8003 Trip No. 1
by Arnab Acharya
Firstly, my apologies for getting this so late!
The ticket was for 23 Aug '02 by 8003 Howrah-Yeshwantpur Express. I was travelling by sleeper class (S1). S1 was at the front-end of the train and, I had to trudge all the way! The rake composition was 19 coaches, with 1 2AC, 1 3AC, 10 SL's, 1 pantry between S6 & 7 or 7 & 8, rest general/luggage. The whole rake was a new SER one, at Pf19. Pf21 was taken up by the VT-bound 2810 Mail. Shortly before we left, 6003 was put in at Pf20. Just as the electric loco purred into action on the dot at 2005 hours, some wise guy pulled the chain... At 2011, we moved out. The run was smooth, initially, at 70-80 kph. Crossing with the Howrah-bound 2704 and Rupashi Bangla indicated they were on time. 'Met a tigerface in the HWH-KGP section. At Panskura, we had a halt of 20-30 minutes, almost after and outside the station, at a signal. As we waited, the 2810 pulled up on our left. Both waited, waited. At 2150, 8003 got green, entering KGP 1t 2300. Announcements for 2810 were being made, which was expected at 2320. Meanwhile, I alighted and went to the front. The usual blue uniformed KGP WDM/2 given came with a locked airbraked 3AC (SER). 'Retired soon after, only to wake up at Palasa (0845-8). Tracks were all electrified. Possibly, 1016 Vishakha and 7480 Tirupati-Howrah (vacuum-braked rake) crossed. 'Met a SR tigerface near Vizianagram. A WDG zipped past with a goods in tow, at Nallimerla. A noticeable fact nowadays is that the goods are all fast ones. Gone are the days when they used to be pulled by a heaving WDM/2, at 30-40 kph. Nallimerla and sorroundings was very picturesque, reminding me of the village in 'Roja', with a rivulet thrown in for good measure. As I stood at the door and looked ahead, I saw this huge hill some 1-2 km ahead. It seemed as if the track would end there! As if to answer my question, 8003 turned left somewhat abruptly. Palasa-bound MEMU crossed at 1005. At 1055, we reached Vizianagram. 'Saw the 3 tracks meeting here. The station at 799 km was closed. 'Saw the track from Bailadilla iron ore mines (a board to this effect) coming and merging, on to Vizag. Also met a goods behind twin WAG5D's (Not very sure about the 'D'). 'Crossed the 226, 229 Passengers, the Tiruchhi-Howrah - all before VSKP. At VSKP, where we arrived late around 1240-5, the vacuum-braked Kazipeta Link and Tirumala Exp's were waiting at different platforms. The 6004 came in at 1305. 8003 departed at 1309, behind an electric loco, having left the locked 3AC behind at VSKP. The afternoon was warm and 8003 cruised at 80 kph or so. Lots of crossings/zipping by's in the VSKP-RJY section, both vacuum and airbraked. We crossed Annavaram at 1452. The run here was not very smooth, often halting and the smell of air brakes coming... As it was, we were running more than an hour late. Then, there was the 'hijra' menace to boot - thrice on this journey. Usually, giving them money took care of them, but, around Rajahmundry (1612-6), they would not go easily. One of them even started caressing the cheek of one of my co-passengers ('Ey, Sunil Shetty!' The poor college student quickly gave him some money.).
As we crossed the Godavari, saw an electric-hauled 14coach rake on the new bridge standing still. Tadepalligudem was at 1655. Finally, 8003 arrived at BZA at 1840, a good 1 hr 15 min late. As we were getting in at Pf5, the 23coach airbraked Ratnachal (with 3 AC chairs) was being taken to the siding, with a Raj livery WAP/4 at the other end (having pulled it to BZA). At Pf6, the 11coach, vacuum Hwh-bound Tirupati Exp was standing, behind a WDM/2. It had a mixed first-cum-sleeper class coach. We left at 1850 or so. Ongole was at 2115. 'Went to bed, after the dismal dinner. This train has a contractor at the pantry, and food is worse than IR's own! There were the usual beggar boys creeping into our coach, thanks to the vestibule. 'Drove one away. I always chain my luggage, though.
Next morning was chilly, as we made our way. Around Bangarapet, we crossed a 19coach rake (Lalbagh, possibly). Krishnarajapuram was at 0800-0812. Half the trainload alighted. We turned right to Chennasandra. Thanks to Karthik's reports/pix, it rang a familiar bell the moment I saw 'CSDR' on a post. (At a later date, Karthik and I did some railfanning here.) The 22coach SBC-bound Udyan, with 4 ACs, was also waiting here. As we halted (0815-20), it moved out. We were being hauled by the usual blue WDM/2, the track was single in these parts. At Yelahanka, we halted from 0836-0854, reversed, went past people's kitchens, toilets, etc to Yeshwantpur. At YNK, saw the Raj livery Hindupur DMU. Arrived at 0915 at YPR. The yard outside was bleak, with the 16coach Sanghamitra parked. This place is yet to develop. It'd have made more sense to have the trains from YPR originate/depart from SBC, with yarding at YPR. Anyway.