Indian Railways Reports
This is the first ever trip report I am writing. I had gone with my family on a trip to South that included going by flight from Mumbai to Chennai on 27th Oct, taking the 2631 Nellai express to Tirunelveli on 28th, then covering Kanniyakumari and Trivandrum by road and finally taking the flight from Trivandrum back to Mumbai on 1st Nov. I am sorry for writing the report so late, as my sister and I had both fallen ill for a few days as a result of the fatigue due to the continuous sightseeing in Kanniyakumari and travelling on the bad roads on the way to Trivandrum; as well as the numerous mosquitos.
We were a group of six people (myself, parents, sister, grandparents) booked in AC 3 tier coach B4 of 2631 Nellai express, with seats/berths numbered 10,11,13,14,15,16. The tickets had been booked 9 days back without any difficulty whatsoever! We reached Egmore at 19 40, more than an hour before the scheduled departure of our train. The escalators were amazing, so was the crowd, which was not very different from Dadar! On Platform 3, Barbie doll WAM-4 #21339 of AJJ was waiting with a train, facing Beach side. Soon after, a GOC WDM-2 #17835 Jumbo pulled in from south side with a rake of a Tirunelveli bound special train on to platform 6. The train seemed to have all daytime coaches and I was surprised when a person standing near the locomotive told me that this train leaves at 21 30 like a regular nighttime train.
Anyway, Nellai was to leave from platform 5 and we got there soon. The train was already there. We got a shock on entering our coach B4. SMBs!! I didn’t think SMBs were there on many SR trains!! The chart had not been printed yet and there was confusion with the berth no:s and type of berth allotted on the ticket as compared to those in the coach. I meanwhile walked the length of the train. It had 24 coaches with 5 AC coaches- 4 AC 3 Tiers and 1 AC 2 Tier. I thought this train shares its rake with Pandian, so how come no AC First Class coaches? Anyway Loco in charge was ED WAP-4 #22250. Announcements were being made that 2665 Howrah-CAPE express was expected shortly on Platform 8. Sure enough, I heard a train arrive. On Platform 7, 2163 Dadar express had arrived with ED WAP-4 #22666. I was delighted to see the train behind my favourite loco. I had always seen it with a WAM-4 before (except Sept 2006 when I had seen it with GTL WDM-2). On her other side, on platform 8, was a train with ET WAM-4 #20562. This had to be 2665. Offlink! The engine was not detached, meaning it would continue to Villupuram. I then walked back to my coach.
After the charts had finally been pasted, 20 mins prior to departure,The TTE told us that the SMBs were not functional. But even then, the SUB was, and was at the same height as the regular upper berth! The gap between SUB and the roof was quite less and my poor mother had to suffer it! My father and I had to help her the following morning to climb down, which is twice as difficult as climbing up! Anyways, back to the journey. The aforementioned special train left at 20 40 itself! or was it shunted back? and why? a mystery indeed…
Nellai left right on the dot at 20 50 hrs, the WAP-4 sounding a melodious horn. As has to be the case with this majestic beast, we didn’t realise until after a few moments that the train had actually started moving. We soon picked up speed and were speeding through the city, until we slowed down to a crawl through Mambalam,and then again accelerated and maintained 90 km/hr. Reached Tambaram at 21 20, 3 mins late. Soon, at 21 22, the WAP-4 again sounded its lovely double tone horn and we were off. Blasted thru Perungalathur at 80+ and improved that to 95-100, but crawled thru Vandalur at 10-15 thanks to a red signal. I doorplated from Tambaram till Vandalur,then returned to my bay. There wasn’t much to see except for the picturesque Kolavai Lake, which also I could only barely see. We maintained good speed without being outstanding. Reached Chengalpattu at 21 52, 14 mins late. I decided to retire to my regular upper berth here.
After CGL,the chief decided to step up the gear, and maintained 100+ till Villupuram (even though I was up, I couldn’t immediately sleep). I know that this train gets a WDP-4 as its diesel power after VM, so, boy, was I looking forward towards my first DP4 ride! I finally managed to really sleep at VM; then got woken at 01 08; by a crossing with a WDP-4 hauled train(i could tell by the sound of the EMD motors). I walked to the door and saw the station Sendurai: before Ariyalur, still in electrified territory. The train had to be either the returning Pandian or Nellai. As our train pulled out of the station, I returned to my berth. There was one more crossing, but I don’t remember where.
I woke up at 04 50, to find we had passed Kodaikanal Road and were running late by around 20 mins. Reached Sholavandan at 05 16, halted for 2 mins. Had some coffee. Madurai was reached at 05 38, 18 mins late. Halted for 4 mins there instead of 5. I went to the door as the train left the station. The pick-up of the WDP-4 was impressive, more like that of a WAM-4. Not to mention the horn, which was awesome (though it can make you deaf at close quarters!)! We passed through lush paddy fields and some water-filled lakes throughout from MDU to TEN, no doubt due to the heavy rains in Tamilnadu. Speeds from MDU to Virudunagar were 85-90 km/hr. Reached Virudunagar at 06 18, 25 mins late. On the MG line, a YDM-4 #6328 (all YDMs here belong to GOC) was waiting with some vaccum-braked rake.
From here, speeds improved and must have reached the 100 mark. It was not quite as smooth as between MS and VM though. Kovilpatti was reached at 07 03. However, Nellai did not leave even after 2 mins, which meant there had to be a crossing or something. Sure enough, the Tirunelveli-Trichy/Mayiladuthurai passenger came slowly with an ED WDM-3A #14126 (in original Erode colours) in charge; and made its halt. We then left at 07 09. Just as I thought I could get uninterrupted high speed run, the train made an unscheduled halt at Kumarapuram, just 12 mins later. This time the culprit turned out to be a BCNA rake with twin Gooty WDG-3As #13232 (leading) and #13224. The DG-3As had a DP-4 style horn. The train passed slowly thru the station. We finally left at 07 28, after a stop of 7 minutes.
The run from here till Tirunelveli was not very impressive. Kadambur was crossed slowly at 07 47. There was a BOXN rake with twin GOC WDMs (sorry, coudn’t get number). Vanchi Maniyachhi, an important junction, but not a scheduled halt for Nellai, was done at 75-80 km/hr. There is a huge curve just after the station. I could see the entire train. It was a beautiful sight,in the bright sunlight and clear skies, to see the blue rake snaking through with a smoking WDP- 4 (yes, it was smoking!!) LHF on charge! And again, that intoxicating horn, which the common man dreads but railfans like us love! Alas, the chief could not maintain the new-found energy and soon slowed down to a crawl and ultimately stopped. There was only one line, and therefore it could not be a crossing and could only be a signal. After a few minutes, we resumed our journey. We entered Talaiyuthu station (the last station before Tirunelveli) at a slow speed, then picked upto 50-60 km/hr. Here, 6128 Guruvayur- Chennai express was waiting with an ERS WDM-3A #14020 at its head. Thanks to the cushion time between Kovilpatti and Tirunelveli, we managed to reach Tirunelveli at 08 28, 7 mins early!
Thus ends a wonderful and eventful journey. Thank you for your patience in reading this looong trip report.
Material provided by Ashwin P, Copyright © 2008.