Notes from SC/HYB

2004-05-04

by Shashanka Nanda

Last few days have been really action packed. Here are some interesting titbits

I was at Sanathnagar (SNF) again on Friday and managed to get talking to the drivers of a light WDG4 idling on one of the loops. The loco was of the original EMD built lot. I asked them how they rated the Indian built machines being churned out now... and the drivers rated them very low!!

Mechanically the machines are OK in their opinion, but fit and finish levels are pathetic. the doors start rattling and refuse to close in the first few thousand kilometers only. the welding and interior linings are horrendous. So much so that the casings of the cab-lights have melted within 2 months due to the heat!!! the build quality too is real bad.... on Saturday we saw DLW built #12051 at SNF. The bogie casings looked as if they were chiseled off some cast iron block by an amateur blacksmith!! Overall the rating of the Indian machines is real bad!!

Coming to the driveability of the machines.... the drivers were at no loss of cuss words while driving these beasts LHF. I had first hand experience inside the cab in the assts. seat as it shunted and trust me, they are dead right. They had been very excited when they found that they were to drive it SHF, but due to brake pressure leakage, and as a result they were to take the loco to the Hussain Sagar Jn. triangle, reverse it and drive it LHF!! Boy were they pissed at this prospect??

But they were all praise for the hauling capacity of the WDG4, they say it's even better than twin WDG3As. All in all 5 WDG4s have been alloted to the Raichur - Sanathnagar section. SNF based drivers go uptill Chittapur where they hand over to drivers from Raichur. All in all the WDG4s hit a max of 75-80 kmph on this section which they cover in about 4 hours. They also told me that exactly 20 WDM2s from KZJ have moved to MLY, and 40 WDG3As from GY have moved to KZJ. No new arrivals of WDG3As is expected any soon at KZJ though. Drivers at SNF drive any loco thats available, whether a WDM2, WDG3 or a WDG4. But they also complained that they had very little training on the WDG4s and most of their learning was through trial and error and on the run!!! I hope our passenger guys don't learn that way!!

On Sunday our scene of action shifted to Secundrabad station (SC). The empty rake of the Jodhpur - SC Express was standing pn PF9. This train takes the Surat-Jalgaon-Wardha-Kazipet route to reach SC, but to our surprise it was hauled by a KJM WDM2!! The track is electrified all the way from Surat but still... does anybody know the loco link of this train. The SL coaches on this train were mostly in the 03XXX series but were delivered in 04 as the builder's plate suggested. The coaches were ICF stock and there are many improvements in them. I shall list down all the new developments:

  • Berth/Seat foam much thinner but much more comfortable
  • Side lower berth halves have a locking hatch to prevent uneveness in the flat berth
  • ladders are padded with rubber- extremely helpful to guys like me who doze off on them
  • nightlamps have seat/ berth number indicators on them. Good for passengers getting in at night, no need to switch on main lights to disturb sleeping passengers
  • wash basins are bowl shaped steel in FRP casing units and look very sleek. However the size is a tad too small and water tends to spill out
  • the toilets are also made of FRP (chennai based manufacturer) and are very neat. Commode & flush design is also new, however the toliet flush stays open for an excessive period leading to water wastage. I travelled in a similar coach recently in AP Exp. and we always ran out of water much before conventional coaches causing a lot of inconvinience.
  • The fan/light switches are sleek units, they types mostly found in our homes and not the 60s relics still found on IR!!

Soon the BZA-LTT Express arrived behind MLY WDM2 17171. It too had 04 SL coaches but built by RCF Kapurthala. Checking inside we found many differences. The only new feature on the RCF coaches are the rubber coated ladders, otherwise none of the features of the ICf coaches above are present in RCF coaches and are like any SL coach of previous stock!! The only other visible difference in the ICF/RCF coaches is the fact the coach ends of RCF stock are painted blue, while ICF is black!!

SC has also become an interesting place to watch locos from all over the country. While we were at SC, there were locos from KJM (2 WDM2s), Gooty (all 3 rebuilt WDM3As), twin WAG7s from LGD, twin WAG5s from BZA, WDM2s from MLY and KZJ, WDP4 #20011 Baaz was idling in the yard along with a GTL WDM2, while #20007 WDP4 brought the Sabari Exp from TVC. The biggest surprise was a BRC WAP4E doing duty on the SC-BZA Satavahana Express!!!

PVS saw off Bharat on the 7054 Express to MAS which was brought by WDP4 #20000 while I took an MMTS back home. On the way, near James street station, the light WDP4 #20007 sprinted back from HYB to SC. On the S curves the beast roared past at 70kmph like a sprinter. The graceful side to side switch of the loco was a treat to watch, and for some unknown reason that sight is playing over and over again in my head ever since:o)

Material provided by Shashanka Nanda, Copyright © 2003.
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