Jan Shatabdi from Asansol to Howrah

August 2004

by Milan Chatterjee

This is my latest details about a trip I made from Asansol to Howrah by the Patna Howrah JanShatabdi Exp. Since I was in at Ranigunj at that time, and the JS does not stop at Ranigunj, we had our booking done from Asansol. Initially, the JS was not on our list. We first attempted to get a booking in CC either in Asansol Sealdah InterCity Exp, CF Exp or Black Diamond Exp. I did not opt for the Ranchi Shatabdi, because it is a moderately unreliable train and if it arrives late at Howrah, we will be stuck. So, we opted for the JanShatabdi. I booked two tickets of the JanShatabdi 2nd Chair Car. Since the trains scheduled time of arrival is at 1040 hours, we decided to leave from Ranigunj a bit early. We arrived at Ranigunj a bit early in the morning that is 0900 AM.

As we entered the platform complex, I saw that one coal loaded BOXN rake going towards Andal. The bulk of it had passed, since I counted only 13 coaches. After it passed, we went on the over bridge to go to the up platform. There I saw that the up main line had its signal on. I was wondering which train would be coming because the Ranchi Shatabdi would have passed unless it is running late. From the over bridge I saw that it was a goods rake behind a WAG7. As it came near, I saw that it was of MGSL shed. I was surprised, because this is the first time; I am seeing any WAG7 from MGSL. I guess that it got some of those locos. It was an empty bottom discharge rake with 59 coaches. I then saw that, the up platform line too has green signal and it would be another goods rake. It then announced that the 3317 up Howrah Dhanbad Black Diamond Exp is arriving at Panagarh Station and the Sealdah MFP pass is arriving at Burdwan station. The down Udayan Abha Toofan Exp is running 2 hours late, the Down Jammu Tawai Sealdah Exp has arrived at Gomoh Station and the dn Mumbai Mail is shortly arriving on platform 2 and the Asansol Siuri Passenger is arriving on platform 1. The goods rake, which came in behind a dirty Jhs WAG5HB, was a mixture of VB BCN and various types of flats. It was totally 39 coaches long. It then announced that one Bwn Asansol MEMU pass has departed from Andal station and will shortly arrive on platform 3. After some minutes another goods rake came on the up main line, but this times it had a red signal. It was an empty BOXN rake behind a pair of Asansol WAG5 with the 2nd loco dead. It stationed itself on the main line. I guessed that it wont pose any irritance to any trains, because any train which has a stoppage at Ranigunj and going towards Asn will have to change over from main line to the slow line and then again on the main line, while both the dn liens have platforms on the same eastern side. The platform for the main dn line starts from the same level where the up platform ends and turns towards left thus blocking any view of any incoming train from Asansol until it is on you. The slow platform starts from mid point of the main dn platform on the other side of the line and proceeds some distance. That has resulted a lot of fatal hits because you cannot spot the trains coming from Asansol due to the curvature until and unless the train is upon you and it given no time to you for reaction. From the up platform where I am currently standing, you can see for some distance on the dn main line and for a long distance towards Andal because the line is straight as laser light.

In the far distance, I saw a slight blackness form approx on the position of the slow line. After some time I saw that our MEMU is arriving, and then I noticed that a train is coming on the dn slow line, behind a Asansol WAG5. The train is AB'd and dirty. We then went to the front part of our platform. The MEMU was of mixed stock and of 12 coaches. By mixed stock I meant, that some coaches were of old model and some were of new model, and some of the coaches were of Cream/Green colour and some coaches were of Lemon Yellow/Deep Blur colour. It was mostly empty. After just 1 minute, I heard the horn and the MEMU started. It continued on the slow line. After a few minutes after rounding the curve, we crossed the Dn Mumbai Mail and it was a high-speed crossing. It was of 22 coaches inclusive of 3 High Capacity Parcel Van at the rear end. After a few minutes, we arrived at Kalipahari and saw that one goods rake is proceeding towards the fly over which bypasses Asansol Jn to meet the Asansol Adra line. I do not understand one thing. While the dn line from the bypass route have to cross the 4 lines for Asansol, but the up line do not have to cross anything. So why does it have to climbe to the level height of the dn line and again climbe down? After a few second halt, the train started and immediately took high speed. I saw that the dn main line have green signal, and I looked out of the door to see which train is coming, but could not see anything in the distance. Just before Asansol home signal the train stopped for a few minutes and again proceeded for platform 2. I guessed that it might be going back to its yard. Asansol jn have three express trains originating/terminating from it and it does not have any carshed of it's own. All the MEMU's and the Agniveena Exp, Intercity Exp and Amritsar SF Exp are housed along with the goods parking lot and in open air. I then asked one person whether this particular car would be going back to Bwn or to CS. He replied that, this particular one would be proceeding towards Baidhyanath Dham via Jasidhi. His prediction is confirmed by the fact, that lot of persons was crowding on platform to board the train. Just as it stopped, there were jostling among the persons at the door. I looked out of the opposite side door and told my friend Let us get down this side, otherwise we will be smashed in there. We then carefully climbed down with our luggage and climbed up on the water pipe and again climbed down. In that moment, I almost slipped and had my friend not caught me just in time, I would have banged by head on the rungs of the steps. We then crossed the line and climbed up on the other side platform. There I noticed that one lone BRC WAG5H is standing on platform 3. We then walked the distance of the platform and started climbing on the over bridge to go to the platform where our train will be arriving. I asked one coolie; whether there had been any announcement of the dn JanShatabdi. He said that it would be arriving on platform 4. I was initially taken back, because platform 4 is exclusively used for up trains and only ones in my life, the dn Poorva many years back had arrived on platform 4. I thought that he might have confused my query with the 3317 up. I again asked him more clearly, but this time he didn't bother to reply. I cursed him in my mind and went down to the platform. I then bought some biscuits and started chatting with my friends about my foreign railway experience. After a few minutes, I found one tea stall and asked the fellow at the counter about any announcement. He said that some 25 minutes back it had announced that it is approaching Madhupur Jn. I guessed that it might be arriving soon. Then thru the office window on the Signal Manager, I saw one WAG5 proceeding. I then went to the end of the platform and saw that it is a BNCA rake with a combination of Asansol WAG7 and a LDH WAG5H in the lead. It was on the loop line and moving slowly inch by inch. Then it announced that the 3317 up is shortly arriving on platform 4. Still no announcement of the JanShatabdi. I then noticed that there is a driver's rest room with long wooden benches, with many persons (drivers and guards) some sitting and some lying on the benches. There are various notices in case of different types of emergencies and there is a huge board covering one entire wall, on which there is a detailed railway map of Asansol Division with the positions of the signals, marked them. One thing I found surprising. That is the Andal Barbani Sitarampur is one route, which is not touching Asansol station, but it is under Asn division.

