Two Men Went To Mhow - Several Times!

11-19-2005

by Vikram

Here's my first posting on the IRFCA since re-joining earlier last year. Two UK railfans (Mark Bristow and I) have recently returned from a two week, 6000km+ 100% DLW ALCo powered visit to the sub-continent. The objectives of the trip were as follows:-

  • To track down WDP1s working around Delhi / Bathinda;
  • See the spectacular MG ghat sections between Mukhtiara Balwada (Kalakund) to Mhow in daylight;
  • Ride the twice weekly Indore - Dehra Dun Express (train 4317);
  • Spend time around Jaipur and Bikaner.

Originally, this was just going to be a simple list of what engines worked which trains, but I kind of got carried away. Its very long report, even without going into huge amounts of detail...

Sat 19th Nov 2005: Arrival In Delhi & Trip To Rewari

After landing at Delhi and checking into the hotel, we ventured up to Delhi Jn in the first of many auto rickshaws of the trip. The distance from our hotel (near the Zoo!) to Delhi Jn didn't look too far on the map, but it was a fair trek in an auto. It took ages just to reach New Delhi station, which was only about 2/3rds of the way there.

Eventually we reached Delhi Jn. We wanted to have a ride on the soon to be closed MG line between Rewari and Delhi Sarai Rohilla. We took the Ashram Express from Delhi Jn, hauled by the usual pair of ABR twins. 16840 (maroon livery) + 18995R (DMW livery - WDM3A) did the honours. The ABR depot crest on these locos was quite an elaborate plastic / metal plaque attached to the hoods of the locos - quite different to the normal painted affairs. I had hoped for a matched set of ABR twins in the cream livery as on the IRFCA photo gallery... II class behind the loco was absolutely full, so we retreated into 2AC class.

All along the route to Rewari, preparations for gauge conversion of the parallel MG line were visible - piles of BG sleepers, works taking place to raise the platform height etc. Arrival at Rewari was at 17h05 (23 late). We just had enough time to run to the MG platform to catch 4790 08h40 Bikaner - Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express back. No time for a chai or anything! 6656 of Phulera in bright orange livery did the honours. The train was quite a substantial size, and the little YDM4 was working flat out for most of the time to reach line speed. It must have been good entertainment a few decades ago to go hammering along this stretch of line with a pair of YDM4s on a crack express train. Arrival at Delhi Sarai Rohilla was about 30 late after various long station stops approaching Delhi.

  • 16840 + 18995 2915 15h05 Delhi Jn - Ahmedabad Ashram Express [Delhi Jn - Rewari] 2 x 82km
  • 6656 4790 08h40 Bikaner - Delhi Sarai Rohilla [Rewari - Delhi Sarai Rohilla] 82 km

Sun 20th Nov 2005: Delhi to Bathinda

After checking out of the hotel, a brief call was made to New Delhi station to add even more weight to our luggage in the form of Bradshaws and TAAG (the Northern Railway TT sold out!), we made our way to Delhi Jn. On my very first visit to India in 2000, we had a WDP1 on train 305 (10h20 Delhi Jn - Ambala Cant), so we hatched a plan to fill the morning by riding train 305 to Ghaziabad for a diesel hauled express train back to Delhi. Train 305 was hauled by WDP2 15506 TKD. Not surprising really considering the load has mushroomed to 17 bogies! The first coach behind the loco was pleasantly empty departing Delhi Jn. This was in complete contrast to the journey on 305 in 2000 - then it was absolutely bursting at the seams. I think on that trip we had 17 or 20 people occupying just the space laughingly marked for 8 passengers. 15506 was a good loud chuggy loco. I need to ride behind a lot more of these beasts! The train really filled up at Ghaziabad when the whole world got on!

After watching a WDS4 carrying out shunting manoeuvres to run the guards van around on a freight train, (thank goodness we got rid of those in the UK or that would be something else for me to plan!), an express rolled in behind 18953 TKD. We were still fumbling through TAAG trying to identify the train when it started moving, so we dived aboard anyway. It turned out to be the 4673 09h25 Darbhanga - Amritsar Express running a little late. This did us a favour anyway, as 4673 called at Delhi Jn which is where we wanted to be. 4673 gets a power change at Delhi Jn for an electric for the run to Amritsar.

After a quick spin in another auto rickshaw to Delhi Sarai Rohilla to photograph the soon to disappear mete gauge, we positioned ourselves at Delhi Jn to catch the Kissan Express. 15047 TKD arrived around 14h50 with the inbound Bathinda - Delhi Kissan Express. 15034 TKD dropped onto the opposite end of the stock for the return working. The train departed only 5 mins down, which was a good turnaround by all concerned. (4519 + 4520 use the same rake at Delhi Jn). 15009 TKD was at Delhi Jn with train 303 to Kalka.

We installed ourselves in II class right behind the loco - we had a simultaneous departure from Delhi Jn with the Ashram Express, which was a good experience. I think there is something really special about parallel diesel departures - its certainly a different perspective on the WDM2s when they are next to your carriage thrashing away while you are eating your dinner in 2nd class...

15017 TKD & 15029 TKD were at Rhotak (circa 17h00) attached to un-identified passenger trains, I reckon 1 service must have been 5JPR 17h50 to Jind, any ideas about the other train? Both rakes were fairly short maroon vacuum braked rakes. One loco was on the south end of a rake of stock, the other WDP1 was on the north end of another rake of stock.

The Kissan Express got progressively later and later. A few instances of chain pulling didn't exactly help punctuality. We were 1h10 late departing Raman, but fortunately given 54 mins to do the last 28km. It actually took 35 mins, so arrival in Bathinda wasn't too ridiculous. A quick hurtle through the deserted streets in an auto, saw us arrive at our hotel in no time at all.

  • 15506 305 10h20 Delhi Jn - Ambala Can't Passenger [Delhi Jn - Ghaziabad] 20 km
  • 18953 4673 09P25 Darbhanga - Amritsar Express [Ghaziabad - Delhi Jn] 20 km
  • 15034 4519 15h00 Delhi Jn - Bathinda Kissan Express [Delhi Jn - Bathinda] 337 km

Mon 21st Nov - A full day at Bathinda: Firozpur Line

Following yesterdays late arrival, we had a reasonable start and caught 9111 (11P10 Ahmedabad to Jammu Tawi) to Firozpur Cant. 'Baldie' 14020 of BGKT did the honours. We found space in II class right behind the loco on this service, which was very good for hearing the loco noise. It was a very loud loco too - even at speed. BGKT locos appear to work this service throughout, as on arrival at Firozpur, 14020 ran round and continued the run towards Jammu Tawi. Firozpur Can't station oozes atmosphere. both lower quadrant signals and diesel locos everywhere, maroon vacuum braked rakes on passenger trains. The hoped for WDP1s on this line materialised when 15025 TKD worked train 342 10h40 Firozpur Can't to Delhi Jn, after shunting 14103 LDH around the station. 14103 had a couple of engine doors covered in oil, so I'm guessing it wasn't very well! 15025 sounded excellent - rather like a Portuguese CP1501 loco - a very pleasant sound indeed. We took 15025 to Goniana, then caused much sensation with the local population by taking a wander through the village to buy a few drinks and snacks. Our WDP1 odyssey continued when 15030 TKD worked train 3FB 13h25 Bathinda - Firozpur Cant, which we took to Firozpur. 15030 also sounded like a CP1501. Another excellent journey. The line speed on this route is much higher than we expected. The WDP1s quickly wind the 6 / 7 coach rakes up to 100km/h between station stops. I should mention that 15025 & 15030 sound quite unlike the other WDP1s we encountered on this trip - they don't have the usual chug chug sound which all the other WDP1s we encountered do. Does anyone know if different turbo chargers are used on different locos? The difference in sound is very noticeable.

