Bhadrachalam Road - Manuguru Trip
by Praveen Kumar
Last Saturday, my folks and I had been on a one-day trip to Bhadrachalam Road & Manuguru, by the 7050 Up/7049 Dn SC-MTM express
We reached SC station on Friday night at around 22:30 hours and headed straight to platform 9 where the 7050 express was stabled. The power was a BZA WAG5, but I couldn't get the number. The Manuguru portion is attached to the rear portion of the formation, and comprises of 1 3AC, 2 SL, 1 GS & 1 SLR. This portion gets detached at Dornakal Junction (DKJ) and is attached to the DKJ- Manuguru (MUGR)(349/350) passenger departing at around 02:30 hours.
So at around 22:50 hours we slowly pulled out of SC station. The 7021 NZM bound Dakshin express having had a rather late start from HYB was stabled on platform 2, and would be trailing us all the way to KZJ. The occupancy rates in both the sleepers, was decent enough, and all the berths were taken. As the express sped on, we spotted a number of double WAG5/WAG7 hauled coal rakes proceeding to CS & beyond. After seeing Bibinagar, I clambered on to my middle berth and fell asleep.
We reached Bhadrachalam road at around 0530 hours,the next morning and went to the Officers rest house. I was to take the train all the way to Manuguru and get back either by a freighter or by a bus, as the case may be. Having attended to my morning ablutions as quickly as possible, I went back to the station to find that the loco had reversed and attached itself to the rake. That means we were reversing onto a different direction for MUGR. Entered the loco (KZJ 17402, LHF) greeted the chief and his assistant and settled down on the assistant's seat for a 50 Km ride to MUGR which was to take an hour and 10 odd minutes.
After a few minutes, we slowly pulled out of BDCR and I could see that we were taking a right turn towards MUGR while the line to DKJ took a left. The MUGR line was primarily meant for freighters carrying coal from the coalmines near MUGR. This was a token territory and the max speed on this line is 50 Kmph. Grades were in the rage 1 in 100, and the line is pretty straight for long distances with an occasional curve thrown in. We crossed the Kinnerasani River, which is a tributary of the Godavari River, and passed by some tribal hamlets, with the inmates stopping by to have a look at us.
There are town stations on this route; one is situated 10 kms from BDCR (the name starts with R, I don't have my notes with me right now), and the next station, Pandurangapuram another 18 kms away, add 22 kms and you finally reach MUGR. Both these stations are purely for technical reasons. While approaching Pandurangapuram I could find MALQ outer signals, but surprisingly, this station did not have starter signals.
Having crossed P'Puram we preceded on the last leg of the journey, dense undergrowth on both sides of the track, with the numerous hillocks around, made up a rather pleasant sight. After halting for some time at MUGR outer, we finally pulled in to the solitary platform of MUGR. Surprisingly I could not find any route ndicators, on the home signals. On the farther most loop line I could find a coal laden BOXN with twin KZJ diesels.
MUGR station has "desolate" written all over it. Situated about 7 kms from the town, this station has just one passenger, which comes in the morning and gets back by night. The rest is freight traffic, which goes 4 Kms away to the nearby collieries to load coal, and head back to DKJ. Apart from this MUGR also has a heavy water plant nearby and the gets its coal supply from the nearby collieries by a ropeway. Owing to a possibility of leakage of Hydrogen Sulphide form the heavy water plant, this station has a huge notice painted in black over a yellow back ground, on the various precautionary measure to be taken in case of a H2S leak.
Dozen odd auto rickshaws from MUGR, which have come to pick up the passengers, had gone, and so did the yellow coloured school bus. After checking out the station I had a quick wash and had a refreshing hot cup of tea at a small shack near the station.
I had to get back to BDCR and in the absence of any freighter; I decided to take the bus. We waited for Ashok who was to drop me back at the bus stop, a good 3 Kms away from the station. Presently Ashok, a Grade I technician came and after taking a few snaps of the station, I bade goodbye to MUGR and went to the main road. Ashok, who was transferred from SC a year back was indeed finding the place quite boring and hot, and was eagerly awaiting his transfer back to SC.
After waiting for about 10 minutes, my bus came along and having settled down in one of the back seats, I dozed off my way to BDCR.
The station BDCR is actually a misnomer and should have been named Kothagudem instead, for Bhadrachalam, (which incidentally is a pilgrimage spot) is a good 36 Kms away. A better alternative would be to construct a line from Pandurangapuram, which would be much nearer.
The rest of the day was spent in traveling as we visited the temple and another spot about 40 Kms away, on the banks of the Godavari. As we were coming back, we were witness to a ghastly accident, in which a lorry carrying concrete bricks turned turtle killing 10 out of the 15 labourers traveling in it. The scene of the accident was ghastly, and I could find the dead body of a woman crushed under the bricks.
Heading back to BDCR, and after having refreshed myself, I went to the station and upgraded my ticket from SL to 3A, after having paid Rs 250/- extra. BDCR has about 4 pairs of trains from BZA, KZJ, SC & Sirpur Kaghaznagar respectively.
Finally at around 2200 hours we boarded the train back to SC. I was too tired to do any more rail fanning, climbed on to my upper berth and fell asleep, only to get up the next morning 0515 hours at SC.