I then bought one India Today magazine and went towards where my friend is sitting. I saw to my envy that he has managed himself a sitting place on the numerous black boxes placed outside on the platform. After 2 minutes, I saw that the 3317 up is rounding the moderate curve and coming at high speed. As it came, I saw that it was the top light WAP4 22585. I guess that Howrah shed has only got two top lights WAP4 locos (22575, 22585). I saw that the coaches are a mixture of old and new. Contrary to what my sister had reported, I saw that it had no JanShatabdi coaches. I think that they may have removed, but some days later I would see that the Agniveena Exp Howrah Tata Steel Exp have JanShatabdi guard coaches and the reserved coaches too. One of the two CC cars are of vintage model with 83**** numbers and the other one is relatively new with 00**** numbers. Surprisingly the 00**** coach had belly hung compressor. After some moments, the train moved out slowly. It is running some 10 minutes late. It then announced that the Dn Patna Howrah JanShatabdi Exp is shortly arriving on platform 6 and Hatia Bhagalpur Exp via Andal is arriving on platform 5. At that moment, I saw that one WAP4 loco is coming on the dn main line that leads to platform 5. It then suddenly turned and moved to the dn slowline. Our coach no was SR 1. I then saw that the Hwh side guard's coach is only B/LB colour and the rest of the coaches are of the standard JS colour. I saw that SR 1 is just behind the loco. It was a WAP loco with no shed marking and horribly dirty. I guessed that the loco had not been washed for some years. We then picked our luggage and started walking fast towards where the loco will stop. To my annoyance I saw that the train did not stop in the middle and continued till the signal, though it is only a 10-coach train. After half walking/half running, we boarded our coach. It was fairly crowded and quite a few passengers boarded the train. Our seat was across the passage. I was a bit disappointed for not getting any window side seat. After occupying my seat I put up my luggage on the carrier up above us. I then noticed that the carrier is made of tough transparent plastic with round metal bordering. I then went to the door in the middle of the coach. I then saw that one colourfull blue green red yellow WDM3A loco is standing some distance away. I got down and saw that it is the Bhagalpur Exp behind a BKSC loco. Then it announced that Tata Danapur InterCity Exp has crossed JoyChandi Pahar Station and the Danapur tata ICE has departed from Vidyasagar station, and the Sdah MFP Pass has departed from Durgapur and 2303 up Poorva Exp is running by it's scheduled time. After some time, I saw that two persons with a huge stack of food plates climbed on our coach and went to the next CC coach thru the vestibule. After 5 minutes, our loco gave a long blast of horn and slowly moved forward. Just outside the platform, our train climbed on the main line from the slow line, and after 1 minute it gave a jerk and quickly picked up speed. I then started observing the coaches, since it is my first JS trip. The coaches are more airy and looked neat and clean. The 1 ft long tube lights were arranged in a line and the fans were grayish colours and were of rotating variety. At the end of the coach, there is a glass-plated window directly looking in the guards cabin, and from there you could see the loco bouncing wildly. The guard looked into late 50's and is writing attentively on some computer print out sheets. There was a cordless walki talki set lying beside him, and a steady stream of static coming from it. I could hear the sounds but could not understand clearly what is being said. Unlike the other coaches, the guards coach have one door in the middle of the coach and the seats face the centre of the coach. I then went to the other end of the coach leading to the CC. The area is carpeted and the bathroom door had one revolving knob and an occupancy indicator. The tap in the sink just beside the door is push up type thing instead of the pressing ones like in other trains.

I then went to the CC. It was chilling inside and I heard a faint hum near the bathroom coming from the roof. I guess that the compressor is at work. The CC coach is moderately full. I guess some 30 persons would be traveling and more may come from Durgapur. Like the other coaches, the CC to had one row of seats facing each other with a table in the middle of the coach. In other seats one thing I found a bit out of the way. That is the bottle holders, which is fixed at knee level. If you are not careful, you will hurt your knee severly. The next coach is fully occupied and so is the next coach. There I opened the door, which is operated like the ordinary coach doors. We crossed Ranigunj at high speed and with the horn at full blast. I guess that at that moment the train was running at 110+ speed. I saw one BOXN rake on the up slow line behind a WAG7 but it passed at too high speed to see the shed. Then suddenly with a loud blast a train passed us on the main line, behind a WAP loco. I was startled because I was not at all prepared for it. After a few moments I realized that it was the Sealdah MFP pass. I then slowly went back to my coach and found that my friend had already fallen asleep. I took my seat beside the passage and continued watching outside as the scenery passed. The area between Asansol till Durgapur is dotted with thousands of big, small, tiny factories whose record of environmental pollutions seems commendable. All the while the train maintained a steady speed.