Our final train of the day was 9112, 07h05 Jammu Tawi - Ahmedabad, which had BGKT machine 18695 in charge. There was a very hairy moment at Firozpur while the loco was running round. One of the chai stalls encountered a problem with the gas supply. All of a sudden, huge 8ft high orange flames were shooting up towards the station canopy from the chai stand. There was a huge panic, and our previously crowded II coach emptied out in record time! Fortunately, the problem was rectified before anything else burst into flames, and normal service was once again resumed and our II coach became packed once again.

Other locos seen on this day were 17755 LDH, 18549 LDH, 17890 LDH working train 345 03h40 Jind - Firozpur, 17755 LDH working train 346 14h35 Firozpur - Jind, 15013 working 341 06h00 Delhi Jn - Firozpur. 15025 + 54 were stabled at Bathinda circa 19h00....

  • 14020 9111 11P10 Ahmedabad - Jammu Tawi Express [Bathinda - Firozpur Cant] 88 km
  • 15025 342 10h40 Firozpur Can't - Delhi Jn Passenger [Firozpur Can't - Goniana] 76 km
  • 15030 3FB 13h25 Bathinda - Firozpur Can't Passenger [Goniana - Firozpur Cant] 76 km
  • 18695 9112 07h05 Jammu Tawi - Ahmendabad Express [Firozpur Can't - Bathinda] 88 km

Tue 22nd Nov - Another full day at Bathinda: 10 locos in 1 day?

A plan had been hatched to ride on 10 different trains on 4 different routes out of Bathinda. This plan self destructed the minute we arrived on the station, as the first train of the day originated at Howrah and was an hour late! Very commendable, considering the distance it had covered. We started off with the Udyan Abha Toofan Express - train 3007 09h40 Howrah - Sri Ganga Nagar hauled by 18884 LDH. Fans of first class non - ac will be delighted to hear this train still carries this accommodation! We took a seat in sleeper class - the train was fairly empty really. We leapt off at Giddarbaha just as sunrise was starting. After a few chais, then took another LDH WDM2 in the shape of 18775 back to Bathinda with 4722 05h30 Sri Ganga Nagar - New Delhi. The original plan was then to take a ride down the Bikaner line, but this plan was abandoned due to late running. Instead we caught BGKT 18559 which was in charge of 9111 11h10 Ahmedabad to Jammu Tawi. WDP1 15030 was once again at Firozpur, and did the honours with train 342 10h40 Firozpur - Delhi Jn which we again took to Goniana. The shopkeepers were even more surprised to see us than yesterday! Suitably refreshed with drinks and fruit, we then caught 15013 on train 3FB 13h25 Bathinda - Firozpur as far as Pipli Pakhi Kalan. Here we just managed to leap off in time to catch a photo of the train leaving the station.

Pipli Pakhi Kalan is a very quiet relaxing wayside halt. One chap on a motorbike paid us a visit to introduce himself while we were waiting in the sun. Virtually on time, 16129 LDH appeared round the corner with train 346 14h35 Firozpur - Jind. I videoed this train pulling into the station. The recording is quite funny, because the train didn't really come to a complete stop before I had to stop filming and start running to catch the train! Pipli Pakhi Kalan is only a request halt, and trains only pause there for a few seconds. We took train 346 as far as Bathinda.

On arrival at Bathinda, we noticed 15004 on a passenger service. It turned out to be train 341 06h00 Delhi - Firozpur. It would have been rude not to ride on this train, so we jumped aboard. A quick perusal of the timetable showed with a little late running of train 9112, it would be possible for another quick trip in the Firozpur direction and a finish the day at a reasonable time.

9112 should cross train 341 on "the fly" somewhere like Chand Bhan. (9112 is supposed to depart Gangsar Jaito at 17h47, whereas 341 doesn't reach there until 17h53). We took a chance that 9112 would be a little late, and allow us to change trains at Gangsar Jaito. Sure enough, Gangsar Jaito was reached without being looped for 9112. In fact 9112 was late enough for us to pop out for a chai and biscuits outside the station. Eventually 9112 appeared with 16659 BGKT at the helm.

Other locos seen on this day included 15022 at Bathinda HS in the morning, 15041 was on 4520 06h45 Bathinda - Delhi Kissan, 15005 did 4004 03h15 Fazilka - Delhi Express, 15022 set sail for Sri Ganga Nagar with 1SHB 07h10 Bathinda - Sri Ganga Nagar. At the days end, 15025 & 50 were in the holding sidings at Bathinda.

  • 18884 3007 09P40 Howrah - Sri Ganga Nagar Express [Bathinda - Giddarbaha] 27 km
  • 18775 4722 05h30 Sri Ganga Nagar - New Delhi Express [Giddarbaha - Bathinda] 27 km
  • 18559 9111 11P10 Ahmedabad - Jammu Tawi Express [Bathinda - Firozpur Cant] 88 km
  • 15030 342 10h40 Firozpur Can't - Delhi Jn Passenger [Firozpur Can't - Goniana] 76 km
  • 15013 3FB 13h25 Bathinda - Firozpur Can't Passenger [Goniana - Pipli Pakhi Kalan] 49 km
  • 16129 346 14h35 Firozpur Can't - Jind Passenger [Pipli Pakhi Kalan - Bathinda] 61 km
  • 15004 341 06h00 Delhi Jn - Firozpur Can't Passenger [Bathinda - Gangsar Jaito] 27 km
  • 16659 9112 07h05 Jammu Tawi - Ahmedabad Express [Gangsar Jaito - Bathinda] 27 km

Wed 23rd Nov - Bathinda to Sri Ganga Nagar thence MG to Jaipur

After checking out of the hotel, and using the courtesy hotel minibus, we ventured to the station to start our days entertainment on the Sri Ganga Nagar line. 15018 was at Bathinda HS in the morning. 15003 departed from Bathinda at 10h00 on an un-identified passenger train. Yet more WDP1 chasing took place on this day, this time on the Sri Ganga Nagar line. First up was 15047 on 4525 05h15 Ambala Can't - Sri Ganga Nagar Inter City Express. We took as far as Malout, for a short break (more chai!) before catching 15002 on 3 SHB 10h40 Bathinda - Sri Ganga Nagar. Interestingly, 4525 isn't mentioned in the latest Bradshaws. Mind you, the metre gauge still starts out of Agra Fort according to this publication! Maybe they should join IRFCA to keep up with developments! Next followed 15014 on 336 11h00 Sri Ganga Nagar to Ambala, which we took to Pakki. As 336 was getting later and later, we made the decision to change trains there, rather than further down the line. Once off 336, I noticed that a token was already hooped up ready for something to catch it on the fly. Sure enough, a short time later a freight train approached Pakki doing about 80kmh. I videoed the LDH WDM2 blasting through the station on a huge freight of box wagons. Once I had finished filming, Mark asked me if I had noticed the army guys in residence near the brake van! Oops! I had a tripod out and everything, so the videoing cannot have gone un-noticed! (Next visit: get a photo permit).

A pleasant 45 mins or so was spent chatting to the station master at Pakki. We even learnt a few words of Punjabi. I like stopping at remote stations like Pakki. Nothing but birds tweeting and the sound of a shepherd keeping his goats in check somewhere in the distance disturbed the silence. The peace was broken when train 335 rolled in behind 15009, which we did to Sri Ganga Nagar. 4 new WDP1s in a row... The trip was going well.

The freight train with military escort was also at Sri Ganga Nagar - fortunately, I didn't get arrested! After a meal at a local hotel, we boarded our first metre gauge train of our trip: 9712 19h45 Sri Ganga Nagar - Jaipur, with 6611 doing the honours. Being in 2AC, we had a four berth compartment, which we shared with the Marketing Director from Sony Rajasthan who was heading back to Jaipur. I wish I got business trips behind ALCos! The track was very rough in places, not much good for sleep. Maybe this section is being run down for GC soon?

