Sealdah Rajdhani

2003-02-23

by Milan Chatterjee

Dear friends, I am composing all my trips I had made before leaveing India. There are atleast 14 trips of various kinds. Today i am starting my trip report I made in November 7th laet year on my way from Calcutta to New Delhi to catch my Frankfurt flight. Here goes.

Sealdah Station

I was planning to go to Germany from October itself. My friend said that she will send me the Flight Ticket of Lufthansa on any date between 9th and 12th. So she instructed me to get my visa. She alsotold me that she will book me on the New Delhi Frankfurt flight. So I booked a AC3t on the Sealdah Rjdhani as the Rajababu was booked till capacity. On 6th afternoon my open ticket arrived. As though my luggage was packed, I started calling my friends to give them of the news of my departure. I also called Samitda but his bloody phone was not working and his Mobile ws off. Since the SayalRaja departs from Sealdah at 16:50 hrs i decided to rech there latest by 16:45.

So i started from home by 15:00 hrs. Here i got the biggest surprise of my life. For the first time of my life it took only 20 minutes to reach Sealdah. Keeping Dad and mom in charge of my luggage i took my sister and went with her with a tour of Sealdah station. I instructed her about various things of train spotting. I also taught her to identify various locos and their sheds. I also told her how to carry on the Loco allocation series.

There were huge amount's of EMU's arriving and departing. Then on the loudspeaker it announced that The Empty rake of the Rajdhani is arriving on platform 7 nd the Akal Takhat Exp is arriving n PLatform 9A. The Rake was a full length train(18 coaches). The Ac Chair coaches were integrted into the train unlike previous years. There were 3 AC Chair coaches, thus takeing the lenght of the train to 18 coaches. My coach was 5th from the rear just behind the pair of pantries.

I bought the current edition of the Dataquest, India Today and Sananda Mag from the book stall. I saw the Akal takhat Exp arriving on 9A the new platforms section of Sealdah. My birth was side Lower birth and that too on the right side of the train. The windows were bigger and single layered unlike the Shatabdie Glasses I had seen a month earlier and they were clear and not darklened.

I then went to the front of the train to see the loco of our train. I saw a Bwn WDM2 moveing out which pushed our trin to the platform. Then to my thrill a WAP7 was heading towards us. After the loco was attached, i went to my coach and settled down on my birth. Just opposite me sat a student meant for Kanpur IIT.

Till the departure of our train I chatted along with my parents. My sister chidded that all her friends will be heart broken to learn that you have left India. Just at 16:49 my dad told me that the Signal is on and to go to my birth and take care of my luggage. As i took my seat, the train departed from the station.

Rajdhani overtaking Rajdhani

As the train was snakeing out of Sealdah station I took a long look at it as I would not see it for a good long part of my life, for almost 6 years or so. I was surprised to see that the train was takeing line no 1 tken extreme rarely by xpress trains out of Sealdah.

As we were crossing the Yard the Jammu Tawai Exp came in Behind a Mgsl WAM4.The entire rake was extremeky dirty.Then after a short burst of horn our train gathered speed.Within 1 minute the train was running at 70kmph the max allowed on this section.Then a person came and gave all of us a tissue paper to wipe off our face.

Soon we crossed Bidhan Nagar Station and the Circular Rail passed below us.I also sw a goods train behind a pair of WAG7's snakeing along the Chitpur Yrd below us.Then the metro rail came up beside us on the left side.I planned that if there is time I will visit the delhi metro.

Then as we were approaching Dum Dum Jn station our train slowed down.As we were approaching the platform, the train virtually started to crawll.As it left the platform, it turned right and started to cross 4 diamond crossings to climbe on the Dankuni line.I then noticed that a flat rake was comeing from the Dankuni line behind a single WAG5 of Asn shed.

