by Arnab Acharya
Monday, the 29th July, 2002. I was planning to take the 2822 Dn to HWH. Reached the station at 1100. Asked the Enquiry if I could get reservation on 2822. He said, yes. After a long wait in the sweltering heat, I was told the chart preparation was over! I was feeling too exhausted even to give the Enquiry guy a taste of my irritation. Grabbed some food. A tiny glass of pineapple juice cost Rs.10! Even an innocuous dahi vada cost Rs5. Realised I was travelling after a long time. BBSR had a third track each between the pairs of platforms. On the one between 1-2, an 8-coach blue rake marked 203/4 (KGP-BBSR) was waiting behind an idle blue WDM2. ~1215, 5626Dn HWH-SBC EXp came in at PF4, some 18 coaches or so, the last 2 being navy blue 'High Capacity Parcel Vans', the last phenomena being noticeable on several trains on the way to HWH. Incidentally, 5626 was 10 mins before time. 2704 came in 5 mins late at 1220, for HWH. Peeked in to see it pretty full, so the vote went to 2822 fully. 2704 left for HWH in 10 minutes. Trudged to the general ticket counter, got a ticket for HWH, some 15 minutes before 2822 would leave. There were many last minute cases and the guy at the counter took his own time. A vestibuled 2821 had pulled in on time at PF3, behind a whitish-bottle green and vermillion WDM2C (14019) baldy SHF.
2822 was fairly filled but not crowded. I paid Rs 15 to the TTE and got reservation for S4, seat 12. Since it was the sunny side, I took seat 42, a windowside on the other side, for better train-tracking. My coach was the 6th from the HWH side, after a general, ACCH, Pantry, S6 and S5. The total rake was 13-coach strong. The coaches had 3 by 3 seating, in a row, i.e., each block had 12 seats. I recall having taken the Kanchenjunga (during its S/F days) with a 2 by 3 seating (total 10 in a block).
Somewhere around 1335, a blue-raked (8 coach) 201Up HWH-Puri Pgr had come in from HWH, before its scheduled 1400. The weather was still hot and humid, slightly better than Calcutta. It looked like few people had reservations, I'm not sure if most had at least general tickets.
There were a lot of those orange-attired folks, who dropped off at wayside stations. Was it due to Shivratri at Lingaraj Temple or something like that?
2822 left ~1355, 5 mins late. As 2822 picked up speed, noticed the 1020 Dn blue rake behind an idle Raj livery WAP/4, pulled by a diesel towards the station - being scheduled for 1500. ~1400, we crossed the 2703 Up from HWH, running some 25 mins late. In another 5 mins or so, 2822 stopped for 20 mins or so, somewhere close to but before Mancheswar. Passed Mancheswar soon, where I noticed an 'Observation Car', at one of the platforms. Saw a lot of freight trains on this journey to HWH, must be twice as many passenger trains between BBSR-KGP. Noticed a couple of open freight cars having 'Madhya Re' written in Hindi initials, instead of the usual 'Madhya'. The next station we zipped by was Patia, where I noticed those red boards on the overhead traction poles saying 'Crossover cleared'. By the way, the track till Barang is electrified, energised or not I'm not sure as all movements were with WDMs. At 1443, we reached Cuttack, a good 28 mins behind schedule. Just before Cuttack, noticed the track from Paradip coming from a Southerly direction and joining the main track from South-West. 2822 left at 1445. Noticed a DMU rake, each coach of which had boards saying 'Vishakhapatnam-Palasa-Cuttack'. The coaches had the usual yellow over the windows and bottle green between the windows, as is the usual livery of most EMUs. Below the windows, they had a lighter green. Browsing through the TT shows this particular rake as leaving Cuttack at 1615, runs till Khurda Rd, changes number, leaves in 10 mins for Balugaon, changes number, leaves in 10 mins for Palasa - arriving at 2320. The next probable connection to VSKP leaves at 1230! Funny. Soon after Cuttack, noticed a set of 3-4 tracks veering off to the right and touching the oil depots of Bharat Petroleum, IndianOil, Hind Petro. The tracks and adjoining areas were soaked in oil. Apparently, the rake is parked and each wagon is fitted with connections, protruding from the ground. 