Ranjithpura Trip Report
by P V S Praveen
On Board the DRM Special
On this day, the top brass of GTL division had arranged for a trip to Ranjithpura, about 27 Kilometers from Toranagallu, in the Bellary district of Karnataka. Accordingly, a special train consisting of the DRM's saloon and an AC 3 Tier coach was arranged to carry the entourage on this trip. And the invitation was extended to the family members as well. Great!
That morning at around 0945 hours I reached the GTL station. On platform 4, the two-coach rake was stabled. The prize-winning loco from the GTL shed, the 16200 WDM2A was scheduled to haul us for the day. Superb! At around the DRM, Shri Praveen Kumar arrived and headed straight to the Computer Reservation Section to inaugurate the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) that was to be commissioned on that day. After the inauguration was through, we all headed to our two-coach train. While the officers took the saloon, the family members were settled comfortably in the AC3Tier coach. As for me, you have guessed it right; I took my position in between the driver and the assistant driver in the 16200.
I had already given a brief description of this loco in one of my earlier mails, but now I am in a position to describe it even better. We were doing the SHF; hence the driver was seated to the right side while the assistant was on the left. Apart from we three, we also had a couple of drivers under training and also another senior driver with us.
This loco has the notches, the Generator Feed On - OFF switch and the A9 & the SA9 brakes on a wooden table top in front of the driver and the assistant driver. The seat itself is pretty comfortable. The SHF & LHF horns were positioned just below the table. The SHF horn was sounding more like a bus horn than a train horn. In front of the table, on the wall, various gauges indicating the pressure and other requisite parameters were located. To the side of these gauges was the panel containing the switches for the headlights. To the back of the driver was a computerized troubleshooter, which would indicate the errors if any, and also the remedial measures.
On top of the window near the driver's seat, were the switches for the revolving fan as well as the red & green flashers located outside the window. A couple of rear view mirrors were also located outside the window, but they have been removed now, and only the mirror stalks have been left behind. The Air Conditioner was working perfectly but was not being put to use today. The window had tinted glasses, and the lighting was really soothing to the eye.
The driver had a sheet of paper containing the various speed restriction zones on the section. The sheet of paper gives the following details:
- The name of the section
- Name of the train (this has to be filled in by the driver)
- A list of speed restriction sections between Kilometers nnn/y and mmm/x. These are nothing but masts set up along the railway track. Every kilometer is divided into 16 sub sections.
- The speed to be maintained in the sections
- The reason for the speed restriction (badly scrabbed tracks, welding joint failure etc)
We had the customary 30 Kmph near Hagari bridge + the odd 20 Kilometers per hour between kilometers 287/6 and 241/9 + some other restriction zones. Other wise, our booked speed was 100 Kmph. The max permissible speed on this section was 105 Kmph.
So, off we started at 1045 hours, and slowly made our way across the GTL yard, and picked up speed. By the time we crossed Padamati Guntakal the loco had crossed 40 Kmph, and the driver was already in the 7th notch. The speed-controlled relay got activated and the loco rapidly picked up speed and in no time we were cruising at a comfortable 100 Kmph, in the 8th notch. The condition of the track was not up to the mark going by the way the loco was swaying from side to side. The operation of this loco was pretty simple:
- The A9 & the SA9 brakes are completely released. In this loco, both the levers are pushed fully forward.
- The driver pulls the Generator Feed switch to the "ON" position
- The notching begins now, with the driver slowing notching up all the way from 1 through 7. By this time the loco would be in the 35 - 40 Kmph.
- Finally he moves up to the 8th notch. In the meanwhile, the speed controlled relay gets activated, and with a slight jerk, the loco moves forward, rapidly accelerating to 50, 60, 70, 80 and so on to 100 Kmph.
- To slow down the train, the GF switch is pulled back to the Off Position, the notching reduced gradually to 3 or 2, the SA9 is applied slightly, the notching further reduced, and finally the A9 is applied. (Am not too sure here.)