Just before Waria, the train slowed down a bit.. I saw one goods rake entering the loop line servicing the DPL power plant. After a few minutes and some blasts on it's horn the train again picked up speed. After again some minutes, it started braking hard. There was no sound, just the inertia of motion. I saw that we are approaching Durgapur. I calculated that, we took 30 minutes from Asansol to Durgapur. We arrived on platform 4. Unlike at Asansol, here the driver stopped at the designated stopping point for the Shatabdi's. I saw that we are already 40 minutes behind scheduled. We are supposed to arrive at Durgapur at 11:05 and depart at 11:07 hrs, where as we arrived at 11:43 hrs according to the platform clock. On platform 3 I saw the passengers waiting for the up Poorva which is too running late. I wonder where it lost time, because some 1 hr back it was running by it's scheduled time. After some 3 minutes, our train gave a blast and started, and immediately started picking speed. As we crossed the advance signal, I saw one Bottom discharge rake on the up slow line going at full speed behind a WAG7 from Tata. After some 2 minutes later, the train was running at extremely high speed. We crossed Rajbandh station. I then woke up my friend and pointed him the burnt Tank that had caught fire some one month back in the IOC terminal. If the fire had spread, then it would have spread to the adjoining Hindustan Petroleum depot and that would have meant the elimination of Durgapur off the face of earth. After some time, I heard one horn coming towards us from the opposite side. I was prepared for the Poorva, but instead it was another Bottom discharge rake behind a WAG7 from Kanpoor. As soon as the rake had crossed, the Poorva without any notice crossed us behind a Red coloured WAP4. It was an extremely high-speed crossing. It took only a few seconds for the entire 23 coach train to pass. As we approached Panagarh the train started braking hard. It looked as though it is going to stop. I leaned out of the door and saw that the signal is red. I cursed the system, because instead of helping any late running train make up time, it is delaying it further. Just as it stopped, the loco gave a loud blast and with a jerk it started. Just then a waiter came in with plates of food. I asked my friend whether he will be having or not, though I know that he had some packed food with him. He asked the waiter about the food. He said, that there is a Veg/Non Veg Thali, Rice Chicken/ egg curry, and Puri with Vegetables. I took one plate of rice and egg curry, even though I have with packed lunch with me. I took that out and pulled back the food tray from the back of the front seat. I noticed that it is a bit depressed and tilted front wards and there is very little space. So I put my package beside me on the seat and started eating. The person sitting beside me, looked first at me and then at the package on my seat. Unlike any CC seat, the JS seats do not have any separators or arm rests for the middle seat. I guessed that the person beside me is a Vegetarian. That is why he is giving slanted glances at me. I paid no attention to him. At that moment, the train was running at high speed and at full blast on the horn we crossed Mankar station. Just outside of Mankar station, we crossed one BOXN rake with a WAG5 loco on the main line but could not see which shed. I remembered my Shatabdi trip the other way round, and comparatively the JS is running more smoothly.

Just to prove me wrong, it started braking again and started crawling. By that I have finished my food, as I am an extremely fast eater. In any lunch or dinner table, I am the first finisher. I cultivated that habit, during my school days when I didn't eat any food. I just gulped them. I then collected all the garbage wrapped them in a paper and then just stuffed in the net bag just below the food tray at the back of the front seat. After washing my mouth, I then took my place at the door. I couldn't lean out due to the hot blast of air, because that day it is extremely hot and sunny. I do not know why, but I like dark, dull, overcast whether. Even during my stay in cold countries, I enjoyed the cloudy temperatures.

After crawling for some 10 minutes, the train gave a full blast of horn and again picked up speed. There was another BOXN rake going towards the opposite direction with a BNDM WAG7, followed by a MEMU on the main line. After 2 minutes, the train reached its peak speed. At Paraj station we overtook a fully loaded BOXN rake with Coal behind a single WDG3A(Shakti) from Udl shed. I guess that, that train must had been on our line, which made us crawl for some 10 minutes. We crossed Khana Jn at full speed. I gthink that the speed restriction on our line had been removed because for the last 9 days, the trains had been crawling on the dn main line. On the slow line, I saw one Rampurhat Bwn pass entering, and as we raced ahead we overtook one MEMU passenger. Just before Bwn yard, the train started braking slowly. We slowly lost our speed. On the opposite side, I saw one BOXN rake leaving Bwn station on the main line behind a WAG7 but could not see the shed thru the parked EMU's. I counted, 5 rakes of EMU's are resting on the pit lines and a 12 coach rake of MEMU. We braked further and slowly entered platform 3. as we were passing I heard on the PAS at Bwn station that Bwn Hwh Chord Local will be leaving from platform 2 front side and Main Line local will be leaving from back side and Sealdah Local will be leaving from platform3. Then suddenly the train continued straight on the line coming from platform 4 and after a few minutes we picked up speed. I was thinking whether we will be taking the main line or the chord line. On the up main line I saw one EMU going towards Bwn followed by a TKD WAG5RH with a load of 45 empty depressed flats. It had no guards cabin.

We crossed Gangpur station at high speed with the horns at full blast. I was hoping against home that we may change lines at Shaktigarh. Meanwhile the train continues on at full speed. We approached Shaktigarh at high speed. Just as our line was separating fro the platform, the train started braking hard. It was so sudden, that I almost lost my balance. I guess that the train slowed down from 100kmph to almost 10 kmph in a matter of some 250meters. After it exited the platform, we moved from the main to the chord line and started moving slowly. It very slightly increased its speed to 15 kmph, and stayed like that. I then to my irritance and surprise noticed that the GT road level crossing gate is open and the signal is red. The loco gave a twit blast of horn and slowed down further but did not stop. I then noticed one man standing there, waving a green flag at us and parting the mass of cars, lorries, and buses to let our train pass. I then noticed that there is no gate. They had been removed because there had been work going on for laying extra lines across the road. After we crossed the level crossing, the loco gave a full blast of horn and started picked up speed. After a few minutes, we crossed another EMU at Palla Rd station. At that moment the train was running at high speed. There is no action for the next 40 minutes till we reached Dankuni. Not a single EMU or trains or any overtaking or goods. At that time of the day, I guess that there are no trains. I calculated that it took us 45 minutes from Bwn till Dankuni, that is almost the average speed of Rajdhani/Ranchi Shatabdi. Just after the Dankuni curve, the train slowed down a bit. As we approached Belanagar station, I saw one BCNA rake going towards Sealdah on the U line. I could not see the loco. As we approached Balli station I saw that our cousin from Malda Tn is also coming and another train going towards Bandel. I guessed that it may be Chambal/Shipra Exp, I am not sure which of the two.