  • 15047 4525 05h15 Ambala Can't - Sri Ganga Nagar Express [Bathinda - Malout] 43 km
  • 15002 3SHB 10h40 Bathinda - Sri Ganga Nagar Passenger [Malout - Abohar] 30 km
  • 15014 336 11h00 Sri Ganga Nagar - Ambala Passenger [Abohar - Pakki] 15 km
  • 15009 335 06h20 Ambala Can't - Sri Ganga Nagar Pass'ngr [Pakki - Sri Ganga Nagar] 69 km
  • 6611 9712 19h42 Sri Ganga Nagar - Jaipur Express [Sri Ganga Nagar - Jaipur] 502 km

Thu 24th Nov - Jaipur to Khandwa

No rest for the wicked... Woke up on 9712, and sampled a marvellous Rajasthan morning... With the sunrise everything takes on a nice golden colour. I noticed that there was a real rush to board II class at the stations. Some passengers were carrying milk churns as well and hanging them onto the window bars, it was quite a sight. Arrival at Jaipur was only about 30 mins late, which was fortunate, because we were departing Jaipur at 12h00 on the Jaipur - Purna Express - another metre gauge overnight! After being fed and watered at the veg refreshment room, we ventured down the MG platforms. 6729 (Phulera) arrived at 09h45, and 6576 (Phulera) arrived at 09h56 - both passenger trains. 13185 passed through with a huge oil train, 18734 TKD appeared with the Super Express (What train is this?!) We then had a quick spin from Jaipur to Dehar Ka Balaji (all of 3 kms!) on train 465 10h00 Jaipur to Sadulpur pass with 6729. After a short wait, our orange friend from last Saturday (6656) appeared on the horizon with train 9733 23h00 Delhi SR to Jaipur Express. This was one of the final MG trains to link Delhi and Jaipur of course...

Back at Jaipur, the stock for Purna Express was in the platform - only 17 carriages, so not much effort required by the 1350hp loco to move the train! I like the line between Jaipur and Phulera. Its flat and fairly featureless, but is a good race track where the little YDM4s are flat out trying to do 40 / 50mph on huge trains. This run was no different. At some point on this stretch, I noticed an ABR WDM2 was catching us up very slowly on the parallel BG line. Once again, I got the video camera out, and started recording the spectacle of a WDM2 at full bore overtaking us on the move. This was fantastic, then I noticed the maroon carriages in the viewfinder, and the happy smiling faces of the soldiers waving back! It was a troop train! This was turning into a pattern! Luckily no one seemed to mind!

For our MG run, we were once again in 2AC, the cleanliness and lack of wildlife I like. The small brown windows, and lack of loco noise I'm not so keen on. We had a central intelligence policeman in our compartment, who made pleasant company. At Ajmer, the forth occupant for our compartment joined us - a tax inspector. If my memory serves me correctly, full scale earthworks for GC are in progress between Ajmer and Chittaugarh.

In no time at all we reached Chittaugarh, where 6565 (Phulera) which had bought us from Jaipur, was exchanged for the devils own locomotive: 6666 (Mhow depot). Many conversations were had, and after dinner had been served, it seemed to be time to go to sleep in no time at all.

  • 6729 465 10h00 Jaipur - Sadulpur Passenger [Jaipur - Dehar Ka Balaji] 3 km
  • 6656 9733 23P00 Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Jaipur Express [Dehar Ka Balaji - Jaipur] 3 km
  • 6565 9769 12h00 Jaipur - Purna Jn Express [Jaipur - Chittaugarh] 322 km
  • 6666 9769 12h00 Jaipur - Purna Jn Express [Chittaugarh - Khandwa] 444 km

Fri 25th Nov - Khandwa to Indore

Still no rest for the wicked... Woke up somewhere south of Khandwa, just as the best of the ghats were finishing. Nothing to report on the run to Khandwa - just wanted to get there so that we could start the climb back to Indore. Lashings of toast and omelettes in the veg refreshment room set us up for day. Back on the MG platforms, we patiently waited for train 9672 12h35 Khandwa - Ajmer Fast Pass to appear. It eventually appeared about 30 mins behind schedule. This train doesn't start from here at all, its really the 07h00 from Akola Jn! Consequently, II class behind the loco was already full up to the ceiling fans. (Luckily) there isn't any 2AC either, so the TTE found us space in SL fairly near the front of the train. Apart from spectacular horizontal smoke displays from the YDM4 No. 6315, the journey was fairly uneventful as far as Mukhtiara Balwada. As soon as the station limits are reached departing Mukhtiara Balwada, the line climbs quite steeply, and the YDM4 was flat out and down to about 20kmh. I videoed the action, fortunately, the lack of a second line meant that the changes of accidentally videoing another military train were much reduced. The line gains height by gradually climbing up a hill on the right hand side of the line, and twists and turns many times to keep the gradient reasonable. The scenery isn't really hilly at first, as on the left hand side the usual flat landscape gradually becomes more and more distant as the train gains height. Then the YDM4 has a breather because there is actually a downhill section to Kalakund.

At Kalakund, the banking loco was attached, this time 6313, another Mhow based machine. Attaching etc takes about 10 mins - enough time for a few photos and the odd chai or two before heading off quite literally into the sunset. Speed increased quite rapidly out of Kalakund, but once the gradient kicked in (1:40) speed soon withered away down to about 20km/h for the very long slog. The scenery on this section is very good, the line follows a river which has cut an impressive gorge into the landscape. The gorge becomes progressively narrower and narrower, and the scenery more and more impressive. Its possible to see the paths of dried up waterfalls on the adjacent rock faces if you look very closely. They must look spectacular after a very wet monsoon. There are a few tunnels, which provided no end of amusement in sleeper class, as the lights were all switched off. For those of you who have been on ghost trains at amusement parks, imagine the ride with real screams and laughter! It was good fun. Or were the screams real, as people were still sat on the roof on this stretch despite the tunnels! After 15 - 20 mins of top and tail YDM4s working flat out, weaving their way through the various tunnels and cuttings, the summit was reached. It was worth incorporating this into the trip. I had only seen this section by moonlight before (on the Purna to Jaipur Express), its much better passing through this section in the evening, with the sun going down... This run is preserved on video for posterity.

Mhow was reached just as another wonderful atmospheric Indian sunset was taking place. Imagine the scene: YDM4s and semaphores everywhere, the lower part of the sky was a wonderful pink / misty colour, and the upper part of the sky was turning dark. Fires add to the atmosphere, and give everywhere a misty look... children fly kites in the evening breeze. all wonderful. 6577, 6502 and 6371 were at Mhow on various duties - there is an intensive passenger service north of Mhow - well worth checking out. After adding a few additional coaches, we departed Mhow. We finally left train 9672 at Indore, and got an auto rickshaw straight to our hotel.

What you actually want after nearly 1500 kms on various MG trains is an efficient hassle free hotel. We ended up with an inefficient hotel full of hassle. At first, it was just endless people knocking on the door, wanting to know if we wanted this that or the other. Not really. We just wanted to unpack and the chance to chip off some of the YDM4 smoke.

You can imagine our joy when we discovered that the shower only had scolding hot water! Not what we needed really. This meant more trips to the reception to explain the situation. More visits to our room by various hotel personnel to fiddle with the shower controls..... They promised to fix this tomorrow. After managing a shower by mixing it with water from the sink taps, we adjourned to one of the hotel restaurants. The menu was quite extensive. I was off spicy food, so delighted to see vegetarian spaghetti bolognase on the menu. Excellent I thought, just what I need. Mark ordered chicken and chips, which I thought was a dubious move.

You can imagine my delight then when the spag bol arrived and it was covered with chopped chillies everywhere! I could have cried. I just wanted something bland, yet here was a bland dish jazzed up with lashings of chillies. I didn't eat much of it. Apparently, Mark's chicken and chips was spot on though!

