A Day In The Life Of....

by Shashanka Nanda


Yesterday night, I was chatting with Alok, while fom my window I could see the full moon glistening over the Hussain Sagar Lake, the lake surrounded by lights and people making merry on a sunday evening on the lakeside. Suddenly out of the darkness came a beam of light, a WDM2 silhoutted in the moonlight smoked up...hauling the HYB-CSTM express. It was a truly marvellous sight...one which cant be really can't described in words. But this is just one of the many such spectacles put up by the IR in front of my eyes everyday....and I wanna share a typical day in my life with you all.

It typically starts at around 6:30 in the morning with the inbound Godavari Express coming in from VSKP. The WAP4 horn nudges me gently from my sleep telling, time to get up buddy. If that failed to stir me, it was followed by the monstrous WDP4 of the incoming 7053 Chennai Exp. 2 sharp blasts from its horn were enough to get me out of my bed. It is a beautiful sight to see the blue-white behemoth hauling the 20 car rake against the rising sun...and the lake water all shimmering orange in the sunrise. (Summers have started and the sun rises early, depriving me of this sight, but I do have pics of this.) Just around the same time, a WAP hauls the Delhi bound AP express and the twain generally meet under my window, signalling the start of a wonderful day :o). The WDP4 is off the chennai exp. now...and the other people in my apartment block have heaved a sigh of relief.....{ even before I get up, the incoming Narsapur Exp and CSTM exp with a WDM2 each and the outbound Krishna Exp with a wap4 have already left....but usually the drivers are considerate of us sleeping souls and do not honk unecessarily...or maybe i'm too sleepy to notice}

I usually check my mails after brushing and have a glass of lemonade (Nimbu Pani) while I see the Charminar Express come in from chennai behind another WAP4 at around 0745-0800....after a customary check of the loco # of the charminar, I head to get ready for the day. This is around when the Purna Passenger heads out and the Pune Passenger comes in. I always watch these 2 trains, as they are usually behind Pune powers and occasionally get a Jumbo WDM2. These 2 are followed by the incoming Tandur-HYB passenger.

While in the bathroom, I can hear the Warangal-HYB MEMU passenger and the Bolarum-HYB DHMU come in. The DHMU can be heard distinctly because of the high level of clickety clack it makes, due to the hydraulic transmission I presume. The DHMU is a misnomer for this train because its 5 times out of 6 (no run on sunday) a 3 car rake, with one power car and driving cabs at each end, so technically there is no MU. Occasionally a 5 or 6 car rake with 2 power cars also comes in. These DHMUs are based at Maula Ali, and along with the usual cream-green livery some also sport a cool looking deep blue-yellow livery.

Breakfast is usually taken while these 2 resume their return journeys and the inbound Rayalseema/Haripriya Exp behind a WDM2 comes in. With these gone, 'THE GAME' starts. Now this term 'game' was coined by me and Gautam. This refers to the massive shunting which takes place each day between LGD coaching works, Sec'bad and Hyd'bad. Every day atleast a dozen coaches, some departmental, some normal pass. Coaches are shunted up and down. Some go to LGD for their PoH, the departmental coaches are attached to trains going out of Hyd'bad, its fascinating to watch the entire procedure and I try to keep track of which train is getting new coaches.

This whole thing goes on till about 1200. Then the Sabari Exp on its way to Ernakulam appears behind the mighty WDP4. Its a mystery to me as to why this train gets the WDP4. Some members suggested that it forms a loco link so that the WDP4 is available to other trains from guntur. I have checked the timings of all possible permuataions and combinations but it simply beats me. Even more intriguing is the fact that for the last 2-3 days, the WDP4 is not a regular loco for this train and it is being hauled by twin WDM2s!!!!!! and guys its just a 18 coach train (19 in rush days). The diesels haul it till guntur. The route is generally flat with 1:100 being the ruling gradient and 95-100 being the top whack!!! SCR surely loves this train....Guntur onwards it gets an ancient AJJ WAM4...not even the WAM4-6PD superfast version.

The Hussain Sagar Exp coming from CSTM makes its appearance next behind a lone WDM2, (this is also a 18-19 coach train) and the driver usually speeds at around 50kmph....smoking into HYB. After this the Guntur-SC Palnadu Exp rake comes in and is parked at HSJ station, which is about a kilometer to my left and I can see the yard from my balcony. The loco (usually a WDM2c from KZJ or GY) gets detached and waits for the rake of the BZA-SC Satavahana Exp. to come in. The Satavahana is now a days parked at Khairatabad. SC station is being modified for apron works and thr MMTS system, so there is less parking space there. This is followed by the incoming Sabari Exp. and then the Palnadu loco scoots back and within minutes a different loco arrives to take it back to Guntur !!!!!

