by Arnab Acharya
I took the MASC-bound 6024 Dn from SBC (Pf3). Pulled by a WAM/4 (AJJ?). Left at 0811, late for whatever reason. Saw the Kacheguda at Pf2. Rani Chennamma was shortly to arrive. Saw the airbraked Jaipur Exp in the pits, as also Kanniyakumari and Tuticorin Expresses. Travelled general, though the coach was a WGSCZ. The pantry people kept coming with food. (So, the pantry is now functional on 23/4? Btw, shouldn't this be 6523/4?). Met Udyan at BNC, at 0825 or so. Reached Bangarpet at 0930, 10 mins late. Turned out Manoj and his two pals, Lucas and Anil, were in the same coach but, at the other end.
The 72-seater BEML-manufactured railbus was waiting. Manoj took the pains of getting the tickets in the 5 minutes or so available. The bus was full.
Initially, all the turns had double rails. This disappeared after 5-7 km or so. At 25 km/h, we were gleefully overtaken by scooters, buses, etc. Max limit was 35 km/h.
Not one of the signals were working, some vertical, some horizontal. Turned out this was a block section, with plenty of unmanned and manned level-crossings. At the unmanned ones, it was a race between who reached first - rail or otherwise!
We reached Kolar at 1005. There was only 1 platform, with a goods rake at some distance, a 20-wagon airbraked rake!
I purchased tickets for the trip back rightaway. They were those old ones! The SM penned 7/- to indicate the changed fare. We chatted him up. He was impressed that non-railway employees could be railfans! He does a 24hour shift, sleeping in between. No ASMs here.
Apparently, it's quite an effort to fill up a 40-wagon rake. When it does, he calls up Bangarpet to request a light (diesel) loco. The rake goes to Orissa, with its cargo of wood.
The numbering from Bangarpet counts down to 131 km at Kolar. The reason is the numbering starts at Yelahanka. We walked down to see the remnants of the unused 2'6" behind the goods rake. I vaguely recall seeing promises of the forthcoming budget having BG conversion of this, in TOI.
The return was at 1115. There were some 10 passengers. I was amused to see a frame having Jesus, several Hindu Gods and Mecca together! There was a double counting, staring at 11km from Kolar and counting down towards Bangarpet.
At one of the manned crossings, there was some ten times more traffic waiting for us than on the railbus. Several people had got down from their transport and was looking at the railbus. Some were disappointed to see the one-bogie anti-climax!
We got held up at the only signal (digital), outside Bangarpet. Again, Manoj ran and got our tickets. As we clambered to the platform, 2639 breezed in, behind a Raj-livery Erode WAP/4. (Reminded me of Kishore-RD's evergreen 'O Hansini, mere hansini'.)
A dreamlet come true, taking the Brindavan! With some slacking of speed, 2639 ran well, otherwise. The train was packed to capacity, with people standing, too. We stood near the door. Arrived at BNC at 1250 or so, before schedule.
Said our goodbyes. As I waited for the bus, it was 1300 and, P/4 blew its regal horn and pulled out effortlessly with the 23-coach rake.