  • 6315 9672 12h35 Khandwa - Ajmer Fast Passenger [Khandwa - Indore] 139 km
  • 6313 9672 12h35 Khandwa - Ajmer Fast Passenger [Kalakund - Mhow Banker] 15 km

Sat 26th Nov - Indore to Mukhtiara Balwada And Return

Up at a sociable hour for once, for breakfast then an auto rickshaw to the station. The plan today was to ride around on the intensive Mhow <> Indore 'S Bahn' service, before heading downhill to Mukhtiara Balwada, then to return to Indore on train 9672 again for another blast up the ghats. First we took train 497 06h10 Ujjain - Mhow pass with 6371 to Rau, for train 478 09h05 Mhow to Indore back to Indore. After a short while, took 9657 00h20 Chittaurgarh - Mhow Express with 6717 to Mhow. We had quite a while at Mhow, so ventured outside for Pepsi, biscuits and a bag full of assorted fruit. 6736 appeared fairly promptly with train 9671 20h20 Ajmer - Khandwa Fast Pass. However, before we could set sail towards Khandwa, a number of carriages had to be shunted off into the sidings. I believe the max load is 9 or 10 passenger vehicles south of Mhow... We departed fairly close to time, for a trundle down the ghats to Mukhtiara Balwada. There were many stops while going downhill. I'm guessing there are specific places where trains are supposed to stop in order to prevent runaways.

We had 45mins / an hour relaxing at Mukhtiara Balwada. Mark introduced himself to the station manager, and after explaining that he was a signal engineer, got a guided tour of the token machine, and open air signalbox on the platform. More pleasant and very friendly people we encountered on our trip.

6726 appeared with train 9672. The run was identical to yesterday really.... I took slides this time, rather than video. 6313 was once again the banker at Kalakund - as expected.

Arrival back at the hotel saw a visit to the bathroom to check whether the shower had been repaired. Had it hell! So we had to change rooms. More visits to reception, then the performance of moving all the gear up various flights of stairs etc. While Mark was in the bathroom the laundry arrived back. They explained that there had been a problem with Mark's trousers. You're not kidding! A large shredded patch where you don't really want a large shredded patch. More trips to reception resulted in a substantial refund to cover the wrecked trousers.

We soothed our nerves in the hotel restaurant again. Chicken and chips for me this time...

  • 6371 497 06h10 Ujjain - Mhow Passenger [Indore - Rau] 11 km
  • 6265 478 09h05 Mhow - Indore Fast Passenger [Rau- Indore] 11 km
  • 6717 9657 00h20 Chittaurgarh - Mhow Express [Indore - Mhow] 21 km
  • 6736 9671 20h20 Ajmer - Khandwa Fast Passenger [Mhow - Mukhtiara Balwada] 37 km
  • 6726 9672 12h35 Khandwa - Ajmer Fast Passenger [Mukhtiara Balwada - Indore] 58 km
  • 6313 9672 12h35 Khandwa - Ajmer Fast Passenger [Kalakund - Mhow Banker] 15 km

Sun 27th Nov - Indore to Jaipur Overnight

Over dinner last night in the hotel, we decided to sample the BG out of Indore, having spent a few days exclusively on the MG. Plus, the number of WDM2s for the trip had been very low so far. We started rectifying this situation by catching train 288, 08h20 Indore - Nagda Pass which was hauled by 16576 RTM. We took this to Dewas. The intention then was to catch train 8234 from Dewas to somewhere like Barlai, then intercept train 279 back to Dewas. This would then give us a choice of 2 trains back to Indore - either 2416 or 9368.

However, something told us that things were not quite running to plan. The above plan was jettisoned when train 106 08h00 Ujjain - Indore Pass with 16159 RTM was waiting at Dewas to cross our train - it should have left nearly an hour before! A quick run over the bridge to catch train 106 and we were soon heading back towards Indore. We baled out at Barlai in order to pick up the express which should be following shortly behind. Once 106 had departed, a young chap - probably around 18 years old appeared and introduced himself. He had been tipped off by people at the station that some English people had just arrived! He wanted to meet us and practice his English, which I don't mind at all. He was due to sit an entrance exam for the army fairly soon. In the midst of this conversation, I noticed the station master had taken up position on the token exchange platform ready for change tokens with something on the move. Shortly afterwards 17564 TKD roared through with a maroon vacuum braked express train. We soon deduced this was the Indore - Dehra Dun express running about 2 hrs late. We were to take the return working of this train later on up to Delhi in the evening. Shortly after the peace had returned, the station master once again took up position at the token exchange platform. IRFCA rules prevent me from explaining how we actually arrived at Mangliya Goan about 10 mins later!

Our train from Mangliya Goan back to Indore was 8234 09h40 Bilaspur - Indore Express hauled by 18816R - a WDM3C! Unfortunately we were miles down the train and couldn't hear the din from the engine. A great shame - we should have walked forward really. It took absolutely ages to get into Indore station. We must have been waiting outside Indore for 20 to 30 mins waiting for acceptance. What an absolute farce. Back at Indore, we scrambled over to the MG platforms and caught train 469 12h35 Indore - Mhow fast pass, which was fortunately running slightly late or we would never have caught it. The coach directly behind the loco was an empty non AC chair car, so it was quite a pleasant run. After a few stunning smoky departures from the many station stops, we baled out at Rau. An Indore bound train was crossed at Rau, so we took this back to Indore. This train was also pleasantly empty. We assumed this to be the local all stops train terminating at Indore. It was actually train 9658 11h55 Mhow - Chittaurgarh Fast Pass, as when we entered Indore station huge amounts of people scrambled aboard before the train had stopped in the platform. It was hard work getting off this service against the tide of travellers!

After a filling meal in the veg refreshment room, we wandered over to the BG platforms to wait for our train to arrive. There are 3 BG platforms at Indore. 2415 Indore - Nizamuddin occupied one platform. Why didn't we take this train I hear you ask? Answer: it gets an electric loco for the vast majority of its journey, and this was a 100% DLW ALCo powered trip. 8233 16h55 Indore - Bilaspur Narmada Express with 18816R occupied another platform. The final platform was taken by train 2962 15h50 Indore - Mumbai Central. This set up might work for 5 days of the week without any problems, but it doesn't work on Saturdays and Sundays. Train 4317 16h20 Indore - Dehra Dun needs to be in the station with the first batch of trains, not shunted in after everything else has departed! 4317 eventually departed at 18h20. I was fuming. A 2 hr late start at an originating station. The reason for my frustration was that we were booked on the Ashram Express from Delhi Jn to Jaipur next afternoon - a 3.5hr connection at Delhi, including a rickshaw ride from New Delhi to Delhi Jn. Failure to catch the Ashram would mean a very late arrival in Jaipur. I did notice quite a bit of recovery time on the non-electrified stretch between Shivpuri and Gwalior - 3h38mins to cover 126km for example, and hoped 4317 would somehow regain 2 hrs during the night. There weren't many trains to cross coming the other direction either, which would help I thought.

After the run-round at Ujjain, dinner was served after departing Maksi. We were starving, but the whole meal was as cold as an English Winter morning. We managed to eat the nann breads, but the rest of it was very un-appetising eaten cold. I'm afraid to say after picking at it for a few minutes, we wrapped these dinners up in the Times Of India Newspaper. After carefully opening the interior doors, and the exterior door, the whole lot was dispatched into the Madhya Pradesh darkness when we were doing about 50mph. I hate to waste food, but we had no idea how long the dinner had been sat around. After hurling our evening meal out of the door, I said to Mark "Don't worry - we've just eliminated a process!" (As in it would have gone on the track eventually anyway....)

  • 16576 288 08h20 Indore - Nagda Passenger [Indore - Dewas] 39 km
  • 16159 106 08h00 Ujjain - Indore Passenger [Dewas - Barlai] 18 km
  • xxxxx Can't say! [Barlai - Mangliya Goan] 6 km
  • 18816R 8234 09h40 Bilaspur - Indore Express [Mangliya Goan - Indore] 15 km
  • 6605 469 12h35 Indore - Mhow Fast Passenger [Indore - Rau] 11 km
  • 6660 9658 11h55 Mhow - Chittaurgarh Fast Passenger [Rau - Indore] 11 km
  • 17564 4317 16h20 Indore - Dehra Dun Express [Indore - New Delhi] 878 km

Mon 28th Nov: Still Onwards To Jaipur

I awoke after a good nights sleep to find our train virtually on time at Gwalior! The day had been saved! Good old 17564! Not bad considering we departed Ujjain last night at 20h51 - just 2h46 late! Nothing much to report about the journey to New Delhi. I think that train 4317 must be one of the very few diesel hauled trains between Gwalior and Delhi on the main line. Every other non-goods train we passed was electrically powered. 17564 was detached at New Delhi. I don't know if this is a power change or just a run-round. We didn't hang around to find out, as we were in need of some substantial nourishment. We popped into one of the restaurants opposite New Delhi station near Paharganj market to dispel the hunger pangs. The second floor of the restaurant offered good views of the waiting traffic in the road outside. I managed to take a photo which was comprised solely of nothing but green and yellow auto rickshaws! There must be 20 autos in the photo!

