Delhi-Jind-Panipat Trip Report
by Avimanyu Pyne
Mid Oct is very fine weather for travelling in and around Delhi so I decided to railfan one of the BG Branch lines nearby. The day started with me going to the Delhi (DLI) Railway station to catch the 1DJ passenger train to Jind in Haryana. The start time was 11.40 AM.At this hour the DLI Railway station is quite empty with very little traffic. However I saw the Raxaul-DLI Express arriving behind a Ratlam (of all sheds!!) WDM-2.On platform no. 18 was parked the twin Abu Road diesel hauled Ashram Express that must have arrived some time ago.
The Delhi railway station (called Old Delhi/Purani Dilli by Delhites) has about 18 platforms. Two of the interior islands are quite long to accommodate 2 trains on each side of the island. This station though being the oldest in Delhi and also the former MG terminus (Delhi Sarai Rohilla is the terminus now), is today relegated to being a halt for the less important non superfast and local trains.
Anyways, back to my Journey. The Passenger, being a day train, had only GS accommodation. The coaches were Air braked stock. I plonked myself on a single window seat in a coach, 3rd from the engine which was a sleeper at one time. It had it's bunks removed and also the toilets on either side of the coach had been cleared to create extra space for passengers to stand. The loco which was to haul the train was a Tuglakabad (TKD) WDP 3A that had a blue with white band colours. TKD also had their WDP 3As in top white and lower blue livery.
The train started at right time on 11:40 AM, however due to temporary caution order or some such reason, it was running very slowly and by the time it reached Shakurbasti (SSB) it was already 20 minutes late.
The intermediate stations between DLI and SSB are Delhi Kishanganj, Vivekand Puri Halt and Dayabasti. Vivekand Puri Halt is the BG station on the DLI-Rohtak route while Delhi Sarai Rohilla is it's corresponding station on the DLI- Rewari BG route as well as the termini for the MG trains.
Some of the spottings at these stations were the TKD WDP1 hauled 2DJ Jind-DLI passenger at Delhi Kishanganj, a light Lucknow WDM-2B # 18527 and a Gottwald crane on a flat car at Dayabasti. Shakurbasti being a goods yard, hosted several freight trains. Two BCN/A rakes were seen headed by a TKD WAG-5 and a `CR' shed WAG-9 # 31040. Also spotted here were light locos WDM-2 # 17522 from Ludhiana (LDH) and WAG-5E # 23131 form Vijaywada shed. After crossing the SSB goods yard we crossed another BCN/A headed by a LDH WDG-3A # 14730.
Soon after leaving SSB behind, electrified traction ends and we enter Diesel area. The next station is Mangolpuri, serving some of the Jhuggi Jhompri (slum) resettlement areas and several highly polluting small scale industries. The station which had started of as a `Halt ` was now getting an EMU level platform. The train came to grinding halt on leaving the Mangolpuri station and started honking profusely, on craning my head out to see what was the problem,I found that the barriers of a rather busy manned level crossing were `up' and traffic flowing freely. We lost another 10 minutes at this crossing, before the traffic lessened and the barrier could be brought down. This kind of joke is ok on some obscure NG line, but holding up a train on the DLI- Bathinda trunk ; that's preposterous!!! By now we were over half an hour late and we had not exited Delhi yet and I was having doubts whether I would be able to catch my link from Jind.
Lower quadrant semaphore signaling had started at Nangloi. Here we found the 9044 Firozepur-Mumbai Janata express headed by a LDH WDM- 2A waiting to be passed. At the next station,Ghevra,the TKD WDP-3A # 15528 headed 6688 Navyug Express awaited the same fate. While our train was picking up passengers at this station, we found the 4722 Sri Ganganagar-New Delhi Express hauled by a LDH WDM-2 overtaking the Navyug (and subsequently the Firozepur-Mumbai Janata at Nangloi)
One thing which was noticed is that LDH diesels are the kings of this sector and all of them (incl the sole WDG-3A seen) have silver/gray and orange livery.
After Nangloi, fewer houses are seen till the rural countryside of Haryana takes over near Bahadurgarh. The DLI to Rohtak leg of this route is double line with most stations having up and down platforms on loop lines with two through lines passing in the center. Most signal cabins have their year of commissioning painted along with the name of station. The oldest such cabin was built in 1961.
Rohtak junction was reached 24 minutes late. It is junction because over and above the trunk line from Delhi passing through it to go towards Jind-Jakhal-Bathinda, there is also a line going towards Panipat. The alignment is such that for going towards Panipat from Delhi via Rohtak, the train will have to reverse, this is unlike the direction shown in the Northern Railway time table. The Rohtak jn station is a 3 platform affair with two platforms on an island. The peak speeds in this sector as recorded by me 90kmph. At Rohtak, saw another BCN/A rake headed by a Ratlam WDM-2 # 16157.
The station after Rohtak is called Samar Gopalpur and this is where the route becomes single line for the next 35 kms. Also, over and above the lower quadrant semaphore signaling, Neales ball tokens are prevalent. My train being a Passenger was stopping at each and every station, so we had to wait for a very long time for the Khalasi(ball token carrier) to bring the token till the engine. So even if the train wanted to make up time, it was not possible. In the meantime I was getting very anxious about the ever increasing delay that was being caused by a preceding goods train in clearing the block ahead of us. Clearly the loops at the stations of the Rohtak-Jind section are not long enough to accommodate a rake of freight, otherwise the erring Goods would have been made to stop and allow us through.