As soonas the entire rake of our train climbed on the line, it picked up speed, but only till approx 50kmph.As we were crossing the Dunlop bridge juat after Baranagar platfprm i saw that the BT road was jammed to it's capacity as far as i could see.After 2 minutes we reached Dakhineshwwar station.Thruu the trees I could see the Dakhineshwar Temple.I also noticed that the station building was modelled on the likes of the Temple.As the train climbed on the bridge the train slowed to 15kmph.I noticed that there is a triangluar shape board written (15kmph strictly). It took 20 minutes for the entire train to cross the 1700m bridge.I was thinking that if the train conyinues to go like that, we would cross Dankuni long after CoalField and Bwn Super has crossed Dankuni.

After 20 minutes of crawling we reached Dankuni.It took us 45 minutes for us to reach Dankuni.The Rajababu must be approaching Bwn by then.As we were going by the side line, I saw that the Coal Field Exp was comeing from Hwh side at hugh speed, but it too was brakeing tight.Both of us reached Dankuni platform simultaniously.Then as soon as we lewft the platform, the CF moved from the 1st line to the bi directional line and we moved from the side line to the main line just vacated by the Cf Exp.It was pulled by a Hwh WAP4.After 2 minutes the CF Exp gave a short hoot and started advancing.We were almost lefty behind.I was thinking" Just wait.We will catch you soon enough because we have the most powerfulll loco on IR.

As it's last coach reached our loco withour any horn burst it started picking up speed.We acclerated faster than the CF.After 10 minutes we completely left behind the CF Exp and at the 11th minute we were running at full speed.It looked to me that we were running much faster than the Shatabdie i rode a month earlier.Then the coach attendent came and gave us a wet towel to rub our face.Then along with the TT came another Coach attendent with Black Forest Cakes.I know that the pantry service on Sayal Raja was run by Taj Bengal Hotel.Then came pot of Tea with a pair of Tea bags.But unlike the Shatabdie , the pot contained ahot mixture of milk and water.

After 10 minutes that we were overtakkeing another express train on the middle line.Then i realised that it was the Bangalore Gouhati Exp.It was pulled by a Hwh WDM2.Then in the PAS it announced that the train was running at 135kmph.Then the started the 9th Symphony of Beethoven.

As we crossed Kamarkundu we started overtakeing another Exp train. I then saw that it was the Howreah Gouhati Saraighat Exp behind a shrill whistling WDM2.The whistle was so loud that it was clearly heard over the music.After 30 minutes the train braked as it was reaching Bwn.I saw that unlike the shatabdie it had no brakeing sound.I could only feel the inertia of motion.

It took 1hr 25 minutes from SEaldah till Bwn, the main spoiler being the Sealdah Bwn stretch.After crossing Bwn the train again started picking up speed, and within 5 minutes it was running at full speed.After exat 30 minutes the train slowed down.I realised that we were reaching Durgapore station.I guessed that we were brakeing too soon for the platform.I then walked to the door.I saw that we were being shifted to the slow line, and saw the blinking red light on the main line.

As we moved on on platform 2 the Sealdah Darbhanga Ganga sagar exp was moveing out from the main line was being shifted to thew slow line.I then climbed down from the train and bought a cup of coffee.From the platform i was keeping a check on mjy luggage because it had my passports and visa and some Euros.The rest of the Dollars and Euros were on my person.I then suddenly noticed that the main line was showing green.Then it announced" Please move away from the side of the main line as thruu train is comeing".The bright headlight was already visible.Within a few seconds the rajababu passed Durgapore vibrating the entire station strusture and darkening the entire area with dust.I hid my head under my hand to save my eyes from the dust.

After 2 minutes we got our signal and out train started.Just after leaveing the platform we were shifted on the main line.The person sitting opposite me introduced himself.He was a IIT Kanpur student, going back to his hostel after spending some time with his parents.Actually his G Fatrer has passed away, and he was home to attend some functions.I told him that i was going to Germany, but didn;t tell him the details.

At that time the train was running at high speed.As we were crossing Waria I saw that atop a high mound of Ash and bricks a river of molten lava was flowing down.It was nothing but a slag carrier from DSP discharging the molten slag. It was pushed by a privately owned WDS6 loco.

