Trip to Smoker's Paradise

2004-04-11

by Naren Damodaran

For photos from this trip can be found here: DBU

SMOKER'S PARADISE refers to the station Dodballapur where engines really smoke up and it's a great sight to see them blast past at high speeds unseen in the other places near SBC!

On the morning of 11th April, Sandeep Mohan and myself, armed with a Yezdi and a Pulsar, a camera and a water-bottle, set out on a railfanning exercise. Our first stop was supposed to be at a confluence of the road and railway tracks as trains hit high speeds here. As soon as we got there we were hit by the realisation that IT WAS HOT!!!!!!...and so as we were hunting around for some shade, a familiar honk bellowed from the depths of the rocky terrain and within minutes out snaked a Tanker Train led by a KJM WDM-2 and went past us at a good speed. The guard was excited to be in the picture and promptly waved out!

Then we decided that we would bike it to the next station on this line (SBC-HYB/Mumbai/NDLS) that is Dodballapur around 15 km away. While on the way, we met up wit the KCG-YPR Express at a LC headed by a Maula Ali WDM2 in classic maroon. After a good ride we came across the station just off the highway. Soon we found a good spot to park our bikes and moved into the station.

The station was deserted with a few animals and people for company. There was the SM and a Police guy (more on him later). The station buliding was a feast for the eye, all old traditionally built style with sloped tile roofing and white short columns. Really nice, gave us a feeling of yesteryears.

Anyway we found a spot on the one and only platform (which has been increased to handle Udyan, KCG Express and a few other long distance trains).

As we were looking around, a KJM and PUNE WDG3 couplet rolled in to the station on the loop line. Immediately Naren was off with the camera, but on sighting the policeguy behind us, I hid behind a huge tree trunk and took the snaps. The asst. driver was a very happy guy and he waved out and smiled as he saw I was hiding behind the tree from the cop!!...Sandeep knows this driver.

Anyway the couplet stopped in front of us and I quickly ran across the tracks to the other side to picture it. One interesting thing was that the PUNE WDG-3 had 100KMPH TOP SPEED inscribed on the cab sides.

In the meantime, from the opposite side a Super Fast Freight with twin Kazipet WDM2's were coming in at a speed of about 50kmph. It blew past us with a heavy load and picked up speed on the straight to around 60kmph. Again, the guard was a friendly guy who waved out.

Then the couplet began to move in the reverse direction with the PUNE WDG-3 leading it into a siding into the Birla Cement Factory (which we came to know after hurriedly asking Anil Tharian which factory was here).

Then all was quiet for sometime, till the couplet re-emerged from the siding with a Cement Train, the wagons of which we haven't seen here before, and proceeded to enter the main line with a lot of smoke and within a few metres switched to the loop line to await the crossing of the 'king' Karnataka Express.

I walked away toward the end of the station to click the Cement Train, in the meanwhile the cop had now attracted Sandeep's attention and was bugging him about what we were doing here. He followed me for sometime but then came back as Sandeep told him I had gone to chat with the guard of the Cement Train. As I was chatting with the guard, he asked me what I was upto,etc, and so followed the regular.."well sir, we are from IRFCA..and blah blah blah!!! Anyway he said not to waste film on his train but instead get the Karnataka Express which was about to cross any moment now. That, I was going to do without a doubt, but look at at the prestige of the Karnataka!!

I found a spot at the end of the lines merging into the main line at the end of the station and was behind a signal post as my only cover to shoot the belting beast of a Karnataka. At the opposite end of the station the twin ET WDM2 led train emerged at a high speed and coming down heavily, and within seconds it had crossed the station in a burst of speed that was nearly 90kmph. It was a sight indeed to see this train bearing down on us with the horns blaring away and smoke belching out as the beasts closed in on the home run with terrific power and agility!!..it was AWESOME!!

And poor old Sandeep who was still being questioned by the cop, temporarily forgot he existed, and feasted on the KK and with it's passage, was suddenly jolted back into reality and found himself looking not at the ET WDM2 twins, but at the twin questioning eyes of the cop!

As soon as the KK passed the Cement Express rolled out too. Now it was back to the platform and back to the cop!. Well as it turned out he had asked Sandeep what we were upto, etc. And Sandeep said the usual. However,later, he called me into his room and spoke to me for about 10 minutes about what IRFCA was, what benefits we get in monetary terms (Do we?????) etc. and all that. Then finally at the end of the conversation he spoke in English and said, 'Sir don't misunderstand me but I am just asking because you are new faces around here'..ah!..well we are!!

Then it was time for a triple sundae of the SBC-ADI Express, CBE-LTT Express and the Prashanti Express to all roar by in close succession on their way out of SBC.

Anil was in constant touch with us about what was passing at ITC level crossing in SBC City. So we knew what was coming and approximately when too.

