Gwalior-Sumaoli NG trip.
by Vikas Singh
Photos from this trip can be found here: Sumaoli-Gwalior NG trip
The New Delhi-Bhopal shatabdi reached Gwalior 25 minutes late and I missed the 9.05 NG passenger to Sabalgarh. The next train was due at 15.40. Instead of waiting, I decided to take a cab to Sumaoli, 49 kms away. For a good 8 kms till motijheel station, the NG line runs close to the main road. At some places, the line literally touches the courtyard of some houses. No wonder the train does only 5kms/hr on this stretch. The cab driver was very amused to see my enthusiasm in photographing the details of the line. The motijheel is pretty quaint station surrounded by tall date palm trees. The last road stretch of 15 kms passes through desert like terrain, with landscape sporting a barren deserted look. There was profound growth of cactus and casurina.
We finally reached Sumaoli at 12.15. The Sheopur-Kalan passenger was due only at 14.01. The small station had a tea stall selling namkeens and chai. An old rake of goods wagon was on loop line. Enquiries revealed that the rake had been lying there since last three years. The station had customary toilet but locked up with notice saying that keys were with the stationmaster. The stationmaster had gone home for lunch and his replacement preferred to doze off rather than answer my queries. With nothing else to do, I too joined him inside the small stationmaster's room. Persistent knocking at booking window awakened us at 2.00.A long queue had formed outside for tickets. The guy grudgingly opened the window and started distributing tickets. The train was late by 25 minutes. There was still no sign of the stationmaster. There was a very unique mechanism to move the signals. I do not think such a mechanism exit'sanywhere else on IR.
Soon I could see the train approaching the station. True to it'sfame, the train had passengers on rooftop. It was impossible to find a seat inside and so I decided to keep the passengers on roof some company. There is no direct bus service from Sumaoli to Gwalior and so most prefer the train even if they have to sit on the roof. I had some very interesting co passengers-two sadhus, a police constable and a schoolteacher. Unlike in other parts of country all of them had valid tickets despite traveling on rooftop. From my experiences in Bihar, I can vouch for the fact that people in that part of country consider it their birthright to travel free on roof top of trains. The co passengers were quite helpful in giving details of the track, forewarning the steep curves, bridges and stations. This gave me ample opportunity to take some good shots.. We were also lucky to see herd of barking deer in the desolate terrain.
We reached Gosipura at 14.05. The scheduled crossing with Sabalgarh passenger takes place at Gosipura. Also the compartments had become less crowded and most passengers on rooftop could find seating space inside the compartment. The journey back to Gwalior was quite interesting. Frequently the driver would be honking for people and cows to move away from the track. At one place, children were playing cricket right on the track. At most places, the ballast had disappeared replaced by heaps of garbage. We finally reached Gwalior at 16.40, twenty minutes behind schedule.
I then went to the POH shed nearby. A royal carriage lies unattended in the shed. Maybe it can be better preserved in NRM. The diesel shed was nearby. Two NRD engines were found rusting nearby. These were the predecessors of the modern day NDMs. A diesel inspection rail car and relief train was also spotted.
After a tiring day of rail fanning, I had hot dosas with real spicy chutney at Madras caf near the station. The next day was for Dhoulpur- Tantpur narrow gauge trip.