We managed to negotiate a reasonable price with an auto wallah to take us to Delhi Jn. This chap wasn't paying attention, and we had 3 or 4 very low speed crashes on the way there! I wish the Delhi metro connected all the main railway stations in Delhi together - Nizamuddin, New Delhi and Delhi Jn. It would make things a little easier. We stocked up on bananas, fruit, biscuits and water at Delhi Jn, before boarding the Ashram Express. This was hauled by the same ABP pair that we had 19th Nov! There was no parallel departure with the Kissan Express on this occasion, as it was still engineless at 14h50. We passed 15520 WDP2 at Patli with 1MNR / 2MNR passenger. This happened on 19th Nov as well - so this must be a regular loco link. We passed 6404 at Rewari hauling 4790 08h40 Bikaner - Delhi SR Express. Not much to report about the journey to Jaipur - we were stuffed away in 2AC! I did listen to the transition with this pair of locos, as one was a WDM2, and the other a WDM3A. The transitions are obviously set up to take place at different speeds. It was quite amusing to hear one loco pause for breath and then really get going, then 30 seconds later hear the other loco go through the same process. I think the transition occurs earlier with the WDM3As. A little word about the state of 2AC on this rake - it was very clean, the vestibules had timetables showing stopping points on the Ashram Express, the toilets had soap and toilet paper. Someone is making an effort with this train - well done! Arrival at Jaipur with the Ashram Express was about 30 mins late.

After avoiding the auto rickshaw touts by using the pre-paid auto facility in the station forecourt, we arrived at the Umaid Bhawan Guest House. I've stayed here a few times before. The owner recognised me and gave us a free upgrade to a better room! After a filling meal on the rooftop restaurant - complete with firework displays from various weddings, we went to bed.

  • 18995R+16840 2916 15h05 Delhi Jn - Ahmedabad Ashram Express [Delhi Jn - Jaipur] 2x308 km

Tue 29th Nov: Around Jaipur

The idea today was to ride around on as many DLW products as possible. To kick off, we took 9008 08h40 Jaipur - Bandra Terminus Aravali Express which, as per postings on IRFCA was powered by Abu Road WDM2s, 16788 and 16787, both in the cream livery with red stripes. I like this livery a lot. It looks even more impressive as a matched consecutively numbered pair! We wedged ourselves in II class behind the locos. It was an OK run to Phulera, were we leapt off. The departure photos of the Aravali were spectacular - just as the locos were leaving the end of the platform at Phulera, 17169 and 18987 snaked round the corner with a huge freight. 4 WDM2s in one photo, the Aravali pair were just kicking out plenty of smoke at the right time as well!

After a few chais under the shade of the trees, we took 17646 with train 2467 05h00 Bikaner - Jaipur InterCity Express as far as Asalpur Jobner. Here we leapt off for a 45 min wait to catch 2413A 11h30 Jaipur - Ajmer Link Express back to Phulera. We soon got chatting to the station master about railways in India vs UK, the British in India and various other subjects. We both got weighed on the station scales - the station master couldn't believe how heavy we were! Compared to some people in the UK we are positively lightweight! We also had a guided tour of the signalling system and the booking office, which still had racks of Edmondson style tickets. We bought 2nd class tickets to Jaipur as souvenirs - RS10 each.

In the middle of this, the New Delhi - Ajmer Shatabdi roared through at about 60mph with a TKD WDM2 at the helm. Once back at Phulera, more chai was consumed before our blast on the metre gauge. A YDM4 arrived with 9770 06h25 Purna Jn - Jaipur Express which was duly detached to be replaced by 6655 which was fresh off the depot at Phulera. We managed to wedge ourselves in the first coach. At first it was a slow run punctuated by speed restrictions and such like. After a while, 9770 got a clear run and began storming along, with huge amounts of smoke pouring out of the loco. I reckon it was misfiring, as it was making a popping noise as well.

9770 got checked just south of the container terminal on the line to Jaipur, at the same time, a 40 or 50 wagon coal train headed by a Shakti was just leaving a passing loop. Mark told me to get the video camera out and get shooting. I wasn't disappointed. I now have a video of 6655 coasting / notch 2, then the Shakti opening up to full power as the wagons leave the loop. The coal train starts leaving 9770 behind, then 6655 gets wound up to full power, smoke pours everywhere. Ever so slowly, 9770 starts very slowly overtaking the Shakti coal train. The Shakti got nearer and nearer until finally 9770 overtakes it. The driver gave a funny look as we blasted past. The whole scene is full of smoke and noise! One day I'll find a way of putting this on a digital format and get it on a website.

On arrival at Jaipur, we noticed 14010 TKD, a proper baldie WDM3A on an express train. A quick peek at the carriage boards revealed this was train 2413 16h15 Jaipur - Jammu Tawi Express. Another quick scan through the IRFCA superfast list showed this as the booked loco. Thanks guys! We boarded 4864 09h00 Jodhpur - Varanasi with 16563 BGKT at the helm. The loco was nothing special, so we leapt off after 5km at Gandhinagar Jaipur to catch 2413. After a short while, sure enough a maroon baldie rounded the corner with huge amounts of smoke pouring out of the exhaust - 14010 was here!

There was a huge scrum to get aboard the II class. The coaches were pretty full already, but the luggage compartment only had a couple of occupants so we sat down near the door. Plenty of other people got in as well, so the luggage compartment was fairly full by the time we left Gandhinagar Jaipur. One of the occupants was a rough looking chap who wouldn't shut up making comments and trying to ask us questions. He was turning into a real pain in the neck. 14010 sounded superb, the chug chug chug was very clear, even at high speed. The transition was very severe as well. This was easily the best 16 cylinder loco we had on the trip. There were quite a few speed restrictions and one or two station stops to contend with, so the loco was given a good workout. All was going swimmingly well until all of a sudden there was a huge commotion behind us. The rough looking guy who had been sat on the floor was practically airborne kicking and punching in all directions! He had been talking to / at another guy which had suddenly blown up into physical violence. We leapt up, as we were sat next to an open doorway with nothing to hold on to. There was the real danger that someone could end up falling out of the train. We were doing about 50mph at the time. Things cooled down, and some semblance of normality returned. Mark continued to stand up holding on to a handrail near the door. I sat out of the way on one of the shelves in the luggage rack. Much to everyone's relief, the rough chap got off at Dausa. We baled out at Bandikui Jn.

I attempted a video of the monster departing the station, but the train had to cross a set of points at the end of the station platform, so not a spectacular departure by any means. Our train back to Jaipur was the Ashram, which was slightly late. More chai and biscuits! We noticed 14002 LDH at Bandikui. This loco is marked as "2600hp" only. Can anyone shed any light on this? What is the reason? Have any other WDM3As been de-rated? The buffer beam still showed WDM3A - surely it should show WDM2 if its only 2600hp??

Abu Road twins 16792 + 16818 did the honours with the Ashram Express. After a clean up and another meal at the rooftop restaurant back at the hotel, we checked out just before midnight. 9 locos so far today....