2822 was trying to gain some lost time and, ran comfortably at 60-80 kph, softened by speed restrictions. It was getting cloudy, the Sun playing truant thankfully! As my back was to HWH, I could pick up the last tidbits of any station. Like, at 1 station, saw a couple of goods rakes. One of them had a WDM in bottle green body-orange border descending from the top. Uncommon. At Nergundi, noticed a new track was being constructed, parallel to the main one. Post-Nergundi, it veers off somewhat and crosses over the main track, on a bridge. The TT shows a 2nd track being constructed (towards Talcher) but didn't see the first one. Left Jajpur Keonjhar Rd at 1548 after a 2 min halt, 33 mins late now. The heat was still on and, so, I bought some curd (the price had been scratched off). ~1600, the black clouds let go and the mercury dropped like anything. It was sheer bliss - with the track making a slight right turn, the drizzle, the Eastern Ghats looming not far off and 2822 galloping. At Baitarani Rd and couple of other stations, saw the electrification work going on at various paces, but all disjoint. Which did not make sense, why the work should be going on at some 6-7 places simultaneously. Bhadrak was touched at 1626-8, 13 mins late. Soro was touched 20 mins late, at 1657-8. It was more touch and go. Passed a local somewhere here. ~1726, crossed a diesel-led maroon rake (with an AC), likely to be 7045. A good 2 hours 10 mins late, if so. Reached Balasore at 1731, left at 1738 (schedule 1705-7). Crossed a goods almost outside Balasore. Likely that 2822 was waiting for it, due to crossing of tracks? I'd faced a similar situation by 2842, waiting on 2821, some 10 years back there itself.
Touching on Samit's report, I noted the yellow wastebins at almost every station, the stations were mostly clean-looking, even after 10 years. Balasore had some papers on the tracks. Noticed 1 platform having been extended, though the height was not uniform. It had boards showing the different coach positions, all the way to 19. I guess that's for 2841/2. As far as the smell of braking goes, there was this typical smell. More like burnt turpentine. However, only when I started smelling, I got it. Otherwise, it's not so obvious. Incidentally, Dhauli's rake also looked redone, from vacuum brake. Maroon colour peeping under the blue uniform.
Crossed 461 KGP-Jajpur Pgr at 1751, 8 coached blue rake. From Rupsa onwards till KGP, the track is electrified. Departed Jaleswar at 1813, after 2 mins halt, 23 mins late. Saw a WR OHE here. ~1823, double-dieseled 2841 flew by, sounding its horn. It was a grand 24-coach rake, with some 4-6 ACs in tow. I was surprised to see it over an hour late. As it turned out, there were demonstrations earlier in the day, at KGP, which messed up many a schedule. Passed a 19 coach rake, with 2 ACs in tow at 1837. Likely to be the 6355 HWH-KKY Exp, which surprisingly seemed on time! ~1857, passed the blue-raked 467 HWH-Bhadrak Pgr. Reached KGP at 1911, 3 mins late. Often, the 2C was blowing its horn, asking to be given way (I guess). Added to it that it was close to its schedule at KGP, it seemed HWH would be on-time or before schedule at 2125.
Left KGP at 1917. The run to HWH was pretty bad. 2822 would pick up speed, touching 100 kph but, would be stopped after short runs of 15-20 mins. Before and at Panskura, it had halts of some 10-15 mins each. Saw the Haldia-Asansol Exp empty rake at Panskura, behind a diesel. The passing with the Up trains were: 8017 Purulia - Duan - 1948 (1h45m late) 8113 Steel - just before Panskura - 1955 (~2h late) 8409 Sri Jagannath - Bhogpur - 2015 (45m late) - Raj livery WAP/4 in charge 8003 Yeshwantapur - Kulgachia - 2056 (10m late) - 20 coach rake 2810 Mumbai Ml - 2111 6003 Chennai Ml - 2119 8005 Koraput Exp - before Santragachi - 2122
The TTE never came to check the tickets. 2822 arrived at 2145 on PF14. The pantry on 2822 was not very active, coming only between 3 - 5 pm, with veg cutlet, samosas, chops. As 2822 was pulling in, saw the 8034 pantry car staff grabbing food in their coach, as the empty rake was being pulled in.