54108 0545 Jaunpur – Allahabad passenger but everyone got off, the coaches were locked up and eventually the set was run down to Prayag Ghat to get it out of the way. It had been 54102 0300 Kanpur Central – Prayag running late. NTES had actually shown this to be behind 54108 but then came the blow as LKO WDG4 12841 arrived with it and then sat in the platform for half an hour while LKO WDM3D 11477 (with depot code AMV on the front and LKO on the cab) arrived in the adjacent platform 3 with a late running 14308 1715 (P) Bareilly Jn – Prayag; which was detached and run round and we saw it later on at Jaunpur having worked the very late 54375 0635 Prayag – Jaunpur passenger with the same set. After KTE WDM3D 11516 had hammered through Prayag with 18201 1940 (P) Durg – Nautanwa, 54108 was allowed towards Allahabad. Not the best of ned moves by any means and made slightly harder by not having had a current Northern Zone timetable, even though I had done some simplifiers, they didn’t contain everything.

 

Time was cut short at Allahabad because of our late return and the walk from platform 10 to platform 1 didn’t help matters as Allahabad station is technically split in two with platforms 7 to 10 being staggered from platforms 1 to 6; with the platforms ends being tip to tip and making it a very long walk from the rear of a train in platform 10 to the front of one in platform 1. Had we had the time, the newly opened Polo Max Hotel would have been used for food but the refreshment room on platform 1 rustled up 6 omelettes for the three of us in no time and we were suitable stuffed as we headed back over to platform 9 to do 15160 Durg – Chhapra to Varanasi via Jaunpur.

 

Thankfully, ET WDM3D 11340 arrived with 15160 and was immediately detached. I’d been expecting 15160 to be a KTE loco, or even locos as some reports say, but at least it was Alco. Pelham & I had reservations in sleeper class in S11 and Jools had no problem getting in our bay with us as the train wasn’t well loaded at all. When we felt the bump of a loco dropping onto the opposite end of the stock, having not seen 11340 run-round the train, it set alarm bells ringing; and quite rightly so as RTM WDP4D 40468 had stealthed its way onto the opposite end of the train without warning. Indian Railways really were taking the fucking piss with us and it was starting to become ever so slightly annoying; to the say the least!

 

Jools didn’t have much of an option but to do the train, with him having a flight from Varanasi at 2100. Pelham & I could have cut our losses and got an auto to Chheoki Junction to do 15232 Gondia – Barauni to Varanasi, via the main electrified route of Mirzapur. We pondered it for a while and decided to just deal with the crap card we’d been dealt, mainly because we at least had reserved seats, and didn’t have the luxury of getting into 2AC anymore, if trains were wedged, with our Indrail Pass only being a sleeper class on now.

 

We ended up revisiting the possibility of getting an auto to Chheoki when 15160 came to a stand on the single line between Allahabad & Prayag. We initially thought we’d bowled someone over with the amount of people gathered around the front of the loco and the fact it edged forward a couple of times after the initial stop. It eventually transpired that the locals had brought the train to a stand and were protesting in front of it. This involved clambering on the front of the cab of 40468, which is always a good idea when the overheads are live above it. With these things it’s a case of having to sit it out and wait and just we’d about resigned ourselves to getting off and doing a taxi to Chheoki, the horn blew and off we set; having been stood for around 45 minutes. On departure from Prayag we were around 90’ late but the mighty GM soon clawed some of that back as it made mincemeat of the timings en-route.

 

There was plenty of slack in the timings for 15160 between Allahabad & Varanasi and we’d pulled quite a lot back by the time we came abruptly to a stand in the middle road at Chaukhandi, 16km outside Varanasi. 14266 Dehradun – Varanasi was in the platform loop and people were clambering from it to our train. Eventually we realised that it was an Alco at the head of 14266 and did the opposite; much to the confusion of everyone we left behind; especially when 15160 went first. The penultimate IR built WDM3D, LKO WDM3D 11589, was at the head of a rather empty 14266 and we’d only been discussing a short while ago that it had been almost 24 hours since we’d last had an Alco; well this out of course stop had saved that embarrassment and had us underway from Chaukhandi with about 60 minutes to that deadline! When we got some photos of 11589 it had all sorts of fan and whining noises coming from it, especially from the dynamics in the short hood; which had a constant loud fanning noise blurting out. I could only assume it was some sort of cooling system for the dynamics? I half expected 11589 to be a bag of spanners, as quite a lot of the latter build ‘3D’s are, but it was far from it and gave a spirited run into Varanasi, with a brief halt at the station before, to await a slot in we assumed.

 

Having scanned NTES before arrival into Varanasi, there was nothing at all we could do before our overnight on 15232 Gondia – Barauni, which was showing RT, so we walked over to the Hotel City Inn; which served up a very tasty Chicken Lababdar and it went down a treat. From here, Jools got the hotel to book him a taxi to the airport, which cost RS800, and we headed back to the station to wait it out for our train. Varanasi station is always quite congested with people and this occasion was no exception; with most taking up room on the footbridge until their train was announced.

 

While I’m not a fan of festering at Varanasi, it is a very atmospheric station; and is typically Indian, if that makes sense? With people dossed on the platforms, sellers doing their thing, parcels dumped all over the place and not much room to move. 13345 1410 Varanasi – Singrauli Intercity was occupying platform 4, where our 15232 should later be departing from. PTRU WDM3A 18821 was just being attached when I walked down to the front and the rather empty train left at 1920, 5h10m late. Despite 15232 Gondia – Barauni being in the vicinity of Varanasi a DMU was let into platform 4 next and it stood there for 40 minutes preventing 15232 getting in. Quite why platform 5 wasn’t used, I don’t know, as it was empty for the majority of the time we stood waiting. When 15232 was eventually announced as arriving on platform 4, we had everything crossed; and I’d have prayed to the gods if it would actually make a difference and ensure the train wouldn’t be a GM. When the correct headlight formation came into view it was definitely a pleasing moment as SPJ WDM3D 11489 chugged down the platform with our train. What a relief it was. It wasn’t too wedged on board, but it was a bit lively and there were quite a few kids around the same area we were. Having made up our side berths though, getting holed up away from the hustle and bustle outside is always better than having to endure it from within the same compo area. Strangely, the coach went from creche to crib in a matter of moments. It was like someone had flipped a switch that silenced the whole coach and turned all the lights out; if only such things were possible on IR! And that was that; sleep soon followed.

 

Gen for Thursday 16th November 2017

11241 JHS WDM3D 54160 0625 Allahabad – Jhansi
13325 VTA WDG3A 16794 2355 (P) Faizabad – Rameswaram
27355 LTD WAG7 11107 2040 Gwalior – Varanasi (from Allahabad)
12462 LKO WDG4 54375 0650 Prayag – Jaunpur
40426 IZN WDP4D 15017 0635 (P) LTT – Gorakhpur
13340 LKO WDG3A 54102 0300 Kanpur Cen – Prayag
40154 IZN WDP4D 11059 1055 (P) LTT – Chhapra Jn
11477 AMV (LKO) WDM3D 14308 1715 (P) Bareilly Jn – Prayag
11516 KTE WDM3D 18201 1940 (P) Durg – Nautanwa
40196 IZN WDP4D 11061 1215 (P) LTT – Darbhanga
11340 ET WDM3D 15160 2025 (P) Durg – Chhapra (to Allahabad)
40468 RTM WDP4D 15160 2025 (P) Durg – Chhapra (from Allahabad)
18854 xxx WDM3A 15159 0715 Chhapra – Durg
11589 AMV (LKO) WDM3D 14266 1715 (P) Dehradun – Varanasi
11431 SPJ WDM3D 54265 1615 Varanasi – Sultanpur
18821 PTRU WDM3A 13345 1410 Varanasi – Singrauli (5 hours late)
11489 SPJ WDM3D 15232 2100 (P) Gondia Jn – Barauni Jn
22571 GD WAP4 13257 1545 Danapur – Anand Vihar

 

Moves for Thursday 16th November 2017

27355 Allahabad Jn Prayag Jn 2040 (15/11) Gwalior Jn – Varanasi Jn 11107 TKD WAG7
12841 Prayag Jn Allahabad Jn 0545 Jaunpur Jn – Allahabad Jn 54108 LKO WDG4
40468 Allahabad Jn Chaukhandi 2025 (15/11) Durg Jn – Chhapra Jn 15160 RTM WDP4D
11589 Chaukhandi Varanasi Jn 1815 (15/11) Dehradun – Varanasi Jn 14266 AMV (LKO) WDM3D
11489 Varanasi Jn Samastipur Jn 2100 (15/11) Gondia Jn – Barauni Jn 15232 SPJ WDM3D

 

Photos for Thursday 16th November 2017

 

 

Friday 17th November 2017 (Day 1 in Bihar – Samastipur to Rajgir via Patna)

 

Just as the train had gone quickly silent and dark the previous night, the switch got flipped at about 3am on the approach to Chhapra Jn, where it seemed quite a lot of our coach would be getting off; noisily inflicting as much of their inconsideration on others as they could. Luckily those boarding were better behaved and at least tried to be quiet. As I was awake, a quick scan on NTES revealed that 15232 had been 2 hours late from Ghazipur City but the slack time had pulled it back to 40’ late at Chhapra. A similar situation occurred at Muzaffarpur with people alighting and joining and when we departed only 50’ late from there, I was confident that our plus 2h25m at Samastipur for 15549 Jaynagar – Patna wasn’t in jeopardy.

 

15549 0600 Jaynagar – Patna Jn Intercity had only started running on 13th August 2017 and hadn’t been in our original trip plan for that very reason. It was just as well it had started running though as one of the plans to get from Samastipur to Patna had been to do the regularly late running 55527 0300 Jaynagar – Patna passenger to Patna, or Barauni for something else forward to Patna, with the original plan having been to fester around in the Samastipur area for 13225 Jaynagar – Patna; which wouldn’t have us into Patna until around 2000 that night. Tickets were duly booked through Clear Trip for 15549, when I realised its potential, and the fact that it had 2 AC Chair Car coaches to choose from meant availability was high.

 

As we approached Samastipur SPJ WDM3A 16206 was just departing with 15283 2230 (P) Katihar – Jaynagar and in the station, were SPJ WDM3D 11584 with 13021 1545 (P) Howrah – Raxaul and SPJ WDM3D 11272 with 55560 0830 Samastipur – Saharsa passenger. During our wait on the platform SPJ WDM3D 11585 arrived with 15284 0440 Jaynagar – Katihar and 22722 GZB WAP4 with 15204 1500 (P) Lucknow Jn – Barauni Jn.

 

Our search outside the station for omelettes for breakfast was fruitless but I have to say, despite the whole area immediately outside Samastipur Jn station being an utter toilet, it was a pleasant walk, and everything seemed relaxed in the station rickshaw park; where we didn’t get bothered at all, even when we got our cameras out to take a couple of shots of the steam loco plinthed there. The painted-on works plate shows it to be: 1957, Jungenthal Germany, Works No. 12797. It has no other number on it at all. The whole station area had an air of calm about it, people weren’t rushing, there weren’t that many of them about either, and the trains in the station weren’t well occupied at all. We had a rather pleasant wait for our train to arrive, consuming warm samosas and piping hot chai while we did so; albeit on the wrong platform for 15549.

 

Even though NTES showed 15549 to arrive into platform 4, it was being announced as “arriving shortly on platform number 2” 25 minutes before its booked arrival time; SPJ WDM3D 11281 rolled in with it 20’ early and was run around and attached ready for the off before its booked arrival time of 0910! One of the AC Chair Car coaches wasn’t being used due to the low occupancy of the train, and the AC wasn’t switched on at all. The coach in use, C1, had about 15 people in it and we basically chose a seat, instead of sitting in our booked ones; which were right behind two children clambering about the place. Despite being ready for departure 20 minutes before time 15549 departed 40’ late after 12565 0835 Darbhanga – New Delhi Sampark Kranti was given preference over us, despite being booked away from Samastipur 15 minutes after us; and it was late! SPJ WDM3D 11434 worked it into Samastipur but we didn’t see what dropped onto the opposite end.

 

By Muzaffarpur 15549 had clawed back to just 14’ late on arrival and in the platform at the side of us was 15202 0515 Raxaul – Patliputra Intercity, running 2h20m late. It didn’t have AC in its rake and when I found SPJ WDM3A 16592 being prepared to work it, we looked at doing it forward if it got the road first, but the stopping patterned of both 15202 & 15549 were different, with our 15549 being the quicker of the two trains, with less stops. So, as we were right away Hajipur and 15202 stopped twice beforehand, it was a no-brainer; and sure enough 15549 got the road first, shortly after LKO WDG3A 13372 came out of the staggered platform 1, around 16592 and its 15202, with 55022 0400 Siwan Jn – Samastipur passenger.

 

The journey towards Patna was quite pleasant and the coach never filled up at all, making it nice and relaxing as well. I didn’t pay much attention to the new Digha Bridge when we crossed it, having already done it this time last year; however, last time I’d done it, I’d gone from Danapur and used the west curve to access the bridge, this time I was heading around the east curve, direct to Patna. Once onto the main line we had quite a good run into Patna Junction, passing SPJ WDG3A 14752 at Phulwar Sharif on a short passenger rake; which I can only assume was 55231 1130 Patliputra – Patna Jn being held outside for a platform to become available?

 

It was busy in Patna Junction station, with almost all the platforms on the main side of the station being occupied; there was plenty of space on the Gaya platforms though. While we had originally planned to step up on the evening diesel departures towards Bakhtiyarpur and then head down to Rajgir on 53230 1820 Danapur – Rajgir, this idea went in the bin as 53230 hadn’t arrived into Rajgir before midnight on any of the previous three nights; so we’d be heading out to Fatuha Jn in time to make 53210 1720 Fatuha Jn – Rajgir, which ran via Daniyawan Jn and the newly opened stretch to Bihar Sharif, and not conventionally down the main line to Bakhtiyarpur Jn and up the branch. This very stretch was the only reason for being in the area in the first place and having figured out that the rake-share for 53210 was 53208/53207 Fatuha – Islampur – Fatuha, I was able to follow their progress on NTES. Even though we knew 53210 was going to be late departing Fatuha, as 53207 had been late going to Islampur, we didn’t contemplate risking one of the evening departures from Patna, of which there are quite a few, and settled for doing the late running Magadh Express, 12402 New Delhi – Islampur to Fatuha and waiting it out.

 

While at Patna Jn MGS WDM3A 16699 brought the set in to form 53211 1510 Patna Jn – Sasaram passenger and SPJ WDM3D 11281 ran around the set we’d arrived on to work back to Jaynagar with 15550 1530 Patna Jn – Jaynagar Intercity. We hung around on the station footbridge, hoping to see at least 55527 Jaynagar – Patna Kamla Ganga Fast Passenger and 13119 Sealdah – Delhi arrive but neither did before our departure. Our vantage point did allow us to spot the Patna station pilot, MGS WDS6AD 36336, shunting asset of stock into platform 1 though. A quick scurry across the bridge had us rushing on board when we got to platform 1. Randomly it was one of those shunts that was literally just that, and the meaty sounding machine was soon pushing the lot back into the carriage sidings soon after it had stopped. Two Alco’s in the sidings at the top end of the station got our attention though; and there we remained.

 

Strangely liveried WDM3A 16811 seemed to be the second Patna station pilot and MGS WDM3A 16177 was being prepared in the adjacent road; it eventually worked the Magadh Express, 12402, forward to Islampur; with us on board. CNB WAP4 22546 worked in with 12402 and was quickly removed for the waiting 16177 to drop on. We were quite surprised that the unreserved coaches at the front of the train were relatively empty and took the opportunity to ride up the front while we could.

 

Just outside Patna Jn we passed BWN WDM3A 14011 with 13119 Sealdah – Delhi Jn and then SPJ WDM3A 16208 with 55527 Jaynagar – Patna Kamla Ganga Fast Pass. At one of the stations in the Patna suburbs some of the coach occupants suddenly scattered; which only signals one thing. Sure enough, a TTE appeared at the door and was gripping people while the train stood in the platform.

 

Fatuha Junction is a V-shaped station with the Islampur line curving off to the right and the main line heading straight on, in the middle of which is a very dusty goods yard in between the two; at the Bakhtiyarpur end of the station. There was a WAG9 stabled in the yard and MGS WDS6 36230 was the yard pilot. As we were heading towards Islampur ourselves, we stayed on the branch platforms to await 53208 1400 Islampur – Fatuha to arrive. It was quite dusty thanks to the goods yard and everything that wasn’t used regularly was covered in a fine layer of it. A young lad we got talking to later told us that the afternoon was the worst time to be in the Fatuha area, when the dust was at its thickest.

 

The sun settled behind the orange haze as we waited it out at Fatuha and it was dark by the time MGS WDM3A 16266 arrived with the 10-coach rake that was confined to the link that is 53209, 53207, 53208, 53210 – Rajgir – Fatuha – Islampur – Fatuha – Rajgir. There was plenty of room on board for all those waiting on the platform and while we waited for the MGS machine to run around, we found ourselves surrounded by inquisitive locals and were pretty much boxed into the front coach, resigned to answering question and having “ek selfie” taken with everyone that had a smartphone! It was harmless enough though and nobody was a pain, but we were glad when the horn blew for departure, and we were left in peace. 16266 shattered that peace initially, as it headed towards Daniyawan Jn but once we turned left onto the new branch it was like turning left into a timewarp; and a very slow one at that. We’d managed to spot JMP WDM3A 16633 with 13402 1615 Danapur – Bhagalpur before we’d departed and en-route down the Islampur branch we spotted MGS WDM3A 16253 with 18695 1730 Islampur – Patna Jn.

 

The new branch that links the Islampur & Rajgir branches is 38km and is timed 1h27m to cover the distance. Despite the official NTES schedule showing there to be no stations between the two points, we stopped at, at least half a dozen halts; some of which even had their own little station hut for buying tickets from. There was no light on any of the stations, but for the loco headlight as it arrived, and everyone had to use torches to light their way. It was an absolute totter as well, with no thrash and nothing but track noise and rocking from side to side; it was like the branch was ancient and in need of a good renewal, not brand new. The line runs direct across the void between the two branches and despite coming in alongside the Rajgir branch at the first station north of Bihar Sharif Jn, it continues alongside as a separate entity until joining the main branch at Bihar Sharif station. Once back on the branch, the loco pilot gave 16266 what for as we hammered towards Rajgir, recovering some of our lost time en-route and crossing MGS WDM3A 16392 along the way with 53231 1530 Tilaya Jn – Danapur passenger. Arrival into Rajgir was only about 30’ late, where our departure from the station premises was delayed a little while we investigated the fact that MGS WDM3A 18866 was at the helm of 14223 2315 Rajgir – Varanasi and MGS WDM3A 16604 was the opposite end of the station with a passenger rake. We’d expected, and had been reliably informed shortly before our trip, that 14223/4 had gone over to electric haulage after the OHL had been energized on the Rajgir branch; but this clearly wasn’t the case on this particular night and neither was it the following morning when we spotted LKO WDM3D at the helm of the already arrived 14224 Varanasi – Rajgir! Also present in the station area was MGS WDS6AD 36330, which was shunting the Shramjeevi Express set in the carriage shed.

 

With our potentially short stay in Rajgir, I’d booked the closest hotel to Rajgir station, on Booking.com. This was the Gautam Vihar Resort. It was only a 5-minute walk from the station, out of the main entrance, up to the main road, turn right and it’s about 400m on the right-hand side. The place was like entering a dreamland, with well-appointed lighting making the place look nice it was very easy to get lost amongst the dazzle. We had to be pointed towards reception by the security guard! Check-in was simple enough and we were quickly shown to our large room on the complex; which had views over the swimming pool from the back. We had twin beds, which had the hardest, shittiest mattresses money could buy. It was clean though and had piping hot water in the shower and room service was ordered straight away; giving us time to get a full-on derance while it was being prepared.

 

I was quite surprised that the Chicken Dopyaza on the menu was showing with boneless meat yet pleased at the same time; needless to say, it came with meat on the bone and only a fork and spoon to faff with to get it off. I was so unimpressed that I rang the kitchen to complain before getting back to fucking about with the food that they’d prepared; to attempt to eat it. It wasn’t that great either but filled a hole and was needed.

 

After we’d banged the world to rights and got ourselves feeling human again, bedtime came shortly before midnight and no sooner had we clambered into our beds did a horrendous banging commence outside somewhere. I lasted 5 minutes before I was on the phone to reception, telling them in no uncertain terms that the banging needed to stop, imminently. When it hadn’t within 2 minutes, I was outside investigating; and found a bunch of workmen on the upper floor, around the corner from our room, knocking a wall through with a sledgehammer; at fucking midnight! Once I’d dragged the receptionist out of his pit, he soon had it stopped and with karma restored my eyes could close; I was out light a light!

 

Gen for Friday 17th November 2017

16206 SPJ WDM3A 15283 2230 (P) Katihar – Jaynagar
11584 SPJ WDM3D 13021 1545 (P) Howrah – Raxaul
11585 SPJ WDM3D 15284 0440 Jaynagar – Katihar
11272 SPJ WDM3D 55560 0830 Samastipur – Saharsa
22722 xxx WAP4 15204 1500 (P) Lucknow Jn – Barauni
11281 SPJ WDM3D 15549 0600 Jaynagar – Patna Jn, 15550 1530 Patna Jn – Jaynagar
11434 SPJ WDM3D 12565 0835 Darbhanga – New Delhi (to Samastipur)
16592 SPJ WDM3A 15202 0515 Raxaul – Patliputra
11372 LKO WDG3A 55022 0400 Siwan Jn – Samastipur
16699 MGS WDM3A 53211 1510 Patna Jn – Sasaram
40194 ET WDP4D 12335 0900 Bhagalpur – LTT
22546 CNB WAP4 12402 2000 (P) New Delhi – Islampur (to Patna)
16177 MGS WDM3A 12402 2000 (P) New Delhi – Islampur (from Patna)
36336 MGS WDS6AD station pilot at Patna Jn
16208 SPJ WDM3A 55527 0315 Jaynagar – Patna Jn
14011 BWN WDM3A 13119 2115 (P) Sealdah – Delhi Jn
40140 SPJ WDP4D 13241 0735 Banka – Rajendranagar
22554 12367 Bhagalpur – New Delhi
16633 JMP WDM3A 13402 1615 Danapur – Bhagalpur
16266 MGS WDM3A 53207 1400 Islampur Fatuha Jn, 53210 1720 Fatuha Jn – Rajgir
16253 MGS WDM3A 18695 1730 Islampur – Patna Jn
16392 MGS WDM3A 53231 1530 Tilaya Jn – Danapur
18866 MGS WDM3A 14223 2330 Rajgir – Varanasi
36330 MGS WDS6AD Rajgir station pilot – shunt rake ex 12392 New Delhi – Rajgir

 

Moves for Friday 17th November 2017

11281 Samastipur Jn Patna Jn 0600 Jaynagar – Patna Jn 15549 SPJ WDM3D – via Hajipur & Dihga Bridge
36336 Patna Jn Platform 1 West End Patna Jn Platform 1 East End Shunting stock out/into Carriage Sidings MGS WDS6AD
16177 Patna Jn Fatuha Jn 2000 (16/11) New Delhi Jn – Islampur 12402 MGS WDM3A – 3h30m late
16266 Fatuha Jn Rajgir 1720 Fatuha Jn – Rajgir 53210 MGS WDM3A – via Daniyawan & Bihar Sharif

 

Photos for Friday 17th November 2017

 

 

Saturday 18th November 2017 (Day 2 in Bihar – Rajgir to Khagaria via Patna)

 

Surprisingly, we were dead to the world when the alarm went off at 0700 and not surprisingly it was a farce checking out of the hotel. It took 15 minutes for the “boy” to find someone that could print a receipt and allow us to pay our food bill from the previous night. All this did was give us less time to both get to the station and veg about before our train towards Bakhtiyarpur departed at 0800. The hotel staff meant well though.