  • 16788 + 16787 9008 08h40 Jaipur - Ahmedabad Aravali Express [Jaipur - Phulera] 2 x 54 km
  • 17646 2467 05h00 Bikaner - Jaipur InterCity Express [Phulera - Asalpur Jobner] 17 km
  • 16795 2413A 11h30 Jaipur - Ajmer Link Express [Asalpur Jobner - Phulera] 17 km
  • 6655 9770 06P25 Purna Jn - Jaipur Express [Phulera - Jaipur] 54 km
  • 16563 4864 09h00 Jodhpur - Varanasi Marudhar Express [Jaipur - Gandhinagar Jaipur] 5 km
  • 14010 2413 16h15 Jaipur - Jammu Tawi Express [Gandhinagar Jaipur - Bandikui] 86 km
  • 16792 + 16818 2916 15h05 Delhi Jn - Ahmedabad Ashram Express [Bandikui - Jaipur] 2 x 91 km

Wed 30th Nov: Jaipur to Bikaner

Our next destination was Bikaner. Rather than another rock and roll overnight on the MG, we had reservations on train 2307/2307A the 23h30 Howrah - Jodhpur / Bikaner Express. IRFCA postings indicated this should be a pair of WDM2s to Jaipur, for a different pair forward. The Bikaner portion should then get a BGKT WDM3A from Abu Road onwards. 2307 was about 90 mins late. Various trains were coming an going at this unearthly hour. 17572 ABR was on the stock of a Jaipur - Suratgarh (train nos. 199/200 + 187/188). 16795 Ratlam passed through light engine, 18665 BGKT hauled the Delhi to Jaisalmer Barmer Express, 18979 JHS was stabled on the back roads, 17520 LKO & 16393 MGS passed through on a BOXN rake at around 01h25.... Entertainment between these goings on was watching the rats on the platform darting in between peoples luggage and the parcels wrapped in sacks.

Eventually our train arrived. No wonder it was late. Poor old 18717R of JHS was hauling 2307 single handed! Mark counted the coaches - load 25!!! No wonder it was late. There wasn't a loco change either. Either the links have changed, or this was a one off event. We were allocated completely crap berths in 3AC right next to the door, which squeaked every time someone opened it! The door hit my feet as well! Not a good nights sleep.

We awoke around 08h00 to find the train running around 2 hrs late. It was noticeable that the countryside was becoming increasingly arid, with sand everywhere punctuated by the odd tree or two every now and again. 18717R had been replaced at Merta Road by 17487 BGKT for the run to Bikaner. We took an auto rickshaw to the hotel to get rid of our big bags. A strange thing happened then. We flagged down an auto rickshaw back to the station, and when we arrived there the driver didn't want any money whatsoever! We paid him anyway. We found this very confusing!!

We took 17640 BGKT with train 199 05h15 Suratgarh - Jaipur passenger as far as Nokha. After videoing the departure, we ventured outside to find somewhere which cooked omelettes or something like that. We found a restaurant of sorts opposite the railway station. Unfortunately our lack of Hindi and the lack of English in the restaurant / shop caused much amusement to everyone working there - they kept repeating "omelette omelette" and laughing! We joined in as well, it was hilarious. After a couple of pepsis we left empty handed.

18842 on 4888 10h15 Jodhpur - Kalka / Haridwar Express got us back to Bikaner. After taking a few photos of the YDM4s in the station, we actually had a break from Railfanning for the rest of the day! Well, we had been railfanning solidly for a week and a half, so it was time for a couple of hours tourism! We took an auto up to the Junagarh Fort in the middle of Bikaner. A pleasant couple of hours were spent having a guided tour of the various very well preserved rooms and artefacts contained within. Its similar to the interior of the Meherangarh Fort at Jodhpur.

After a decent shower, we had evening meal at the hotel restaurant which was located on the roof of the hotel. Traditional Indian music had been provided, which sounded very good, but was very loud! Trying to sort out the tables and chairs to accommodate the musicians turned into a real fiasco. They must have been 4 people busy for an hour trying to arrange everything. I dossed out soon after 9pm.

  • 18717R 2307 23PP30 Howrah - Jodhpur / Bikaner Express [Jaipur - Merta Road] 209 km
  • 17487 2307A 23PP30 Merta Road - Bikaner Express [Merta Road - Bikaner] 173 km
  • 17640 199 05h15 Suratgarh - Jaipur Passenger [Bikaner - Nokha] 64 km
  • 18842 4888 10h15 Jodhpur - Kalka / Haridwar Express [Nokha - Bikaner] 64 km

Thu 1st Dec: Bikaner / Lalgarh Jn to Bathinda

After a pleasant 10 hrs solid sleep, a substantial breakfast was served in our room. This would set us up for the day - we hoped! After checking out of the hotel and a leisurely auto ride to Bikaner, we arrived in plenty of time for the 08h10 passenger to Abohar, which we were to take to Bathinda. The loco & stock for the service was surprisingly absent at Bikaner station. The service started at Bikaner, and Indian Railways is usually very good at positioning the carriages in the station well before time. (Unlike in the UK, when those clowns at Kings Cross can sometimes only start allowing passengers on the trains with 9 mins before departure). Looking around Bikaner station, we kind of noticed that there weren't really enough people waiting for the train. A small go cart (No. 30013) departed at about 08h00 with an un-known service. We assumed this was the Bikaner - Kolayar Rail Bus, due out at 08h30, retimed earlier for some unexplained reason.

08h05.... still no train! I wandered up to the station masters office and asked where the Bathinda train was. "It starts at Lalgarh Jn today!" Gee, thanks! I then asked "At what time?" "08h20" came the reply! "How long does it take in an auto?" I asked, hoping our black and yellow three wheeled friends might be able to rescue us out of the fire. "20 to 25 mins if you hurry!" I then asked if the train could be held up for 5 or 10 mins to give us some chance of catching it. The signalman wound up the telephone and called Lalgarh. They confirmed that it would be leaving on time.

With no other direct trains for hours, it was literally shit or bust, as we say in the UK. I rushed over to Mark, explained the situation, grabbed our bags and ran outside for an auto. Were there any auto touts to greet us? You must be joking. Deserted for once! Why is it when you are in an enormous rush for an auto there never is one? We found an auto parked up with the driver taking it easy. "Lalgarh Jn, as quick as possible please - train in 10 mins!"

We sped off as fast as it was physically possible for the auto to go, dashing through streets, barging through traffic, banging over dips in the road. The distance shown in the timetable from Bikaner Jn to Lalgarh is only 4km - I'm sure its further by road. We sped past the Junagarh Fort in the centre of Bikaner, back past our hotel. It was already 08h20, so technically the train should have been pulling out of the station.

Eventually, we started going down a very long straight road. A brightly painted lorry was driving in the middle of the road, but a couple of toots on the auto horn, and he started pulling over. Just as we were nearly past the lorry, another auto coming the other way nearly hit us and took avoiding action by going onto the dirt on (our) right hand side of the road. We thought nothing of this until later on our auto driver started looking behind him. An auto had tipped over and was lying on its side in the road! We were nearly at Lalgarh, so he dropped us off at the station. We gave him double what he had asked for - as he drove literally as fast as he dare. He sped off back to help out the other auto rickshaw.

I'm not sure whether the auto on its side was the same one which we nearly collided with or not. I'm just not sure. I hope no one was hurt. Despite in now being nearly 08h30, a train was patiently waiting at Lalgarh Jn. The driver confirmed it was train 338 to Bathinda. Phew! What should have been a leisurely start, turned into a full blown mad panic! We needn't have rushed - the train didn't depart till 08h40. I had expected a WDP1 on this working, as seen a few years ago. No such luck though - LDH WDM2 No. 17292 did the honours.

We had prepared ourselves (and our western backsides) for an 8.5hr, 34 stop packed passenger train ride in II class with wooden seats. I don't mind travelling in wooden seat class, but after about 3 or 4 hrs sat down, a feeling of general numbness tends to set it! Luckily, the carriage right behind the loco was a non AC chair car. Padded luxury indeed! The train wasn't full either. I had expected the scenery to become very arid between Bikaner and Bathinda. I suppose it did get very sandy with not much growing at all for a while. I bet track maintenance in this region is a nightmare, what with the shifting sands constantly filling up the ballast formation. One surprise of this line was the quantity of freight traffic, which was quite heavy. 16798 ABR was passed with train 199 05h15 Suratgarh - Jaipur passenger, 13173 JHS at Jamsar with a loaded BOXN rake, 18559 BGKT with 4887 express at Lunkaransar, 14803 LDH with another BOXN freight at Rajiasar, 14719 ABR at Piperan, also on a southbound freight. Quite a procession!