Our Malda cousin is running a bit slower, I guess 2-4 kmph than us behind a Rajdhani coloured WDM2 from Howrah shed. It was on the slow line. Both of us approached Belur station with our horns at full blast. Suddenly, the diesel loco started giving out huge cloud of smoke. I saw that the occupancy rate of our cousin is extremely low, hardly 10% of us total. The one EMU crossed on our back on the chord line and one in front of us on the main line. We also crossed Liluah at our horns at full blast. Though both of us had slowed down considerably, we are now stationary in respect to each other. After a few minutes, we started braking hard. Though the Malda JS advanced ahead of us, it too was braking hard. I then went to the other side, to have a glimpse of the loco shed. I saw that some 20 WDS4 locos are stationed in a line and vines and plants had grown on them. There are some 10WAP4's 3-5 WAM4's, from GZB, one WAP7 and 4 WAG7's. I wonder what the G7 locos are doing at Hwh. On the SER side I saw our third brother is stationed there. To my surprise, I saw that he is the heaviest carried with two CC's and 9 II coaches and fully loaded. Behind it I saw the Tirucharipalli Exp's empty rake is standing with a SRC WAP4 attached to its back which will haul him till Kgp. I could not see the shunting loco, but it is electric which is visible above the roof of the stationary JS. I then saw that we and MLDT is coasting side by side. I saw that two trains are standing in the new complex with WAM4's attached two them. I tried to guess which train. After sometime I saw that we are entering platform 7 and the MLDT is entering platform6. After a few minutes, we stopped. We had arrived some 1 hr 50 minutes late and the MLDT had arrived 3 hours late and the BBSR JS is yet to arrive 1 hr late.

This is the 2nd part of my trip report. The first part was about the journey made by me from Asansol to howrah by the Patna Howrah JanShatabdi Exp. This part is about the trip I made from Howrah to Purulia by the Rupasi Bangla Exp 3 days later after arriving at Howrah by the JS. Since the RB leaves from Howrah as an attachment of the Dhauli Exp ay 0605 in the morning we decided to reach Howrah latest by 0550. We had reservation for 5 persons in the Ac Chair car of the Rupasi Bangla Exp.

Since we will be starting from Sonarpur, we had chatered a taxi the night before and decided to start at 0400 in the morning so that we could make the 19 km journey to Howrah station and reach there early. Since it was early morning, it took us hardly 35 minutes to reach howrah station. I was wondering that in the USA or in Germany, the same distance would had taken us only 10 minutes and that too during crowded times, barring NY and Washington. We arrived at Howrah station by 0450. At that time, it was almost empty with a few trucks and their Ďkhalasisí sleeping on pieces of cloths below the lorry. Some were sleeping under a tent made of tarpulin sheets to prevent from being drenched by the rain and the splashing water of moving veichles. Since all the subway gates were closed, we walked forward and went to the main gates opposite the Taxi stand. There on the passage way the coolies were sleeping with their head support doubling up as pillows. That time, the generally bustling station was totally empty except a few passengers of the early morning Intercityís arriving with their luggage and hold alls. As we entered the waiting area, I saw one top light WAP4 standing on platform 9. I went forward and saw that it is the 2308 dn Jodhpur Hwh Exp behind a CNB WAP4 (22579). It then announced that New Delhi Howrah SF Exp is arriving on platform no 8 and Mokama Howrah Fast Pass on platform 1. After some moments, I saw one top light loco entering pf no 8 in the far distance. I guessed, that another top light WAP4 coming to howrah, but it suddenly veered to the right. I understood that it is the Mokama Pass. It came is slowly behind a WAG5 of LDH. The entire train was dirty and the coaches looked extremely old and worn out. Among the extremely few VB trains departing from Howrah, it is one of them. The only other I know of is the Toofan Exp which is still VB. After a few minutes I noticed that the NDLS Exp had come in un noticed behind a Hwh WAP4 of Shatabdi Colored. This is one of the 3 locos by which Hwh shed debuted in 2001. After a long long time, I am seeing this loco. After some time, it announced that Gaya Exp is coming on platform 4 and Jamalpur Exp on platform 7 and Shaktipunj Exp on platform 11. In the meantime, there were also announcements of EMUís departing of both ER and SER. One good thing is that, the announcement of both ER and SER trains are made for both the sections in both the places. So you can also hear the announcements for the SER trains in the ER section of the Howrah station complex. It then announced that the Ahmedabad Exp had just crossed Panskura Jn, the Mumbai Mail just departed from Kharagpur station, the Tirupati Exp departed from Panskura jn and the LTT SD Exp is approaching Panskura Station. Both the Jagannath Exp and Puri Exp is running by their scheduled time.

We were loitering in the old complex, because our train will depart from the new complex and it is totally desolate and empty. So we decided to stay with bits of the crowds in the old complex waiting area. In the meanwhile we had some 10 cups of teas and coffee, myself having some 4 cups of the stuff. After some 40 minutes, I saw the Jodhpur Exp backing off, and just following the train some 2 meters behind the WAP4 too. After sometime, it announced that 3317 up Howrah Dhanbad Black Diamond Exp will depart from platform 9 at 0615, 2019 up Howrah Ranchi Shatabdi Exp will depart from platform 7 and Howrah Rampurhat Gandevta Exp will depart from platform 6. I noticed one thing, that which ever pair of platform the Shatabdi and the GD departs, the Shat will always depart from the left platform of the GD, so that none of them blocks each other because both of them departs at 0605. The Shatabdi takes the Chord line while the GD takes the Bandel line. It also announced that the Howrah Bhubaneshwar Dhauli Exp would depart from platform 18. I was waiting to hear any mention of the Rupasi Bangla Exp, but there was no mention of it. I signaled the group to puck our luggage and move towards the new complex thru the Luggage godown between the two complexes. While we were moving I heard that the Howrah Barabil Janshatabdi Exp will depart from platform 13, and so will the Ispat Exp. The foot overbridge that takes us to the new Complex after some right-angled turns lands directly on platform 18 near the Coach 5 marker. We decided to wait there. I was very much worried about the Rupasi Bangla because some years back, I saw that due to the late arrival of the RB the previous night, it departed separately after some 2 hours of the Dhauli and ones it was cancelled. I was wondering whether we will be facing the same case or not because none of the others had noticed the lack of announcement about the RB. I noticed that far away after one WAP loco is rounding the curve of the platforms. It slowly came nearer to us, and I was terribly relived to see one JS AC Chair in the third position behind the loco. It dragged on till the end of the platform and touched the buffer slightly and then stopped. I saw that the RB was attached and it is a 9-coach affair. We then walked back to, where our coach had stopped. There were lots of persons running about and lots of persons whether the train in front of us is Dhauli or not. I do not understand whether they were blind or not because on the top of the coach it is clearly written RB Exp and our SLR coach has a huge board proclaiming the name of the train and so do the rear SLR coach of the Dhauli just in front of our front SLR.