 

As we got onto the station the set for 12391 0800 Rajgir – New Delhi Shramjeevi Express was already well loaded in the main platform. Over the back of the station there was a LKO liveried WDM3D, which had arrived with 14224 Varanasi – Rajgir; which we later found out to be LKO WDM3D 11267, after a text to Vic had him resurrecting his plan to cover 14223 Rajgir – Varanasi that night as it’s the only diesel hauled train over the Patna – Gaya direct route. MGS WDS6AD 36330 was sat in the carriage sidings, dormant, and a long walk down the platform revealed GZB WAP4 22686 at the head of the Shramjeevi. A big step down from even a GM, let alone the pre-GM link of 2xTKD Alco! MGS WDM3A 18873 was sat outside Rajgir station, waiting to back in with the stock for 53209 0700 Rajgir – Fatuha as we departed; it was showing a 90-minute late start on NTES, so we were glad we didn’t get up for it!

 

The journey on board the Shramjeevi, in sleeper class, was nothing short of a farce, with the whole train being wedged to the rafters; pretty much throughout. The train was another one of those expresses that should be downgraded to the Shramjeevi Fast Passenger, just like the Avadh Assam Express!  Were grateful to get off at Bakhtiyarpur and didn’t have to wait long for the first of the inbound Alco hauled trains towards Patna. HWH WDM3D 11333 was waiting to depart with 53043 1110 (P) Howrah – Rajgir but was held for CNB WAG7 27998 to overtake it with 13234 0740 Danapur – Rajgir Intercity.

 

18697 0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn hammered in with SPJ WDM3A 11583 and was rather wedged as it did so. We managed to find a little bit of standing space in the vestibule though and with NTES guiding us we got off at Khusropur to wait for 53232 0900 Danapur – Rajgir. As we alighted there were a lot of locals trying to ram very big packages into the train, and a load more waiting on the opposite platform. When we got over there, the hustle and bustle of the market in full swing could be heard over the wall; which explained the large packages.

 

It was a very hot morning and we were toying with the idea of finding some shade when MGS WDM3A 16177 turned up with 53232, which we’d had the previous afternoon on the late running 12402 New Delhi – Islampur Magadh Express. As we resigned ourselves to a dud engine, JMP WDM3A 16633 dropped into the opposite platform loop with 13401 0535 Bhagalpur – Danapur Intercity and had a red at the end of the platform. 13401 is not booked to stop at Khusropur but we were glad of the get out of jail card when it did. And the reason for it stopping soon appeared, in the form of SPJ WDM3A 18814, as it hammered through with 12567 0700 Saharsa – Patna Jn; then we were Patna bound, again, wedged in the vestibule.

 

We decided that getting off at Rajendranagar Terminal would give us the best chance of covering things, with most trains we wanted to view running late. WDS6 36118 was loitering in the station area as we arrived and was soon moving off towards Patna, as we looked on from the station footbridge. WAG9 31700 was stabled in the middle road with an LHB rake, without name boards, and was soon Patna bound itself; the rake we later found stabled between platform1 & 2 at Patna Jn, but the loco was nowhere to be found. There were a load of TTE’s on the footbridge, ruthlessly gripping everyone coming off 13401 and they were very good at spotting those that looked a bit sheepish and didn’t make eye contact with them; let’s just say, nobody got away with not paying up if they didn’t have a ticket and anyone that even looked at going the opposite way over the footbridge was accosted.

 

While we stood watching the TTE’s at work 36118 had dropped onto the stock in the platform below us, which had 13201/13202 LTT – Rajendranagar on the boards; so, we assumed it would be shunting the rake back into the carriage sidings. As the whole set was still unlocked we just got on and sat down to await events. Things were looking promising as the set moved about a coach length one way but then when it went back in the opposite direction for the same length, we realised things weren’t quite what they seemed; and sure enough, eventually, 36118 disappeared off with the van off the end of the set and began to propel it back through the station; so I used the time to make use of the charging facilities on the platform, while Pelham veged on the stock. However, when the stock started moving towards the carriage sidings, some 10 minutes later, charging was abandoned, and I was back on the set with Pelham. When we got off, we had no clue at all what had just shunted it out but the electric that had been on the Fatuha end of the stock had been panned down when we’d seen it coming in. Attempts to see what was dragging the train in from the footbridge were fruitless as there were too many structures and overheads obscuring the view. Thankfully, as we headed back out of Rajendranagar, towards Patna Sahib on board 12392 New Delhi – Rajgir Shramjeevi Express with GZB WAP7 30246, MGS WDM2S 18594 was just shunting the 13201/2 rake out of the opposite end of the carriage sidings, complete with “only for shunting” written on the cab sides; so that’s what we claimed!

 

While at Patna Sahib, sheltering from the afternoon sun on the station footbridge, SPJ WDM3A 18814 hammered through with the return 12568 Patna Jn – Saharsa, shortly before shed-mate SPJ WDM3D 11580 arrived with 55527 0315 Jaynagar – Patna Jn Kamla Ganga Fast Passenger. There was plenty of room on board and very randomly 55527 ran pretty much straight into Patna Jn and arrived 25’ early as a result! We’d decided to head into Patna to allow for some viewing and chewing as the current lateness of the Alco hauled trains in the vicinity wasn’t conducive to bashing them from the position we were in; so, we’d have to make a choice at Patna instead.

 

MGS WDM3A 16699 was waiting in the carriage sidings as we arrived on 55527 and was soon bringing its stock in to form 53211 1510 Patna Jn – Sasaram for the second day running. MGS WDM3A 18846 was sat between platform 1 & 2, at the Rajendranagar end of the station, and we assumed this would be the loco to work the late running 12402 New Delhi – Islampur forward. Strange liveried WDM3A 16811 was also present again but was just stabled up near 18846. JHS WAG7 24667 was sat at Patna, waiting to go with special 08450 1400 Patna Jn – Bhubaneswar, which I thought might have been what WAG9 31700 and rake would be for. ET WDP4D 40244 appeared with 15647 LTT – Guwahati while KJM classmate WDP4D 40400 waited to depart with the slightly late 12742 1400 Patna – Vasco.

 

Decisions, decisions! In the end, it wasn’t such a hard one but as we needed to make sure we were on 18698 1645 Patna Jn – Purnia Court, we couldn’t venture towards Danapur really. So, when BWN WDM3A 18774 turned up with 13133 Sealdah – Varanasi our decision was made for us; and the Magadh Express it would be. CNB WAP4 22319 rolled into platform 1 with the train but shunting it off and MGS WDM3A 18846 was nowhere near as efficient as it had been the previous day, with the ‘3A still being prepared in the middle road as opposed to waiting outside the station to drop on, like it had been the previous day. Meanwhile BGKT WDP4D 40474 dropped by with 15624 Kamakhya – Bhagat Ki Kothi.

 

With 13134 Varanasi – Sealdah not being far behind the Magadh Express, we only did the Magadh to Rajendranagar. As 12393 Rajendranagar – Delhi was due out of Rajendranagar a couple of hours later, I half expected it to be shunted in while we waited and sure enough, we watched WDS6 36118 drop onto an LHB rake in the carriage sidings, from our vantage point on the footbridge, and then in in rolled. The problem then being where to get onto the set as all the doors were locked at the front of it. I eventually decided to make like a local and ride one the footboards while attempting to get the door pins to shift, so the door could be opened; I gave this up as a bad job though and eventually went scurrying back down the platform to Pelham. We eventually found a door that was open, at the side of the pantry car and were on board in sleeper class, away from the masses trying to get into unreserved, thanks to the pantry car staff leaving their door open to get some fresh air into the rake!

 

40 minutes after we’d arrived into Rajendranagar, BWN WDM3A 18714 arrived with 13134 Varanasi – Sealdah, which we only did to Fatuha as our 18698 Patna – Purnia Court was a fast train and would definitely overtake the Upper India Express before Mokhama. At Fatuha, we were accosted by a couple of the lads we’d been talking to the previous night, while we’d be waiting to depart on 53210 towards Rajgir. They were withered by the fact we were back at their station again and we had a pleasant chat with them while we waited. They were handy to have around as well as the station announcements re so fast that I could hardly understand a word; and the announcements in the area are given regularly to update people on where trains are currently, which are very useful, if you can understand them of course!

 

There was no surprise when SPJ WDM3D 11583 arrived into Fatuha with 18698 1645 Patna Jn – Purnia Court, and absolutely no surprise that the train was rammed, with people hanging out of the doors. Even the vestibule in the AC Chair Car was wedged, but needs must and all that! We were quite grateful of the standing space by the toilets, considering what we might have had to endure, and it wasn’t that bad during the 3-hour journey to Khagaria Jn; which was a place I would never, ever, have expected to be staying at after my first trip there 11 years ago. Having arrived of the MG from Samastipur back then, I was horrified at the state of the station, the area outside it and the hassle factor was off the scale. Thankfully the hassle factor, across India as a whole, has died down dramatically in recent years and even in Bihar foreigners are left to their own devices. Under cover of darkness, we were able to stealth our way out of Khagaria station, being directed in the general direction of the Hotel Bhavana by a local. ME Maps did the rest and a 5-minute walk had us venturing down a dirty side-street towards our destination; which stood out in its surroundings.

 

The idea of staying at Khagaria wasn’t the initial plan but when I came across the Hotel Bhavana, it saved us having to stay the night in Saharsa, where we’d have a late finish and early start for 05522 0510 Saharsa – Jamalpur. The staff seemed to be expecting us in the hotel reception and checking in was quite efficient; I filled the big register out while our passports were copied. Even though we had a booking, done on Booking.com, we were shown upstairs and the “boy” had at least 3 keys with him. The 4th floor of the hotel is announced as the “VIP Sweet Floor” when you exit the lift, in black marker, written on the wall! The first room he showed us had a double bed and we settled on the second, which had a king bed a single and a sofa bed. The room was huge, had all the mod-cons and randomly the pillows on the beds were valentine themed! Water was piping hot and room service was efficient; with an excellent Aloo Dopyaza turning up before we’d both managed to go through the conveyer belt of sorting our shit out, getting a shower and repacking. We weren’t complaining though, as the food was very good and on my travels in India I’ve found that the best Aloo Dopyaza in the country is always served in Bihar!

 

It was a late finish by the time we got to bed but it was nothing like what we’d have endured in Saharsa, had we gone there instead. We had two choices in the morning, one being 05522 0510 Saharsa – Jamalpur passenger to Jamalpur, if that was late then we’d have to do 18697 Purnia Court – Patna Jn to Begusarai for 07006 Raxaul – Hyderabad; which was already showing as starting at Darbhanga on NTES, due to the late running of the inbound 07005 from Hyderabad. The idea of the move being that we headed to Jamalpur via the newly opened Munger river bridge but with 05522 having been anything from 2 to 8 hours late all week, I wasn’t holding my hopes up for the planned move as I set the alarm with plenty of time to check the trains on NTES before we decided in the morning.

 

Gen for Saturday 18th November 2017

11267 LKO WDM3D 14224 2030 (P) Varanasi – Rajgir
22686 GZB WAP4 12391 0800 Rajgir – New Delhi
18783 MGS WDM3A 53209 0700 Rajgir – Fatuha Jn
11333 HWH WDM3A 53043 1110 (P) Howrah – Rajgir
27998 CNB WAG7 13234 0740 Danapur – Rajgir
11583 SPJ WDM3D 18697 0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn
16177 MGS WDM3A 53232 0900 Danapur – Tilaya Jn
16633 JMP WDM3A 13401 0535 Bhagalpur – Danapur
18814 SPJ WDM3A 12567 0700 Saharsa – Patna Jn, 12568 1245 Patna Jn – Saharsa
36118 shunt van off 13201 LTT – Rajendranagar
18594(S) shunt 13201 LTT – Rajendranagar to CS
30246 GZB WAP7 12392 1310 (P) New Delhi – Rajgir
22802 MGS WAP4 18622 2200 (P) Hatia – Patna Jn
40244 ET WDP4D 15647 0805 (P) LTT – Guwahati
11580 SPJ WDM3D 55527 0315 Jaynagar – Patna Jn, 55528 1530 Patna Jn – Jaynagar
24667 JHS 08450 1400 Patna Jn – Bhubaneswar
40400 KJM WDP4D 12742 1400 Patna Jn – Vasco
16699 MGS WDM3A 53211 1510 Patna Jn – Sasaram
18772 BWN WDM3A 13133 2115 (P) Sealdah – Varanasi
22319 CNB WAP4 12402 2000 (P) New Delhi – Islampur (to Patna)
18846 MGS WDM3A 12402 2000 (P) New Delhi – Islampur (from Patna)
36336 MGS WDS6AD station pilot at Patna Jn
40474 ???? WDP4D 15624 1715 (P) Kamakhya – Bhagat Ki Kothi
40410 SPJ WDP4D 13241 0735 Banka – Rajendranagar

 

Moves for Saturday 18th November 2017

22686 Rajgir Bakhtiyarpur Jn 0800 Rajgir – New Delhi Jn 12391 GZB WAP4
11583 Bakhtiyarpur Jn Khusropur 0215 Purnia Court – Patna Jn 18697 SPJ WDM3D
16633 Khusropur Rajendranagar Terminus 0535 Bhagalpur Jn – Danapur 13401 JMP WDM3A
18594(S) Rajendranagar Platform 2 West End Rajendranagar Platform 2 East End Shunt stock out ex 13202 LTT – Rajendranagar MGS WDM2(S) – for shunting only
30246 Rajendranagar Terminus Patna Sahib 1310 (17/11) New Delhi Jn – Rajgir 12391 GZB WAP7
11580 Patna Sahib Patna Jn 0315 Jaynagar – Patna Jn 55527 SPJ WDM3D – arr Patna 25′ early!
18846 Patna Jn Rajendranagar Terminus 2000 (17/11) New Delhi Jn – Islampur 12402 MGS WDM3A
36118 Rajendranagar Platform 2 East End Rajendranagar Platform 2 West End Shunt stock in for 12393 Rajendranagar – New Delhi MGS WDS6
18714 Rajendranagar Terminus Fatuha Jn 0840 Varanasi Jn – Sealdah 13134 BWN WDM3A
11583 Fatuha Jn Khagaria Jn 1645 Patna Jn – Purnia Court 18698 SPJ WDM3D

 

Photos for Saturday 18th November 2017

 

 

Sunday 19th November 2017 (Day 3 in Bihar – Khagaria to Bhagalpur via Munger then onwards to Malda)

 

I needed a good night’s sleep but the mosquitoes of Khagaria had other ideas and by 3am I was up assessing the damage; after initially assuming that the itching on my hand was due to dry skin after my shower the previous night. When I looked in the mirror it was immediate to see they’d done a good job on me and the bites on my neck and arms came up in large, blister like swells; and they itched too. Afterbite thankfully cured the itch and jungle formula deet ensured I wasn’t bitten again that night; but the damage was done! I slept with the sheet over my head for the rest of the night and as it was sweltering I had to turn the air-con on, mainly because the fan was set to max and with the switch head missing I was unable to turn it down.

 

When the alarm went off at 0545 I was far from refreshed and was expecting to be able to get my head back down anyway, after I’d checked 05522 Saharsa – Jamalpur & 07006 Raxaul – Hyderabad on NTES; and was completely withered when 05522 had already departed Saharsa, spot on time at 0510! So, that was the lay in out of the window, but I was pleased it was right time nonetheless. Pelham was still sock on and nearly jumped out of his bed when I banged it to wake him.

 

For a 6am hotel checkout in India, it was surprisingly efficient. After we managed to find the night hotel “boy”, which was actually an old man, in the wash room, he rang the main man and he was down checking us out within 2 minutes; although he was attempting to overcharge us quite considerably at the time. Our Booking.com rate had been RS2100, but he attempted to charge us RS3500, which of course I was having none of; and he knew it. I soon spotted the hotel tariff rate under the desk lip, on the reception side, and scrutiny of it revealed that the room we’d stayed in, room 403, was the “VIP Sweet” itself and cost the most as a result. The rate was RS2700 and that’s what we ended up paying before heading out into the big wide world of Khagaria.

 

We were greeted in the street by pigs ploughing away at all the shit piled up at the side of the dusty road, which was quite pleasantly empty. As we ambled to the station a few heads turned as we walked by people getting their stalls set up for the morning and as we approached Khagaria Jn station our 05522 Saharsa – Jamalpur passenger special was already being announced as “arriving on platform number 1”. Two chai’s later, JMP WDM3A 18874 was rumbling in and the masses seemed to be uneasy as it did so. Most ended up waiting it out on the platform and 05522 departed Khagaria, spot on time, with hardly anyone in the front portion of the train. Everyone we’d left behind was waiting for 18697 Purnia Court – Patna Jn Intercity; all but one person that was. He’d been pushing onto the train at Khagaria to ensure he got a seat, on a relatively empty train, but he was clearly too ignorant to listen to the station announcements as he was heading to Patna, for a meeting at 1130, and was last seen walking away from the train, towards the station exit at Sabdalpur Junction. I doubt very much that he was making his meeting that day; and to add insult to injury, we could hear the horn of the loco working 18697 Purnia Court – Patna as he walked away, and it stormed by on the main line, heading to Patna without him.

 

It turned out that we were waiting time at Sabdalpur Junction, which is the junction on the northern side of the Munger bridge, where the line diverges with curves heading east towards Khagaria and west towards Barauni. While taking a few photos of the big bag of garlic in the van at the front of the train, I could feel the eyes on me from behind and I only had to look at the moving shadows on the side of the train to see how everyone was cycling around trying to see what I was doing with my camera phone. It was harmless though and once on the move the line curves around to the left and the massive Munger bridge appeared out of the morning mist and gloom. Many people were hanging out of the doors and windows taking photos on the phones, and who was I not to join them; it was quite atmospheric of a morning and made for good photos as we sped across it. At the Munger side the line is elevated from the present Munger station, up towards the bridge entrance, with Munger station itself being slightly elevated above the normal street level. Again, we waited time at Munger, where most people on the train got off and went about their duties. Arrival into Jamalpur was amazingly right time and I’ll bet those waiting for the forward working of the rake, 53615 0815 Jamalpur – Kiul were shocked as well!

 

HWH WDM3D 11404 was sat in at Jamalpur when we arrived, and we made it over the footbridge in time to do it towards Bhagalpur with its late running 53042 Jaynagar – Howrah. We weren’t expecting to make 13133 Sealdah – Varanasi at Ratanpur, which was waiting for 53042 to come off the single line before it could continue towards Jamalpur, and we were soon heading back to Jamalpur with BWN WDM3A 16652 as a result; on a loco that we’d both had out of Secunderabad as a GTL loco 18 months ago. This put us back into Jamalpur with a bit of time to veg about and get some photos of trains arriving from the east, with all the semaphores still in use.

 

PTRU WDM3A 16416, looking ex works, was shunting the C&W works behind the station and WDG4 70487 was being prepared to work a train. GD WDM3A 16529 was also in the station area but eventually disappeared to work a freight. JMP WDP4D 40429 was first to arrive with 13071 Howrah – Jamalpur and not too far behind was JMP WDM3A 18881 with 22405 1330 (P) Bhagalpur – Anand Vihar; at just 18h30m late! There was no surprise that it was almost empty at Jamalpur. Not far behind that was JMP WDM3A 16091, which is ex HWH, with 07006 0130 Raxaul – Hyderabad; which had started at Darbhanga due to the late outward running of 07005. This seemed to be a regular thing for this train at the moment.

 

Breakfast ultimately came to us at the end of the platform as all the sellers sought shelter from the sun between trains and eventually we had a train heading east, in the form of 13484 Delhi Jn – Malda Town Farakka Express, which was 8h30m late with LKO WDM3D 11157. There was plenty of room on board for our jaunt out to Bariarpur, where we relaxed on the platform waiting for what turned out to be HWH WDM3A 11571 with 13409 0540 Malda Town – Jamalpur; which had managed to lose a load of time en-route and only made 54308 1305 Jamalpur – Rampurhat passenger at Jamalpur by 10 minutes in the end. It was already well loaded with JMP WDM3A 16264 waiting to lead the way. After having an argument with a vendor about the price he wanted to charge us for his cold pop, we cut our nose off to spite our face and ended up not having cold pop for the journey, despite the dispute being over the small amount of RS4! It’s the principle!

 

We were glad to have something other than foot space when we got off at Sultanganj, where cold pop was purchased; and it was worth the wait. And that’s just what we had to do for a late running 53403 0540 Rampurhat – Gaya going the other way. Thankfully NTES kept us on our toes and we knew where to get off for things; with JMP WDM3A 16622, heading 53403, leaving us no choice but to get off for 13024 1220 Gaya – Howrah at Bariarpur. HWH WDM3A 14129 turning up with 13024 was pleasing and it turned out to be a bit of a machine, with the loco pilot making good use of the first and last notches and the brake to boot. Having kept an eye on 53432 1530 Jamalpur – Sahibganj passenger on NTES we got off to wait for it at Akbarnagar; once NTES confirmed it had departed Jamalpur; over 2 hours late. There were plenty of omelette walla’s outside the station and we indulged while we waited. JMP WDM3A 16541 eventually turned up to take us through to Bhagalpur on 53432; and that was where our fester began.