Exchange of Drivers

After the train climbed on the main line, the train speeded up in no time and we were running at full gear.Meanwhile the guy who was traveling with me in my front berth came to inform me that the waiters were comeing to take orders.I then went back to my seat and pressed my nose on the glass to have some view of the outside.After a few minutes a waiter in neat uniform came accompanied by a approx 6ft 5" tall BC Commando with his machine gun in his hand.After talking some things between them, the waiter started takeing orders. Though it had no menu with him, he told me that there are 3 choices between Moughlai, Indian and Chinese. I opted for the Moughlai non veg.

After giving the order, I started concentrateing on my documents about my stay in USA and that time I was a bit shakey about my German plan.I was wondering weather it was the right decision of mine to have fun in Germany and then go to USA. When my GF proposed about this, my sister said " I will kick the shit out of you, if you do not accept the order and Neela will be terribly angry with you"

Myself : So… I accept it?

Sister : Yes..offcourse

Myself : What will others say?!!!1 Flirting with a foreign girl and that too in Germany.

Sister in a loud voice : F*** others .Do as I say,otherwise I am going to tell Neela.

So, I e mailed my consent to Mannheim. I was thinking all these, when it announced that the train is arriving in Asansole on platform 4.After 2 minutes, I felt the inertia of motion and then after 2 minutes we climbed on the side platform, because a goods train was waiting on that platform. It was an empty rake of bottom discharge rake lead by a single Arrakonam WAG7 loco. After 1 minute stop the train again started.

That time, I just went to the toilet.It could rival even the best hotels regarding cleanliness . After sometimes, it announced that the train is running at 120kmph and expected at arrive at Dhanbad 15 minutes late and they were sorry for the inconvenience.

While crossing the Barakar bridge it slowed down a bit. Then I noticed, that the waiters were distributing the dinner packs with a aluminium coated paper plate and bowls for each and every passengers. Here, I forgot to mention that after takeing our orders we were handed a slip of paper mentioning the seat no and coach no. I then pulled the window curtain and waited for my dinner to arrive. Then a waiter came and checked my slip. He then said, I am Non Veg. It is still coming. I guess that Dhanbad passengers will not get dinner. They were only treated with snacks. All while this time, I was keeping an watch for the Shatabdie to pass on the opposite line.

After 15 minutes, it announced that we were approaching Dhanbad , and we will be stationed on platform 2 on the left side. There were only 2 passengers from my coach, for Dhanbad and that many too will board from Dhanbad. Then I felt the inertia of motion and I went to the door. As we crossed the loco housing shed, I saw that it housed 2 P7's along with 5 P4's all in a single line. After we slowed down to crawling and climbed on the line leadeing to platform 2. I was surprised to see the Rajababu still standing on platform 2. I was trying to imagine what the common persons were thinking to see 2 Rajdhani's on the same platform and heading towards the same direction. I then saw a small gatherings near an AC2T coach.I guess what could be the reason for it. After the train stopped and I got down to let the passenger alight. Thruu the windows I saw that my dinner was yet to come .

Than another peculiar thing happened. The Driver from the Rajababu got down from the P5 and along with his bag and a chordless set came to our loco and vice versa. I asked myself what could be the reason for it.Both of them wished each other and the driver, who went to Rajababu told our's "Gaya may phir milenge" (We will meet again at Gaya).By that time Rajababu had already got it's signal. After a short burst of horn it departed and picked up speed like a EMU departing.

As soon it departed I saw the Chanbal Exp arriving on Platform 4 behind a WAP4(I guess Hwh shed). Then I again climbed abck to my coach,only to realize that it was a AC3T.I then went to my coach. After washing my hand, as soon as I settled on my birth a person came and asked for my slip. He tore the slip and picked up 4 boxes and a pouch of Bisleri mineral water . I opened one box and it contained a rice preparation called "Polao" and it was extremely( Almost as hot as the suns core).I pored that on the plate and 2 cubes of chicken and some curry from another box. The preparation was Chicken Tikka Masala. The other box contained a fish (Hilsa) in White Mustard Curry. I also found another Pasratha ( Dhakai style) and the fourth box contained Chicken Biryani!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

While I was struggling between the leg piece of the Biryani and the gravy, the coach suddenly swayed to one side. I had completely missed out when the train had departed and was running at full speed. As I was finishing my dinner, there was an announcement " Please keep all your items in the boxes provided at the end of the coaches" . I guess, that this measure is taken to keep the coaches clean. As I almost finished my dinner the waiters again came to collect the garbage and distribute Puddings . I guess that traveling by SayalRaja is more profitable in terms of food than by Rajababu .