First came the Ahmedabad Express..lead by a KJM WDM3A and it really impressed us with that speed and load of 20 coaches, it crossed us at nearly 85kmph.

Next up was the CBE-LTT Express which was late, led by a GC liveried PUNE WDM3A Rebuilt loco whihc didn't dissapoint us as far as speed was concerned as it roared through at around 90kmph.

And finally the train we were eagerly waiting for, the Prashanti. It came up the incline straight smoking like a factory funnel with smoke seemingly bellowing out from everywhere, the top, bottom and sides of the engine. Anil had reported that there was a dead loco trailing the leading loco which was in a weird livery. This turned out to be a dead Maula Ali loco in maroon. The leading loco was an ED liveried rebuilt WDM3A of Gooty shed which was simply hammering the train away and cursing the speed limit for sure...what a sight it was....just belching and belching, then it coasted in at about 90kmph and then accelerated through superbly with the motors whirring away to oblivion. This sight was second to the Karnataka.

As we were leaving, we spoke to the SM and he informed us that the speed limit is 110Kmph on this sector with the Bangalore Rajdhani doing 110Kmph. Next for sure would be the Prashanti.

We left the town and hit a dhaba beside the YPR-YELAHANKA line to eat. in a few minutes the YPR-HOWRAH Express came by at a speed of about 35Kmph with a KJM WDM baldie leading SHF. This train would now go to Yelahanka and reverse to take the line to CSDR and onto KJM and the MAS line.

After the bill was paid, we left, and we were racing against the Shatabdi. We ahd to cover nearly 15 Km to meet the Shatabdi at BYPL and boy oh boy did we race!!...

As soon as we reached BYPL/CSDR Crossing we heard the horn of a WAP4 approaching. Upon closer inspection it was the Shatabdi coming at a slow speed because of the new speed restriction in that area. Hurriedly we took out the cam, all the time trying to avoid human crap. Just as the Shat passed by I clicked the snaps..it was a hurried shot. The Driver was a nice guy who turned around and gave us a friendly wave! The loco ED 22250 WAP4 was in the old livery of WAP's.

Immediately on the incoming line to SBC a WAM46PE of AJJ brought in the MAS-SBC Special. Surprisingly this train had boards and destination boards on the coaches. Sandeep was surprised to see sleeper coaches and sleeper AC on a daytime train.

In about a minute, the YPR-SALEM Passenger passed on the newly opened CSDR Overpass. What a relief!!!!!...What a relief!!!! to see that train finally on that line!!!... It had one coach in SWR livery that Sandeep said he has seen many a time on the same train. The ED WDM2 led train stopped for a minute in front of the cabin on the bridge and with a growl started off again.It is great to see the train on the overhead line. Now a super junction ahs become an even more super junction!!!..with 3 tracks now joining!!!

All this while on the CSDR-BYPL/KJM line the YPR-Howrah Express that had reversed at Yelahanka was running parallel in the same direction as the Salem passenger!!..Awesome!!...the train then turned into the KJM section toward MAS.

So in a span of 4 minutes we had seen 4 trains in each direction. AMAZING!!!

Next we moved to my 'Beastly' spot where I go to watch the KCG Express as it starts picking up speed after an acute left hander and onto a straight like Valentino Rossi does on his motorcycle in the World GP!!

Sandeep and me had been talking about seeing the KCG and other trains on this line, little did we realise that we were talking about the same spot..only that Sandeep saw the trains from a friends house adjacent to the track whereas I was by the tracks!!

Anyway in a few minutes an idiot appeared on the tracks and after selecting a place to sit placed his sorry butt on the rail and started to mull..wonder what happened.

In a few moments the LC closed down, and in a few moments the horn of the Beast WDP4 was heard. The next second the Beast rounded the acute left and began to hammer up. It was MMMOOVVINNNNGGGGGG!!!!!!! It honked and honked at that ass on the rails, and people were all looking at him still sitting there oblivious of the approaching monster. It must be said here that everywhere I have seen this train people just vanish in seconds off the track the moment they hear it, whether they can see it or not, which is not the case with other trains.

However our mental friend was still on the line and people were now really lookin on..as for us we were sure he had lost it!.. Finally he got up just as the train was closing in and nearly lost balance, thankfully he didn't fall down..!!..and moved away just as the KCG roared by at 80 kmph picking up speed like a maniacal slaughter machine!! The driver waved out to Sandeep and put out his hand for a 'high-5' but unfortunately the driver was a little too high and way too FAST!!!!

The Number Of The Beast was 20004 and it ripped past obviously pissed off at the speed restriction on the previous straight at BYPL and hammered up the line relentlessly. This section is where the WDP4 picks up speed amazingly quickly to hit nearly 95kmph at the end of the long straight. I have seen the train at both ends!!...and it is AWESOME!!!

Well that was it for us that day..and what a day it was!!

Material provided by Naren Damodaran, Copyright © 2003.
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