The driver and the assistant driver have to shout out all the aspects. First the Assistant driver shouts out a particular aspect, and the driver confirms it. At every passing station, station the driver & the assistant driver exchange all clear from their respective sides. The assistant takes care of the horn while the driver concentrates more on the controls. As soon as a station is passed, the driver notes down the time in his notebook.
This train was supposed to get an all clear up to Banihatti but we soon pulled over at Hagari, to allow a 12024 WDG4 LHF headed BOXN rake to pass us. The Sr. DOM was none too happy about this. I took a snap of the DG4 as it approached us and will be putting up the snaps shortly. We crossed the Hagari Bridge at 30 Kmph. Soon we were back to our regular speed. At around 1145 hours we were approaching BAY. This loco was the cynosure of all eyes, with people stopping in their tracks to take a look at this yellow and red beauty and the coaches behind it.
We crossed BAY station at 10 Kmph. The MG GTL Passenger headed by a SHF 6158 GTL shed YDM4A was ready for departure. The driver of this train was clearly flustered when he did not have the green flag to exchange all clear with us and our folks shouted out at him to exchange all clear. It was a pleasant sight to see the SM dressed smartly in his spotless white uniform saluting us. The RPF in full attention saluted us smartly as we passed along slowly.
On platform 1 the KJM shed WDM2A hauled SBC-HPT passenger was stabled. We continued our journey but had to stop again at two places. The driver had to pick up a green coloured caution order ticket, at Kudathini. At the next unscheduled stop, we picked up an authority to proceed without the line clear. The advanced starter of that station was not functioning. We halted for some time at Toranagallu and then slowly took the branch line to Ranjithpura. We were doing a leisurely 40 Kmph. All around us we had hills and red soil and the ubiquitous fields and buffalos.
Our first halt was at Banihatti station. As we slowed down on the main line, I found a couple of traffic light signals, by the side of the track, facing in the opposite directions. I could not make out why these signals were used. I recollect seeing a similar signal at Hotgi Junction on the Wadi Solapur section of the CR. We halted at Banihatti for about 15 minutes. The DRM was scheduled to inaugurate a high-speed electronic weighing machine under the tracks. More about this later.
After Banihatti, we left for Toranagallu. By this time I had made myself comfortable on the railing behind the SHF and was enjoying the scenic beauty all around. You have a huge lake and the train passes by the lake, very much like our own Chilka Lake. We also crossed a tunnel, albeit a short one. Finally at around 1430 hours, we reached Ranjithpura loading yard. The National Minerals Development Corporation (NMDC) has their mines in this place, and iron ore mined over here is shipped to the Far East countries from the Chennai harbour. We were accorded a warm reception by the top brass of NMDC and later adjourned for lunch.
At around 1600 hours, we bade good-bye to our guests at NMDC and took the train back to Banihatti. Over here, amidst the chanting of slokas, the DRM inaugurated the Panel Interlocking system for Banihatti. He also planted some saplings over here. Later, he also inaugurated the high-speed wagon-weighing machine. Wagons going at a speed of 45 Kmph can be checked up for their weight. This system has been set up by the Chennai based Sanmar group. The compete details of the wagon like the Tare Weight, No: of wagons passing through and the speed are recorded in the system. I have take a couple of snaps of this and will be posting them shortly.
After Banihatti, all of us had a nice time at one of the recreation centers at Narsapur and finally headed back to Toranagallu where the DRM special was waiting for us. It was already 2030 hours now and I had to catch the Kacheguda express leaving GTL by 2200 hours, so I requested the Sr. DOM to really speed up our train. He assured me that I would get my train. The special really ran fast, stopping only for a couple of minutes at BAY, where some folks came and garlanded the DRM. Inside the AC3Tier coach, all of us were busy with fun & frolic playing Antakshari. It was 2130 hours by the time we reached GTL. Thanking the Driver & the Assistant Driver, I went home, picked up my bag, came back, and took the 7604 to KCG.