Dhaulpur NG trip
by Vikas Singh
Photos from this trip can be found here: Dhoulpur- Sirmuttra NG trip
After the Gwalior NG trip, next on the agenda was Dhaulpur NG trip. The 671 passenger leaves Dhaulpur early morning at 0400 hrs. Since no conveyance was available, I had to walk the 2 kms from my hotel to station. There was hardly a soul at station except for the loco driver and the guard. They said that hardly anybody boards at Dhaulpur this time but railways continue to have this service at 0400. The train had five-second class coaches. None had any light and I had to sit in pitch darkness. The coupling was ancient as those on the Katwa NG line. The train left dot on time with only five people as passengers. I had the whole compartment to myself. I could not make out anything on the way, as it was pitch dark outside. We finally reached the last station Sirmutra at 0700. There were a few passengers waiting for the return trip.
I picked up conversation with the driver and the guard. My request for foot plating was accepted. There were hardly any food stalls around the station but miraculously hot chai and pakoras arrived. Sirmutra is major town for the famous red sandstones. Railways were once preferred mode of transport but roadways has now taken over all the stones being transported by trucks. At 0715 the train left the station.
Except for Mohari station, which is junction for the Tantpur branch line, no station has a proper building. No station had a waiting shed or even provision for drinking water. Some have even been abandoned. Railways have given the job of selling tickets to private contractors @ Rs.500 per month and 10% commission on tickets sold. But the contractor hardly bothers to depute someone to sell the tickets preferring the monthly income of Rs.500.Yet for some strange reason the same guy has been getting contract for the last six-seven years. At many stations we had people coming to the guard any complaining that there was no body selling tickets. There are two TTEs deputed for this route but hardly anyone travels on the route. No wonder IR incurs a monthly loss of Rs.12 lacs on this route every month. Unlike the morning journey this time the train had good occupancy, though nobody sat on rooftop. No signal system exists on the route. The signal poles were found rusting with wires cut and taken away long back. Instead IR has " authority" system. This is basically authority given to loco driver in writing to proceed from the station. With no other train working on this route this "authority" system looked quite a waste of time and money. At many places the ballast had disappeared. The loco driver cautioned that any day the train could derail.
We reached Dhaulpur at 1030, fifteen minutes behind schedule. The guard offered to show me around the loco shed. A turntable greeted us at the entrance. The shed has three ZDM5s. For this route alone, the shed has more than 20 staff. Two 1954 built Kawasaki class 2-8-2 steam locomotives were spotted. The one inside the old loco shed is in slightly better condition and is likely to be plinthed outside the Dhaulpur station. The other one is rusting away in the open.
After a cup of hot chai with the shed staff, I returned to the comforts of my hotel.
N.B: For the uninitiated, Dhaulpur offers excellent spots to visit. Most of them present excellent examples of red sandstone architecture. But sadly they are all poorly maintained and it will not be long before they are lost like the forgotten monuments of Delhi.