 

Our planned move, booked on Clear Trip in 2AC, was 13430 Anand Vihar – Malda Town from Bhagalpur to Malda Town. It was booked off Bhagalpur at 1850 and into Malda at 2350. I’d already booked to Hotel Shine in Malda over the phone a couple of days ago and had to ring them at Akbarnagar to tell them we probably wouldn’t be arriving with them until around 0300 the following morning as 13430 had been over 3 hours late since the Kanpur area and by Patna had made it to 5 hours late. So, we had no choice but to wait it out at Bhagalpur, starting with a decent Egg Curry in the refreshment room to pass the time; and there are only so many cups of chai you can have to drag the time out, before having to move on and find somewhere else to fester.

 

The waiting room on platform 1 of Bhagalpur station was wedged and most of the floor was covered with people making their beds up for the night. Thankfully we found somewhere to sit after JMP WDP4D 40429 had taken most of those waiting away, when it arrived with 13072 Jamalpur – Howrah. The local village idiot didn’t seem to understand no, and he kept returning to stand with his hand out, the whole time we were festering. During our fester we could do nothing but watch the arrivals and departures, which included JMP WDM3A 16620 arriving with the 7h15m late running 12368 Anand Vihar – Bhagalpur Vikramshila Express, SPJ WDG3A 14723 arriving with 13424 Ajmer – Bhagalpur, JMP WDM3A 16570 arriving with 53498 1858 Jamalpur – Bhagalpur and then running round to work back with 53497 to Jamalpur, HWH WDM3A 14138 with 53041 Howrah – Jaynagar, HWH WDM3A 14128 with 54043 Howrah – Rajgir, JMP WDM3A 16633 with 13402 Danapur – Bhagalpur and a WDP4 with 22946 Surat – Bhagalpur. The whole while JMP WDS6 36235 was shunting stock in and out of the platforms to make way for the next arrival.

 

Our moment of truth final came as midnight approached and surprisingly 13430 Anand Vihar – Malda Town arrived with MLDT WDM3A twins 16514/16561 in multi. The 2CA was empty on board, but for 3 other people, and we had the pick of the berths for the journey through to Malda Town. We eventually departed at 0020, 5h30m late, but at least we had berths to get some sleep in; now our late evening jaunt to Malda had been turned into an overnight journey! The train was very slackly timed from Bhagalpur to Malda, so we expected to make a fair bit of time up en-route; needless to say, we didn’t and festered around lots instead!

 

Gen for Sunday 19th November 2017

18874 JMP WDM3A 05522 0500 Saharsa – Jamalpur, 53615 0815 Jamalpur – Kiul Jn
11404 HWH WDM3D 53042 2010 (P) Jaynagar – Howrah
40429 JMP WDP4D 13071 2135 (P) Howrah – Jamalpur, 13072 1930 Jamalpur – Howrah
16652 BWN WDM3A 13133 2115 (P) Sealdah – Varanasi
18881 JMP WDM3A 22405 1330 (P) Bhagalpur – Anand Vihar (18h30m late)
16091 JMP WDM3A 07006 0130 Raxaul – Hyderabad (start Darbhanga)
11157 LKO WDM3D 13484 2140 (PP) Delhi Jn – Malda Town (8h45m late)
16105 JMP WDM3A 14055 2325 (PP) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn
WDP4 12335 0900 Bhagalpur – LTT
16541 JMP WDM3A 53431 0705 Sahibganj – Jamalpur, 53432 1530 Jamalpur – Sahibganj
11571 HWH WDM3D 13409 0540 Malda Town – Jamalpur
18820 JMP WDM3A 12367 1115 Bhagalpur – Anand Vihar
16264 JMP WDM3A 54308 1305 Jamalpur – Rampurhat
40412 JMP WDP4D 13419 1405 Bhagalpur – Muzaffarpur
16622 JMP WDM3A 53403 0540 Rampurhat – Gaya Jn
14129 HWH WDM3A 13024 1220 Gaya Jn – Howrah
16620 JMP WDM3A 12368 1440 (P) Anand Vihar – Bhagalpur (7h15m late)
14723 SPJ WDG3A 13424 0555 (P) Ajmer Jn – Bhagalpur
16570 JMP WDM3A 53498 1858 Jamalpur – Bhagalpur
14138 HWH WDM3A 53041 0715 Howrah – Jaynagar
16633 JMP WDM3A 13402 1615 Danapur – Bhagalpur
14128 HWH WDM3A 53043 1110 Howrah – Rajgir
40xxx ???? WDP4D 22947 0950 (P) Surat – Bhagalpur
16514/16561 MLDT WDM3As 13430 1710 (P) Anand Vihar – Malda Town
36235 JMP WDS6 Bhagalpur station pilot

 

Moves for Sunday 19th November 2017

18874 Khagaria Jn Jamalpur Jn 0510 Saharsa Jn – Jamalpur Jn 05522 JMP WDM3A – via Munger Bridge (RT throughout!)
11404 Jamalpur Jn Ratanpur 2010 (18/11) Jaynagar – Howrah 53042 HWH WDM3D
16652 Ratanpur Jamalpur Jn 2115 (18/11) Sealdah – Varanasi Jn 13133 BWN WDM3A
11157 Jamalpur Jn Bariarpur 2140 (17/11) Delhi Jn – Malda Town 13484 LKO WDM3D – 8h30m late
11571 Bariarpur Jamalpur Jn 0540 Malda Town – Jamalpur Jn 13409 HWH WDM3D
16264 Jamalpur Jn Sultanganj 1305 Jamalpur Jn – Rampurhat Jn 53408 JMP WDM3A
16622 Sultanganj Bariarpur 0540 Rampurhat Jn – Gaya Jn 53403 JMP WDM3A
14129 Bariarpur Akbarnagar 1220 Gaya Jn – Howrah 13024 HWH WDM3A
16541 Akbarnagar Bhagalpur Jn 1530 Jamalpur Jn – Sahibganj Jn 53432 JMP WDM3A

 

Photos for Sunday 19th November 2017

 

 

Monday 20th November 2017 (A day in Malda)

 

I woke up with a start, at what my watch told me was 0346. Our coach was deserted, and I got the impression we’d been stood a while; so, I assumed we’d arrived into Malda Town and nobody had bothered to wake us. I quickly woke Pelham, unlocked the bags from under the seats, then went to check where we were. Had I done the latter first, I’d never have done any of the other links in the chain of events and quickly gone back to sleep! We definitely weren’t at Malda Town and NTES had us departing New Farakka only a short time before I’d woken up. So back to sleep it was, for a while.

 

We eventually arrived into a deserted Malda Town at 0450, bang on 5 hours late, and wasted no time in heading to the Hotel Shine; which is out of the station, turn right, follow the lane to the main road, bear right and it’s on the left-hand side about 100m up the road. The shutters were down at the Shine but a quick shout through them resulted in movement and we were through the threshold moments later and filling in the big hotel register. The staff wanted to keep our passports to photocopy them in the morning but there was no way that was happening, and they went with us to our room. The room had two single beds and wasn’t huge, but it could have been a barn and we’d have been happy with the beds! As it was still quite warm the “boy” brought us two sheets to use, instead of the thick blankets. The door was then locked, earplugs were in, even if they didn’t keep out the road noise from outside the front of the hotel, and doss was happening! We’d decided to cut our losses and recharge, with the alarm set for 0930 to start a fresh.

 

At 0724 the room door bell was going, it was the reception boy with a registration paper in his hand; all of which he could have filled in from the passport scan I’d given him, but for where we’d come from and where we were heading to after we left the hotel; and I told him so in no uncertain terms! He still wouldn’t fuck off without me filling the form in though, so I scribbled the gen on it in barely legible scrawl and threw it back at him, before closing the door behind him. That probably explains why I had to fill the form out again when we checked out of the hotel the following morning!

 

At 0930 we were much more refreshed than we had been on arrival at the hotel and I felt more refreshed than any other morning on the trip thus far. Before we left the hotel for the day, we got accosted in reception again and Pelham’s passport eventually had to be taken over the road to be copied as the hotel’s printer had burst. As usual, these little escapades take away the relaxation time you have at the destination you’re heading to; and this was no exception. We were heading to Malda Court for 55771 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur (on the Balurghat branch) and while Pelham’s passport was being dealt with I accosted an auto driver; who was going to charge us RS20 each for the 7km journey across town. I’d say 80% of Malda’s autos are now battery powered and we saw very, very few conventional autos at all. The journey to Malda Court station was pleasant enough but the traffic over the river bridge, to get to the other side of town, was a nightmare; not helped by the traffic lights at either end snarling the place up, or the dickheads overtaking where they shouldn’t and bringing oncoming traffic to a stand when they did.

 

We got there in the end but were glad we allowed more than enough time for the journey. MLDT WDM3D 11551 was already on the stock to form 55771 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur and I was very surprised to find the whole station area fully wired up and freshly ballasted. Malda Court is the first station on the Old Malda Jn to Singhabad line, which then runs over the border to Bangladesh. There used to be one train a day over the branch, starting at Old Malda, formed on loco and one coach; but quite a few people have been bowled in recent years when they’d gone for the train and it had been caped. The new overheads and freshly laid tracks made me wonder if the train had been mothballed to allow the works to take place unhindered? Terminating trains at Malda Court was a new thing and hadn’t been going on very long, I assume this is to relieve station space at Malda Town; and by rule of thumb, all the local passenger trains from Malda up the main line towards New Jalpaiguri start and finish at Malda Court now; but for a couple that have loco swaps at Malda Town.

 

55771 was empty throughout the train when 11551 got it underway and what a machine it was too. It’s always a good bash when you have free use of the front coach and can pick and choose the door you want to bellow out of; and this was our first day on the trip without our big bags. We only went out as far as Adina, even though 55704 0815 Katihar – Malda court was a little late. The overheads along the way were at various stages of completion and all the stations were undergoing a massive makeover. The makeshift signs on the platforms at Adina, which were basically building sites, warned of “Denger”! Nothing was being spared, even the old station toilet was being knocked down, although I’m not sure the two guys bounding on one of the crossbeams, to checks if it would hold them was a wise move; especially before setting about what was left with a sledge hammer! To get away from the building works we found a small shack outside the station that sold chai, to keep us occupied for a while.

 

Back on the station we festered in the shade, beneath the footbridge, stood on the middle roads of the station watching the staff ferry sleepers up and down. We got talking to the site supervisor, who was only a young lad but was a graduate also. It was plain to see who the brains behind the operation was, but the workers did as asked every time and every movement went smoothly. When MLDT WDM3A 16222 arrived with 55704 0815 Katihar – Malda Court, it was time to leave; and as it was so late, it cut the fester down at Old Malda for 55712 0600 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town behind it; which would save an auto journey back across town from Malda Court.

 

Old Malda Jn was also undergoing a makeover and the footbridge over the track was closed off, giving people no option but to cross the tracks to get from one side to the other. The main platform had a woman, bent double, sweeping dust and gravel off the platform; which was a pointless task if ever I’ve seen one. Outside in the station car park was a tarmac making machine, which was clagging the place out as well as making a racket. The tarmac was being ferried down the main road on the back of cycle rickshaws with flat-backs and deposited on the road up ahead; which had been closed off from the main junction down the way. This isn’t a main road by the way, it’s just some tin-pot dirt track that leads to the station entrance. Preceding the tarmacking were a few folk chipping away at the old road surface and then some women sweeping away the dust. It all looked a bit like hard work for what use it would have been, but the new road surface looked nice, even so.

 

We spent a good 45 minutes sheltering from the sun in a relaxing shack near the station front. Chai was readily available while bert grated spuds into strips and his wife fried them. Between them they were preparing food for the afternoon partakers, which all looked piping hot and quite nice when we saw her put some out for a couple of people before we went. Goats small enough to get under the seats in the shack roamed around freely and there was even a brief minute that a cat ventured inside; until it was chased off. Outside on the main road, the bigger goats and cows lay about on the road, oblivious to the fact that they would soon be moved on as the resurfacing approached them.

 

Back at Old Malda station our posed photo became a bit risky when a long freight approached the station, as with that in the way we’d have no choice but to clamber under it to get to our train; of course, if it was still moving when 55712 arrived then we’d be bowled completely! Just as anyone wanting to buy a ticket for the train would be as the ticket office bert was on his tiffin break from 1230-1330, as per the sign in his window. The freight did come to a stand before MLDT WDM3A 16845 arrived with 55712 but we still managed to get a decent photo of it arriving. Just like the other two trains we’d done that morning, 55712 wasn’t wedged and there was plenty of space on board and despite it having been over an hour late at one point, it was stood outside Malda Town waiting the road in, before time.

 

In the carriage sidings at Malda Town, HWH WDM3D 11403 was sat with the stock for 13422 1550 Malda Town – Howrah and LKO WDP4D 40181 with the stock for 13413 1910 Malda Town – Delhi Jn Farakka Express, with GD WDM3A 16035 stabled behind the wall. BWN WDM3A 16505 had just arrived with 25657 0635 Sealdah – Agartala and was replaced by MLDT WDM3A 16514, which was poised to come off shed as 55712 rolled into Malda Town. Disappointingly, we found BWN WDM3A 16162 stood off the stock for 53418 1500 Malda Town – Barddhaman Jn and even more disappointingly, JMP WDP4D 40411 stood off the stock for 53402 1620 Malda Town – Sahibganj; immediately behind it, in the same platform.

 

More disappointment came in the refreshment room on platform 1, when a very average and almost cold egg biriyani was put in front of us; but we ate it all the same. Back on the platform, 15658 Guwahati – Sealdah was soon upon us, 2 hours late after being booked to run via Goalpara vice Rangiya until the 23rd November. MLDT WDM3A 16639 gave way to BWN WDM3A 16539, which had been stabled in the bay at the bottom end of platform 1. 16639 then dropped onto 16845 in platform 2 and both headed off for shed. As we watched from the footbridge, they had to wait to get on as MLDT WDM3A 16561 propelled MLDT WDM3A 16463 onto the stock and would work 55711 1530 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri; with 16463 dead inside.

 

Decision time came when HWH WDM3A 16115 arrived with 13063 0755 Howrah – Balurghat and we ended up in a battery auto, heading across to Malda Court for 55769 1645 Malda Court – Katihar. Me not being clear with the driver resulted in us heading towards Malda court and not Malda Court station and by the time I pointed this out to him, we were fucked with the one-way traffic and had no real choice but to go the long way around to get to Malda Court station; and paid him double the agreed RS50 fare for his trouble. When we got there MLDT WDM3D 11551 was just being prepared for departure with 55769; ooops! That resulted in us getting straight back into the first available auto back to Malda Town; mainly because the train we were heading out to Old Malda for had already been overtaken by 13034 Katihar -c Howrah; which we were hoping to make off the passenger at Malda Town, so we cut our losses. As we stormed out of the station car park, 11551 blew up for departure and then people started legging it across the car park; even our auto driver was taking the piss out of them as they ran. The bridge over the river was as busy at it had been earlier in the day but while everything was stood heading towards Malda Court, we managed to get across towards Town quite quickly.

 

Drinking chai is a favourite pastime of mine in India while festering for trains, so more chia it was before HWH WDM3A 14131 arrived with 13034 1530 Katihar – Howrah and there was no sign of the passenger arriving before it departed, so we’d played the right move as we headed out to Jamirghata with it; to await 53027 1605 Azimganj – Malda Town passenger back in. We were the only passengers waiting for it and while we did BWN WDM3A 16449 hammered through with 13161 Howrah – Balurghat, which would form our 13162 Balurghat – Howrah, to Rampurhat, the following morning. BWN WDM3A 16697 finished the day off with yet another empty train and deposited us back into Malda Town by 2030; and that was the day’s bash over.

 

Back at the Hotel Shine we used the hotel restaurant and the food they served up was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in India. The chilli chicken I had was nothing but breast meat, had no fat and the sauce was very tasty. The steam rice was piping hot and freshly cooked and the nan bread was done to perfection. The bill total of RS347 (a little over £4) was well worth it.

 

As we were leaving our big bags in Malda for a couple of days we had to do bag shunts when back in the room and I even managed to wash a shirt in the piping hot water; using shampoo as I didn’t have enough shower gel to do it! The overhead fan helped in having it half dry before we went to bed and it was fully dry by the morning. We’d had a relaxing day, if nothing else, and would be back to it the following morning.

 

Gen for Monday 20th November 2017

11551 MLDT WDM3D 55771 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur, 55772 1415 Buniadpur – Malda Court, 55769 1645 Malda Court – Katihar
16222 MLDT WDM3A 55704 0815 Katihar Jn – Malda Court
16845 MLDT WDM3A 55712 0600 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town
16505 BWN WDM3A 25657 0635 Sealdah – Silchar (to Malda)
16514 MLDT WDM3A 25657 0635 Sealdah – Silchar (from Malda)
16162 BWN WDM3A 53418 1500 Malda Town – Barddhaman Jn
40411 JMP WDP4D 53402 1620 Malda Town – Sahibganj
16639 MLDT WDM3A 15658 2255 (P) Guwahati – Sealdah (to Malda)
16539 BWN WDM3A 15658 2255 (P) Guwahati – Sealdah (from Malda)
11403 HWH WDM3D 13422 1550 Malda Town – Nabadwip Dham
16115 HWH WDM3A 13063 0755 Howrah – Balurghat
16561 MLDT WDM3A 55711 1530 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri (16463 MLDT WDM3A dead inside)
40181 LKO WDP4D 13413 1910 Malda Town – Delhi Jn
14129 HWH WDM3A 12513 0730 (P) Secunderabad – Guwahati
14131 HWH WDM3A 13034 1530 Katihar – Howrah
20072 SGUJ WDP4 12041 1415 Howrah – New Jalpaiguri
16449 BWN WDM3A 13161 1255 Kolkata Chitpur – Balurghat
16697 BWN WDM3A 53027 1605 Azimganj – Malda Town

 

Moves for Monday 20th November 2017

16514 Bhagalpur Jn Malda Town 1710 (18/11) Anand Vihar Terminus – Malda Town 13430 MLDT WDM3A’s 16514/16561 in multi – 6 hours late
16561
11551 Malda Court Adina 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur 55771 MLDT WDM3D
16222 Adina Old Malda Jn 0815 Katihar Jn – Malda Court 55704 MLDT WDM3A
16845 Old Malda Jn Malda Town 0600 New Jalpaiguri Jn – Malda Town 55712 MLDT WDM3A
14131 Malda Town Jamirghata 1530 Katihar Jn – Howrah 13034 HWH WDM3A
16697 Jamirghata Malda Town 1605 Azimganj Jn – Malda Town 53027 BWN WDM3A

 

Photos for Monday 20th November 2017

 

 

Tuesday 21st November 2017 (Malda – Rampurhat – Dumka – Ranchi on my 42nd birthday)

 

We’d originally planned to leave our big bags at the cloak room at Malda Town, but the hotel was willing to keep them for us until Thursday; so, at the Hotel Shine they stayed. As we walked onto the station, we spotted 57421 0715 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri in platform 2 and it was yinging at the front end. The refreshment room staff, on platform 1, we willing to serve us some form of breakfast, despite all the chairs being up on the tables and cleaning being in progress. We ended up standing at the front counter, drinking chai, while waiting for our omelettes to be rustled up. While waiting, I noticed a picture frame with some spiel about the Darjeeling Mail, which gave a full history of the routing since its introduction in the early 1900’s, when it used to run from Calcutta (now Sealdah) to Damookdeah Ghat on a BG train, on the southern bank of the Padma River, passengers would then transfer by ferry to Saraghat and finish their journey to Siliguri by way of a 336km MG train. In 1912 a bridge was constructed across the Padma River and by 1926 the MG section north of the river had been converted to BG so the whole route was operated on the BG; Sealdah – Ranaghat – Bheramara – over the Padma Bridge – Iswardi – Santahar – Hili-Parabtipur – Nilphamari – Haldibari – Jalpaiguri – Siliguri. Of course, after partition in 1947, part of the route then ended up being via Bangladesh, but the train continued via this route for some time, before then being routes solely in India; via the Sahibganj Loop to Sakrigalighat, ferry over the Ganges to Manihari Ghat then to Kishanganj via Katihar and Barsoi and finally by NG to Siliguri. In 1949 the Kishanganj – Siliguri section was converted to MG, thus making it MG only once over the Ganges. When the Farakka Barrage was built in the 1960’s, with the line being opened in 1971, the Darjeeling Mail then ran via this new BG route and was again one train throughout on BG tracks. Quite an interesting article to pass the time over breakfast I thought? It’s a shame such a legendary train is booked an SGUJ WDP4!

 

When BWN WDM3A 16449 rolled in with 13162 0530 Balurghat – Kolkata, it was no surprise as we’d seen it heading north the previous night; while sat at Jamirghata. There was plenty of room in unreserved at the front of the train and it was quite a relaxing journey to Rampurhat. Shortly before departure I noticed VSKP WDG3A 13085 over the way with a freight. I’m guessing that VSKP locos don’t venture that far away from home often? We were on a plus 1h09m for the one train of the day over the Rampurhat – Dumka section but weren’t concerned as NTES had shown that 13162 had made 53081 at Rampurhat on the previous 6 occasions and had been less than 10’ late on 4 of those occasions. However, when we got looped at Swadinpur, our good timekeeping went to waste; and all for SGUJ WDP4 20082 with 12042 New Jalpaiguri – Howrah Shatabdi, which cost us 30 minutes! We’d have been in Rampurhat by the time 12042 had got to Swadinpur, had they kept us running. Still, we got there with plenty of time to spare and even had time to nip out of the station, where there were plenty of sellers willing to provide us with something to take on our journey to Dumka; little did we realise how much we’d need that little something at the time.

 

BWN WDM3A 16539 passed through Rampurhat, while we waited, with 15657 0635 Sealdah – Guwahati and while we were stood drinking chai and charging phones, BWN WDM3A 18875 arrived with 53025 0915 Azimganj – Rampurhat and a rake of brown, local, non-toileted coaches. The loco was run around as quickly as possible, but a late start was inevitable and 53081 1130 Rampurhat – Dumka eventually departed 30’ late; which is a bit crap on a plus 15’ at Dumka for the 1325 Dumka – Jasidih. Randomly 53081 is one of the few trains that doesn’t show up in NTES at all, along with one of the trains on the Dumka – Bhagalpur line. The train itself was almost deserted on departure from Rampurhat and we pretty much had the whole front coach to ourselves, all the way to Dumka. BWN’s 18875 was a bloody machine and try as the loco pilot might, he didn’t manage to pull any of the time back at all and when we arrived into Dumka at 1335, we knew we were in for a long fester when the only set of stock there was the set for our 18620 1845 Dumka – Ranchi overnight. You’d think that with there being just one train a day over the Rampurhat – Dumka section, that IR would hold the connection towards Jasidih to encourage people to use the damn train; but no, they’d just resigned anyone wishing to do the connection to a 4h20m wait for the next train to Jasidih; formed of the same set of stock and loco that they’d all just missed!

