Hubli Jan Shatabdi - Inaugural run Report
by Karthik M.V.
Yesterday(Sunday), I had attended the function at SBC, for inauguration of Hubli JS exp. The function was scheduled at 3pm on PF8, this is the 'new entrance'. I reached there by 2:30pm, saw the totally packed Brindavan exp leave for MAS behind a wap-4.
Then I moved on to PF 8, and there I saw the neatly decorated rake standing proudly!! I was stunned by the beauty of these brand new coaches. As I took a stroll along the rake, I could still smell the fresh paint! This rake is of same livery as Madgaon JS. The same light blue below windows and zig-zag at the bottom. I feel something more creative could have been put up for this fantastic train. The loco was a proud KJM WDM2 in typical KJM livery. This was actually an 'old loco' but neatly painted to make it look brand new. The front of the loco was decorated extravagantly with thermocol cut-outs and multi coloured flower garlands. The loco was nick-named 'Pretty Bird', just below the driver window. This loco also had twin beam headlamps (this a first for KJM locos). I took a few photographs and then it was time for the VVIPs arrival!
Was a bit easy, but a perimeter of 25mts radius was put up from the dias and no public could go beyond it. At 3pm, CM krishna arrived in a long motor cade. Then all the really big wigs arrived. Nitish kumar, Dattatreya, Ananth kumar, CRB rana, Jaffer Sharrif. Apart from MLA Shettar all the guys spoke in national language English! and Ofcourse nitish kumar had to speak in Hindi! There were plenty of empty chairs, so I had occupied one of them. Rail board chairman IIMS Rana, gave a short speech about finance crunches and asked states to come forward for help. Even on the dias, Mr.Rana stood out amongst all the big wigs in his attire and mannerims. Long live the babus:-)
But apart from him all the other politicians talked 'nothing new' ;-) As Mr.Kbp had earlier pointed out, Dattareya speaks the same thing were ever he goes:-)) He spoke abt railneer, model stations,etc........ I really got bugged by these politicians talk. There was nothing new which we at Irfca do not know!! These fellows talked for so long one after the other that, it was 4pm by now!!
I ditched the function and went to have a look at the interiors of JS coaches. This rake is having 5 Jan Chair car, 1 AC Jan CC, 2 guard cum Jan CC. (plus one stand by non-AC in the yard). The guard cabin is nice and compact. it occupies only 1/6 of coach length. The guard seat is like an aircraft seat!! Opposite to the seat is a compact toilet. The remaining coach has passenger seats. When I entered, the Jan CC, I was really stunned by the beautiful, peaceful and clean interiors. Took a snap and went to the AC coach, which was even more stunning in its beauty. By now I was so attracted to this train, that I wanted to travel in it! So, I quickly went to ticket office and bought an Rs.82 tkt (min.fare) to Tumkur 70kms away!!
Then it was 4:20pm, and finally the big wigs waved the green flag and the proud driver blew his loud horn. The beautiful train started moving without even a screech! I was in the second last coach at the door. As my coach approached near the VVIP dias, I vigorously waved my hands at the VVIPs and to my astonishment they started waving back too!! As we left SBC, I noted that our wdm2 did not give out any smoke at all! So, I guess the shed must have put in some hard work for the function. In the whole train, there were only abt 50 passengers. Rest were all the catering staff and TTEs.
I occupied an empty coach. The seating capacity is 106 seats. Half of them facing one direction and the other half in opposite direction. In the middle there is a common table, but the leg room is very less here. In the other rows the leg room is sufficient, with foot rests. There is also metallic foldable table for each seat. In front of each seat there is a bottle holder and a magazine holder. The seats are nice and soft, but with 3+3 seating I think it is pretty uncomfortable. The seat width is very less, and if one passenger has a slightly bigger waist, it is going to be nightmare for his neighbours!. All the coaches (including AC) have same window size (LHB type). All the windows have a spring type curtain. Which when released, automatically rolls upwards.
The window dimensions are 60cms ht X 100cms width. But I did'nt like the sliding window concept. There are actually 3 glass pieces, placed one beside the other. The middle glass is fixed. Only the other two can be moved. Also there is a bar frame on the side. So effectively though the window is 100cms long, you can only open 30cms on each end. It felt more like travelling by bus than by train!! Also, I saw that one or two rows do not get any windows at all! I hope they revert back to 'lifting windows'.
Also, I was wondering why the JS exp did not have any emergency windows. The switches for fans is more like the one found in our houses. The fan is not fixed, but it automatically sways in a small angle so that every seat gets its share of air!
One remarkable thing was that there was very less noise in the passenger cabin. The cabin entrance is now having sliding doors. There are only two toilets for each coach, one Indian and the other western style. These were neat and clean. The wash basins are also ceramic ones, with taps as found in our homes. Good that the 'lifting' tap has been done away with. The other end of coach is having a rail mart. selling chips and other packed items. There is a mini refrigerator and coffee vending machine. Also a place for food storage. I personally feel a JS coach is a cramped one. Just too many things have been stuffed into a single coach. It is better to have a separate pantry car. 2 toilets for 106 passengers is a silly idea:-) The water tank will be emptied in 4or5 hours:-))
As for the journey, it was not really 'fast'. BS is only 90kmph. We got all signals clear, and we over took a passenger train on the way. During the journey, I demanded from the train manager, that I be served something as I had bought Rs.82tkt. But he said today was unofficial run and some of the passengers were travelling free!! So he could not do anything!! But around 5:05pm, I was served coffee and biscuits. This is nothing great! Because coffee was worth Rs.4 and biscuits was a small Re.1 pack of britania tiger!!!!!
After this I decided to experience the AC coach. To my surprise I found 20 people already sitting there!! This 73 seater coach is really beautiful and comfy seats(3+2). The view outside these huge windows was really superb. Also, these windows seem to have single glass only. Though these windows were tinted, the outside view is 'colourless'. The seats have spacious leg room and push back facility.
At 5:20pm we reached Tumkur, 70kms in 1hr. I immediately got down took a few snaps. After a 2mins halt the train departed. I returned back to bangalore by Hubli passenger ( tkt cost rs.15only). It left TK at 6pm and reached SBC at 8pm. Though we did not have any crossings, it still took 2hrs!! Actually the reason being we had to stop at 10 stns along the route. This confirms that, minimum 5mins is lost each time a halt is introduced for a train!
On the whole I feel this JS exp concept will work well. SBC-UBL fare is only Rs.182!!!! But, on the days when it goes full, the plight of 106 passengers is going to be pretty horrible:-)