This part of Haryana looks very prosperous though the staple crop of wheat had already been cut and new seeds were yet to be sown so a lot of fields were barren. However, many resourceful farmers had planted an intermediate crop of Arhar Daal(pulses), sugar cane, jowar,Bajra and believe it or not cotton and paddy!! I was frankly surprised to see paddy in these areas but the farmer sitting opposite me told me that these areas are well irrigated by canals. That's when I noticed that the area was indeed crisscrossed by no of canals at regular interval with the Western Yamuna canal being one of them. The land is very flat with indications of `L' or `5000' frequently seen on stone markers next to the track.
After Kinana ie. two stations before Jind, it is double line again. The next station Bishanpura Haryana, I managed to get a small footplating ride till Jind 8 kms away. This was my first travel on a WDP-3A so I was quite excited. I found the cab to be quite roomy in comparison to the WAG-5/WAM-4s, but, even though the doors were kept open the cab was quite hot. The loco started to sway violently from side to side once it reached 90 kmph, I felt as if we were going to derail any moment. There are no dynamic brakes on this loco, the driver is to the left (opposite to the WDM-2)and his asst to the right and the 8 notches are arranged in a vertical line, the notches increasing from top to bottom. The seats are also well cushioned and large with small back rest in comparison to the tiny stools of a WDM-2.
We reached Jind at 3:45 PM, 45 minutes behind schedule. This gave me just 5 minutes to rush out of the station concourse, purchase my ticket for Panipat by the 6JPR Jind-Panipat-Rohtak passenger. By the time I was back, the train was about to move. Somehow I managed to click a pic of this 10 nos., all GS, maroon VB coach train being hauled by a maroon TKD WDP-1
Now for going to Panipat, the alignment is such that the train has to go towards Rohtak/Delhi and as soon as having crossed one of the innumerable canals, will divert on a single line Eastwards towards Panipat. The signaling as anticipated was lower quadrant.
Jind has another station on this line called Jind city and that is were most of the crowd got up. In comparison to the previous train, the clentele of this train is very rustic and the coaches are not very crowded either.
My coach had old padded seats in 3 x 2 configuration and it wasn't very dirty either. The line sees 6 up and down passenger trains everyday so it isn't a busy route as is evident from grass having grown between the tracks. The rails are short welded fish plated ones so you get to hear the clackity clack sound which is not to be heard nowadays while travelling by BG. I took up my perch at the door to enjoy the leisurely pace of BG branch line travel at it's best
The WDP-1 was making a heavy effort to accelerate out of the stations with ten measly coaches. The peak speed on this section was 70 kmph.
The Jind-Panipat section on which I was now travelling, had more crops standing and they were mostly field after field of uncut paddy. so though the scene is not as spectacular as the green paddy fields of Bengal or Kerala, however it presented a better picture than that of the barren unsown fields which had presented itself on the previous leg of my journey. The eucalyptus trees which line this route provide good shade to the passing train and of course help to hold the soil together, but they are supposed to be notorious in lowering the water table in an already parched land. The most important place being served on this route is a town called Safidon
This tranquil atmosphere of a train running on tracks lined with eucalyptus trees continues for almost the whole route till we reach Asan station, where the huge Cooling towers of the massive Panipat Thermal Power plant looms in the background. After having passed the Asan station, the train circumvents the boundary wall of the Thermal power plant. From the train the Flare stack, the cooling towers, the boiler structure, the coal handling plant are very easily visible.
From Asan station onwards MACLS signaling starts. We soon join the triple electrified lines emerging from the power plant and then converge into a single electrified that runs as such till the penultimate station before Panipat on this route ; Khukrana. On leaving Khukrana, we are joined by double electrified lines to our left. The electrified lines again regroup as a single electrified line till the Delhi-Ambala electrified trunk is reached north of Panipat station.
The passenger is brought in at right time of 5:50 PM into the rightmost platform looking south. This enables the train to take the branch line to Rohtak without crossing the mainline. My branchline travel ends here.
While contemplating whether to take a bus or to take a train back to Delhi, I saw a Ghaziabad based WAP-1 # 22044 bring in the 1058 Amritsar-Dadar Express whence I rushed off to purchase a ticket. Luckily the train has a long enough stop at Panipat,for me to cross the tracks and jump into a tin of sardines,that is, a GS coach of a long distance Mail/Express train. I was standing virtually on a single leg in the passage amongst a sea of humanity but after a few passengers got off at wayside station called Samalkha, I managed to hoist myself onto the slatted upper birth/luggage holder. I stayed up there for the rest of the journey till the train reached Subzi Mandi station. By this time the coach had emptied many passengers at Sonepat,Narela, Naya Azadpur stations so that I could take the Railfan's rightful place ; the door.
The WAP1 did a good job of reaching 2 minutes before schedule at 8:03 PM at New Delhi inspite of being 5 min behind schedule at Sonepat.
At the end of a very exciting railfanning day, I had traveled 128 kms from Delhi to Jind, 71 kms from Jind to Panipat and 93 kms between Panipat and New Delhi, making a total of 292 kms in just under 8 and half hours for 76 Rupees.