 

On a completely different note, I was a little concerned at the fact that UDL WDM3A 16572 was sat with the stock for 18620 1845 Dumka – Ranchi, and not a BKSC Alco as expected. What I deduced from this was, that since the Dhanbad – Chandrapura line closure had resulted in 18619/18620 being diverted via Joychandipahar & Talgoria, that the loco link had changed and was now probably an ASN WAM4/WAG5 Ranchi – Asansol for a UDL WDM3A to/from Dumka; which would certainly explain what we’d found at Dumka, but would not do the colouring in of my Indian Railways atlas any good; and over track that I’d never known an Alco do during my travels in India.

 

Resigned to the fact that we had over 4 hours to kill at Dumka, we made the most of it, without getting an auto the 7km to town. On my previous visit to Dumka, I’d had the fester anyway as it was a Sunday and the Jasidih – Dumka service is thin on the ground. Then, there’d been nothing at all being sold in the station vicinity but now, there was a chai stall outside to the right and a couple of other stalls selling bits and pieces and there was even an omelette walla later. Everything I had with me was fully charged, including my laptop; which I’d flattened on the train across from Rampurhat. It was quite peaceful whiling the time away, until the masses started to drift onto the station for both the 1800 to Jasidih and the 1845 overnight to Ranchi.

 

UDL WDM3A 18750 graced us with its presence, when it returned from Jasidih with 53556 1530 Jasidih – Dumka and ran-round to work 53555 1800 Dumka – Jasidih. Had I not needed it, I was going to stay behind and make sure our berths didn’t get given away on board 18620 but as we both needed it, I had a walk over to the train and had a word with the coach attendant; who eventually understood that we’d be getting on at Jama, even though he was very confused as to why! UDL’s 18750 was another machine and it was a good run out into the countryside with it. I wasn’t quite expecting it to be pitch black on Jama station, after the train disappeared, but it was that dark that I couldn’t see Pelham 5 yards in front of me! My very good torch did reveal other people waiting in the darkness, so we weren’t alone in the big wide wilderness we waited, but it was getting a bit chilly.

 

When the headlight of UDL’s 16572 came into sight, it lit the whole area up and turned night into day as it rumbled down the platform at Jama. The coach attendant was stood at the 3AC coach door waiting for us to board, and there needn’t have been any worry as the coach was half empty at that point. It filled to capacity at Jasidih though, where 16572 ran-round and Vic joined the party. With berths made up, before Jasidih and the mad rush, bed came shortly after departure and I was out like a light, despite the kafuffle going on down below. The moment of truth would greet us on arrival at Ranchi, unless one of us was awake in the night and could hear what type of horn was blurting out at the front of the train. It had been a good 42nd birthday, despite the forced fester at Dumka; but I was convinced IR were going to give me an ASN WAG5 as a present, right at the death!

 

Gen for Tuesday 21st November 2017

xxxxx WDP4 57421 0715 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri
16449 BWN WDM3A 13162 0530 Balurghat – Kolkata Chitpur
16598 MLDT WDM3A (40028 dit) 13416 2150 (P) Patna Jn – Malda Town
20082 SGUJ WDP4 12042 0530 New Jalpaiguri – Howrah
16539 BWN WDM3A 15657 0635 Sealdah – Guwahati (to Malda)
18875 53025 0915 Azimganj – Rampurhat, 53081 1130 Rampurhat – Dumka, 53082 1445 Dumka – Rampurhat
18750 UDL WDM3A 53556 1555 Jasidih – Dumka, 53555 1800 Dumka – Jasidih
16572 UDL WDM3A 18620 1845 Dumka – Ranchi Jn (to Asansol)
21385 ASN WAM4 18620 1845 Dumka – Ranchi Jn (from Asansol)

 

Moves for Tuesday 21st November 2017

16449 Malda Town Rampurhat Jn 0530 Balurghat – Kolkata Chitpur 13162 BWN WDM3A
18875 Rampurhat Jn Dumka 1130 Rampurhat – Dumka 53081 BWN WDM3A
18750 Dumka Jama 1800 Dumka – Jasidih Jn 53555 UDL WDM3A
16572 Jama Asansol Jn 1845 Dumka – Ranchi Jn 18620 UDL WDM3A 16572 to Asansol Jn, via Jsidih (RR), ASN WAM4 21385 forward to Ranchi via Joychandipahar
21385 Asansol Jn Ranchi Jn

 

Photos for Tuesday 21st November 2017

 

 

Wednesday 22nd November 2017 (A day in Ranchi to cover the new line from Barkichanpi to Tori)

 

Before we’d got anywhere near Ranchi, at the ungodly arrival time of 0435, it was evident that the nag at the front of the train was displaying all the characteristics of an electric loco; the horn being a big giveaway. Sure enough, when 18620 dropped into platform 2 at Ranchi, 15 minutes early at 0420, ASN WAM4 21385 was revealed at the head of the train. In the adjacent platform was the 14-coach local set for the Lohardaga branch services, with BKSC WDM3A 16182 just running around to work the first train of the day, 58651 0500 Ranchi – Lohardaga. This set would become our home between 0500 & 1430.

 

We got ourselves encamped in the front coach and the first chai walla that came around was withered when we asked him to line 6 cups of chai up on the seats. All were polished off before departure and when the ex BWN machine got 58651 underway at 0500, we knew it was going to be a good day. 16182 hadn’t been bent yet and retained the old style short hood, without dynamic brake blister; which, as a rule, generally meant it was going to be a good engine, and it bloody well was. It was a shame it was a bit too early to bellow out of the doors as it gets quite cold of a night in the Ranchi area. Thankfully, the train didn’t get wedged at all on the way out to Lohardaga but the moment we arrived there was a right kerfuffle, with everyone posting things through windows to put on seats and once the train had emptied out, all that remained were bottles, scarves, hankies and anything else that people could leave on the seats to reserve their pew for their daily commute to Ranchi. Due to the scrum for seats, we stayed at the rear of 58652 0700 Lohardaga – Ranchi; and didn’t budge. With it being downhill most of the way, we’d then be in prime position for the trip that mattered from Ranchi.

 

With the overnight jaunt from Dumka not revealing what we’d hoped, we were hoping that the second reason for being in Ranchi wouldn’t disappoint; and it didn’t. Having been in Ranchi in March 2017, it was disappointing that the final section of the Lohardaga – Tori new line opened only a week or so after I left the area. After doing Ranchi – Barkichanpi about 8 years previous, I soon understood why it had taken so long to complete the final stretch to Tori, when we got beyond Barkichanpi with 58653 0855 Ranchi – Tori.

 

The train had emptied out at Lohardaga and the run through to Tori was very relaxing as a result. We’d spotted VSKP WDG3A’s 13078/14654 with a coal rake, that appeared to be being offloaded at Piska and then PTRU WDG4 70519 was sat with another freight at Barkichanpi. As 16182 hammered away from Lohardaga, preparations for the dreaded electrification were in full swing with heads just popping up above the deep holes being dug to place the masts. Further along, masts had already been planted and by the time we came back concrete was being put into the holes to secure the foundation, before the masts were mounted into their respective holes! Of course, the electrification of the Ranchi – Tori route made sense, unlike a lot of the other electrification but this electrification would dash my hopes of ever getting Garhwa Road Jn – Sonnagar Jn in for Alco; when long distance services started to get diverted via the Lohardaga line.

 

The line itself is very scenic and very steep in places, as it negotiates the hilly terrain. A lot of work has gone into getting the line forced through the tundra, at altitude, and some of the hills look too steep for loaded goods trains to negotiate without assistance. Unfortunately, IR haven’t out up any gradient posts to indicate just how steep the hills are. Either way, they made 16182 bark a bit and it was a pleasure to be hanging out of the front door of the train listening to it. Having done the new bit of track, it was a bit of a shock to arrive into Tori Jn, which was a far cry from the nice scenery we’d been subjected to; and was a one of those places that looked like it was in the back end of beyond and a bit run down. While attempting to get some photos, before 16182 was run-round, I managed to land my foot in a nice fresh human turd and carried the stench down the platform with me until I could wash it off my shoe properly! At least the station had a seller, who had just finished making some nice fresh samosas; which sufficed for dinner.

 

Unfortunately, PTRU WDP4D 40232 dropped into Tori while we were there, with 18102 Jammu Tawi – Tatanagar, running 8h40m late. All those on board wanting to go through to Ranchi on the Sambalpur portion, which splits off as 18110 at Muri Jn, figured out that they’d be into Ranchi quicker by doing 58654 1200 Tori – Ranchi; and by some time too. 18110/18102 are timed 6 hours Tori – Ranchi, whereas 58654 is only timed 2h30m. So, the sooner long-distance trains are diverted via Lohardaga to Tori, the better as far as timings are concerned. Still, we managed to get seats on the train before the hordes made it over the footbridge and had a cracking run back to Ranchi; where we finally left BKSC’s 16182 to its own devices and had an afternoon of nedding about on electrics, local to Ranchi.

 

The “Don’t Loo Here” sign, in the platform 1 bay platform at Ranchi Jn, always makes me chuckle, especially when there’s someone stood near it having a piss up the side of the platform! I couldn’t not take a photo of said occurrence, before we set about doing WAG’s for the afternoon. CNB WAG7 27584 was sat over the back of the station with the stock to form 58034 1545 Ranchi – Bokaro Steel City, which even had a compartment reserved for “Spawn Fish”! TATA WAG5 23309 was soon arriving into platform 1 with the stock for 58164 1522 Ranchi – Garhbeta; and that was proceedings underway; all the way to Namkom. We were only there 20 minutes before CNB WAG7 27584 took us through to the strange shack that is Tatisilwai, and there we waited for 58661 1130 Tatanagar – Hatia; not wanting to venture too far from Ranchi, just in case there was a farce.

 

Tatisilwai station is split in two by the elevated station building and a large expanse of land that we had to walk over to get to the Ranchi bound platforms. The Muri bound platforms are in a bit of a cutting, but the Ranchi ones are open. During my last visit to Tatisilwai, only 8 months ago, the whole Ranchi bound platform area had been a building site, with platforms not even having any edging on them. At least they now had edging, but the surface had been left unfinished and was nothing more than trodden dirt. The station building looked like it was undergoing a heavy overhaul as well and someone was carefully painting the distance to next station km’s back onto the blank space they should be occupying.

 

The wait was an extended one, thanks to both trains back into Ranchi being late; thankfully not heavy though. NTES kept us informed and when TATA WAG5 23932 arrived with 58661 1130 Tatanagar – Hatia, we knew we were safe getting off at Namkom for 53061 0615 Barddhaman – Hatia; which turned up with TATA WAG5 21147. As the trains were late we didn’t have enough time to nip away from the station to grab something to eat, before we parted ways again, so the refreshment room on platform 1 it was. And what a good choice it was too, the Aloo Dopyaza they rustled up was very good; especially for a station refreshment room.

 

Even though both Pelham & I and Vic were both heading back towards Bhagalpur, we were both doing it via separate routes, Vic back via Dumka and then Hansdiha to Bhagalpur, whereas Pelham & I were doing 13403 Ranchi – Bhagalpur. We’d originally planned to do it through to Bhagalpur but figured out that getting off at Barharwa Jn and heading to Malda was a better move. Unfortunately for us, ASN WAM4 21385 was our loco to Andal on 13403 and we pottered out of the station, waving at Vic, who was draining the station of power to charge his appliances. A message from him soon followed to confirm that he’d managed to get a berth on 18619 to Dumka, having been RAC1 before charting! So, all was well, and sleep was not hard to come by, after everyone settled down and the TTE had done his thing.

 

Gen for Wednesday 22nd November 2017

16182 BKSC WDM3A 58651 0500 Ranchi – Lohardaga, 58652 0700 Lohardaga – Ranchi, 58653 0855 Ranchi – Tori Jn, 58654 1200 Tori Jn – Ranchi, 58655 1500 Ranchi – Lohardaga
13078/14654 VSKP WDG3As coal train being unloaded at Piska on Lohardaga line
40232 PTRU WDP4D 18102 Jammu Tawi – Tatanagar (8h40m late thro Tori)
23191 TATA WAG5 58142 1410 Hatia – Tatanagar
23317 TATA WAG5 13351 1030  Dhanbad – Alappuzha
22503 SEC WAP4 12817 1440 Hatia – Anand Vihar
22299 CNB WAP4 13304 1600 Ranchi – Deogarh
23309 TATA WAG5 58164 1522 Ranchi – Garhbeta
27584 ED WAG7 58034 1545 Ranchi – Bokaro Steel City
23932 TATA WAG5 58661 1130 Tatanagar – Hatia
21147 TATA WAG5 53061 0615 Barddhaman – Hatia
21385 ASN WAM4 13403 1915 Ranchi – Bhagalpur (to Asansol)

 

Moves for Wednesday 22nd November 2017

16182 Ranchi Jn Lohardaga 0500 Ranchi Jn – Lohardaga 58651 BKSC WDM3A
16182 Lohardaga Ranchi Jn 0700 Lohardaga – Ranchi Jn 58652 BKSC WDM3A
16182 Ranchi Jn Tori Jn 0855 Ranchi Jn – Tori Jn 58653 BKSC WDM3A – via Lohardaga
16182 Tori Jn Ranchi Jn 1200 Tori Jn – Ranchi Jn 58654 BKSC WDM3A – via Lohardaga
23309 Ranchi Jn Namkom 1522 Ranchi Jn – Garhbeta 58164 TATA WAG5
27584 Namkom Tatisilwai 1545 Ranchi Jn – Bokaro Steel City 58034 ED WAG7
23932 Tatisilwai Namkom 1130 Tatanagar – Hatia 58661 TATA WAG5
21147 Namkom Ranchi Jn 0615 Barddhaman Jn – Hatia 53061 TATA WAG5
21385 Ranchi Jn Andal Jn 1915 Ranchi Jn – Bhagalpur Jn 13403 ASN WAM4

 

Photos for Wednesday 22nd November 2017

 

 

Thursday 23rd November 2017 (Another day around Malda before heading to the North East)

 

I was awake in good time to get off at Barharwa Jn and while 13403 stood around on the outskirts of Barharwa Jn I was able to take stock of the extent of the ongoing electrification works. Fortunately, masts had only recently been placed in their holes in the Barharwa area and hadn’t even been cemented in place at this point; which was a small mercy in the current climate. 13403 got underway again after HWH WDP4D 40418 had passed with 13012 0430 Malda Town – Howrah. Once on the move, we could soon see the line from New Farakka coming in from the left and over in the distance, what we discovered to be HWH WDM3D 11333 when we got to Barharwa, was approaching with a late running 13409 0540 Malda Town – Jamalpur Jn; which was held outside for us to arrive first.

 

At Barharwa Jn we discovered, recently transferred from HWH, JMP WDM3A 14130 at the head of 13403, with PTRU WDM3A 16762 dead inside. Ongoing electrification works were evident, if only by the fact that a new, higher, footbridge was being erected. We had plans to head towards Sahibganj on 53021 0315 Azimganj Jn – Sahibganj Jn passenger, to meet 53401 0600 Sahibganj Jn – Malda Town coming the other way. When BWN WDM3A 16697 rolled up with 53021, just late enough to not want to risk the plus at the first shack, we settled for drinking chai and watching the world go around instead.

 

Barharwa Junction was quite busy during the short time we spent there and after BWN WDM3A 18875 had terminated with 53137 0430 Rampurhat – Barharwa Jn, UDL WDG3As 13489/14766 ran through with a freight before the expected happened; and JMP WDP4D 40411 arrived with 53401 0600 Sahibganj Jn – Malda Town, which even had SGUJ WDG4D 70413 dead inside. We didn’t realise that the empty front coach was ladies only, until after we’d taken up refuge in its empty surroundings. Thankfully, by the time we were hounded out, by the ladies that knew it was “their” coach, we managed to find space in the quite empty chair car coach that was towards the front of the set; and enjoyed the delights of what 40411 had to offer, as it hummed its way towards Malda. Thankfully we had a get-out clause at New Farakka.

 

Soon after 40411 departed New Farakka with 53401, BWN WDM3A 16652 arrived with 13162 0530 Balurghat – Kolkata Chitpur and as that headed into the distance, HWH WDM3D 11403 arrived with 13421 0440 Nabadwip Dham – Malda Town; which we did forward to Malda. Upon arrival, UDL WDG3A 14772 was waiting on the stabling point for its next assignment and UDL WDG3A 14824 was waiting the road out of one of the platforms with a freight, having just been fuelled. We wasted no time in finding ourselves an e-auto to take us across to Malda court but the typical fiasco that was agreeing a price cost us time. It’s a rigmarole that I enjoy sometimes, especially when they figure out you know what you’re talking about, but when I’m in a rush it’s a bloody inconvenience when there’s no pre-pay booth about. Ultimately, we got what we wanted, which was an auto to take us to Malda Court for RS60.

 

It was an interesting journey across town, partly because we took a different route to get there and partly because of the chaos on the roads. It started at the bottom of the ramp that leads onto the bridge that lings Malda Town with the Malda Court area, which is busy enough at the best of times. On this occasion though, there was a lorry with a collapsed axle right in the thick of things and then, bugger me, if there wasn’t a tractor half way up it with a collapsed tow bar; stood right in the middle of the road, causing utter chaos. In amongst the chaos there was then a bit of a kafuffle going on, which involved someone having hold of an auto driver and attempting to drag him out of his seat; while his passengers looked on. Things all looked to be getting a bit tense as people jostled for the inch of space available on the bridge and they didn’t look like they were going to get any better as we rolled into the car park at Malda Court.

 

The whole car park area was literally full of e-auto’s, all vying for a fare of the late running 55770 0605 Katihar – Malda Court. Strangely, it was all very civilized, and the autos were even lined up nicely; proving that not everything is chaotic on India’s road and there is some civility about. Once MLDT WDM3A 16222 arrived with 55770, there was nothing civil about the way in which everyone went about enticing people into their auto’s and in a matter of seconds, the place went from calm and relaxing to utter chaos and very noisy. 15 minutes later, once everyone had drifted off the train, there wasn’t a single auto left in the station area and the air of calm had returned; with just a single small goat left roaming about the place, complete with its pink coat!

 

The old signal frame outside the Station Master’s office had caught my eye and as I took a few photos of it, before it became part of history, I was accosted by the station mater himself; who insisted I look inside his office and take photos of the block instruments. Photos that he later made me delete after being told off by the staff in the new station building, who he asked to show me the new relay room; which I was strictly forbidden to take photos of. It would, apparently, only be a few months before the new building was fully operational and the new signaling system would also be fully functional. I took the opportunity to ask about the passenger service towards Singhabad, on the Bangladesh border, to which the SM confirmed hadn’t been running for some time and wasn’t likely to start up again anytime soon.

 

By the time 16222 had run around the stock, to form 55771 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur, it was already knocking on for 60’ late. This didn’t matter though as everything coming into Malda from the NJP direction was down the pan as well; it seemed like the ongoing upgrade works were taking their toll on the running railway. Unlike our previous day in the Malda area, this time we made it beyond Adina to Eklakhi Jn, thanks to the late running inbound trains. At Adina SBI WDG4 12376 was running up & down the same bit of track with a test train, the wagons on which said Test Wagons for in-motion Weigh Bridge, at the same time SGUJ WDP4D 40510 hammered through with 14055 2325 (PP) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn running 8 hours late.

 

Outside Eklakhi Jn station we found a chai shack, which had clearly seen more prosperous times, which at that point was playing host to a group of guys, all of whom I got the impression were railway workers; but airing towards the officer’s side of the spectrum. We were left to our own as we supped our chai though and were able to shelter from the sun at the same time. Had we had the time, we could have used the local barbers to get a haircut; this was nothing more than a 4-bit frame with a piece of tarpaulin over the top, situated beneath a big tree. It had a rickety old wooden chair for its customers, while they were having their hair trimmed, and an even ricketier old bench for those waiting to sit on. There was a mirror nailed to the wall and a bucket of water for cleaning utensils. Of course, the street reclaimed all the hair clippings as the world swept them back into the ether. It was as basic as they come but the guy sat there, with a cut-throat razor dancing around his neck, seemed content enough.

 

UDL WDG3A 13046 caught us a little off-guard when it arrived. I was convinced it was running through the platform with an express, which had a red at the end of the platform and was poised to leap aboard if the chance arose. As it slowed though, we realised that it was 55704 0815 Katihar Jn – Malda Court, which had recovered a bit of its lost time. Unfortunately, I’d had 13046 before and it had left a very sour taste in my mouth for two reasons, one, it was probably the shittest Shakti I’d ever had, and two, because of its shitness, I’d ended up getting off it, which has to this day resulted in me having not done Bamanhat with Alco. Back then it was on a Bamanhat passenger, which had lost time from Alipurduar, to the point where it was looking dodgy to get down the branch and back to New Cooch Behar in time for the last train to Siliguri, so off we got and headed to Siliguri at a sensible time; between then and my next attempt to do Bamanhat, SGUJ WDP4s had taken over the Bamanhat passenger services. On this occasion 13046 was no better than the previous time I’d had it, which was randomly a little satisfying to prove that it hadn’t been the loco pilot’s fault it was rubbish last time!

 

We were off at Old Malda Jn to wait for 55712 0600 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town, which was only 20 minutes behind and arrived with MLDT WDM3A 16873. There was a nice empty coach at the front of the set and the reason why became apparent when we got into it. It was a disgrace, dirty, with holes in the floor and the toilets were disgusting. The writing on the side that indicated it was on its was for POH explained the state it was in. After a 30-minute wait, which included allowing NGC WDG3A 14936 to head towards Malda town in front of us, we eventually got on the move after MLDT WDM3A 16548 had come to an out of course stop at Old Malda Jn with 15659 0635 Sealdah – Agartala.

 

At Malda town we didn’t have a great deal of time as the late running, and subsequent festering about at Old Malda Jn, had cut out or dinner break. With BWN WDM3A 16461 sat waiting to depart with 53418 1500 Malda Town – Barddhaman Jn, we opted to risk heading out to Gour Malda, even though we knew there wasn’t much going on in the station area with regards to local transport. With ME Maps handy though we were able to head out to the main road and walk towards Malda Town on the main road. We’d seen a load of e-autos from the train, at a main junction about a mile up the road but didn’t need to walk more than half a mile and found an e-auto perched outside the Mayaban Resort Hotel. The agreed fare back to Malda Town station was RS200 and it took about 25 minutes. Sure enough, about 500m further along the road, there were plenty of e-auto’s available. The traffic heading towards town was shocking as we got closer and I followed our driver’s route on ME Maps as he took a longer, yet less time-consuming route to get us back quicker. By the time we were back, JMP WDP4D 40411 was about to depart with 53402 1620 Malda Town – Sahibganj Jn and whatever had come off shed to work 55711 1530 Malda Town – New Jalpaiguri had already gone.