After some moments, a person came and opened the lock of the door of our coach. We then got in. it was extremely hot and stuffy, because the AC motors had been switched off. It was dark too. Another couple got on our coach. I guess, that it will generally run empty. My seat was beside the passage, but I took one window seat on the right side. The others in the group grouped themselves just behind my row and started putting their luggages on the rack. After a few seconds another man came and switched on the AC, lights and the fans. My seat had the entire huge window to itself unlike some of the seats, whose vies is blocked by the divider. I then took my friend outside and started strolling on the platform. It is only 0525 and we still had some 40 minutes to depart. The platform is crowded from where the Dhauli starts with passengers, coolies and pushcarts to load huge parcels in the luggage car of the Dhauli. The Dhauli is already crowded. We slowly moved forward and bought another cup of coffee from a stall. My friend too is an avid coffee and tea drinker like me. The Dhauli had to CCís. One of them is a normal coach of 00 markings while the other one is a JanShatabdi coach of 02 markings. As we inched forward I saw one diesel loco attaching itself to the end of the Dhauli. This is the first time, I saw one SER train entering the station from the carshed without the hauling loco. I went forward and saw that it is VSKP WDM2C and there is no ordinary SLR coach, but a JS SLR coach. Half of the loco is within the platform and half is outside. I calculated that the loco would have to haul a 24-coach train till Kharagpur and for a 3100HP loco, it will be quite a task. I then saw that one train is maneuvering thru the numerous points to enter the new complex, behind a red colored WAP4. As it came nearer, I saw that it is the puri Exp some 15 minutes before time behind a SRC WAP4. I then noticed that it had one full AC1, 2 AC2T and 3 AC3T totaling 5 ACís. I thought that since festival time is coming, thus the increase of the AC coaches. As our departure time came nearer, we started walking back to the end of our train and just stood outside our coach. The Puri Exp arrived on platform 21. The loco stopped a long distance before the end buffer, so that it will go forward and then back to the line of platform 20, to round and haul back the train to the SRC carshed. As soon the clock struck 0600 we boarded our coach, but I stood at the door. Most of the coaches of the RB are moderately full. Based on my past experience, it will fill up at Mednipur. I noticed one thing, that our train has no guard either in the front or at the back. After some moments, I heard one faint whistle and leaned out and saw that the Dhauli guard is waving the Green flag. After another faint whistle, our train started moving slowly. After proceeding for some distance, it stopped. I then heard the faint horn of the chain pulling from the loco far in the distance. After 2 minutes our train started pulling out of the platform and started negotiating the numerous points. It was moving really slowly. From the old complex, I heard the WAM4(Tata) of the Barabil JS sound the horn. By that time, the Ranchi Shatabdi behind a WAP1 converted to 4 of Hwh shed had already moved out of the plaform and quickly picking up speed. I saw some smoke on top of one of the CCís and realized that the Gandevta had also departed and saw the tail end of the GD behind the Shatabdi. After some seconds, the 2019 quickly picked up speed leaving behind the GD behind a rust colored Hwh(Guessing) WDM2. I saw that the 3317 is standing behind a WAP7. Our train was slowly picking up speed. The WDM2C is really having trouble accelerating our 24-coach train. We then reached Tikiapara shed and saw one

EMU coming out of it for Hwh station, and lots of bits and pieces of EMUís scattered around. After hearing one loud horn, I looked back saw that the WAM4 is visible and slowly touching us. I was wondering whether the JanShatabdi will overtake us or not, since itís loco is some 600HP more powerful than us and itís load too is extremely light compared to us. Though the overtaking is technically possible but whether it is permissible or not, is another question. Our train slowly started picking up speed, so is the JS. Though the JS overtook us completely, it stayed static with the Dhauli. After some time, we reached SRc station where we turned towards the extreme left of the Car and loco shed and the JS turned towards the other side of the shed. Suddenly from behind the JS emerged the Hatia Exp behind a Tata WAM4 going towards Howrah. I only managed to see that it had two Composite coach but could not count the number of Ac coaches because before it could emerge, we lost them behind the parked rake of the Mumbai Mail at SRC shed. After some time, our train was running at full speed. After the end of the shed, I was waiting for the JS to emerge from the other side, but could not see it. That was the last I ever saw of the JanShatabdi. I do not know what happened to it, till Kharagpur. At Andul station I saw the Bokaro/Ckp Howrah Pass climbing on the main line from one loop line. I was waiting to see whether they still had the FC coaches or not, but lost them behind one BOXN coal rake behind Asn WAG5H. I roughly calculated that it took the 3100HP WDM2C at least some 15 minutes to reach 105 km(max permitted on that section) compared to the max 2 minutes the WAP7 takes with the 23/24 coaches Poorva Exp. I then went to my seat and settled inside. By that moment, the inside of our coach was chilling. The entire coach had some 35 persons. After some moments the TTE came and started checking the tickets. He looked at the ticket of one person just sitting on the other side but in the same row as of mine.

TTE: You are in the wrong train.

Person: What? This is not Dhauli?

TTE: This is RB, but since you have ticket for the Dhauliís CC for Kharagpur, you can travel in this train.