At around lunch....ie 1430-1445 I watch the Hussain Sagar Exp makes its presence felt as the driver notches up shooting by at 45-50 Kmph accelerating into the HSJ-BMT line. A brief lull follows (post lunch siesta ????) when at about 1510-1515 a GY WDM2C (either pure 2C or rebulit as 2C) loco arrives to take charge of the Chennai bound Exp. Most of the 14XXX locos (14021, 23 and 33) on this train are fitted with Braganza Ghat spec Auto Emergency Brakes. Then the Saatvahan rake is woken out of its slumber and taken back to SC by its LGD based WAP4 to make its 'Rocket' run to BZA....after all its one of the fastest superfasts in the country.

At about 1600 when I am getting ready for my peak work hour...the Chennai Exp leaves with the GY studs and shortly thereafter the Tandur Passenger leaves too. This is a real interesting train. It started life as a push-pull train. Tandur being just 2 hrs away from HYB. It had 6 ancient coaches, refitted to run push-pull and had the std. maroon livery with a broad cream band around the windows. But I never saw it in the push pull config. (loco in middle, driving cabs on ends). The WDM2 was always at the business end, despite the driving cabs. Slowly more coaches got added...and from 6 it grew to an 11 car rake in a matter of a month. Now it has only one driving cab coach left (on the HYB end) which serves as the guard's cubicle.

At about 1725 hrs, while I am having a cup of cold coffee or repeat nimbu pani....and busy typing mails and answering calls....when work is peaked out and I am tearing whatever li'l hair I have.....the awesome Godavari exp. makes its appearance. It is my favorite train in these parts and I drop everything to watch it go by. Its a 24 coach affair connecting VSKP to HYB. It has one of the best maintained rakes in the country and is an extremely punctual and always packed train. One strange thing about it is that its got all 6 AC coaches (another proof how popular this train is) smack in the middle of the rake. I dont recall any other such train. A WAP4 from LGD does the job of hauling this train into the sunset.

Shortly it is followed by the TPTY/KOP bound Rayalseema/Haripriya combine (refer to Herambh's recent reports on the games these trains play at Guntakal) with a WDM2 from KZJ complementing the marroon vaccum braked rake. The Bolarum DHMU and the Waranal MEMU reappear making their second run of the day...just ahead of the Charminar..another favorite 24 coach SF with a WAP4 snaking out. If the Charminar gets any later than 1810 while passing my window, it has to stop to let the SC-MMR Exp on the other side of the lake to go into Begumpet before it is allowed to proceed. I watch the MMR Exp with a small telescope whcih I have. It also also is usually hauled by a GY or a KZJ WDM2c.

Another favorite pastime of mine is to stand in my balcony and watch across the lake connecting SC to BMT. A lot of massive freights which have not taken the MLY-SNF bypass, frequent this line. They carry coal and cement and are usually hauled by MUed WAG5s or 7s. At SNF they give way to MUed WDM2s, WDG2s or the single and mighty WDG4s...yeah a single WDG4 hauls a 4500T 58 car freight.

The Charminar is followed by the DHMU going out..and the East Coast Exp from HWH behind a WAM4 comes in. The MEMU then leaves and the AP Exp coming from NDLS...signals end of day's work at around 2030. I change and sit in the balcony sipping a drink....or reading when the CSTM bound Exp. makes its way out...

The Krishna Exp trundles in at around 2115 from TPTY, the WAP4 blowing its hornhappy at the end of a tiring journey. The train is a 21 coach affair and has 40 odd stops on the 750km run between HYB and TPTY. I usually have dinner watching the Dakshin Exp to HNZM go past with its WAM4 followed by the Narsapur Exp which is the last regular traffic at around 2200. But I still sit in the baclony...contemplating the days work....planning for tomorrow....

Musing on life...having a smoke...when a lonesome WAP1/4, breaks the silence of the night....its long mournful toots...telling me....the fun is not in the destination...but in the journey.... the loco though heads in to the HYB trip shed, for a lookover, before it heads back in the dead of the night to SC to pull out the Raj next morning.

Thats how, a typical day in my life goes by. As I sign off this report....I see the Charminar exp behind my the first of all WAP4s the 22201 arrives and stops at the HSJ outer signal as the MMR Exp behind GY loco rides in to the setting sun........

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