 

As there was a gap in service we used it to head to the Hotel shine to collect our bags and get something to eat. The food was as good as it had been on our last visit, freshly prepared, tasty and piping hot. Our bags had been left in safe storage and were returned to us as in the condition we’d left them in and I have to say, the staff were very friendly and helpful. It had been a pleasure to use the Hotel Shine during our trip, but it was time to move on to pastures new and head towards the north east; but not before heading south first!

 

As we rocked up back at Malda town station, LKO WDP4D 40181 was just arriving with 13484 2140 (PP) Delhi Jn – Malda Town, 10 hours late, and the return working of 13413 1910 Malda Town – Delhi Jn was being announced as starting 5 hours late at 0010; as always, the announcement continued with “inconvenience is deeply regretted”! The waiting room on platform 1 was already like a scout’s camp by this point, probably not helped by the fact 25658 Silchar – Sealdah was 6 hours late. This would ultimately do us a favour though.

 

I’m a big fan of just standing around on Indian Railway’s stations, drinking chai, and watching the world go around and at Malda it’s more pleasant than at most places. I was slowly coming to expect IR stations to be clean and habitable, such was the image the railway is now trying to project. Malda Town is trying harder than most to keep its premises clean and habitable, and has been doing so for years, with announcements advising people “don’t spit here and there” and slogans painted on the footbridge steps, such as “India is our home let’s not make it dirty” & “Don’t spread or believe in rumours”. At long last IR’s perseverance on the subject of cleanliness seems to be paying off and station premises are nicer places to spend time festering than they used to be. Don’t know what the resident rat population thinks though…..

 

We had options to get to Bolpur, where we’d join 12377 Sealdah – New Alipurduar and do it through to destination. Option 1, 13034 Katihar – Howrah, soon became option 2 when we realised 25658 Silchar – Sealdah was nearly 6 hours late and in front of 13034 on the approach to Malda Town. It was plain to see that BWN WDM3A 16409 was going to work 25658 forward from Malda Town as it was sat running at the end of the platform adjacent to that which 25658 was being announced as arriving into. The loco change did us a favour as while MLDT WDM3A 16569 was being removed from 25658, and 16409 was being dropped on to replace it, HWH WDM3A 16210 rolled into Malda Town with 13034 1530 Katihar – Howrah. As I needed neither 16409 or 16210, it made no odds which train we did towards New Farakka; so, we did the Kanchanjunga Express and stood right at the front of the train in unreserved. Unfortunately, 16409 wasn’t up to much along the way, such is the case with many of the Alco rebuilds nowadays.

 

As 13034 Katihar – Howrah ran via Katwa, it became a useless train to us at New Farakka and next up would be 12514 0620 Guwahati – Secunderabad, which disappointingly turned up with off-link HWH WDP4D 40341; which left us festering at New Farakka for 13160 1435 Jogbani – Kolkata Chitpur. Had we realised that 12514 was going to be a GM, we could have done BWN WDM3A 18591 back to Malda on 13161 1255 Kolkata Chitpur – Balurghat, which made 13160 by a reasonably safe 45 minutes. Instead we resorted to that good old festering tactic of drinking chai and collected a few train numbers while we waited. HWH WDM3A 11571 was first up with 53027 1605 Azimganj – Malda Town, followed by SGUJ WDP4 20052 with 12041 1450 Howrah – New Jalpaiguri. Thankfully BWN WDM3A 18679 arrived on time with our 13160 and simultaneously, HWH WDM3D 11333 arrived with 13410 1515 Danapur – Malda Town; with Vic on board from Jamalpur. We’d booked him the Hotel Shine in Malda for the night and would see him the following morning after he’d boarded 12377 Sealdah – New Alipurduar at Malda Town. Random that we’d be in the same place at the same time, on different trains, heading in different directions yet ultimately heading to the same place!

 

The TTE in sleeper class on 13160 was a little confused when we asked him to confirm which berths were empty, so we could relax during the 2h40m journey to Bolpur. It seemed he’d never seen an Indrail Pass before, which would of course soon become completely irrelevant, but he was educated and began marching us down the train. We ultimately told him which berths we’d take, when we came across an area where there seemed to be plenty of side berths free; and we were left to our own devices all the way to Bolpur. On arrival we soon realised that our 2h20m wait was going to be without chai. There wasn’t a chia stall open anywhere on the station premises and there was nothing outside the station front either. Thankfully, there were chai walla’s getting off incoming trains that we were able to accost to get a drink. Other than accosting the odd chai walla, all we could do was enjoy the relative tranquility that Bolpur station offered and watch trains as they came and went. The highlight of which was probably JMP WDM3A 16622 13071 2135 Howrah – Jamalpur, which proved that 13071/72 still got regular Alco power instead of being GM all the time.

 

When BWN WDM3A 14020 turned up with 12377 2315 Sealdah – New Alipurduar, it was after midnight and the station was almost deserted. Where we did board, towards the rear of the train, there were piles of bagged potatoes just dumped between the concrete seats on the platforms. Whether the half a dozen make-shift beds on the platform had anything to do with the potatoes, we’ll never know, but they were basically big mosquito nets, tied up to the fencing to create an enclose, which was then zipped up to keep any blood-thirsty critters out. Thankfully our beds on board the Padatik Express were a little more enticing, although you never know if they’re going to be critter free. We had upper berths in a compo and while we were making them up the TTE did his thing. Despite Vic being booked with us from Bolpur, we told the TTE that berth 42 would become occupied from Malda instead of Bolpur; which initially caused confusion as it was actually allocated to Pelham and the TTE had a hard time getting his hear around things as Mr A. Haigh was already on the train! The lightbulb eventually came on though and the lights were soon out.

 

Gen for Thursday 23rd November 2017

40418 HWH WDP4D 13012 0430 Malda Town – Howrah
14130 JMP WDM3A (16762 PTRU WDM3A dit) 13403 1915 Ranchi – Bhagalpur (from Asansol)
16337 BWN WDM3A 53074 Sahibganj – Rampurhat
11333 HWH WDM3D 13409 0540 Malda Town – Jamalpur
16697 BWN WDM3A 53021 0315 Azimganj – Bhagalpur
18875 BWN WDM3A 53137 0430 Rampurhat – Barharwa
40411 JMP WDP4D (70413 SGUJ WDG4 dit) 53401 0600 Sahibganj – Malda Town
18874 JMP WDM3A 53403 0540 Rampurhat – Gaya Jn
40510 SGUJ WDP4D 14055 2325 (PP) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn (8 hours late)
16222 MLDT WDM3A 55770 0605 Katihar – Malda Court, 55771 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur
13046 UDL WDG3A 55704 0815 Katihar Jn – Malda Court
16873 MLDT WDM3A 55712 0600 New Jalpaiguri – Malda Town
13073 UDL WDG3A (40xxx dit) High Capacity Parcels Vans through Adina 13:20
16548 MLDT WDM3A 15659 0635 Sealdah – Agartala (from Malda)
16461 BWN WDM3A 53418 1500 Malda Town – Barddhaman Jn
40411 JMP WDP4D 53402 1620 Malda Town – Sahibganj
16652 BWN WDM3A 13162 0530 Balurghat – Kolkata Chitpur
11403 HWH WDM3D 13421 0440 Nabadwip Dham – Malda Town
40181 LKO WDP4D 13484 2140 (PP) Delhi Jn – Malda Town (10 hours late)
16569 MLDT WDM3A 25658 1030 (P) Silchar – Sealdah (to Malda) (5h45m late)
16409 BWN WDM3A 25658 1030 (P) Silchar – Sealdah (from Malda) (5h45m late)
16210 HWH WDM3A 13034 1530 Katihar – Howrah
18591 BWN WDM3A 13161 1255 Kolkata Chitpur – Balurghat
11571 HWH WDM3A 53027 1605 Azimganj – Malda Town
40341 HWH WDP4D 12514 0620 Guwahati – Secunderabad
20052 SGUJ WDP4 12041 1450 Howrah – New Jalpaiguri
11333 HWH WDM3D 13410 1515 Danapur – Malda Town
18679 BWN WDM3A 13160 1435 Jogbani – Kolkata Chitpur
16622 JMP WDM3A 13071 2135 Howrah – Jamalpur
18634 BWN WDM3A 13119 2115 Sealdah – Anand Vihar
40035 SGUJ WDP4B 12343 2205 Sealdah – New Jalpaiguri
40340 HWH WDP4D 22511 1130 (P) LTT – Kamakhya
18861 BWN WDM3A 13154 2135 Malda Town – Sealdah
40418 HWH WDP4D 13027 2240 Howrah – Azimganj
18807 BWN WDM3A  13148 1525 New Cooch Behar – Sealdah
14020 BWN WDM3A 12377 2315 Sealdah – New Alipurduar

 

Moves for Thursday 23rd November 2017

14130 Andal Jn Barharwa Jn 1915 (22/11) Ranchi Jn – Bhgalpur Jn 13403 JMP WDM3A – PTRU WDM3A 16762 dit
40411 Barharwa Jn New Farakka Jn 0600 Sahibganj Jn – Malda Town 53401 JMP WDP4D – SGUJ WDG4D 70413 dit
11403 New Farakka Jn Malda Town 0440 Nabadwip Dham – Malda Town 13421 HWH WDM3D
E-Auto Malda Town Malda Court RS60, 15 minutes
16222 Malda Court Eklakhi Jn 1030 Malda Court – Buniadpur 55771 MLDT WDM3A
13046 Eklakhi Jn Old Malda Jn 0815 Katihar Jn – Malda Court 55704 UDL WDG3A
16873 Old Malda Jn Malda Town 0600 New Jalpaiguri Jn – Malda Town 55712 MLDT WDM3A
16461 Malda Town Gour Malda 1500 Malda Town – Barddhaman Jn 53418 BWN WDM3A
E-Auto Gour Malda Malda Town RS200, 20 minutes
16409 Malda Town New Farakka Jn 1030 (22/11) Silchar – Sealdah 25658 BWN WDM3A
18679 New Farakka Jn Bolpur 1435 Jogbani – Kolkata Chitpur 13160 BWN WDM3A

 

Photos for Thursday 23rd November 2017

 

 

Friday 24th November 2017 (A day spent getting to Guwahati, via New Changarabandha)

 

When we awoke, 12377 was well into NEF territory and the first thing I did was try my phone to see if the features still worked; as the last time I’d been to the NE no sim card bought outside Assam would work in the NE at all, no reception, no data, no nothing! I was amazed to find reception on the phone and even more amazed when the data roaming kicked in. It was a massive bonus having data in the NE and it would be invaluable to say the least. Not that we expected anything less, but I checked that Vic was in his berth and at that opportune moment a chai walla came by plying his trade and when we realised that the coach was almost empty we found ourselves an empty compo to veg in and discussed the morning’s agenda; which wasn’t going to go quite as we’d planned!

 

During our wait at Bolpur the previous night, Pelham & I had watched 22511 LTT – Kamakhya depart with HWH WDP4D 40340, so we knew our forward planned move towards Guwahati was doomed. Vic wasn’t too pleased about it when we announced the news either, but when faced with no real option, we would have to take what was on offer at the time, to get us to where we needed to be; such was the farce that seemed to be IR loco-links these days.

 

The very reason for doing 12377 Padatik Express into the north east was because it was the only train, other than the daily DMU, that covered the new line via New Changarabandha & Mathabhanga to New Cooch Behar. Thankfully, with being a BWN link, it was a solid Alco turn and all was going relatively well with the run over the new line until Mathabhanga; where we waited well over 30 minutes for TKD WDP4D 40264 to cross us with 12435 1920 (P) Dibrugarh – New Delhi, which is not booked via Mathabhanga, so must be a planned diversion off the New Cooch Behar – Raninagar Jalpaiguri main line. The late running soon had us worrying about whether we were going to be able to make it from New Alipurduar to Alipurduar Jn, in time to make 22511 LTT – Kamakhya. The fact that we knew it was a GM made no difference at this point, getting to Guwahati at a reasonable time did though.

 

Had our Padatik Express been near to right time, we’d have made the late running 15959 Howrah – Dibrugarh Kamrup Express at New Cooch Behar but as we arrived there, the only thing visible was BWN WDM3A 16452 with the set to form 13148 1525 New Cooch Behar – Sealdah; which still had 05447/05448 on its train boards. These were New Cooch Behar – Dinhata – New Cooch Behar specials, using the stock off 13147/48 to run part way down the Bamanhat branch to Dinhata. Unfortunately, no sooner had I discovered that the trains were running, and incorporated them into a future trip, did IR pull the plug on them. The very fact that the set was sitting at New Cooch Behar confirmed that this was indeed the case, and not a glitch in NTES that had resulted in them being missed out of the system.

 

While I stood on the platform at New Cooch Behar, 15910 Lalgarh – Dibrugarh Avadh Assam Express was being announced, and sure enough it was approaching in the distance. This train wasn’t showing up on a station line-up on NTES but a check of 15910 itself revealed that it was 17 hours late. Throughout the trip I’d figured out that if late running trains sat around for too long and didn’t get reported systematically thereafter, then the system wouldn’t auto-update and show them on a station line-up. This instance of discovering a train that we didn’t know was available would make our lives a while lot easier, and we were soon stood on the station footbridge at New Cooch Behar, waiting to see which train got the road towards Alipurduar first. Despite the Avadh Assam being SGUJ WDP4D 40108, it was still by far the better option to do it from New Cooch Behar if it got the road first; as it would guarantee us getting to Guwahati at a reasonable time. Luckily for us, our Padatik Express got the road first, so we could enjoy a bit more from BWN WDM3A 14020 before succumbing to the humming of 40108 at New Alipurduar.

 

At least we had the chance to stock up on train food at New Alipurduar, as there had been nothing in the offing since we’d got out of our pits on board 12377. We didn’t have to wait long for 40108 to turn up with its mega-late Avadh Assam Express and it wasn’t surprising that there were plenty of seats on board; with the train being so late. It was a pleasant enough journey, apart from the GM up front, and the only spectacle along the way was MLDT WDM3A 16281 on its side at Suratkhal Road, which appeared to have gone through the buffer stops to end up that way! The people we’d been talking to on board were very confused when we got off at New Bongaigaon, when they knew we were going to Guwahati; and of course, the Avadh Assam Express would get us there. The method in our madness though, was to do one of the two evening New Bongaigaon – Guwahati passengers through to Guwahati instead, as at least they’d be Alco, and Vic wanted to do the line via Goalpara as well.

 

MLDT WDM3A 16514 was already sat in with the stock for 55809 1640 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati, via Rangiya, and it was quite full too. We watched it leave, but it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of it and we’d ultimately end up on it into Guwahati. MLDT WDM3A 16548 was drawing in with the stock for 55803 1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati, via Goalpara, shortly after 55809 had departed. This train was a lot less wedged when it left, than 55809 via Rangiya had been and we had plenty of space to ourselves during the 4-hour journey towards Guwahati. En-route, we passed a late running 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar with MLDT WDM3A 16078, this train was originally what Pelham & I were going to end on that evening but we’d decided to head into Guwahati instead as there were too many unknowns about both the transport situation at Dudhnoi & Goalpara, along with the hotel situation, to attempt the move with big bags and potentially strand ourselves in the area; so doing the Mendipathar branch would have to wait until March, after I’d sussed out some things on this trip.

 

At Kamakhya we stood for an age, seemingly just waiting and waiting. Then when MLDT WDM3A 16514 and 55809 1640 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati arrived into the opposite platform, we were poised to do whichever train got the road towards Guwahati first. Needless to say, it wasn’t the train we were sat on, so a mad dash across the platform it was, when 55809 got the road, almost as soon as it had come to a stand! This practice of 55803, via Goalpara, making it to Kamakhya before 55809, via Rangiya, but then waiting for 55809 to catch up and overtake it, seemed to be normal practice from our observations over the next couple of days. We weren’t complaining though and were into Guwahati before 2200, having seen MLDT WDM3A 16438 with 15617 2120 Guwahati – Naharlagun as we’d departed Kamakhya.

 

Randomly both Vic & I had independently booked the same hotel in Guwahati, through Booking.com. Despite my reservation originally being for the following day, I’d been able to update it on the Booking.com app the previous day while festering about. To get to the Hotel Amrit we had to head out of the exit on the high numbered platform side of the station, which is a little inconspicuous really. It’s pretty much a straight 5 to 10-minute walk, straight along the road that leads away from the station and stands out on the right when it comes into view. The staff at the front desk were expecting us and once the relevant forms were filled out and our passports scanned, we were shown to our rooms. As Vic was heading further east the following morning, we wouldn’t see him again for a couple of days; so, bode him farewell, again!

 

We were given room 105, which just so happened to be right at the top of the short flight of stairs that led down to the staff entrance to the restaurant and kitchen area. As is usually the case, there was nothing but shouting and general noise coming from the vicinity, which made our room very noisy. I was straight back down to the front desk but as they were full, they couldn’t change our room until the following day; so, we had to lump it! Food was ordered from said restaurant but even that couldn’t be delivered as ordered and for some random reason, the boy, seemed to think that steamed rice should come with vegetables and sauce on top. He was well educated when he was summoned to our room, but he wasn’t going to back down until we got a bit more aggressive about the fact. Steamed rice eventually turned up and all was well, with the chilly chicken being quite good. The room itself was a decent size, had piping hot water and decent AC, with two single beds. It was a late finish by the time we got ourselves sorted, so it wasn’t going to be a very early start the following morning.

 

Gen for Friday 24th November 2017

40264 TKD WDP4D 12435 1920 (P) Dibrugarh – New Delhi
16452 BWN WDM3A 13148 1525 New Cooch Behar – Sealdah
40108 SGUJ WDP4D 15910 1925 (PPP) Lalgarh – Dibrugarh (17 hours late)
16281 MLDT WDM3A on its side at Suratkhal Road – gone through the buffer stops!
16115 HWH WDM3A 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah (5 hours late)
16514 MLDT WDM3A 55809 1640 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Rangiya)
16548 MLDT WDM3A 55803 1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Goalpara)
40376 SGUJ WDP4D 12502 2345 (PP) New Delhi – Guwahati (11h40m late)
16078 MLDT WDM3A 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar
16438 MLDT WDM3A 15617 2120 Guwahati – Naharlagun

 

Moves for Friday 24th November 2017

14020 Bolpur New Alipurduar 2315 (23/11) Sealdah – New Alipurduar 12377 BWN WDM3A – via Malda, NJP, New Changarabandha
40108 New Alipurduar New Bongaigaon Jn 1945 (21/11) Lalgarh Jn – Dibrugarh 15910 SGUJ WDP4D – 17h04m late
16548 New Bongaigaon Jn Kamakhya Jn 1705 New Bongaigaon Jn – Guwahati Jn 55803 MLDT WDM3A – via Goalpara Town
16514 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 1640 New Bongaigaon Jn – Guwahati Jn 55809 MLDT WDM3A

 

Photos for Friday 24th November 2017

 

 

Saturday 25th November 2017 (Day 1 of 2 in the Guwahati area)

 

The general noise about the hotel had us up and about with enough time to nip into the restaurant for breakfast, before heading out for the day. Piping hot fresh chai and freshly prepared omelettes started the day off nicely; and it was a very refreshing change to be heading out for the day, without our big bags with us!

 

Vic had already set off from Guwahati, eastwards towards Lumding on with NGC WDM3A 16069 on 15927 0530 Rangiya – New Tinsukia, and messages kept dropping in on WhatsApp with what he’d passed, so we had a running commentary on what was heading towards us from the east. HWH WDM3D 11547 with the late running 15960 Dibrugarh – Howrah Kamrup Express was something we’d hopefully make it back from Kamakhya for, but first, UDL WDG3A 13324 got our attention; which was waiting to depart with 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon passenger. It was a rather empty passenger train as it pottered its way through the Guwahati suburbs, where the railway is flanked by a whole mini-world of its own.

 

Over the few days we spent in Guwahati, we learnt a few things about life by the lineside between Guwahati and Kamakhya and despite the folk residing there having next to nothing, they all seemed to have a routine to their daily life. It was a similar lifestyle to living by the lineside in the Delhi suburbs, with most people collecting plastic, cardboard and glass to make a living. Their dwellings are a bit more makeshift though, and some didn’t even seem to bother with using the sheets they had attached to a few sticks, as shelter, and took solace under the night sky instead. One reason for this became very apparent after we’d made numerous trips along the route, looking out with intrigue every time.

 

I counted three in total, all of which blended into the background of the mini society quite well, but also stood out like a sore thumb. I’m referring to mini drinking establishments! While two of them blended into the background, a little, and were hidden beneath footbridges, the other was literally an over-the-fence drinking counter, but the fence was that which divided the railway from the surrounding land and those drinking were on the railway side of it and sitting right alongside the tracks. Even during hours of darkness this little side business thrived, and the trackside was lined with people, drinking by candlelight. The aftermath of the night before’s antics could be seen in the mornings, notably so when people were just sprawled out on the floor in random places, motionless. One such notable victim was a woman, who was sprawled on top of a pile of sand, who was only drawn to my attention as I watched another guy who’d got my attention; who was clearly under the influence. He’d clambered into the doorway I was stood at, on a stationary train, clearly hammered, and proceeded to do a very random dance while he stood there. Once he’d clambered out of the opposite side of the train, I watched him walk away, in anything but a straight line. When he got to said woman on the pile of sand, he proceeded to do his random dance in front of her, before wondering off down the road. It was all very surreal, while rather amusing at the same time, but also showed what a sorry state some people’s lives had got into for them to end up in the states they were clearly doing. The whole scenario of drinking in public in India was one I’d never seen before, and for good reason, and for good reason, all I could think of after I’d got my head around the whole situation, was just how many people must lose their lives on the stretch of line between Guwahati & Kamakhya because of their drinking. Quite what it was they were drinking, I have no idea, but the amount of spirit bottles lined up on the tables at these places looked like it was quite a serious business and unfortunately looked like a serious part of their lives….