We lost about another 30 to 45 mins on the run up to Suratgarh Jn, due to track maintenance taking place. Some of this time was recouped between Pipran and Suratgarh Jn - train 338 is allowed 40mins to complete 7km. The stop at Suratgarh Jn was just long enough to buy chai, and see YDM4 6651 of Phulera shunting. The biggest surprise though was to see the very first WDP1 No. 15001 roll in on a passenger train. We can only assume this was working train 1SA - the 10h30 Anupgarh to Suratgarh service.

It was very tempting to leap out at this moment and see if 15001 would work the next round trip to Anupgarh. A quick browse through the timetable showed that this little excursion would mean arriving at Bathinda at 05h25 the next morning. No thanks! Train 338 waited at Rangmahal for quite a while to pass its balancing working. I jumped out to take a photo of train 337. While waiting for the train to appear, a few tractors slowly went by on the road near the station. They were carrying huge loads of something or other, and looked very unlike anything in the UK. The farmers could see I was taking a picture and started giving friendly waves. Such nice people. In between the agricultural goings on, I noticed a few low loaders carrying tanks for the army or something! Why is it, every time I get the camera out, people are trying to put military hardware in my viewfinder. I looked the other way - no way was a taking any photos of that kit! Train 337 appeared with LDH WDM2 18622 at the helm. We can assume therefore, that trains 337 & 338 are LDH WDM2 links....

Another freight was passed at Manaksar with 14503 of New Guwahati shed doing the honours! This must be the furthest a WDG2 can possibly stray from home?! Train 1BSB was passed at Birang Khera with 15002. Eventually we arrived at Bathinda about 30 mins late. A pleasant way to spend a day! LDH 17292 sounded quite good, the train didn't get too packed and we arrived virtually on time.

The plan on arrival at Bathinda was to have a very quick spin to Bathinda Can't and back with the WDP1 Ambala line local trains. However, this move was abandoned when we saw 15008 on train 341, 06h00 Delhi Jn - Bathinda. We piled in the front carriage just before it set off. 15008 was another loud loco, but with slight WDM2 chug chug noise thrown in. You need to hear one to know what I mean. We leapt off at Gangsar Jaito to wait for 9112 to appear. After about 10 mins, 16321 BGKT appeared with 9112. The coach behind the loco was for disabled people and didn't look crowded at all. We hopped in and admired the vastness of the interior - you could fit 30 wheelchairs in there! I've never seen a wheelchair in India. How are you supposed to get the contraption from the station forecourt onto the platform with all the steps etc?? I suspect the provision of these carriages is a pointless exercise.

  • 17292 338 08h10 Bikaner - Abohar Passenger [Lalgarh Jn - Bathinda] 316 km
  • 15008 341 06h00 Delhi Jn - Firozpur Can't Passenger [Bathinda - Gangsar Jaito] 27 km
  • 16321 9112 07h05 Jammu Tawi - Ahmedabad Express [Gangsar Jaito - Bathinda] 27 km

Fri 2nd Dec: Ambala Can't & return

After seeing photos on the IRFCA website, I really wanted to travel on the WDP1 powered Bathinda - Ambala local trains. We ventured down the station for 06h30. 15044 was on platform 1 at Bathinda on (I think) the 06h45 to Firozpur (train 1FB). 15006 was resting its traction motors in the holding sidings. We caught train 4712 Sri Ganga Nagar - Haridwar InterCity Express, which had the predicted LDH WDM2 no. 16126 for power. Departure was shortly before sunrise. I'm now going to type something which I never thought I'd write about India. It was very cold on this morning! All the windows and doors were firmly closed, and every little gap seemed to allow a torrent of icy air inside the coach. I had a jumper and a jacket on and it was still not very warm. Not the kind of weather you expect to encounter in India. I suppose we found this surprising because our previous visits had always entailed venturing south of Mumbai, where quite frankly it can only be described as steaming. The Punjab seems to have a climate more suited to our pale skins! I like the pleasing lack of humidity as well. Anyway, as this isn't the Indian Weather Fan Club, I'll carry on with describing our journey!

I was quite surprised at the rural nature of Bathinda Cantonment - don't assume (like we did!) that this is part of Bathinda and will be a hive of activity with shops and autos everywhere, its actually very rural with very little outside the station. Good job we didn't go there as planned last night! We passed 15027 at Barnala with train 335 06h20 Ambala - Sri Ganga Nagar passenger, and 15010 at Alal with train 4525 05h15 Ambala Can't - Sri Ganga Nagar InterCity Express. WDP1 heaven!!

One reason for catching train 4712, apart from the semi-sociable departure time, is that it actually catches up train 2UB 05h15 Bathinda - Ambala Cant, and is planned to overtake 2UB at Patiala. Sure enough, on arrival at Patiala, 15005 was patiently sat waiting departure time on maroon passenger stock. We naturally changed trains here. Also present in the station was 17236 of Gonda on a freight train. 17236 looked absolutely immaculate. It had obviously been repainted very recently, into what once was the standard all over maroon, with yellow stripes and silver buffers. It looked magnificent. Just like in the UK where all the locos used to be in the same colour, you don't really appreciate the old standard livery until the original former standard livery becomes the exception and not the norm.

This photographed, we took our places in the front coach on 2UB for the run up to Ambala Cant. We kept our eyes peeled for signs of the DMW at Patiala, but couldn't see any sign of connecting sidings or anything. Can anyone shed any light on where this facility is located? At Rajpura Jn, we encountered a rare thing on this trip - overhead electrification! We passed quite a few diesel and electric hauled trains on what appears to be a very busy main line. Our WDP1 hauled maroon vacuum braked passenger train must look slightly out of place compared to some of the other express trains which ply this route. But hey, I know which one I would rather be on! We waited outside Ambala Can't for about 15 mins - presumably waiting a platform. Once finally off 2UB - which arrived in one of the through platforms, the reason for the hold up was quite apparent - a seemingly never ending procession of expresses arrived and departed from the station. After managing to take a few photos, we found the veg refreshment room and finally had breakfast...

17906R was working train 1057/1058 Dadar <> Amritsar... Any idea what the loco links are for this? Also spied was 16448 HWH on 3073 / 3074 Jammu - Howrah. Surely this loco doesn't work throughout?

Our train back to Bathinda was train 1UB 12h40 Ambala Can't - Bathinda passenger - all 6 hours of it with 15054. 1UB started from the bay platforms at Ambala - now I see where the photos on the IRFCA were taken from! (I can't find these on the server anymore either. they were very good pictures. whoever you were!) Again, we sat in the front carriage behind the loco. It was quite an empty train at first, but at each station we gained more and more people. At Daunkalan, 18565 passed through with the Amritsar - Dadar Express. 15038 was sat at Patiala on maroon passenger stock - I'm guessing this is train 2UP 17h15 Patiala - Ambala Can't passenger.

At Dhuri Jn, a huge amount of passengers were waiting, including quite a number of troops. I thought this was my welcoming committee, but they had come to give one of their colleagues a send off. When departure time came, the troops gave a "hip hip hooray" and "three cheers"! Not the usual send off! We passed 15004 somewhere(!) with train 336 11h00 Sri Ganga Nagar - Ambala Can't passenger. Yet again, our travelling companions in II class were extremely sociable. In between trying to talk together, we exchanged addresses, took photos and videos of the passengers. One of the excellent features on Mark's digital camera is the ability to view the picture which has just been taken - so you can show people the results - they are thrilled to bits. I did the same with the video camera, and showed them the footage. The journey soon passed quickly. Arrival at Bathinda was about 30 late - nothing really.