Person: I will not get any refund for the fare difference?

TTE: No

Person: Why?

TTE: Because you are not entitled to get any.

Person: Why, that one is a superfast train and this one is not a superfast train. So, I am entitled to get a refund.

TTE: Sir, next time you travel by a train, better revise the rulebooks. If you had been traveling by the Dhauli one any lower class than the CC, you would have been entitled to refund of the fare difference. Since technically, this train is separate than the Dhauli, you are marked as absent in Dhauliís roll call. I am taking you pity, and not charging you anything extra. Under this circumstances, I would have cancelled your Dhauli ticket with the necessary deductions and freshly booked another ticket for you on this train. So, do not show me rulebooks regarding refunds, otherwise if I begin showing you the rulebook you will lose a lot of money. So just shut up and enjoy the journey.

I then kindly told the person, that before boarding the train, he should had looked up and seen the number of the train or even asked any of the passengers.

Person : How I am to know that this is not Dhauli but RB Exp. I just saw the train and boarded it.

Self: Sir, This arrangement had been going on for the last 4 years. If you do not know, then it is your fault and not of the railway authorities.

Barring that person, the train is running smoothly. After sometime a tea hawker came. Again some haggling over the difference in price of his wares in CC and II coaches. After a few minutes of bargaining, we managed to have tea in the II price. By that time, the train was running smoothly and keeping a steady speed. We crossed many EMUís going towards Howrah and one MEMU. I guessed that it could be the Tata passenger because it is still too early for the Rani Shiromoni MEMU Pass from Adra to Howrah. Just after Kulagachia one train behind a WAM4 loco passed us. I guessed that it could be the Jagannath Exp. After some time, we started to slowdown. I then heard a slight whining sound from the coach but could not guess what it could be. It sounded more or less like a compressor or an aircraft engine slowing down. I heard that particular sound every time, the train slowed down. We crossed Bagnan station extremely slowly. I saw from the opposite side window a EMU placed on the loop line to let us pass. Just as we cleared the platform, we moved on the middle line. After coasting for some 4 minutes, the train started picking up speed very slowly. I went to the door. I could feel that the WDM2C is running full throttle for picking up speed. Even the sound could be heard clearly at RB distance.

After hearing a horn on my back side, I turned and saw thru the other door window that the EMU which we overtook, is passing us at full speed on the line just vacated by us some 8 minutes back. We crossed Ghoraghata at moderate speed, and then as we were approaching Deaulti we started picking up speed again. We left behind the departing EMU at Deaulti. The train slightly slowed down due to the up gradient for approaching the Rupnarayan Bridge on the Rupnarayan river. I was standing at the door feeling the moist air blowing from the river. At that time, the train was going at approx80kmph speed. I was curious to know, whether the 3-year-old speed restriction was removed or not. As we approached the bridge, the train did not slow down. I saw that the speed restriction is removed, but then at that very instance the train braked hard, and we slowed down to approx 30kmph. Just before entering the bridge, I saw one WAP loco on the other line. We met the loco midway on the bridge. It was going towards Howrah extremely slowly. Just after the WAP4 loco, there was one Slr and the long line of Acís started. I immediately realized that it was the LTT Exp. I was surprised to meet the train there, because when our train departed from Howrah I heard that it is approaching panskura station. I am surprised that it took some 1-hour for the LTT SD Exp to travel a distance of 25 km. Due to the pillars of the bridge; I could not properly count the number of AC coaches. All I could see was that there was one Composite Coach, one or two AC2T coach and the rest of them AC3t coachs, then normal SL coaches. The length of the train I think was 22/23 but not sure, because I could not count them thru the pillars of the bridge. As the Dhauli cleared the bridge, it started picking up speed. I was wondering whether it will stop at Mecheda or not, but hearing the distance deep roaring of the distant loco, I guess that there is less chance of stopping. We passed Mecheda at high speed. There was one coal rake standing on the opposite side loop line and a pair of EMU rakes were stationed on the parking lines, with one of their Yellow blinkers on and blinking. I then went back to my seat. After some time, the train picked up speed and stayed that way. After some time, we crossed one train with a red colored WAP4 loco, but could not see the name of the train, as it was a high-speed crossing. Lots of trains crossed us, but I could not see their names or their loco sheds, but could only guess because they crossed us at some comparative 200kmph.

After some 45 minutes of steady running, we started braking. The person sitting opposite me got up and got his luggage and went to the door. I too went to the door. The train slowed down considerably. As we crossed the loco parking area for Kharagpur, I saw that there is a wide range of locos parked there. There are WAP4ís from SRC,CNB,Jhs, then WAM4ís from GZB, Brc, Bsl, Tata, Bhilai, then WAG5ís and 7ís from all over the country. I was wondering which of the WAM4ís will haul us. Some latest additions are WAG7ís from MGSL, Tata etc. I saw that we are entering platform2. After some minutes, we were parked at the extreme end of platform 2. I saw that some persons were waiting where the last SLR coach of the Dhauli will stop. As soon as the train stopped, one of them got down and started opening the hosepipe and the couplers. After 1 minute, I saw that everything is separated and the Dhauli is slowly moving. I then noticed that the guard waving the flag, and the Dhauli picked up speed more rapidly than it had been doing till now. The Dhauli continued by the platform directly from platform 2 to platform4, which is the continuation of platform2 like platform 3 is of platform 1 on the other side.

I then noticed that there is no guard in either of our SLR coaches. After sometime, I noticed that one person is coming with folders and a WalkiTalki strapped to his collar like the NYPD cops. He had one coolie pushing a huge black box behind him on a handcart. I then went towards the main exit gate to buy some fruits and papers. I then heard one train entering the opposite side. Thru the office windows I saw that it was the Barabil JanShatabdi. I then noticed one MEMU silently leaving platform 6 and far away I saw one train behind a Tata WAM4 entering. I guessed that it could be the Steel Exp and it was. The Howrah side did not have any normal SLR coach but a JanShatabdi coach and to my surprise the II reserved coach was a JS coach too. It then announced that Falauknama Exp is shortly arriving on platform 1 and Ispat Exp will be arriving on platform 4. I then saw that one Bhilai WAM4 was standing on the line just beside us, and behind that a Kgp WDM2 slowly pushing the rake of BhagaJatin fast Pass.