 

Back to the day at hand, ULD’s 13234 dropped us into a very pleasant Kamakhya station, where we spent quite a bit of time over the next few days and the “Departmental Tea Stall” on platform 2/3 got a lot of hammer during that time. And rightly so as the chai was good, always fresh and we were charged the correct price of RS7 for a cup. From our very own localize drinking establishment we had access to the station footbridge and charging facilities on the platform. Around us, the station cleaner went about polishing the platform with his cleaning machine and systematically drove his machine up and down, to the extent that the cables would allow him, but didn’t bother us, where we stood drinking chai. Luckily, for the guy dossed out on the platform in the sunshine, the cleaner’s cables didn’t quite reach where he was sprawled out and this also allowed the two railway workers, laid out asleep on a barrow, to remain so while there wasn’t much noise by them. All the while the morning track cleaning exercise was in full swing as a lone worker used a hosepipe to clean fresh turds off the track, while two others, adorning one glove each, were picking litter up. It was a completely different world to that of the Guwahati suburbs and was very relaxing to be hanging about in; even when trains arrived and tipped out hordes of morning commuters.

 

I was quite enjoying the morning peace when MLDT WDM3A 16467 arrived with 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Manas Rhino Passenger. It didn’t stop for long and had the road towards Guwahati almost immediately after coming to a stand and had a clear run, straight into the platform at Guwahati. Upon arrival most of the punters off the train went trudging straight across the ballast, in front of NGC WDG3A 14912, which was shunting the carriage sidings at the east end of the station, and MLDT WDM3A 16598 arriving with 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati and headed off towards the south side station exit. It was a Malda Town Alco-fest at the east end of the station, with 16467 joining WDM3A 16007, sat with a set of stock, and WDM3A 16514, sat in the loco stabling point at the end of platform 1. NGC WDM3D 11557 was the odd-ball, at its home location, sat waiting its next turn in the middle of the MLDT sea.

 

SGUJ WDP4D 40442 was sat waiting to go with 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar as we arrived into Guwahati and SPJ WDP4D 40524 was being backed onto the stock to work 15632 1045 Guwahati – Barmer. There was no sign of the late running Kamrup Express arriving with HWH WDM3D 11547 but if NTES was to believed, it wouldn’t be long before it was arriving and before we’d made it to the opposite end of Guwahati station, said WDM3D was rolling in with its 23 coaches in tow; then there was chaos at the front of the train as staff scurried about trying to load both the RMS coach with mail and the van at the front with parcels and goods. As we watched on, MLDT WDM3D 11550 crept into the west end of the station with 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding, which we soon figured out we could do later, on its return journey.

 

Back at Kamakhya, chai was soon in full flow and so was water from the station’s array of filling pipes, as people did both their daily washing beneath them, and had their late morning shower in the process. After pioneer WDP4, SGUJ WDP4 20000, headed towards Guwahati with 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati Saraighat Express, things started to happen in the Alco world. There was no surprise when MLDT WDM3A 16078 arrived with 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati, having seen it heading out to Mendipathar the previous evening, but when it sat waiting at Kamakhya for ages, that was a bit of a surprise. MLDT WDM3A 16845 arrived into Kamakhya, with 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, well after 55819 had arrived, and departed almost immediately. This probably because 55753 then forms 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn when it gets into Guwahati; which had already left by the time we arrived back off 55819 with 16078. Even this got overtaken in the Guwahati suburbs, as the lines are both bi-directional, by NGC WDG3A 13387 running light. That had been at Kamakhya for quite a while too and when we later found it attached to the front of 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur BG Express, we were quite pleased.

 

SGUJ WDP4 20000 had run around at Guwahati, after its earlier arrival with 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati Saraighat Express and was waiting to depart with the opposing working of 12346 1230 Guwahati Jn – Howrah; which only has a 2h40m turnaround at Guwahati. MLDT WDM3A 16007 was still sat at the east end of the station and NGC WDG3A 14914 was now involved with shunting the carriage sidings, along with class mate 14912. Using shakti’s as carriage sidings shunt locos seemed to be the new thing now most places had dispensed with their WDM2S’s and there weren’t enough WDS6’s to go around; what a waste of a loco it was though.

 

We didn’t realise that the Sleeper Class on board 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur BG Express was as underutilized as it was, until we got off at Chaparmukh Jn, but at least we had a front coach seat in 2nd unreserved, right behind the loco. Initially, we’d planned to head out to Jagi Road for 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya, but as it was so late we decided to head beyond Jagi Road, to Chaparmukh Jn, instead. This almost turned into a very bad decision when 15665 started to get put inside at wayward stations to fester about. We eventually found out that there was a line blockage ahead, to allow rail replacement to take place in between services. Thankfully it only delayed us enough to have us a little worried as we approached Chaparmukh Jn, but with NTES confirming that 15770 1415 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn was ahead of 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya, at least we had options if we missed one.

 

We didn’t even have time for chai at Chaparmukh before MLDT WDM3D 11550 was dropping into the station with 15770 1415 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn, which we did straight back to Jagi Road. NGC WDM2 16087 was hot on its heels with 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya and we ultimately did it through to Kamakhya due to 15959 Howrah – Dibrugarh Kamrup Express being over 6 hours late. This also dropped us into Kamakhya in time to kill another curiosity and when we spotted the stock being backed into platform 4 to form 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek, we were soon walking up to dive on board as NGC WDS6 36137 backed it in. NGC WDM2 18576 dropped onto the business end of the train to work it and NGC WDG3A 14977 was attached to the set in platform 3 to work 55812 2200 Kamakhya – Dhubri. When HWH WDM3A/D twins 14131/11441 turned up with 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh, 6 hours late, Pelham did them back into Guwahati while I waited to see what the two evening New Bongaigaon – Guwahati passengers turned up with. Unfortunately, my wait turned out to be fruitless as MLDT WDM3A 16569 arrived first, with 55803 1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Goalpara), and then MLDT WDM3A 16548 followed suit, with 55809 1640 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Rangiya). Just like the previous night though, it was last in, first out, as 55809 got the road as it came to a stand.

 

Back at the Hotel Amrit, we were given a different room, as promised, and moved our things from one to the other before ordering food for the evening; making sure that the guy taking the order understood that we wanted plain rice and not rice with some vegetable slop on top of it! The chilly chicken that turned up was very good, and just what we needed after the last proper meal we’d eaten being at breakfast!

 

Gen for Saturday 25th November 2017

16069 NGC WDM3A 15927 0530 Rangiya – New Tinsukia
13234 UDL WDG3A 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, 55817 xxxx New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
40442 SGUJ WDP4D 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
40524 SPJ WDP4D 15632 1045 Guwahati – Barmer
11547 HWH WDM3D 15960 2125 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah
16558 NGC WDM3A 55601 0620 Guwahati – Lumding
18576 NGC WDM2 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati, 15613 2030 Kamakhya – Murkongselek
16467 MLDT WDM3A 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
16598 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati, 15617 2205 Guwahati – Naharlagun
11550 MLDT WDM3D 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding, 15770 1415 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn
70388 SGUJ WDG4 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati
20000 SGUJ WDP4 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati , 12346 1230 Guwahati Jn – Howrah
16078 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
20047 SGUJ WDP4 12087 0500 Naharlagun – Guwahati
16845 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
14131 HWH WDM3A 12509 2345 (PPP) Bangalore City – Guwahati (7 hours late)
16007 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
20070 SGUJ WDP4 15652 2345 (PPP) Jammu Tawi – Guwahati
13387 NGC WDG3A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
40383 SGUJ WDP4D 14056 2340 (PPP) Delhi Jn – Dibrugarh (26 hours late)
16087 NGC WDM2A 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya
14129 HWH WDM3A 12518 2100 Guwahati – Kolkata
14137/11441 HWH WDM3A/D 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh (6 hours late)
16569 MLDT WDM3A 55803 1705 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Goalpara)
16548 MLDT WDM3A 55809 1640 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati (via Rangiya)
16487/18809 ET WDM3As 12068 xxxx Jorhat Town – Guwahati
14977 NGC WDG3A 55812 2200 Kamakhya – Dhubri

 

Moves for Saturday 25th November 2017

13234 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 0830 Guwahati Jn – New Bongaigaon Jn 55818 UDL WDG3A
16467 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 0450 New Bongaigaon Jn – Guwahati Jn 55801 MLDT WDM3A
11547 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1825 (24/11) Dibrugarh – Howrah 15960 HWH WDM3D
16078 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati Jn 55819 MLDT WDM3A
13387 Guwahati Jn Chaparmukh Jn 1430 Guwahati Jn – Dimapur 15665 NGC WDG3A
11550 Chaparmukh Jn Jagi Road 1510 Lumding Jn – Alipurduar Jn 15770 MLDT WDM3D
16087 Jagi Road Kamakhya Jn 0545 New Tinsukia Jn – Rangiya Jn 15928 NGC WDM3A
36137 Kamakhya Jn Platform 4 West End Kamakhya Jn Platform 4 East End Shunt stock in for 15613 Kamakyha – Murkongselek NGC WDS6
16548 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 1640 New Bongaigaon Jn – Guwahati Jn 55809 MLDT WDM3A

 

Photos for Saturday 25th November 2017

 

 

Sunday 26th November 2017 (Day 2 of 2 in the Guwahati area)

 

There was no time for breakfast this morning as 15960 Dibrugarh – Howrah Kamrup Express wasn’t as late as it had been the previous day, so we were up and straight out and over to the station; before the hotel restaurant opened. As we hurried over the footbridge at the station, it was plain to see that UDL WDG3A 13234 was attached to the stock to work 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, for the second morning in a row, and MLDT WDM3A 16561 was ready to go with 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon. As HWH WDM3D 11404 eased into platform 1 with the Kamrup Express, we easily found breakfast among the platform vendors. However, when I opened up my omelette to eat it, it turned out that my omelette was served as noodles instead; which kind of explained the fork we’d been given when paying for our omelette, that wasn’t an omelette. At least the noodles were hot and tasty, even if they were quite what I had in mind for breakfast!

 

The morning turned into a bit of a slow one at Kamakhya, but a relaxing one standing at the Departmental Tea Stall.

 

RTM WDP4D 40484 was next to arrive into Guwahati with 19306 0515 Guwahati – Indore Jn, running 3h30m late, closely followed by UDL WDG3A 13234 with 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon and shortly before MLDT WDM3A 16078 arrived with 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Manas Rhino Passenger. After watching the Manas Rhino passenger depart, GD WDM3A 16733 backed the set into platform 1 to form 15655 1045 Kamakhya – Katra, which became my lifeline for the morning; and had me heading in the right direction to do 07149 Secunderabad – Guwahati back from Goalpara, which NTES was showing as 9 hours late at this stage in the morning. It had originally been a morning move for 07149, with it being booked off Kamakhya at 0822. Typically, the train was running a week after we’d been booked to do the opposing working of 07150 and the following week it ran was the last week it ever ran, taking with it the only chance I’d ever had to do the Kolkata avoiding line round to Andul with Alco!

 

The good old North East Express from Delhi wasn’t doing too well on this particular morning and 12506 0645 (PP) Anand Vihar – Guwahati, with SGUJ WDP4D 40439, only arrived into Kamakhya moments before SGUJ WDP4B 40023 arrived with the opposing working of 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar. The former should have been through Kamakhya at 1625 the previous afternoon and was 17h25m late, with the latter being right time! When MLDT WDM3A 16518 arrived with 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding Jn, before either of 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati or 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati had arrived, my mind was made up and I left Pelham to his own for the afternoon, as I headed off towards Goalpara Town with GD’s 16733 on 15655. There was plenty of room in SL class and I just found some seats on the reservation sheets that weren’t occupied until after New Bongaigaon, and relaxed.

 

During the journey out to Goalpara, I was a little concerned that 07149 hadn’t picked up anywhere since New Cooch Behar at 1045 and I had little time to be concerned about it when I got to Goalpara as NGC WDG3A 14977 was sat in with 55811 0700 Dhubri – Kamakhya; so, it was a quick scramble across the ballast to it, and away, back towards Guwahati, while being aware that 15906 2305 (P) Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari was coming towards me. Being tired nearly cost me viewing 15906 and I was half asleep when 55811 was rolling into Chaygaon and didn’t even notice the front of 15906 as we did so. The fact that it was then hidden behind a freight didn’t help my cause but my quest to go back to Goalpara Town for 07149 had me clambering under said freight and clambering into sleeper class on 15906; without being able to see what the loco was at its helm. As soon as I got a glimpse of the yellow at the head of the train, I knew I’d not done myself any favours, and I discovered KTE WDG4D 70463 leading SBI WDG4 12261 when I got off at Goalpara Town. I didn’t think too much about the situation at the time, mainly as I was even more concerned about the lack of reporting on NTES for 07149, than I had been during my first journey to Goalpara Town. It still hadn’t been reported since New Cooch Behar, so I made a quick dash to the Station Master’s office to confirm where it was, as if it had been cancelled or diverted I fancied my chances of getting back to Guwahati better from New Bongaigaon, instead of festering about at Goalpara.

 

The SM told me, after getting on the phone, that 07149 would be along soon, and confirmed that it had departed New Bongaigaon. He also said that 15906 would be departing shortly, but it remained where it was for another 40 minutes. During which time I went to try and figure out why it was festering about. It was then that I realised both locos were running and there was a loco pilot messing about in the rear one. I never did find out what was going on, even after the train departed, but I could only assume that one, or both, of the locos had been experiencing difficulties? At this stage of the day though, I didn’t really care and just wanted 07149 to turn up and take me back towards Guwahati.

 

During my time festering at Goalpara, there was plenty of reading material about the station to keep my mind occupied, mainly on the station walls. The list of benefits given to staff was of particular interest and the poster highlighting the penalties for littering was very well animated, just as most IR posters warning of something are. I did note that there wasn’t a great deal of activity in the station car park, with regard to transport to take people anywhere, but every now and again Auto’s would run in and out, so I assume that there was some sort of regular pick-up available from the station?

 

I was relieved when the Alco shape of KGP WDM3A 16230 appeared at Goalpara with 07419 Secunderabad – Guwahati; where it departed from 11h13m late. The front of the train randomly had a few HCPV’s in the consist and an unreserved coach to boot. I wasn’t quick enough to get to the unreserved coach before the loco pilot was blowing up to depart though, so made do with scrambling into the empty sleeper class and stretching out in my own compo area, all the way back to Kamakhya. 07149 is given 3h20m to do Goalpara to Kamakhya but did it in 1h50m and was only 9h45m late by the time it got there. We were running at high speed for most of the journey, hammering through the middle road at stations as if they weren’t there. Other than one stop en-route it was pretty much non-stop 100kmph running all the way; and KGP’s 16230 was a good loco to boot.

 

Pelham was stood waiting for 07149 at Kamakhya, and he got on as I got off, to wait for the late running Kamrup Express, 15959 Howrah – Dibrugarh; which randomly managed to turn up with HWH WDM3D/A twins 11246/16115. The fact that the Kamrup Express got HWH Alco twins was starting to become a bit of an urban myth but now it had done so two nights in a row, showed that it wasn’t just a one-off. At Guwahati I met back up with Pelham and headed over the footbridge to discover NGC WDM2 18667 waiting to go with 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya in one platform and MLDT WDM3A 16518 waiting to go with 15770 1415 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn in another. As I needed neither, I headed off back to the hotel and had food in the hotel restaurant while Pelham went to Kamakhya and back again.

 

It had been a long and tiring day, yet not a very eventful one really. The following day we’d be moving on eastwards and meeting up with Vic again for a very bizarre move to Mairabari; hopefully.

 

Gen for Sunday 26th November 2017

16561 MLDT WDM3A 55804 0720 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
13234 UDL WDG3A 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon, 55817 xxxx New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
11476 NGC WDM3D 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati
40484 RTM WDP4D 19306 0515 Guwahati – Indore Jn (3h30m late)
16078 MLDT WDM3A 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
16733 GD WDM3A 15655 1045 Kamakhya – Katra
40439 SGUJ WDP4D 12505 0645 (PP) Anand Vihar – Guwahati (17h25m late)
40023 SGUJ WDP4B 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
16518 MLDT WDM3A 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding, 15770 1415 Lumding – Alipurduar Jn
20003 SGUJ WDP4B 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati
14931 NGC WDG3A 15816 0515 Dekargaon – Kamakhya
16484 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati, 55802 1730 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
16546 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
14912 NGC WDG3A 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati
16558 NGC WDM3A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
16438 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
16424 MLDT WDM3A 15772 1600 Kamakhya – Alipurduar Jn
20050 SGUJ WDP4 14055 xxxx Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn
16639 MLDT WDM3A 55820 1620 Guwahati – Mendipathar
16487/18809 ET WDM3As 15646 1655 Guwahati – LTT
14977 NGC WDG3A 55811 0700 Dhubri – Kamakhya, 55815 1645 Kamakhya – Dekargaon
12893 UDL WDG4 military train through Goalpara 1515
70463/12261 KTE/SBI WDG4 15906 2305 (P) Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari (was 12261 into GHY then 70463 on top ex GHY, both in tandem at Goalpara)
16230 KGP WDM3A 07149 0730 (PP) Secunderabad – Guwahati
11246/16115 HWH WDM3D/A 15959 1735 (P) Howrah – Dibrugarh (4 hours late)
18667 NGC WDM2A 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya

 

Moves for Sunday 26th November 2017

11404 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1825 (25/11) Dibrugarh – Howrah 15960 HWH WDM3D
16733 Kamakhya Jn Goalpara Town 1045 Kamakhya Jn – Katra 15655 GD WDM3A
14977 Goalpara Town Chaygaon 0700 Dhubri – Kamakhya Jn 55811 NGC WDG3A
70463 Chaygaon Goalpara Town 2305 (25/11) Dibrugarh – Kanniyakumari 15906 KTE WDG4D 70463 with SBI WDG4 12261
12261
16230 Goalpara Town Kamakhya Jn 0730 (24/11) Secunderabad Jn – Guwahati Jn 07150 KGP WDM3A – 11h15m late
11246 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 1725 (25/11) Howrah – Dibrugarh 15959 HWH WDM3D/WDM3A twins 11246/16115 in multi
16115

 

Photos for Sunday 26th November 2017

 

 

Monday 27th November 2017 (Heading east from Guwahati – destination Mairabari!)

 

As we planned to return to the hotel for dinner, before heading east towards Chaparmukh Jn, we left our bags in the room, and were going to use the room for a quick relaxation period later in the morning, before leaving our bags with the hotel for a couple of days. That’s not exactly how things went but we had a decent morning all the same.

 

NGC WDM3D 11475 was sat in the station, after arriving with 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati, and UDL WDG3A 13234 was waiting to go with “its train” 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon. In platform 2 was the rake off the arriving North East Express, 12506 Anand Vihar Terminus – Guwahati, which looked as though it had only just arrived; over 12 hours late! Attached to the rear of the train was a High Capacity Parcels Van (HCPV) with live pigs loaded into it. I don’t know how far they’d come but it looked a bit cramped inside and with the doorways only being blocked by wooden crates, the pigs were sticking their snouts out, in the vain hope of getting some fresh air. They were literally clambering over each other to do this and didn’t look too pleased about their surroundings at all. I’m betting the additional 12 hours on board hadn’t gone down well either…

 

The Kamrup Express wasn’t too late and as Pelham had seen a couple of the MLDT local turns the previous afternoon, we’d been able to work out what would do what towards Guwahati of a morning; based on previous observations and hoping they’d follow suit. When HWH WDM3D/WDM3A twins 11441/14137 arrived with 15960 1825 (P) Dibrugarh – Howrah Kamrup Express, there wasn’t as much kerfuffle as there had been the previous day, and having learnt from our previous morning’s breakfast failing, we managed to get a couple of omelettes for breakfast from one of the pantry car walla’s; which didn’t even last until the train departed Guwahati.

 

As the twins arrived Kamakhya, UDL WDG4D 70411 came trundling through with a freight and then we had about an hour to kill before things started to happen. Initially though, the Departmental Tea Stall was out of tea, so coffee had to suffice; normal service soon resumed, thankfully. As expected, MLDT WDM3A 16484 rolled in first with 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati Manas Rhino Passenger and was soon heading into Guwahati; and our mad morning then commenced. Our time spent on the platform at Guwahati was very limited, after we stepped off the Manas Rhino Passenger, and the GM heading 12505 0945 Guwahati Jn – Anand Vihar Terminus North East Express was moving away almost as soon as we got down off the footbridge. To figure out SGUJ WDP4B 40024 was at the front of the train, we had to walk through sleeper class and take a photo of the loco as it curved around a corner, then zoom in to confirm the number. We hadn’t wanted to end up at the front as it would have been a long walk back at Kamakhya; and we were wary that we might end up heading straight back to Guwahati again, with the amount of trains due there.

 

Having already passed MLDT WDM3A 16433 with 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding Jn, en-route to Kamakhya, that was one down. There was no time to be concerned about it though, as HWH WDM3A 16451 was just arriving as we hot-footed it over the footbridge at Kamakhya. Initially, we didn’t have a clue what with, as it was one of “those” trains that wasn’t displaying on NTES due to bad reporting along the route. The announcements revealed it was 12509 Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati, running 6 hours late, the front coach of which was almost empty, but it was an absolute disgrace. The pigs in the HCPV were almost in a cleaner environment, the floor was soaked and there was paper, and card strewn everywhere, along with the place being generally dirty; thanks to the dust mixing with the wet floor. We had some bonus time to enjoy the coach as well, as 12509 sat in the suburbs for a bit, waiting the road into Guwahati. This was where we had chance to watch the morning drinking session at the make-shift bars along the trackside, which was in full swing.

 

On arrival into Guwahati, I spotted a pair of GHY Alco’s over the way, which we discovered to be NGC WDM3A’s 16870/16819. They were sat waiting to depart with 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha, which should have already departed by this point. Having spotted that 15635 Okha – Guwahati, which should have arrived into Guwahati at 0700, was 6 hours late, we’d wrongly assumed that the rake-share would result in 15636 being late going back out; but that wasn’t the rake-share at all so we now had the added bonus of potentially being able to do one pair of NGC Alco’s for another at Kamakhya; and we’d not expected either train to be twins either!

 

I played it safe on arrival at Kamakhya as MLDT WDM3A 16639 was sat in with 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati and it got the road before 15635 Okha – Guwahati was even on the horizon; so, I took the bird in the hand and left Pelham speculating at Kamakhya for 15635. Things took a very different turn when I arrived into Guwahati, and rather than hanging around to await Pelham’s arrival off 15635, I found myself dashing around the place when I discovered KGP WDG3A 13524 shunting the stock back out of the platform, with passengers on board, that would form 15651 1310 Guwahati – Jammu Tawi Lohit Express. Once I’d realised what it was, and what it would potentially work, I decided not to risk heading back to Kamakhya for 15635, as someone needed to get the bags from the hotel and I needed to checkout of the room; which I hadn’t paid the bill for at this point either. I’d already rang the hotel to tell them we’d be late back, as the checkout time at 1200 and it had already gone that! The impressive line-up of Alco’s at the west end of Guwahati station did delay me getting to the hotel a little but I couldn’t resist photographing the line, which included the following: NGC WDG3A 14856 with a military train, NGC WDM3A 16469 stabled in a middle road, NGC WDM3D 11502 stabled, KGP WDG3A 13524 with 15651 1310 Guwahati Jn – Jammu Tawi, NGC WDM3D 11475, NGC WDG3A 14931 & MLDT WDM3A 16569. A line-up that spread across the whole south side of Guwahati station.

