by Bharath Narayan
Train: HWH-NDLS Rajdhani
Loco: 30218 GZB wap-7
After a great trip to Gomoh and Chitaranjan it was time for me to head home. Samit, Lakshman and myself left Samit's place around 1:00pm and headed to a local restaurant for our lunch. Thinking that we had plenty of time we stuffed ourselves to the brim. We finished around three pm and took a cab towards HWH. As we moved through the streets of Calcutta the traffic started to get worse. I was somehow under the impression that the train was departing at 4:30pm and was busy contemplating with Laksman as to how much time we would spend admiring the loco that was going to haul the raj. Samit then informed me that the train was departing at 4:15pm! Just then we got ourselves stuck in a jam near the HWH bridge. The time was 3:50pm. Samit then decided it would be better to take the ferry to the station. We got out of the cab and ran to the ferry docks. We jumped on to the ferry that was just pulling in as we reached the docks. There was an agonizing wait while the ferry was waiting for more passengers. We finally started moving at around 4:05 pm. As the ferry slowly moved towards HWH station I started planning my exit strategy from the ferry. The ferry reached the other side at around 4:12 giving me exactly three to five minutes to get to the train. I bid bye to Samit and Lakshman as I knew they may not get to the platform in time to see me off. I jumped onto the docks and ran at mps(p standing for possible) towards the station in the process knocking a few people down. I reached the platform at 4:15 and jumped into the first available coach. I started moving towards my coach and at around 4:25 the train started to move. I stopped at a door and peeped out. I saw a familiar person on the platform. It was Laksh. He shouted out that it was a 7 and not one of the hwh p4s which had been hauling the raj regularly at that time. I waved bye and sure enough heard that characteristic toot of the p7. I finally got to my berth and sat down.
After catching my breath I turned the gps on and started clocking the train. The p7 did its usual thing although the driving was nowhere near as aggressive as in my previous trip in august. 30-100 was done in 2minutes and 30 secs. The train maintained around 100-105 till the restrictions were cleared. Meanwhile a p4 hauled train thundered past at 100. The usual raj snack tray was given with its compliment of juice, nuts and chocolate. The gps started moving up again and the train stabilized at 131kmh. This was maintained for a long while without the interruptions that was experienced in the last trip. Darkness soon took hold as the p7 was blatting with the Raj through the countryside. The last rays of light enabled me to see with much glee the look of pure terror on the faces of the people standing in the small stations that we ripped through. What appeared to be Asansol was crossed sometime around 6:30. Dhanbad was reached at 7:20pm. I went to the head of the train and saw the loco-30218. We left Dhanbad at 7:25 and smoothly accelerated to 130kmh in 4 minutes. The dreaded speed restriction around gaya was reached and the train slowed to 75kmh. I ate dinner around this time. The Dal and the veg curry were quite tasty but the rice and roti left a lot to be desired. We reached Gaya at 10:00pm and halted there for five minutes. I went to sleep just after we left Gaya.
I woke up around 2:45am just as the train was accelerating out of what appeared to be Allahabad. I went back to sleep again and woke up at 7:45 with the train doing 132kmh. A number of p4 hauled expresses and g7 hauled goods roared past us. I had the veg breakfast consisting of some cutlets which were quite tasty.We then were stopped at many places and slowly started losing time. We crossed Ghaziabad at 9:35am. A p5 and a couple of p7s were parked outside. We slowly moved towards Ndls and pulled into the platform around 10:15am.I got out and looked up and down for a certain individual who was supposed to meet me:-. I did not find him anywhere so I caught a cab and went to Delhi airport to catch my ride back to SBC.