There is one thing I do not understand of the Howrah Bhadrak BhagaJatin Fast Pass. Three years back, whenever I saw it, I saw that the train departed from Howrah with 22 coaches behind a WAM4 and only ones behind a SRC WAP4. At KGP, the electric loco made away with the first set of 10/11 coaches and shunts it back into the yard. Then one WDM2 (KGP) comes and takes the rest of the train to Bhadrak. Since the passengers knew of the affair, the front part of the train remained totally empty and the 2nd part totally full. Why this is done so, is still a total mystery. Then the WAM4 gave a slight horn and started moving. It stopped just at the point of the X crossing and again started moving. It cleared the X crossing and without changing pantos, it backed into the line we were standing. It then slowly coupled with our train. I saw that we had some 5 minutes left for departure. Technically the Dhauliís running late but we were by our scheduled time. At the platform clock it was showing 0817 and we will be departing by 0825. I then hurried the shopkeeper to hurry up with his change, so that I could go back to my seat. Suddenly the loco gave a horn and started moving. I saw surprised, because it wasnít time yet for departure. I saw that my cousin is standing at the door looking for me. I saw that the signal is still red. The driver is just bringing the train from the extreme end of the platform to the signal. I guessed correctly. I then climbed on my coach and settled inside. I saw that three more had been added to the coach. I then noticed that the Steel Exp is still standing. After some time, our train gave the horn and departed, so the Steel Exp in the opposite direction. It moved slowly the Dhauli way and stopped in the middle of platform 4.

After a few seconds, it again started and picked up speed more rapidly than it had been under the WDM2C. It then slowly moved out of the platform and started negotiating the points. I then saw that it is running parallel the Balasore bound line and we are double line. Suddenly a goods passed behind a WAG 5 loco on the opposite line. I was wondering whether the trains from Tata too pass thru that line or takes the direct line, which meets the line coming from Balasore. I was not sure because I had never entered Kharagpur from Tata side during daytime. I was wondering when our train would turn towards Mednipur, because we had moved a bit more left instead of right. To my dismay I saw that, we moved right and taking the Mumbai bound line. The things are getting more and more complicated for me. I then saw that we are on the 3rd line counting from the Balasore bound line. I ws surprised because as far as I knew, the Tata route is still double, may be recently it had been trebled. Our train was running at moderate speed. I saw that the Balasore bound line separated from us and we immediately started climbing up. I saw that we crossed a set of double lines, below us, which took a sharp turn towards us and we towards them. After sometime we met each other and a set of 4 lines continued on a slow curve. By that time, our train was running at high speed. We then straightened up, but the line on the extreme right continued on itís scenic curve to enter Kharagpur. I then saw that the proposed EMU carshed is being completed, except the laying of the lines. We then turned right and met the Howrah bound line coming from Tata. I guess that the trains from Tata side goes by that line while the goods from Tata to Kgp takes the one running paralleal to us. The Tata bound line moved away from us, and the Kharagpur bypass line coming from Benapur suddenly crossed us directly and joined the line just separated. We are almost nearing Kalaikunda shed. It was a huge shed with lots of full, half, semi half rakes of various types of goods wagons. Our train then suddenly braked. I saw that we are changing lines. We entered one brake in a long line of goods rake and crossed some 7 lines in scissors crossings and moved on straight. After 2 minutes, we picked up speed again. I guess that we would be meeting the Kharagpur Midnapur line somewhere there.

After sometimes, the Chennai road crossed above us. I then saw one line coming us at right angle to us in the far distance. Instead of a smooth curve the line turned abruptly and again continued on straight towards the line. I realized that we would be meeting the line coming from Kgp. After sometime we met the line at an angle and continued to form the up platform of Gokulpur station. We turned left and again turned left to enter the dn platform, because one BCNA rake was standing on the dn line. The line coming from Kharagpur is a single line. Just before Gokulpur, one line goes out to the right to Dn platform and two lines to itís left side to the up platform and the up siding line, while continuing straight to become the dn thru plus parking line. After climbing out of Gokulpur station our train stayed on the left line. From Gokulpur onwards again the line is double, except crossing the river just before Midnapur, which is a single line bridge. The entire route is still treated as single line for the EMUís terminating at Mednipur. Till some years back, only the right line was electrified, and the left was un electrified. So the EMUís used to take (and they still do but not the MEMU) the right line for both coming and going. Just before the beidge, we stopped. I understood that there would be a crossing. I guessed that it could either be a EMU or the morning Purulia Howrah exp. After 5 minutes, I saw the outline of one WAP4 coming. It was coming extremely slowly. I was horribly surprised to see a WAP4 from CNB shed doing duty on the Purulia Exp, but after a few seconds I was proved wrong. I saw that it was not the Purulia Exp, but the Bhubaneshwar bound Rajdhani Exp. It was 15 coaches long, two or three coaches longer than I had seen it at Bwn some 4 years earlier. The coaches are relatively new compared to Rajababu(2301/2301), and itís trademark Howrah side Shatabdi Genrator car is replaces by a matching Rajdhani car. After the train passed we started almost immediately, and inched forward slowly on the bridge. It took us some 10 minutes to cross the 100mt bridge. After the bridge we again climbed on the left line and picked up speed immediately. I suddenly noticed the sudden change of geography just after Kharagpur. Till Kharagpur, we were passing thru large greenery area, but before midnapur the area is rusty and rough, more or less like Texas Plains, but more uppers and downers. We entered Mednipur on platform 3 and immediately a family climbed on our coach. They sat just in front of my row. After some 2 minutes our train started and I saw that the Purulia Howrah Exp entering platform 1 behind a SRC WAP4 B/LB colored. I remember, when the PRR Exp first started running ABíd that particular loco was assigned to it. That train was 13 coaches long and it too had the JS CC. We started picking up speed. The running was extremely bumpy. I understood that it had not been changed at all in all these years. That is why the trains do not ever make over 100kmph. In some sections, the speed is as low as 40kmph. After sometime we reached Garbeta and climbed on the dn line to reach the up platform. In the Kharagpur Adra Purulia section maximum of the track layout is a bit odd unlike other sections.