 

As time wasn’t really on my side, I got a cycle rickshaw to the hotel, wasted no time in getting the bags from the room, carting them to reception and checking out. The girls at the reception were initially a bit skeptical about keeping our big bags in their storage room but relented in the end and both our big bags were left at the Amrit Regency, until we returned to collect them the following day. A brisk walk back to the station soon revealed KGP WDG3A 13524 back in the platform and being prepared for its offlink work with 15651 1310 Guwahati Jn – Jammu Tawi. At this point 15635 was nowhere to be seen yet had been shown arriving at Kamakhya on NTES. 1310 came and went but 15651 didn’t show any signs of departing right time. I’d sent Pelham a text to tell him where I was and what I’d done, and of course that the Lohit was a shakti and what platform it was standing on. When 15635 was eventually announced as arriving on platform 1, I took a walk towards the rear of the Lohit Express, as if Pelham did make it we needed to be at the correct end of the train to make a quick getaway for an auto back to Guwahati. I heard the train arrive and eventually found Pelham scurrying down the platform towards me. Moments later 15651 got the road and KGP’s 13524 was off, 30’ late! It turns out, so Pelham told me, that the Loco Pilot couldn’t get power from NGC twins 16494/16386, after 15635 got the road at Kamakhya. This resulted in a 40-minute delay there while he messed about with the locos to find the fault; and 40 minutes of flapping for Pelham. As is generally the case though, things worked out in the end.

 

There were plenty of Auto’s outside the station, on the platform 1 side, but they all wanted to charge us RS300 to take us back to Guwahati station. So, we accosted some guy who’d just dropped someone off, who was happy to take us back to Guwahati for RS200. It wasn’t a fast journey, not helped by the random stop for fuel en-route or the long way around we had to go because of the one-way system on the north side of town. Luckily a few lefts and rights had us cutting the corners and darting down side-streets to get to the north side entrance to the station. Thankfully, we had enough time to grab some samosas for lunch and then found ourselves some room aboard 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur BG Express. We discovered at the second time of doing the train, that there was plenty of space in the sleeper class, only 3 coaches back from the front, so there was no need to wedge ourselves into the front coach; like we had done two days previous. NGC WDM2 18576 led the way, we picked up Vic at Jagi Road and the journey was pleasant, in a very empty sleeper class coach. We were quite pleased that there wasn’t a block on again, like there had been the previous time we’d done the train, and it made good progress towards Chaparmukh Jn; where we decided to get some form of road transport to our hotel in Haibargaon.

 

There were plenty of taxi-autos lined up by the station at Chaparmukh and we soon had one accosted to take us to the Hotel Bluebird, which was a short distance from Haibargaon station. The agreed fare was RS500 and despite the driver not actually knowing where our hotel was, we would have had no issues directing him, with ME Maps showing the way. That was until he stopped on the outskirts of Haibargaon to pick up a friend, who was going to show him the way. Some use he was though as I still ended up getting him to the hotel gates by using ME Maps! That was where the agreed fare changed from RS500 to RS700, in the drivers mind anyway. He was given RS500, when he eventually took it, and was getting no more. It always amazes me that these scum think they can get away with changing an agreed fare en-route, or after arrival, then they play the game of not taking the agreed fare off you when its offered; but they soon come begging for it when you walk off, having paid them nothing at that point. The journey took just under an hour from Chaparmukh station and the roads were quite good throughout, and not that busy at all.

 

Vic had booked the Hotel Bluebird through Make My trip, which is an Indian based hotel booking site, which is similar to booking.com. Randomly the same rooms on booking.com were £30 dearer than the price we paid at Make My Trip. It wasn’t a cheap hotel in the first place, but we’d picked it for it’s locale to Haibargaon station and the fact that as a business hotel, the staff would be more likely to be able to sort us out road transport back from Mairabari that night. The Hotel Bluebird stood out in its surroundings and didn’t seem very busy when we checked in at reception. It had secure underground parking and was very posh for the area it was situated in. The rooms were clean, with piping hot water and were probably the best we’d stayed in on our trip, it was like staying in a “good” hotel back home; and the rooms even had kettles and tea bags! Being English we had to ask for more tea bags, as there were only two in each room, the dozen or so they gave us certainly sufficed.

 

Our taxi from Chaparmukh had given us time to relax in Haibargaon, before the main event, but we couldn’t relax until we had the one thing that mattered that night sorted; the road transport back from Mairabari to the hotel. As 55603 1810 Guwahati – Mairabari, the only train of the day down the branch, didn’t arrive into Mairabari until 2310, it was imperative that we had something sorted before we set off on our jaunt that night. The hotel staff didn’t seem too sure about being able to sort something initially, but later confirmed that they’d sorted out transportation to get us back and even gave us the name and number of the guy that would be bringing us back. That sorted, we relaxed in the hotel restaurant and had a very good meal, before trying to polish off some of the tea bags we’d been given, afterwards.

 

We’d had grand plans of heading back to Chaparmukh Jn for 55603, where it departed at 2056, but decided against the hour’s drive back there and walked through the pleasantly deserted streets of Haibargaon, from the Hotel Bluebird to Haibargaon station, for the 2145 departure from there instead. Haibargaon was the original terminating point of the BG railway, once conversion from NG had taken place; with the Silghat Town branch, from Senchoa Jn, remaining closed completely at that point. It wasn’t until 2012 when the Silghat Town branch opened and Mairabari opened shortly afterwards. With Silghat town having two trains down it, both during daylight hours, it was the easier of the two branches to do; albeit now, the local passenger is a DMU and 15417 Alipurduar Jn – Silghat town via Dhubri is now a regular GM! Since reopening at a BG branch, the Mairabari branch has only ever had one train in each direction per day, which has always arrived into Mairabari late at night and always departed very early the following morning; these times are currently 2310 arriving and 0435 departing, making the branch quite hard to cover logistically, and probably not very safe to be doing alone either.

 

Surprisingly, there were quite a few people waiting for 55603 at Haibargaon station and when MLDT WDM3A 16569 arrived with it, there were already quite a few on board as well. We didn’t get bothered along the way and although it was dark, the fact that the line had previously been a NG branch was quite evident with the low platforms and small station buildings. At Mairabari itself, the old NG tea stall remains in situ, behind the BG platform walls and the station building hasn’t been modified at all since its NG days. Upon arrival into a dark and gloomy Mairabari, we headed towards the front of the train to try and get some photos; in what were really, pitch black conditions. At that point we were accosted by a guy, who’d clearly been looking for us, who turned out to be our lift back to Haibargaon; or at least the instigator of the lift anyway. One of the hotel boys had been keeping me updated on our lift back, via WhatsApp, and was in direct contact with the guy giving us a lift, so all was good and confirmed. The issue now being that the guy who had accosted us was the guy who cleaned and locked the stock at Mairabari, and we couldn’t depart until he’d done what he needed to. Meanwhile, he deposited us in his bat cave, over the back side of the station, and left us sitting with two annoying guys, who’d come off the train at the same time as us. The bat cave was more like a slum that I’d expect people to live in around the Delhi suburbs but equally, it was cozy and while stuck in a time long past in the western world, it was habitable enough and had all the utensils needed to exist as an abode. There was even vat for filtering water, above all the pots and pans required to keep a man going for the day, assuming the two-spaced gas stove worked?

 

There was one car outside the station front and we kept a close eye on the man with the keys, who wasn’t the man locking up the train. Eventually, we got sick of Pinkey & Perky taking at us and wondered onto the platform to try and get away from them. This only worked for a short while and we pretty much had them hanging around us until we got into the car to depart. There was no escaping but at least on the platform we could wonder away every now and again. It took bert about 40 minutes to do his stuff and we were thankful when he locked up the last door and stashed his stuff for the next time! It was after midnight when we got into the car and it took an hour to get back to the Hotel Bluebird in Haibargaon. The road out of Mairabari was atrocious but deserted. Thankfully, once out of Mairabari itself and onto the main road towards Dhing Town, the roads improved greatly. It was pretty much a straight run all the way from Mairabari, after we’d gone through Dhing, all the way to the outskirts of Nagaon. The security guard seemed to be expecting us when he opened the gates to let us in at the Hotel Bluebird and we wasted no time at all in heading straight to bed. Alarms had to be set for 0515 as 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati was away from Haibargaon at 0600 and both Vic & Pelham needed to do the track from Haibargaon to Chaparmukh!

 

Gen for Monday 27th November 2017

11475 NGC WDM3D 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati
13234 UDL WDG3A 55818 0830 Guwahati – New Bongaigaon
16548 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati
40024 SGUJ WDP4B 12505 0945 Guwahati – Anand Vihar
16433 MLDT WDM3A 15769 0405 Alipurduar Jn – Lumding
40189 SGUJ WDP4D 12345 1550 (P) Howrah – Guwahati, 12346 1230 Guwahati – Howrah
16451 HWH WDM3A 12509 xxxx (PP) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati (5 hours late)
20049 SGUJ WDP4 05632 1920 (P) Silchar – Guwahati
16870/16819 NGC WDM3As 15636 1045 Guwahati – Okha
16639 MLDT WDM3A 55819 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati
16424 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
40244 ET WDP4D 15645 LTT – Guwahati
16494/16386 NGC WDM3As 15635 1140 (PPP) Okha – Guwahati (6 hours late)
16446 MLDT WDM3A 15771 0500 Alipurduar Jn – Kamakhya, 15772 1600 Kamakhya – Alipurduar Jn
13524 KGP WDG3A 15651 1310 Guwahati – Jammu Tawi
16598 MLDT WDM3A 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
18576 NGC WDM2A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur
16845 MLDT WDM3A 15718 0500 Mariani Jn – Guwahati
16087 NGC WDM2A 15928 0500 New Tinsukia – Rangiya
16569 MLDT WDM3A 55603 1810 Guwahati – Mairabari

 

Moves for Monday 27th November 2017

11441 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1825 (26/11) Dibrugarh – Howrah 15960 HWH WDM3D/WDM3A twins 11441/14137 in multi
14137
16484 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 0450 New Bongaigaon Jn – Guwahati Jn 55801 MLDT WDM3A
40024 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 0945 Guwahati Jn – Anand Vihar Terminus 12505 SGUJ WDP4B
16451 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 2340 (24/11) Bangalore Cantt – Guwahati Jn 12509 HWH WDM3A – 5 hours late
16870 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1045 Guwahati Jn – Okha 15636 NGC WDM3A twins 16870/16819 in multi
16819
16639 Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn 0700 Mendipathar – Guwahati Jn 55819 MLDT WDM3A
13524 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1310 Guwahati Jn – Jammu Tawi 15651 KGP WDG3A
Auto Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Jn RS200, 20 minutes
18576 Guwahati Jn Chaparmukh Jn 1430 Guwahati Jn – Dimapur 15665 NGC WDG2
Van Chaparmukh Jn Haibargaon RS500, 1 hour
16569 Haibargaon Mairabari 1810 Guwahati Jn – Mairabari 55603 MLDT WDM3A

 

Photos for Monday 27th November 2017

 

 

Tuesday 28th November 2017 (A long journey from NE India to Bangalore)

 

Rather surprisingly, getting out of bed at 0515 was a lot easier than it should have been! We checked out of the hotel, which included paying the bill for the road transportation back from Mairabari some hours earlier; which came to RS2000 for the privilege. Rather costly really, but a necessity none the less, and it was done now, end of! We found ourselves with a bit of déjà vu as we walked to Haibargaon station again, a mere 8 hours after we’d previously done it. At least this time it was beginning to get light and it appeared to have hammered it down with rain during our short time in bed.

 

There were quite a few folks at the station again and when MLDT WDM3A 16569 arrived with 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati, the train stood for 15 minutes while a load of food goods was loaded into the vans at the front of the train. Departure from Haibargaon was on the dot at 6 o’clock and we were drinking chai at Chaparmukh less than an hour later. Despite becoming a BG station over 20 years ago, Chaparmukh Jn retains most of its MG heritage with all the station buildings and the tea stall having been built around at the time; thus, they’re now sunken into the BG platform, with steps leading down to their old MG level. This doesn’t seem to happen nowadays, with stalls being built completely around, thus their owners are below platform level when serving customers. Our time at Chaparmukh was short lived that morning. We knew from NTES that 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati was over 4 hours late and NGC WDM3D 11476 was soon along, after we’d watched MLDT’s 16569 head off with 55604. That had us moving along to Jagi Road, where what happened next had me fuming with annoyance and even more so, by the end of the following day; it also resulted in Vic leaving our company for the last time on the trip.

 

While minding our own business, drinking chai at Jagi Road, NGC WDG3As 14759/14756 arrived into the Lumding bound platform with what we eventually figured out to be 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar Kanchanjunga Express, running 3h30m late. After faffing with NTES and our newly acquired Eastern Zone timetables (from Chaparmukh Jn) Pelham & I realised that we were going to have to watch the Shakti’s leave. 25657 is booked to be right away Guwahati to Lumding and we had a flight to catch from Guwahati at 1735 that evening; so, watched on as Vic headed off into the morning gloom, with the whole front coach all to himself. Vic later sent us a message to confirm that the Shakti’s had remained attached to the rear of 25657, as the train departed Lumding after its reversal, to act as bankers over the Cachar hills to Badarpur Jn. As luck doesn’t have it, when planning this trip, I’d originally planned to attempt to do the new BG line from Lumding to Badarpur but came to the conclusion that there just didn’t seem to be any trains that involved Alco’s that did it! So, I changed the plan to fly Guwahati to Bangalore instead, to attempt to cover the new Bangalore – Nelamangala – Shravanabelagola – Hassan line with Alco instead; oh, how I wished I’d stuck to my original plan!

 

A little annoyed with what we’d had to flag, we got on with the day and whiled our time away at Jagi Road, drinking chai at one of the stalls outside the station, where bert even got out his best china for us to drink our tea from. While we waited to head west, NGC WDM3A 16087 headed east with 15927 0530 Rangiya – New Tinsukia, closely followed by NGC WDM2A 18576 with 55601 0620 Guwahati – Lumding. Then came NGC WDM3A 16469, heading west, with 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati, which we did back to Guwahati. As we passed NGC DLS we noted a rust liveried WDS6 and quite a few Alco’s in various degrees of decay; all of which appeared to have had their numbers painted out or removed, so we couldn’t identify any of them. The worst looking was a LDH liveried example, which was parked outside the shed, beneath a tree, and looked to have had almost everything internal removed. Its days on the planet were numbered, looking at its state.

 

Back at Guwahati, we did have a bit of time to kill before we planned to do 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn to Kamakhya and get a taxi to Guwahati airport for our flight. As Pelham had seen MLDT WDM3A 16446 arrive into Kamakhya, the previous day, with 15771 Alipurduar Jn – Kamakhya, we figured that on this day, it should work 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati and then go forward with 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn; and we weren’t wrong. We planned to do 15717 out to Narangi and get an auto back, but when the train was stopped by signals about 4km out of town, we opted to clamber off there and get an auto back into town. The clambering off went well, the getting an auto back into town didn’t; so, we began walking back down the tracks towards Guwahati. This was another of those “it always works out in the end situations” when SGUJ WDP4D 40366 trundled by with 14055 2325 (P) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn and came to a stand at the next signal; thus, offering us a free lift back into Guwahati.

 

Having collected our bags from the Hotel Amrit Regency we hung around at Guwahati station, waiting to do 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn to Kamakhya, with 16514 MLDT WDM3A and SGUJ WDP4 20049 dit. Heading the other way was NGC WDM2 18689 with 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur BG Express. And at Kamakhya, on the north side of the station, we had no problem getting ourselves a taxi to take us to the airport; which cost RS500 and took around 45 minutes. Then came the farce that was check-in!

 

When originally booking the Indigo flight from Guwahati to Bangalore, I’d been able to check in straight away and then print our boarding passes. A few hours later I had an e-mail saying that we’d been unchecked from the flight and needed to check in at the airport desk, providing the card that booked the flight as proof of purchase. Since booking the flight, 5 months previous, the card I’d booked the flight had been renewed due to a fraudulent transaction being made on it. This results in the last five digits of the card being changed; which massively confused matters when we presented ourselves at the check in desk and only the last 4 digits of the card number are displayed on their booking system! This resulted in us having to be marched across the airport to the customer services desk, where our original booking was cancelled, and a new booking had to be made, using the new card. Randomly, of course, the original booking was refunded to the old card number, which links to my current card number; resulting in a credit and a debit, for the same amount, both from and to Indigo within minutes of each other! As the check in desks were busy dealing with people who were trying to take their house on a plane, we managed to push back to the front of the queue to avoid the whole ongoing fiasco; meanwhile everyone was paying up for their excess baggage, while we eventually got hold of boarding cards for our flight to Bangalore. It was a bloody good job we hadn’t left it till the last minute to turn up!

 

In the end, the flight was harmless, and we were in Bangalore before time, which Indigo do pride themselves on. Pelham’s bag wasn’t too long in making it onto the carousel and we were soon bound for Yesvantpur in a taxi. It seems that there are no pre-pay taxis operating at Bangalore airport now and those plying the rank are metered instead. I was a little skeptical of this at first, especially as the tally isn’t displayed live, but when we got to the Hotel Grand Bee, near Yesvantpur station, the fare came to a little over RS900; which was about the going price for a pre-pay from the airport last time I’d got one. The journey had taken about 45 minutes and the young lad at the Grand Bee reception was expecting us.

 

Having not stayed at the Hotel Grand Bee before, I knew what to expect as I’d used one of the rooms to get a shower, when someone else had stayed there, and I’d used the hotel restaurant a few times. We asked if it was possible for a room with twin beds and our request was granted. It was only when we got into the room that we soon realised that our room wasn’t an executive one. Having explained this to the boy at reception, he just shrugged his shoulders and said he’d given us what we’d asked for. The fact that the room wasn’t of the same category was irrelevant to him and he was still going to charge us the same price; the cheeky twat! Needless to say, we ended up in our allocated executive room, with a large double bed instead. It was a lot nicer room, more modern, cleaner and fresher; and more suited to the price we were paying for it. The Grand Bee was undergoing major refurbishment but thankfully work stopped of a night time, unlike at other places we’d used during the trip. Food from the restaurant was very good and was just what we needed, having not really had a great deal to eat all day.

 

Gen for Tuesday 28th November 2017

16569 MLDT WDM3A 55604 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati
11476 NGC WDM3D 15604 1455 (P) Ledo – Guwahati
20014 SGUJ WDP4 12067 0630 Guwahati – Jorhat Town
14759/14756 NGC WDG3As 25657 0635 (P) Sealdah – Silchar (from GHY? – remained on rear from LMG as bankers)
16087 NGC WDM3A 15927 0530 Rangiya – New Tinsukia
18576 NGC WDM2A 55601 0620 Guwahati – Lumding
16469 NGC WDM3A 15670 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati
20047 SGUJ WDP4 12085 1210 Guwahati – Dibrugarh
16639 MLDT WDM3A 55801 0450 New Bongaigaon – Guwahati
16446 MLDT WDM3A 55753 0245 Alipurduar Jn – Guwahati, 15717 1145 Guwahati – Mariani Jn
40366 SGUJ WDP4D 14055 2325 (P) Dibrugarh – Anand Vihar
16514 MLDT WDM3A (20049 SGUJ WDP4 dit) 55754 1420 Guwahati – Alipurduar Jn
18689 NGC WDM2A 15665 1430 Guwahati – Dimapur

 

Moves for Tuesday 28th November 2017

Car Mairabari Haibargaon RS2000, 1 hour – booked at Hotel Bluebird
16569 Haibargaon Chaparmukh Jn 0435 Mairabari – Guwahati Jn 55604 MLDT WDM3A
11476 Chaparmukh Jn Jagi Road 1455 (27/11) Ledo – Guwahati Jn 15604 NGC WDM3D – 4h30m late
16469 Jagi Road Guwahati Jn 0600 Dimapur – Guwahati Jn 15670 NGC WDM3A
16446 Guwahati Jn Km 13.8 1145 Guwahati Jn – New Tinsukia 15717 MLDT WDM3A
40366 Km 13.1 Guwahati Jn 2325 (27/11) Dibrugarh – Delhi Jn 14055 SGUJ WDP4D
16514 Guwahati Jn Kamakhya Jn 1420 Guwahati Jn – Alipurduar Jn 55754 MLDT WDM3A with SGUJ WDP4 20049 dit
Taxi Kamakhya Jn Guwahati Airport RS500, 45 minutes
VT-IGY Guwahati Bangalore 1735 Guwahati – Bangalore 6E-316 Indigo

 

Photos for Tuesday 28th November 2017

 

 

Wednesday 29th November 2017 (A completely and utterly wasted day in Bangalore)

 

We had grand plans for the day when we got up, dumped our bags at the hotel reception for the day, and headed over to Yesvantpur station. The idea of the day was to cover the newly built line from Yesvantpur via Nelamangala & Shravanabelagola to Hassan. There were three trains a day over the line, in either direction, so we were quite confident that we’d manage to do it over the two days we had in Bangalore. I was hoping to get it out of the way at the first hurdle but KJM WDP4 20037 soon put pay to that idea, as we found it was waiting to depart Yesvantpur with 16515 0710 Yesvantpur – Karwar. That had us scrambling across the station to do UBL WDP4B 40016 to Bangalore City on 16591 1820 (P) Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn, where the intended train to view was 56514 0715 Bangalore City – Karaikal; which was sat in platform 1 with ED WDG3A 14798, which we’d both had before. So, it was back up to Yesvantpur with KJM WDP4D 40435 on 56515 0745 Bangalore City Jn – Hubli Jn, to see what the morning rush might offer. Let me tell you, what it did offer was nothing but a sign of things to come across the Indian Railways spectrum, a sea of GM’s flooding the place from every direction. Every local passenger train we saw was a GM but for the following: KJM WDG3As 13037/13035 arriving into Bangalore with 12785 1905 (P) Kacheguda – Bangalore City, KJM WDS6 36025 & KJM WDG3A’s 13118/13270 as Bangalore City carriage shunt locos, ED WDM3D 11200 arriving at Yesvantpur with 16528 1805 (P) Kannur – Yesvantpur & KJM WDG3A 13263 arriving at Yesvantpur with 16572 1805 (P) Bidar – Yesvantpur, everything else was either GM or electric. What a sorry state it was.

