Glorious days of Vaigai Express!
by David Pravin
The name 'Vaigai Express' has been always popular among not only the rail users but also among rail fans of two different generations as the train had won the hearts of thousands of people who had known and experienced it right from the early days. There are some many interesting facts which surround this prestigious train which might be of great interest to many rail fans today. Check out these fascinating material of this great train which had made it unique in every way......
Due to the demand for a day train between Madurai and Madras, which gradually began to increase from the 1970s, the southern railway decided to do its best for the rail travelers to introduce a super fast train for the first time on the MG in Southern railway. The introduction of this new train was a great mystery to many as no one had any idea of what kind of train was going to be operated and all its other details also remained a mystery.
On August, 15, 1977, a cute and a colorful train, woke up the people of Madurai early in the morning......It was on this beautiful day at 6 a.m.! sharp that train no 135 down Vaigai Express began its inaugural journey from Madurai to Madras Egmore, with 8 yellow and green livery coaches and a matching YDM4 diesel loco!!!!!
With its never before achieved unique speed ever run on the SR MG, Vaigai express clocked the fastest run between Madurai and Madras Egmore, the distance of 495 kilometers on the very first day in 7 hours and 5 minutes when it entered Madras Egmore at 1.05 p.m. that afternoon, matching the speed of many BG super fast trains on the SR!! Due to safety purposes the train was slowed down to a journey time of 7 hours and 30 minutes later on.
It was the only train in SR which had completely tube lighted interiors and sun control sliding glass shutters installed for the first time ever in all its 8 second class coaches!
The driver and the guard also had a unique facility of a corded telephone system to communicate between themselves!
With the turntable facility available at TPJ, MS and MDU, the operations staff always ensured that the YDM4 hauling Vaigai Express always had the short hood facing the front every time its started it journey!
This train also has another fascinating fact as it was one of its kind in SR which had its livery changed quite a few times from its original yellow-green combination to white-gray-red livery and then again to vermillon red - cream livery and again to cream-brown livery on the MG.
The YDM4 for the Vaigai Express had been fitted with a unique double tone horn which made it easy for rail users and railway staff alike to identify the loco as well as the train, which was never on use on the other YDM4s which operated on the same route for other trains
This was one and only MG train on the SR to be fitted with specially enhanced buffers and certified to run at 110 km/h!!!!
For the first time on the MG, the ICF manufactured two 40 seat AC chair car coaches exclusively for the Vaigai and Pallavan express!
In 1985 due to its increasing demand the railways decided to augment the train to 16 coaches and two YDM4s and due to certain reasons the 16 coach train never filled up to its capacity and so the 8 coach train resumed back to its original status and in order to utilize the remaining idle 8 coach train and the YDM4, another new super fast train in the name of 115 Dn/116 Up Madras Egmore-Madurai Pallavan Express came to existence with almost the same timings of the Vaigai express!
The glorious Vaigai express of the earlier days on the MG was always the one of its kind ever to run on the MS-MDU section, attracting people young and old with its catchy livery and distinctive sound and it had always fascinated school children, office goers, college students and every casual rail user so much that they did not mind spending a few minutes of their personal time to stand and watch this spectacular train speeding by......
It was during the last days of its thrilling MG runs that the railways switched over the Vaigai express to the less powerful YAM1 for haulage from MS to VM, there by increasing the running time by another 30 minutes, which signaled the ending of an exciting chapter of this sensational train as the BG conversion was already in process!
True to the above statements, gone were those glorious days and the present day Vaigai express on the BG is anything but Vaigai express which has lost all its grandeur, with more stops and lesser speed, no unique livery or unique horns, making it just as one among the other regular express trains running on the route, a so called super fast train but in reality an ordinary train which even the school going children take no notice of, loosing all its charm and attraction which it held in its earlier days.
The lovely Lemon yellow and parrot green livery of the 8 beautiful chair car coaches and the matching magnificent YDM4 will always remain in the memories of many as the ever glorious 135 down/136 Up Vaigai Express..........