Howrah-Santragachi-Amta Trip Report
by Saurab Basu
The Search and thirst for New Continues. And so we were all set to take on the new line to AMTA from Howrah. Samit and myself, we had plans to take the EMU from Howrah at 04:00 p.m. Accordingly, I had to move out of my place on the Muharram Day, a bit earlier, so as to avoid traffic problems, and reached Samit's place by 13:40. Wasting time, was not at all worth, and so we decided to move on as soon as we could. Took a cab from Ballygunge Circular Road, and reached Howrah by 14:20. We had ample time left for ourselves to decide. Finally we made our mind to attempt for some Loco Spotting at Santragachi JN.
AMTA is 53 KM's from Howrah, in the South-Eastern section. We booked our tickets from the Howrah New Complex Ticket Counter(SER-Sub-Urban & Long-Distance). The Fares from Howrah to Amta, stand @ Rs.13/- per head. We took two tickets and moved straight towards the S.E. local platform, No.: 12. Samit had some coffee, while I got tangled in a problem with the misbehaving stallholders. Ultimately, We went on to register a complaint against two Stalls, adjoining the Platform No.12 of Howrah Old Complex, with the Chief Commercial Manager, Howrah.
With all these issues, time went by, and we hurried on to the PF No. 14 to take the 15:15 Hrs EMU to Panskura. We had already lost a precious Half-an-hour or so, and could not afford to wait longer, because that would result in least time left for Santragachi. Adjoining to us, in the PF No.13, we found a WDM2 #18315 KGP, that had pulled in the vacant rakes of the UP Baghajatin FAST Passenger (Howrah-Bhadrak), with a WAM-4 (Tatanagar) in front for service.
In addition to that, a red WAP-4 #22339 was hauling the UP Howrah- Guahati Saraighat Express. A Red HWH WDM2 had brought in the empty rakes of the Howrah-Gwalior Chambal Express, with a WAP-4 of the same color in real action. This was all of our spotting activity in Howrah.
Soon we reached Santragachi JN, at around 15:33 Hrs. Dropped out of the Brown & Cream combo liveried EMU, and headed north towards the Outer. We moved out of the Platform No.3, and found an Orange and cream livery WAG-5RH #23352 Asansol, parked alongside the combined PF 2&3. We started hearing some cool stuff. It was a WAM-4 #20670, hauling the Howrah-Trichy Express. A WDS-6 #36071 KGP was moving in the station yard.
While we were having tea, on the PF 3, a WDS-6 #36249 KGP, pulling the empty rakes of the DN Chennai-Howrah Coromondal Express, moved in, and parked the rakes on the line adjoining the PF 3 track. The Coromondal for that day was hauled by a red WAP-4 #22586 SRC. Samit took some low angle shots of this brand new beauty. It was being washed and thoroughly maintained after a long haul.
We moved on to the platform, and were waiting for our EMU, that in the mean time, a `Through' EMU from HWH to Midnapore speeded by. Within five minutes, we had our HB-85 Horah-Baragachia-Amta EMU Local, right in front, at our service. We boarded the train, and had two window seats vacant for our occupancy, in a comparatively normal Sunday crowd. Our compartment was virtually vacant with 5 passengers, including me and Samit.
While we passed the SRC Electric Loco Shed, with 4 WAP-4's waiting for service, two old and the rest of new make. In the diesel shed, another WDS-6 KGP #36250 was actively coordinating with its partner, the #36249.
It was within minutes, that we were on the Flyover, towards Bankra Nayabaj, rolling over the Main line. We curved from West to East, running parallel to the Dankuni Line, before parting at the Baltikuri Cabin. The train moved slow from Bankra Nayabaj to Baltikuri Cabin, because of a MPS 20 kmph caution. From Baltikuri, it was all through a single-track system, with Crossings allocated at different stations, enroute.
The EMU moved ahead to go past the different stations. The weather seemed just perfect, with the dusky sunlight and the green field around the track, made up for an exceptional arena. With speed restrictions at different sections of the track, the EMU moved at a considerable pace, rest of the time.
This section being a single-track route, so no much mechanical diversity can be expected, excepting the changing colors of nature, surrounding us!
We passed by the different stations, and found considerable crowd activity. The Domjur and Baragachia stations had handful number of people moving in and out.
We were a bit late to reach Amta Station, at around 17:42 Hrs, almost 7 minutes behind schedule. We dropped down, and Samit got engaged in some Low action photography. The Brown liveried EMU and the Station complex, made up for a nice combination, towards the clarity in the photos. I got our return tickets from the Amta Station Booking Office. Was lucky to get Card Board Tickets. These are nice souvenirs, for any and every trip. J I am sharing it with this trip report as well!
We had tea and a long waited smoke at the Amta Station and it was time to head back, towards Howrah. We didn't even bother to ask for a footplate this time. Got ourselves well seated near two windows in the first compartment after the drivers cab.
The evening scene in and around the corner was nothing but a ghostly atmosphere, with glow lights after a certain bit of distance covered. The stations enroute do not have sufficient lights, and thus add to the gloom further. Samit took some photographs of how the EMU looked amidst the ethereal scenario.
Meanwhile we went on to meet one of the Electric Goods Section Drivers of the Santragachi (SRC) shed. We Shared views on Railways and our passion for it!
We gossiped all through with a short span of siesta.J The train passed by and entered Howrah at 20:00 Hrs, late by 10 minutes from its scheduled time. This was mainly because of a long stop over at the Domjur Station, because of a faulty signal.
Once at Howrah, we found a Brand Rebuilt WDS-6R-36000 HWH that had pulled in the 3027 UP Vibhuti Express, from the Shed.
It was time to pay to the stomach this time. So we had some Biriyani and a soft drink at the Comesum of Howrah New Complex. Samit dropped me at the Park Street Metro Station, as earlier, and took the cab back home. I took the 20:57 Hrs Metro from Park Street to Dum Dum, and reached home at almost 10PM.
A memorable trip, truly! And now when I imagine the Narrow Gauge track in action, I dream to feel the jerks and troughs of the way gone beauty of the 1940's Howrah-Amta Railway!
Sincerely Thankful to: Samit, for giving me such a wonderful and Enthusiastic company!:-)