 

To attempt to find an Alco we headed out to Lottegollahalli in an auto, to cover 56241 0520 Salem Jn – Yesvantpur Jn coming in, which used to be an ED Shakti turn. But alas, after nearly 2 hours waiting in the blazing heat there, in it rolled with KJM WDP4 20056. This dropped us nicely into KJM WDP4 20067 at Yesvantpur with 56215 1245 Yesvantpur – Mysore (via Hassan) and really put the reality into how the rest of the day was going to go, along with the realisation that coming to Bangalore, instead of staying in the North East and trying to do Silchar with Alco, might just have been the wrong move after all. As there was a GM sat in the middle road at Yesvantpur, with the stock for 22679 1815 Yesvantpur – Hassan later that evening, we pretty much knew that our time in Bangalore was going to be nothing but wasted, so made a reservation at the Grand Bee again, knowing we wouldn’t end up at Hassan overnight, and just hoped our luck would change for the following morning.

 

Meanwhile we attempted to recover the afternoon by heading out to Kengeri to do the KJM WDG3A twins back in on the Rajya Rani Express 16557 1430 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City, on a line that would have the OHL energized a week later and electrics would begin operation on yet another line to release GM’s to replace Alco’s elsewhere. After doing UBL WDG4 12325 out to Kengeri on 12614 1500 Bangalore City Jn – Mysore Jn, we had a nice relaxing fester for KJM twins 13035/13037 back to Bangalore City. The twins then worked 12786 1820 Bangalore City – Kacheguda while KJM WDG3As 13030/13043 dropped onto the opposite end of the stock to work 16216 1815 Bangalore City – Mysore Jn, where they’d then go forward to Mangalore with 16517/16523 2030 Bangalore City – Kannur/Karwar. This was a train that was going to be diverted via the new route from Hassan to Yesvantpur, on 4 days a week, from the 1st February 2018; so, it could well be a lifeline for getting the new line to Hassan in after all? Only time would tell though.

 

With Bangalore now having gone completely to the dogs as far as doing Alco’s was concerned, the once excellent evening moves, which involved 3 different sets of ED Alco twins, was now nothing but memories and with there being nothing else on offer at all, we headed back up to Yesvantpur on our 6th GM of the day and retired to the Grand Bee for the evening, early. The following day would be our last of the trip and we already had the feeling that it was going to be pretty much the same as we’d suffered on this particular day, so we’d decided that if the morning train over the Hassan line wasn’t Alco, we’d cut our losses and do the Rajya Rani Express out and back to Mysore to recover some face from our time in Bangalore. As always Indian Railways had other ideas for us; the bastards!

 

Gen for Wednesday 29th November 2017

20037 KJM WDP4 16515 0710 Yesvantpur – Karwar (via Hassan)
40016 UBL WDP4B 16591 1820 (P) Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn, 17307 1330 Mysore Jn – Bagalkot
70460 UBL WDG4 16593 0600 (P) Nanded – Bangalore City
14798 ED WDG3A 56514 0715 Bangalore City – Karaikal
13037/13035 KJM WDG3As 12785 1905 (P) Kacheguda – Bangalore City, 16558 1030 Bangalore City – Mysore, 16557 1430 Mysore – Bangalore City, 12786 1820 Bangalore City – Kacheguda
13118 & 13270 KJM WDG3As Bangalore City pilots
36025 KJM WDS6 Bangalore City pilot
40435 KJM WDP4D 56515 0745 Bangalore City – Hubli Jn
40009 KJM WDP4B 16536 1410 (P) Solapur – Mysore
11200 ED WDM3D 16528 1805 (P) Kannur – Yesvantpur
13263 KJM WDG3A 16572 1805 (P) Bidar – Yesvantpur
20024 KJM WDP4 56224 0500 Arsikere Jn – Bangalore City
20019 KJM WDP4 56926 0815 Tumkur – Bangalore City
40010 UBL WDP4B 17308 1410 (P) Bagalkot – Mysore
30582 LGD WAP7 17603 2105 (P) Kacheguda – Yesvantpur
22886 ET WAP4 12539 1050 Yesvantpur – Lucknow
22891 SRC WAP4 22864 1100 Yesvantpur – Howrah
11526 RTM WDM3D 19302 1120 Yesvantpur – Indore Jn
20056 KJM WDP4 56241 0500 Salem Jn – Yesvantpur Jn, 56580 xxxx Yesvantpur – Bangalore City (ecs)
20045 KJM WDP4 16024 1315 Yesvantpur – Mysore Jn
30425 LGD WAP7 15228 0725 (PP) Muzaffarpur – Yesvantpur
20067 KJM WDP4 56215 1245 Yesvantpur – Mysore (via Hassan)
20021 UBL WDP4 12725 1300 Bangalore City – Dharwad
20043 KJM WDP4 56222 1135 Tumkur – Bangalore City
11193 ED WDM3D 17235 1715 Bangalore City – Nagercoil Jn
25033 BZA WAP4 18464 1400 Bangalore City – Bhubaneswar
20009 UBL WDP4 12613 1130 Mysore Jn  – Bangalore City, 20651 1500 Bangalore City – Shimoga Town
12325 UBL WDG4 12726 0515 Dharwad – Bangalore City, 12614 1500 Bangalore City – Mysore Jn
20053 KJM WDP4 56282 1530 Bangalore City – Chamarajanagar
13030/13043 KJM WDG3As 16216 1815 Bangalore City – Mysore
16702 GTL WDM3A ecs for 12786 1820 Bangalore City – Kacheguda from Bangalore Cantt at 1730
22922 ET WAP4 56508 1800 Bangalore City – Marikuppam
22323 AJJ WAP4 (16671 ED WDM3A dit) 16520 1730 Bangalore City – Jolarpettai
20030 KJM WDP4 56223 1820 Bangalore City – Arsikere
14639 KJM WDG3A 17325 0800 Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn

 

Moves for Wednesday 29th November 2017

40016 Yesvantpur Jn Bangalore City Jn 1820 (28/11) Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn 16591 UBL WDP4B
40435 Bangalore City Jn Yesvantpur Jn 0745 Bangalore City Jn – Hubli Jn 56515 KJM WDP4D
Auto Yesvantpur Jn Lottegollahalli RS150, 10 minutes
20056 Lottegollahalli Yesvantpur Jn 0520 Salem Jn – Yesvantpur Jn 56241 KJM WDP4
20043 Yesvantpur Jn Bangalore City Jn 1135 Tumkur – Bangalore City Jn 56222 KJM WDP4
12325 Bangalore City Jn Kengeri 1500 Bangalore City Jn – Mysore Jn 12614 UBL WDG4
13035 Kengeri Bangalore City Jn 1430 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City Jn 16557 KJM WDG3A twins 13035/13037 in multi
13037
20030 Bangalore City Jn Yesvantpur Jn 1820 Bangalore City Jn – Arsikere Jn 56223 KJM WDP4

 

Photos for Wednesday 29th November 2017

 

 

Thursday 30th November 2017 (Fucked over by Indian Railways in Bangalore)

 

We were already in going home mode when we checked out of the Hotel Grand Bee, and having had one of the shittest days ever the previous day, we at least had a back-up plan for if, or more like when, 16575 0710 Yesvantpur – Mangalore Jn (via Hassan) produced a GM. There was no sign of the stock in the platform when we got to the station and of course KJM WDP4 20034 left it just long enough, before bringing the rake out of the carriage sidings, so as we didn’t have enough time to get to Bangalore City to view 56514 0715 Bangalore City – Karaikal; with its ED WDG3A link. So, we ended up doing UBL WDP4B 40036 to Bangalore City on the late running 16591 1820 (P) Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn. The idea then being that we viewed and chewed for a bit, after dropping our bags at the cloak room.

 

On arrival into Bangalore City, I noticed an Alco waiting to head towards Mysore. We discovered it to be KJM WDM3A 16876 with 16220 2135 (P) Tirupati – Chamarajanagar, just before it set off, and as neither of us needed it we opted not to do it out to Kengeri for 16215 0645 Mysore – Bangalore City Chamundi Express back in and went to get some accommodation sorted for the night instead. The Hotel Signature Inn is only a 10-minute walk from the front of Bangalore City station, and we’d stayed there a couple of times before. Thankfully they had a room for the night and we were even allowed to check in at that point; the room being 24-hour checkout. With our big bags dumped for the day, and somewhere to sleep for the night, we had plenty of time to kill before doing 16558 1030 Bangalore City – Mysore, for 16557 1430 Mysore – Bangalore City. By the time we got back to the station, KJM WDM3A twins 14083/18704 had arrived with 12785 1905 (P) Kacheguda – Bangalore City and were being fuelled in the station.

 

Unexpectedly, KJM WDG3A 14639 rolled in with 17326 0610 Mysore Jn – Hubli Jn, so Pelham did it up to Yesvantpur while I milled around at Bangalore City. When 16215 0645 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City came up the hill into Bangalore City, off the Mysore line, I was shocked and relieved at the same time as KJM WDG4s 12030/12276 eased the train in. the leading one of the pair was decorated with garlands, as were a few other engines we saw that day. Had we done 16220 out to Kengeri, these would have greeted us for the return journey. All was well though, when the KJM twins 14083/18704 dropped onto the opposite end of the set and the front coach was relatively empty 20 minutes before departure. When Pelham turned up at the front of the train, I went to get a photo of the twins and was horrified at what I found when I got out onto the platform. There was only a GM dropping onto the top of the Alco’s! WTF!? Not quite believing what I was seeing, I initially assumed that KJM WDP4 20022 was just dropping down to get behind the signal to do a reversing move; but no, it was coupled onto the Alco’s and piped up. I didn’t have the heart to tell Pelham what was going on, so sent him outside to have a scan at the front of the train. The air was blue when he returned and what was unfolding in front of us, pretty much typified the disappointment that Indian Railways now served up to Alco fans! If we had any doubt in our mind that Indian Railways were playing with us on this morning, we were soon shown who was boss when the Alco’s were shut down; and that was our cue to bugger off and do something else!

 

With nothing else much to do, we passed the time by doing KJM WDP4D 40362 up to Yesvantpur on 16229 0720 Mysore – Varanasi, where we drank chai for a while and then did UBL WDP4 20009 back to Bangalore City on 20652 0640 Shimoga Town – Bangalore City, to fester for 12975 1020 Mysore Jn – Jaipur Jn, which at least turned up with the correct traction; MLY WDM3A’s 16753/16601. From this point on, our day was pretty much mapped out around the trains we knew would be Alco hauled and once ED WAP4 22889 dropped us back down the hill from Bangalore Cantt to City, on 12639 0750 Chennai Central – Bangalore City, we mirrored our move from the previous afternoon and did UBL WDP4 20021 out to Kengeri, which having arrived into Bangalore City with 12726 0515 Dharwad – Bangalore City, it then formed 12614 1500 Bangalore City – Mysore Jn. The stall owner at Kengeri looked a little confused when the same two white guys stood there and drank chai, for the second day in a row, and thankfully, for our sanity more than anything else, there was no GM topping the KJM Alco twins on 16557 1430 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City Rajya Rani Express; but alas, 14083/18704 were a little disappointing themselves. They did however, make 17235 1715 Bangalore City – Nagercoil Jn and ED WDM3D 11214 was in far better form as it hammered away up the hill to Bangalore Cantt.

 

After being at Bangalore Cantt for an hour, I was all for doing AJJ WAG7 28641 back to Bangalore City with 56261 0800 Arakkonam Jn – Bangalore City but Pelham had other ideas, so I waited with him for 56513 0340 Karaikal – Bangalore City, which just seemed to be getting later and later as it got closer to Bangalore. When ED WDG3A 14638 eventually arrived with the train, it made the wait worthwhile, and finished off our three-week trip when it arrived into Bangalore City. We’d had a pretty dismal two days in Bangalore, and to top that off, our mood was dampened by the fact that it was hammering it down with rain as 56513 stood outside the station waiting the road in. Luckily, it had stopped by the time we arrived but as it had rained so hard, both of us ended up ankle deep in puddles on the way back to the hotel; which just added insult to injury. During our 2 days in Bangalore we’d managed 64km off Alco’s, which to put in context, had we had Alco twins out and back to Mysore on the Rajya Rani Express, that would have totaled 552km alone!

 

As we packed our bags at the Hotel Signature Inn, we contemplated what had happened during our time in Bangalore. The whole two days, three if you count the wasted day travelling from Guwahati, had been a complete and utter waste of time. Never before, in my 13 years of travelling around India, had I had such a disappointing trip. What with the Khajuraho bowl-out, followed by the two consecutive GM hauled trains from Jhansi to Allahabad and then onwards towards Varanasi, added to the wasted time in Bangalore, it almost adds up to a week of being shit on by Indian Railways; to say I wasn’t happy was an understatement. And all that coupled with the fact that IR had just stopped the sale of Indrail Passes to foreigners, taking away the flexibility to travel when it’s now needed more than ever, made me seriously think about my trips to India in the future.

 

As a railfan, I care not for electrification and care even less about the influx of GM’s, my sole purpose for ever having gone to India in the first place was to do Alco’s. This trip showed me how hard it was going to get in the future and it also showed me that Indian Railway’s don’t seem to have a clear strategy for its loco fleet going forward. The imminent introduction of GE’s into the mix on IR will add even more dilution to the fleet in the future and at a time when electrification is taking place at an alarming rate. This is displacing diesels from routes that then technically have no work and all that happens then is the GM’s displace Alco’s on other links and more trains then seem to get twin Alco’s to speed up acceleration. There is no clear direction as to why mass electrification seems to be the way forward for IR but it is clear that depending on which zonal railway you listen to, they all have their own spin on the propaganda they produce to show people that electrification is greener, more efficient and that diesels are a thing of the past; while singing up for a contract with GE to build 1000 more diesels of a different type, which IR has never used before! Then shortly after I returned from this trip, IR announced that it had tasked RDSO with coming up with a strategy to convert diesels to electrics; while DLW still builds GMs and the production of GE’s is set to commence in the near future. It is literally like the blind leading the blind, who are then blinding the public with propaganda to get them the votes. I’d like to see the “real” cost of electrification versus the cost of diesel consumption, especially as there simply aren’t enough electric locos to meet the mail/express/passenger demands now and production isn’t going to catch up anytime soon, not with mass withdrawal of the older electric fleet taking place as well. Whatever the eventual outcome, which I’m not sure IR is aware of at this point, it will ultimately result in Alco’s dwindling in numbers, until they’re all gone, which then unfortunately, will result in my days of visiting India being over. It’s been great while its lasted, but the writing is well and truly on the wall now for Alco fans and as I lay in bed, trying to get to sleep, I couldn’t help but wonder just how soon D-day would come around.

 

Gen for Thursday 30th November 2017

40036 UBL WDP4B 16591 1820 (P) Hubli Jn – Mysore Jn, 17307 1330 Mysore Jn – Bagalkot
40237 KJM WDP4D 22686 0325 (PP) Chandigarh – Yesvantpur
20034 KJM WDP4 16575 0710 Yesvantpur – Mangalore Jn (via Hassan)
40066 KJM WDP4B 56925 0530 Bangalore City – Tumkur
22809 RPM WAP4 11006 2050 (P) Pondicherry – Dadar (to YPR)
40226 KJM WDP4D 11006 2050 (P) Pondicherry – Dadar (from YPR)
40238/40528 KJM WDP4Ds 56913 0630 Bangalore City – Hubli
40055 UBL WDP4D 16590 1405 (P) Kolhapur – Bangalore City
40453 KJM WDP4D (14082 KJM WDM3A dit) 56515 0745 Bangalore City – Hubli Jn
13118 & 13270 KJM WDG3As Bangalore City pilots
36025 KJM WDS6 Bangalore City pilot
16876 KJM WDM3A 16220 2135 (P) Tirupati – Chamarajanagar
70460 UBL WDG4 16518/16524 1640 Kannur/1440 Karwar – Bangalore City (from Mysore), ecs for 12786 1820 Bangalore City – Kacheguda from Bangalore Cantt at 1730
14083/18704 KJM WDM3As 12785 1905 (P) Kacheguda – Bangalore City, (dit behind 20022 on 16558 1030 Bangalore City – Mysore), 16557 1430 Mysore – Bangalore City, 12786 1820 Bangalore City – Kacheguda
14639 KJM WDG3A 17326 0610 Mysore Jn – Hubli Jn
11566 GTL WDM3D ecs ex 12785 1905 Kacheguda – Bangalore City to Bangalore Cantt at 0930
11214 ED WDM3D 17236 1910 (P) Nagercoil Jn – Bangalore City, 17235 1715 Bangalore City – Nagercoil Jn
12030/12276 KJM WDG4s 16215 0645 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City
40362 KJM WDP4D 16229 0720 Mysore – Varanasi
20022 KJM WDP4 (14083/18704 KJM WDM3As dit) 16558 1030 Bangalore City – Mysore
13297 KJM WDG3A 16572 1805 (P) Bidar – Yesvantpur
20043 KJM WDP4 56228 0400 Shimoga Town – Bangalore City
22657 LGD WAP4 12735 2030 (P) Secunderabad – Yesvantpur
40272 GY WDP4D 17212 1515 (P) Machilipatnam – Yesvantpur, 17212 1430 Yesvantpur – Machilipatnam
20008 UBL WDP4 17308 1410 (P) Bagalkot – Mysore
20009 UBL WDP4 20652 0640 Shimoga Town – Bangalore City
20054 UBL WDP4 16023 0820 Mysore Jn – Yesvantpur
16753/16601 MLY WDM3As 12975 1020 Mysore Jn – Jaipur Jn
22214 LGD WAP4 17210 1735 (P) Kakinada Town – Bangalore City
22889 RPM WAP4 12639 0750 Chennai Central – Bangalore City
20021 UBL WDP4 12726 0515 Dharwad – Bangalore City, 12614 1500 Bangalore City – Mysore Jn
20036 KJM WDP4 56282 1530 Bangalore City – Chamarajanagar
40008 UBL WDP4B 12008 1415 Mysore Jn – Chennai Central
30391 RPM WAP7 56508 1800 Bangalore City – Marikuppam
28641 AJJ WAG7 56261 0800 Arakkonam Jn – Bangalore City
14638 ED WDG3A 56513 0340 Karaikal – Bangalore City
40212 GY WDP4D 12627 1920 Bangalore City – New Delhi

 

Moves for Thursday 30th November 2017

40055 Yesvantpur Jn Bangalore City Jn 1405 (29/11) Kolhapur – Bangalore City Jn 16590 UBL WDP4B
40362 Bangalore City Jn Yesvantpur Jn 0720 Mysore Jn – Varanasi Jn 16229 KJM WDP4D
20009 Yesvantpur Jn Bangalore City Jn 0640 Shimoga Town – Bangalore City 20652 UBL WDP4
16753 Bangalore City Jn Bangalore Cantt 1020 Mysore Jn – Jaipur Jn 12975 MLY WDM3A twins 16753/16601 in multi
16601
22889 Bangalore Cantt Bangalore City Jn 0750 Chennai Central – Bangalore City Jn 12639 ED WAP4
20021 Bangalore City Jn Kengeri 1500 Bangalore City Jn – Mysore Jn 12614 UBL WDP4
18704 Kengeri Bangalore City Jn 1430 Mysore Jn – Bangalore City Jn 16557 KJM WDM3A twins 18704/14083 in multi
14083
11214 Bangalore City Jn Bangalore Cantt 1715 Bangalore City Jn – Nagercoil Jn 17235 ED WDM3D
14638 Bangalore Cantt Bangalore City Jn 0340 Karaikal – Bangalore City Jn 56513 ED WDG3A

 

Photos for Thursday 30th November 2017

 

 

Friday 1st December 2017 (Going home with a sour taste in my mouth….)
Our flight home from Bangalore to Heathrow wasn’t until 0700 so we didn’t get up until 0330, headed straight to Bangalore City station and played taxi roulette. As is always the case outside Bangalore City station, all the drivers have a laminated pre-pay list, so whoever you choose you end up paying the same price; the only lottery, at that time of the morning, is finding someone to take you that isn’t going to fall asleep on the way and kill you! This drive turned into one of those very drives, where I found myself having to talk to the driver, to make sure he didn’t fall asleep at the wheel; I hate those drives!

 

At the airport, there was a small queue to get through the front doors. At all Indian airports you must show your flight details and passport to get into the terminal building. Once inside though, getting our boarding cards was a lot easier than it had been at Guwahati and we breezed through a very empty security area and were through immigration soon afterwards. 5 years ago, the whole process of getting from the front door of an Indian airport, through to the departure gate, was the one last hassle the country could throw at you; but now, it’s been simplified and is a lot more pleasant than it used to be. Gone are the days of queuing for hours, just to get to security, gone are the days of having a luggage tag stamped on your hold baggage, gone are the days of having to fill out immigration exit cards, and gone are the days of having to have a proper boarding card from the check-in desks, although you do have to have this stamped so boarding cards on mobile devices still aren’t accepted.

 

The airport wasn’t so busy, and breakfast was sought straight away, and both of our omelettes then sent back when they arrived. So many times, when getting omelettes from street vendors, are the eggs not cooked in the middle. It’s easy to get them to throw it back in the pan and sort it out but I’d expect better from a decent restaurant at an airport! They were both cooked properly at the second time of asking and that set us up for the flight home.

 

The flight itself was a relatively calm one, with no noise from screaming kids at all. Other than running out of western meals by the time they got to us once, the flight was as routine as they got. Even then, the staff went to find us some sarnies from the business class stash, as we really didn’t fancy curry for breakfast.

 

Back on the ground in the UK, we had an easy journey to Kings Cross on the Underground and knew 91107 was the 1435 Kings Cross – Leeds. Relaxing in style, in 1st Class, is always a welcome change to slumming it in unreserved in India. When our food was served at our seats though, I couldn’t help but think that I’d rather be served samosas at my seat, by a vendor on a local passenger train in Bihar…..

 

This trip had given me a wakeup call and the moment I got back I got straight into completely rewriting my March plan, partly to recover some of what was lost on this trip and partly because time was running out to do things with Alco; so, it was now or never! Khajuraho to Lalitpur would be the third attempt in March…..

 

Moves for Friday 1st December 2017

G-YMMF Bangalore Heathrow Terminal 5 0700 Bangalore – Heathrow BA118 British Airways
91107 Kings Cross Doncaster 1435 Kings Cross – Leeds 1D18

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