After finishing my puddins( Raspberry) , I collected my beddings and asked my co passenger " Would you prefer the upper or the lower birth"

Passenger " As you wish"

Myself " I am then taking the lower birth "

Passenger " No Problem. By the way, where are you going?"

Myself " Frankfurt"

Passenger "What for?"

I replied him, vaguely leaving out my personal part and the actual plan. I then filteredly replied him about my overall plan.

Myself " Where r u bound to?"

Passenger " Kanpur IIT. Computer science"

Myself " Do you know Professor Dheeraj Shanghvi?"

Passenger " I have heard about him, but I did not have the honour to meet him. How did you know him?"

I then gave him a long lecture about IRFCA and he is a member of it and all those stuffs.

After talking for a long time , I then settled down with my Robert Ludlum crime thriller and then switched on my birth lamp. All along the time the train was running at full speed on the Gomoh Gaya stretch. On the adjacent side a Marwari family was traveling to Allahabad. The ma requested me to wake him up at Allahabad. I replied him, that if I remain awake I will wake him up,but do not depend on me, because I am not sure about staying awake the whole night. He then grumbled about something like this ( The days have changed to so bad, that younger generations do not respect the elders any more. Kaliyug... We are all in Kaliyug) .

The lady was good but irritating in other way. She after picking up a conversation with me, soon started asking personal questions Like : How much my father earns and how much he is paying for my foreign trip . With these type of peoples I face problems because, I sternly hate un invited intrusion on my personal privacy as I am extremely selfish about guarding my personal privacy. During other times I have to reply rudely to other persons.

Then a coach attendant came and switched off the lights and switched on the Bluish colored night lamps. Then it announced that the train is running at 135kmph and is expected at arrive at Gaya by it's schedule time . I was planning to stay awake to see the current condition of Rafijaunge bridge after I made the fact finding trip 4 days after the accident of Rajababu. The BC Commandos were strolling along the corridors . There was another thought lingering at the back of my mind. That is the fog of New Delhi. The train will arrive at 10:40 and my flight time is 19:55. I guess weather the decision to reach on the same day was a good one or bad.

After some fine running, the train reached Gaya by it's schedule time. On the opposite platform the Sealdah Jammu Exp was stationed behind a Mgsl WAM4p loco. After 2 minutes our train started. As we were leaveing the platform I heard the announcement that the Howrah Agra Chambal Exp is running 45 minutes behind it's schedule time. I was surprised, because it had arrived 45 minutes before time at Dhanbad .

Just after Gaya, I felt asleep and woke up the next morning. I saw that the train was running at full speed. I sleeply tried to guess where could we be. The guy opposite me wished "Good Morning" .I too wished him back. I asked him our position. He said that the train had left Allahabad 35 minutes back and we are expected to arrive at Kanpur approx by 9:00 . I was horrified, because we are already running late by 5 hours. On the way, we overtook various trains like the Prayagraj Exp behind a WAP4 (disappointed) and it was a 24 coach train. Then the Poorva Exp . After some times by 8:40 w arrived at Kanpur where trouble broke out.

When i woke up, i sleeply queried about the position of ours. I was surprised to see that IIT fella still sitting opposite me.

IIt Fella : Good Morning

Myself : Same to you too.You still here?

IIT fella : The trains running 3 hrs late.Just 35 minutes back we departed from Allahabad.

I was horrified to hear the news because we had lost already 3 hrs and we still have to encounter the famous North India Fog. Then I have to find some form of transport from New Delhi Stn to IGI Airport.

While I was pondering over these matters, I went to the bathroom.That time I felt the inertia of motion.Some one had left the left side door open.I went to the door.There I spotted the Prayagraj Exp with it's WAP4 loco.I was dissapointed to see it, as there was a hoted debate about the 'small White" loco being doing the job on it. After crossing the caution point the train again speeded up and soon was running at high speed. I then went to the bathroom.