Getting an auto from the station turned into a fiasco. First we were quoted RS30 - steep but OK. We took our places, then the price went up to RS100!! As there were only 3 or 4 autos, we didn't have much bargaining power, and walked out of the station forecourt hoping to find someone who wasn't trying to rip us off to such an extent. After walking for about 5 mins, we realised that there weren't any autos loitering around town! Eventually a cycle rickshaw wallah persuaded us to use his services. We thought he agreed to RS50 fare to the hotel. We negotiated this via a passer by, as unfortunately, we don't speak Punjabi, and the rickshaw driver spoke no English. After a pleasant ride through the streets of Bathinda to the hotel, he suddenly wanted RS100 in perfect English! This lead to a small disagreement, but he still only got RS50.

  • 16126 4712 04h15 Sri Ganga Nagar - Haridwar Express [Bathinda - Patiala] 148 km
  • 15005 2UB 05h15 Bathinda - Ambala Can't Passenger [Patiala - Ambala Cant] 54 km
  • 15054 1UB 12h40 Ambala Can't - Bathinda Passenger [Ambala Can't - Bathinda] 202 km

Sat 3rd Dec: Back to Delhi

Unfortunately, it was now time to bade farewell to Bathinda and the Punjab - for now anyway. After breakfast we wandered down to the station. The light was perfect for photos, as it wasn't long after sunrise. 15054 was stabled in the loco holding sidings (near the large trees!). We managed a few atmospheric photos with people sat on the platform in the foreground, and 15054 as the background. We caught train 4722 05h30 Sri Ganga Nagar - New Delhi Express, complete with 16126 - the same loco from yesterday morning - so it must have worked back train 4711 from Haridwar to Sri Ganga Nagar last night. Departing Bathinda, 4722 was full - but only to the point that every seat was taken. We lost time on the run up to Jakhal Jn. Works are in progress to equip this section of line with colour light signals. Between Jakhal Jn and Ghaso on the double track section, 16126 really got into its stride - probably doing 100kmh in places. Despite the spirited running, no time was recouped on the way to Jind.

15042 was passed at Barsola with train 341 06h00 Delhi Jn - Firozpur pass, at Jind we saw 16001 LDH with a northbound passenger train, and 14751 on a loaded coal train. The train was getting busier and busier at each station. We had seats by the window so it was still comfortable. From Kinana towards Samar Gopalpur, earthworks were in progress for the additional track on this section - (as marked in Samit's atlas!) We baled out at Rohtak, which was good timing because there were literally hundreds of people waiting to get on this service.

Originally, we had planned to go to New Delhi, check into a hotel, sprint back to the station in time to catch train 2055 15h25 New Delhi - Dehra Dun Jan Shatabdi to Meerut City for train 9020 or passenger 304 back to Delhi. This would have (hopefully) given us a good non stop run with a TKD WDP2 or WDM3A on train 2055. We also hoped that train 304 would be a WDP2 as well. What with the late running of 4722, this plan was junked. Instead we leapt off at Rohtak, for in theory a short wait for the Kissan Express to Delhi Jn. We found out from a chai vendor that the Kissan was about 45 mins late, so went for a small wander. Over the far side of the station are the carriage sidings. We went up on the massive foot bridge at the south end of the station for a better view. Three trains were parked up waiting for their next duties. 15021 was on an air braked passenger train - it later worked train 4DR. 18969 WDM3A GD was attached to the stock for train 2556 17h25 to Gorakhpur. To complete the line up, 15036 was attached to a short maroon vacuum braked set. This would have made a cracking photograph, but unfortunately, there was a security guard at our side who didn't even like us stood on the bridge - yet alone taking pictures. So, no photo folks this time. I will return.... complete with proper paperwork!

After a few chais, punctuated by 16793 ABR passing through on a long freight train, 15040 arrived with train 4520, the Kissan Express. II class was absolutely heaving when the train arrived, and there were by now hundreds of people waiting for a train to Delhi. We chickened out and headed for the air con chair car. A quiet journey ensued to Delhi Jn.

I have one question for the IRFCA chaps knowledgeable on the Rohtak line. Train 4DJ 16h05 Jind - Delhi Jn is shown in the timetable to be a "DMU". Is this train really a DMU, or a WDP1 passenger train? I ask because no trains between Delhi and Rohtak in the up direction are shown as DMUs....

The plan now was to do the outbound Kissan Express - train 4519 to a station, to catch train 4DR back to Delhi. 4519 departed about 15h30, no loco change today - 15040 simply ran round the stock at Delhi Jn. This time we found space in II class right behind the loco. We met more friendly and talkative people on this short journey, but because 4519 was running late, baled out at Nangloi. They warned us to keep our valuables safe and not go too far at this location.

After watching the train pull out, I could see why. The slums encroach very close to the station platforms. No one threatened us or anything, it was just the general feeling of being completely out of place. We still managed a photo from the station footbridge of 18866 TKD with an oil train heading in the up direction. It stopped just before the level crossing north of the station, and sounded excellent on its departure.

The sun was now setting... From our lofty vantage point, we could see the distant signal had pulled off ready for a train to arrive. 15021 duly came into view with train 4DR 15h20 Rohtak Jn to Delhi Jn passenger. We found space to stand in one of the coaches near the front, but the train emptied out the nearer it got to Delhi Jn. It took absolutely ages to reach Delhi Jn. We must have been sat at various signals for 20 to 25 mins before finally crawling into the station. We arrived at the same platform which our WDP2 had departed from back on 20th November, which was a nice way of rounding off our latest Indian Adventure.

After admiring the loco, we took an auto to the hotel 55 in Connaught Place. It took ages to find it, only to discover that the place was full! Welcome to a capital city on a Saturday night with no where to stay! Not a good situation to be in. We soon found a room at the York Hotel round the corner. After a thoroughly western meal at Pizza Hut, it was time for bed.

  • 16126 4722 05h30 Sri Ganga Nagar - New Delhi Express [Bathinda - Rohtak] 228 km
  • 15040 4520 06h45 Bathinda - Delhi Jn Kissan Express [Rohtak - Delhi Jn] 70 km
  • 15040 4519 15h00 Delhi Jn - Bathinda Kissan Express [Delhi Jn - Nangloi] 18 km
  • 15021 15021 15h20 Rohtak Jn - Delhi Jn Passenger [Nangloi - Delhi Jn] 18 km

Sun 4th Dec: Delhi to UK

Nothing to report about this really. Anyone who thinks flying is wonderful should try one of these awful 9 hr flights. Give me a 12 hr journey on wooden slatted seats any day - at least there is room to stretch out! Got very ill on the way home - I suffer more going from Indian to western food than I do the other way round! A long and painful journey home ensued.

Conclusion

A fantastic trip! Previous visits to India have involved many more overnight journeys in 2AC, which quite frankly are boring. Its difficult to see anything, and the noise from the loco is non existent. Spending more time in specific areas is definitely the way forward. Bathinda and the Punjab are very pleasant places to visit. The people are so very friendly, the climate is ideal for those not used to such heat and humidity. We were very surprised by the line speeds on some of the routes. Bathinda to Firozpur was probably the quickest with 100kmh being achieved even on vacuum braked passenger trains. For the diesel fan, the Punjab and Rajhasthan are ideal regions to visit - hardly any of it is electrified yet.

As we all know from previous trip reports, the strech of line between Kalakund and Mhow is outstanding, and well worth a visit. I can't do the line justice to be honest. Indore is a good place to visit for the sheer number of MG services which still serve the place.

I think I'll be back to the Punjab, especially Bathinda - plenty more WDP1s to ride around on, plenty of branch lines and secondary lines to discover.... Then again, what about a visit towards BZA to ride on the WDP1s down there, plus journey up the ghat section between Therubali to Koraput Jn.... So much to see in your country - its wonderful! Next time, we will probably tip you guys off of our plans so that we can meet some of the IRFCA members.

Material provided by Vikram, Copyright © 2005.
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