The case that is, all trains going towards Adra from Kharagpur, that is up direction in railway parlance, to stop at any station, you will have to climbe on the opposite line to get to your up platform which is on the dn line, which is itself a continuance of the dn line. Suppose, you are going to Adra from Kharagpur and have a stoppage at any station enroute, you will have to slow down and climbe on the dn line and go to your up platform. If at that very moment, any train comes from the opposite side, he will then climbe on the dn lineís loop line and after an extremely sharp curve, go to the dn platform which the opposite side. The same applies for any thru trains, who will have to slow down to 15kmph to negotiate the sharp curve of the platform and pass. If there is no train on the up platform, the train will pass thru the up platform without slowing down, which is direct line.

After the train departed from garbeta, without any addition of passengers in our coach, I decided to take a tour of the train. I then went to the next coach, which is fully crowded, and I was feeling very hot. I think that my body temperature had went down. I then bought one cup of coffee from one vendor and went back to my seat abandoning my attempt to tour the train due to the crowd. I guess that they should detach the train from the Dhauli and increase itís length. I had noticed one thing, that the route we were passing thru was mountainous and extremely rocky. You have fingers or layers of rocks jutting out of the ground, or in a tiny rice field you have a rocky layer exposed to the ground. The area is also sparsely populated, and the general ground is also reddish in colour. Some one had told me long before the reddish color is due to the presence of iron oxides in the ground, which is too poor in quality for mining which also renders the ground unsuitable for any cultivation. I then pulled the curtain, so that I could catch a little nap. I do not know, how long I had slept, but when I woke up, I saw that we were slowly crossing a tiny station called MetalSahar. After coasting for some moments, both the up and down lines separated suddenly and I saw that we are passing beside the boundary of the FCI godwon. It is a huge complex with atleast 17 such structures and some cooling plants. After some time the train stopped and I saw that we are entering Adra station. Between platform 3 and 4 there are two loop lines on which a colorfull BKSC WDM2C just standing with three persons sitting on the passageway. I got down from the platform and bought some bread rolls and some biscuits. After looking for a tea vendor, I found one and bought 6 cups of tea. As I was sitting inside, I was feeling as if my skin will burn. It then announced that Tata Adra Pass would be arriving on platform 2 and Burdwan Purulia MEMU would be arriving on platform 4 and Bhaga Adra Pass would be arriving on platform 3. After some time, I saw the MEMU from Burdwan arriving. It was moderately crowded and it was a 16 coach rake with 4 motor cars. These 16 coach rakes are a rarity, with maximum of 12 coch rakes seen in and around Durgapur. Only ones, I saw on a experimental basis a 20 coach MEMU parked at Asansol station. After sometime, our train departed. It slowly crawled out o the station. I saw that 4 lines are leaving the station. The 3rd line from us terminated abruptly at a sand bag with a KGP WDM2 standing there. After a series of X crossings, the three lines continued. I then noticed that the single line towards Asansol separated and disappeared behind a rocky outgrowth. Then after some time, we too separated from the Gomoh bound line.

We continued slowly. After some time, I saw that we are approaching the double line coming from Asansol. This was the Adra bypass line, which is taken by the goods and the only trains to take the Adra bypass line are the Gouhati/Dibrugarh Chennai Exp and Gouhati Puri Exp, via UDL, DGR, Asn. We continued on our line for some time. I then saw one BCNA rake behind a MUíd Tata WAG5 with a WAG7 also from Tata coming on the parallel line beside us. Then on the opposite side, I saw a BTPN rake behind a single Asn WAG5HR. I was surprised to see one loco. After the 25 cylinders passed, I saw that it had a pair of WDG2ís from BNDM as bankers. The entire area is mountainous with extremely sharp turns and sharp uppers and downers. While turning on the bends, our loco was continuously honking. We then reached Anara station, which is the last halt before Prr. It had a wide platform. The only platform between the up and the dn line is so wide that it would accommodate at least another double line if built into the platform. I saw that the platforms had been raised, because all the buildings and other structures are dug in the platform and you will have to access them by climbing down two or three steps of stairs. On the other side, I saw one BOXN rake behind three WAG7ís. The 2nd and 3rd loco are mu;d and are from Asansol shed, while the 1st loco which was loose was from MGSL shed. Then behind the BOXN rake, I saw another BOXN rake standing and two pantos visible above the roof of the 1st BOXN rake. After 1 minute, our train started. I saw that on the other side, there are lots of goods rake standing. We then crossed a pair of WAG7 standing just next to our line, probably waiting for any assignment. Our train could not pick up speed, because of the terrain and the line condition. Our coach was jumping wildly. In fact, so much it was jumping, we could sometimes hear the Ďthudí Ďthudí sound, and I had trouble drinking water from my jarricane. We continued like this with no goods for the next 35 minutes. I then saw that we are climbing on a high embankment and the tall spindly leg of a road over bridge is visible in the distance. I realized that we had arrived at Purulia. I saw that on our left right side, on the top of an extremely high embankment, one line is approaching us and which entered us just before the platform. I realized that it is the Purulia Khotsila line, by which the Purushottam Exp and previously the 2443/2444 Rajdhani used to run. We arrived on platform 3.

The next morning when we arrived at Prr station for some train spotting, we saw many trains and locos:

Purushottam Exp WAP4/SRC
Howrah CKP Pass WAM4/Tata
Danapur Tata IC Exp ??
Tata Hatia Pass WAM4/Bhilai
PRR Howrah Exp WAP4/SRC
Chennai Dibrugarh Exp WAP4/SRC
Dhanbad Tata Suarnarekha Exp WAM4/Tata


Material provided by Milan Chatterjee, Copyright © August 2004.
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