In my last posting I have mentioned about the cleanliness of the bathrooms. It really is something to be enjoyed . The mirror was sparkling with a Goldish taint. It was almost a full length mirror.The tap was electronically operated.You have to hold your hand under it to let the water flow. I guessed it was to prevent water shortage.After brushing my teeth and washing my face I was searching for the switch to turn off the light.I was suddenly amazed to discover one thing.When I opened the lock.One lamp was switched off.After that when I opened the door fully, the main lamp was switched off, and simultaniously the "occupied" lamp also went off.The system was exatly like any Aircraft.Then I heard the sound of a bathroom song.Some one was singing the" Isk Kamina" song in a horse voice.I have heard that song but yet to see the screen shot of it. I was thinking that if the original composer ever heard that his original song had turned into the 130kmphVersion Bathroom song,I would pay anything to see his facial expression.

I then went back to my berth.Then there was an announcement that the train is running at 135kmph and it is running 2 hr 45 minutes behind schedule.I was then horrified to discover one more thing.The Marwari family who were to get down at Allahabad were still asleep. I then told the matter to the IIT Fella.He replied" Its' not my concern".That time the train was running at full speed. I was thrilled to see the stations and the other trains whizzing pass us.I was thinking, that the best way to anjoy a Rajdhani speed was in the next mornings,but only for s short time,because then the train will slow down due to it's slack time.If the train is running late,then you will have some raw speed,like that moment i was witnessing.

The coaches of the Sayalraja were of better condition and more mordern that the Rajababu.The AC 2T's windows were wide like the Ac 3T's windows.One thing I noticed is the passenger profile of Sayalraja.The Rajababu carries a lot more Bengali persons while The Sayalraja consisted a majority of Rajasthanies and Sardarjis and a few Marwaries and a couple of Biharies.Like in the Howrah Chennai sector The Chennai Mail carries a majority of South Indians while the bengali's prefer the Corromondal better.The Trichi/Cape Comorin Exp carried a majority of Telegue people while the Gouhati Bangalore/TVDM/Cochin Exp carries a majority of Nagas and Manipuries.The glass panes were single layered but clear.They were not darkened or film coated like other AC Coaches.The fans were not seperate, but merely moveable outlet of air ducts.It serves the dual purpose of chilled air and normal fan.After a few minutes later,the Marwari woke up.

Marwari : Where are we?

Myself : Approaching Kanpur.

Marwari : What?!!!!!!!!!!!!.I told you wake me up.

He then started houling saying ( I had an important meeting scheduled up at 09:00 at Allahabad. Millions depend on it.Over that I will have to spend another thousands to travell from Kanpur.You fellas have lost me huge amount of money.

Myself : If the meeting had been so important you should have stayed awake.

Marwari still howling drawing the attention of the entire coach: You guys have no respect for the elders.How dare you talk with a person who is 3 times your age like that.

I was trying hard to keep myself calm, and was ignoreing him.My sister had tought me one thing( to irritate any young lady or anyone is to ignore that particular person completly.Another insident involbing this particulas thing came to my mind.

Almost 4 years back I was travelllling by the CoalField Exp in it's 1st Class Chair coach.At Durgapore station just to spend the time I bought a book titled History of Red Bengal Struggle.On it's cover was a picture of JyotiBasu. The old gentleman sitting beside me was the Econimics teacher at "rajabazar Science College" in Calcutta and according to him he was an x freedom fighter and he fought to free the Youngsters of Bengal from the Bloody Destructive Marx rule. He went on blabbering about the atrocities of the police and the government caders and the treacherousness of todays youths.They have no respect for the "FreedomFighters" etc etc.After almost half hour lecture he pointedly asked me:

That man : Are you paying attention to me?

Myself (pretending as if busy): Were you saying something to me?

That man( face red) : I was talking about something.

Myself : Sorry sir.I didn't hear it.Actually i was paying attention to this book.

