A day at Bangalore...
by Abhijit Lokre
I was in Bangalore for a couple of days in April and spent a nice afternoon at SBC with Rohit Mohan.
I had received an invitation from the Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a seminar on "Solving bangalore's traffic woes", in the background of the metro being approved there.
After checking train availability from Ahmedabad to Bangalore and all kinds of permutations and combinations, I was informed that BCIC would sponsor my air ticket.
I had come out with very interesting connections. The obvious one was ADI-SBC by the Jodhpur/ Ajmer - SBC expresses. But the waiting list ran into uncomfortable figures. So that was out. The other and better option is ADI-BCT-SBC by the Gujarat Mail and the Udyan express. But the Udyan WL didn't give me a chance. finally I hit upon a way. Buy two tickets..one from Dadar to Solapur and the other from Solapur to SBC. And tickets were available on both legs!! Just as I was finalising this interesting route, I got confirmation that I could fly...:-(
So Air Sahara it was from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad and then to Bangalore. I had sent a mail to the SBC group about my programme....surprisingly, the only person to respond was Sridhar Joshi from Chennai!! He was also in SBC for some work and we decided to meet at SBC on April 2 at the Chennai Shatabdi, which he was supposed to take to Chennai.
I landed in Bangalore at 1515 and took a taxi to my hotel. Sridhar called up a couple of times to confirm my arrival and also guide me through the SBC maze. (come to the Madras gate, buy a platform ticket etc!!). I watched Sachin get Abdul Razzaq out at Kochi before heading out.
After an agonizing search for an auto (SBC autos didn't want to come to the station on the meter and insisted on a ridiculous charge of 40/- from race course road), I reached the main entrance at 1600. The next thing was a platform ticket. Right at the entrance I found a platform ticket vending machine. The one on the right accepted 1 re and 5 rs coins and the one on the left accepted 10 rs nd 20 rs notes. I had one 5 rs coin and one 2 rs coin and then notes of 50 rs. Spent about 3-4 minutes trying to figure out the corect combination, but gave up soon. I wandered inside the main concourse and soon enough found a human ticket vending machine!! Finally purchased the all important ticket and rushed inside. Bangalore-Secunderabad was on platform 2(headed by a WDP4) and the Shatabdi on platform 5. I rushed to pf 5 and gave a call to Sridhar, who emerged out of his C4 coach.
Rohit Mohan too was there and after introductions, we got into a conversation about the Shatabdi's power for the day and the new SBC-MAS shatabdi etc. I also asked Sridhar about Satish and Alok's april fool day mails and he sheepishly said that getting conned once is fine....but twice???!!!!
Well, Sridhar's shatabdi gave a toot at 1625 and he was off. That left me and young Rohit with the evening to spare. Rohit is quite enthusiastic and very quickly he got me up to date with SBC layout. The directions, the various platforms, the non-compatibility of the Hubli bound latforms with the rest of the platforms etc.
Very soon, we were walking along the tracks to the Itarsi twins (16528 and 17247). After clicking a few photographs, we turned our attention to the first WDM-3D, 11101 (am I right?). The front elevation of the loco looked very neat (Rohit had put up some images).
Meanwhile WDS6 36243 was hard at work shunting the Karnataka express for its evening departure. We then wandered over the the Hubli platforms, where WDP 20011, 'Baaz; was parked. Rohit told me that this loco had pulled in the Shatabdi from Mysore.
The next item on the agenda was a walk to the electric trip shed. Rohit warned me against using a camera there. The trip shed is longish walk, but very interesting. On the way, we saw the SBC-MAS mail being shunted. In the distance, at the coach sidings I could make out a 05xxx SLR coach of an unknown train and the coaches of the extinct Hubli Janshatabdi. On the way, we passed a WDS4b headed two coach rake, with a Germany marked medical coach.
As we neared the trip shed, we saw the much in the news WAM4-6P 21320 from AJJ parked there. Rohit started a conversation with a IR employee (young fellow) who seemed to be the one who had objected to a camera a few days ago. The youth directed us to the supervisor's cabin for permission. Surprise, surprise...he had no problems with our cameras and was quite interested with IRFCA. Soon, we were all over the trip shed, with Rohit even inviting me to go into the pit below the 21320 for a closer look. Since 21320 was scheduled to move in the next few minutes, I declined!!
21320 was coupled to 21363 from AJJ with a "fit for goods only" sign on it. Two WAP4s from Erode (22294 and 22306) were the other occupants at the trip shed. Rohit asked the young employee about the failure of the new AJJ WAP4 a few days ago. He got quite defensive and said that engines are machines and can fail..!! Meanwhile, I climbed on top of the small mound at the end of the trip shed to get more photographs and asked Rohit to join me. This time, Rohit politely declined!!
Now the walk back to the station beckoned. Rohit had a brainwave and asked the driver of 21320 for a ride back to SBC. He agreed and we were on board in a jiffy!! Rohot struck up a conversation with the driver in Tamil while I pottered around the cabin. We were off soon and the driver used the notches to control the loco. 21363 also trailed behind with us. We made it to platfrom 4 at SBC.
Rohit had a time limit of 1800 to start back and we went to the booking window at the Madras gate side to get a ticket for him. Meanwhile, Shelly called me from ADI to check my whereabouts. When I said I was at the station and had just taken a ride on an engine, she was completely zapped!! On platform 6 (or was it 7?), KJM WDM3a 14028 was the power for the a passenger train, most probably to Chikballapur
Rohit and I walked back to platform 3 where his passenger awaited. Meanwhile, WDS6 36243 was busy once again with the SBC-Kanyakumari express. Rohit finally left to catch his train and I loitered around for some more time at the station. The Itarsi twins were at the head of the KK with a high capacity parcel van and made a very impressive sight indeed!!
I wandered over to platform 2/3 which were deserted. A light WDM3a 14026 from KJM trundled past...The KK had most coaches of 03xxx and 04xxx stock, except for the AC coaches (97xxx).
I finally decided to call it a day and head back to my hotel to work on my presentation for the next day.
The seminar involved the metro guys and monorail guys taking potshots at each other and the assembled janta getting agitated with the metro guys for giving evasive answers!!
I left bangalore next day (April 4 evening) on a IA flight...horrible food and service. At least on IR, there is something to keep you interested!!!
All in all, a good trip...my first to Bangalore and a chance to meet guys only heard and read on the group. Many thanks to Rohit for guiding me around SBC...hope to meet you soon again.