Well... The Marwari was still howling.He made out the situation as if I was at fault.

A Gentleman : You should not talk like that.

Myseld : Now look here.!!!!I do not have the slightest wish to act as that mans(not Gentleman) alarm clock.I made that clear politely last night.If you are so interested at act as his "Alarm Clock" you are most wellcome to do so.You may also consider compensateing that family Kanpur Allahabad trip.

A Gentleman : I may remind you that it is my concern too.

Myself : Same to you too, regarding this man and myself.

The matter took an ugly turn spoiling my mood.I have seen in many places in India that when there is any trouble in a street involbing any persons,people just gather there watching the fun instead of intervening and solving the matter.I then went, opened the door and stood there. All thruu the moment the train was running at high speed.The highspeed and cool wind also cooled my brain.I asked the IIT fella when we will be given breakfast.He replied that Kanpur passengers are not bound to get breakfast.

After a few minutes the train started brakeing.I guesses that Kanpur is arriving.it announced that "The train is arriving at Kanpur station and platform will be pon the right side".The passengers started gathering behind me.After a few minutes the train arrived at Kanpur on platform 2.On platform 3 was the Poorva behind a Mgsl WAP4.The Ananya Exp on platform 3 behind a WAP4Hwh.There was an announcement Lkw Shatabdie has crossed................... and is expected to arrive at Kanpur central by 12:35.

After a few minutes the train started, and I went to my birth.As we were goinh out. I saw that the Gomti exp comeing in behind a WAP4 but could not see the SHED.After a few minutes the train was running at high speed.The train continued it's non stop run till Etawah.Meanwhile the breakfast was served. The entire setup consisted of a flask of hot Coffee, a pair of slices of bread.A cube of soft White butter and a bowl of Tomato Soup.Though the breakfast was not as good as last night's dinner but still thousand times better that I had eaten on the Ranchi Shatabdie 2 months back.

Just after Etawah, the train stopped at a tiny station.Youcannot even call that a station.It consisted only of two name plates and a tin rofed hut,that is a ticket counter.I saw that the other line was green.I guessed that the IIM Shatabdie is comeing.True to my words, it came butextremely slowly behind a "Small White" loco.Itwas 11 coahes long.That was the first time I saw the LHB coaches from so near,but the most peculiar thing was thatboth the pantos were on.

After a few minutes out train started.Then i saw another train comeing.It was comeing at fairly high speed. After it came i saw that it was Purushottam Exp behind Tatanagar WAM4 also with twin pantos.We reahedTundla by 11:30 hrs.There we overtook both the Kalindi Exp behind a WDM2 and the Purushottam Exp.After tundla the Sayalraja started hard brakeings and high pickup.IOt contunued till Gaziabad.We reached Gzb by 1300 hrs.It crossed Gzb.There I saw the Doon Shatabdie also 11 coachbehind a WDM2.Immidiately after that a 12 coach EMU.After a few minutes we were halted at Tilak Bridge station.I then realised that Tilak Bridge station is a Rail Fanners dreamland with trains on both the Mathura and Kanpur side passing thruu the station.Just along with us came the TamilNadu Exp behind a Kanpur WAP4.

We entered platform 2 and the Tn came in at platform 4. After getting down from the train, i climbed on the overbridge.On platform 3 was the Vaishali Exp.After a few minutes I was surprised to see another pair of Rajdhani's arriving.One was the Mumbai Rajdhani an the other one was Rajababu both behind the "Small White" loco.I was then horrified to discover another thing.Our own loco was a Mgsl WAP4.I wondered when we overtook the Rajababu and when,why and where out train changed the loco.

After a few minutes I went out thruu the Paharjaunge gate and caught a MNG bus for the IGI Airport.It dropped me at DholaKaua crossing from there I took a auto and went to the airport.The auto driver told me that if you go by that tiny road you will arrive on that spot where a deadly collicion took place between 2 aircrafts.I suddenly recalled about the accident.It was a face to face collision between a Gulf Air 747 Jumbo and a Kajaz Airlines jet in which all the passnegers were killed.

Material provided by Milan Chatterjee, Copyright © 2003.
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