Trips to NLR and SBC
by Shashanka Nanda
I recently went on 2 seperate trips to Nellore and SBC from HYB. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the journeys
Trip to NLR
I couldn't get direct reservation from HYB to HYB owing 2 summer rush so I divided my journey in 2 parts. Overnight HYB to BZA by Narsapur Exp and from BZA to HYB by Pinakini Exp. The Narsapur is the last train of the day to leave HYB and departs at 2145 hrs. It's a 17 coach vaccum brake rake hauled by a KZJ WDM2. I got resvervation in S7 and had a side upper berth. My coach was older than I was, having been built by BEML in 1977. So u can imagaine the state of affairs and since 2 nuns were occupying the side lower and were chatting away to glory, I had no option but to squeeze my 6', 190lbs frame into the side upper berth. I had a long tiring day and was in every mood to sleep and for once railspotting took the back seat.
A few fitful hours later I woke up in a pool of sweat to realize that the fan pointing at my face had conked out... so I had no other option but to get off. Next 3 hours I spent on the door, on the way my train was crossed by the opposite Narsapur Express with another KZJ WDM2 incharge. One peculiar thing about the train is that it carries a 'HC1' coach, which is a composite AC Chair Car and AC First Class (normal H class with two 4 man booths and one 2 man booth) and there is no way you can get from the ACC side to the H class side as there is a solid panel wall between the two. The TTE told me that this has been a regular feature of the train and that the ACC is very popular and so is the H class. The other AC coach is a normal AC2 tier one.
Has anyone ever seen such a coach before? Is it in regular service anywhere else? I havent seen/heard of any such one.
The train reached BZA on the time, and there was still 1 hr 30 mins to kill. the station was real hot and humid even in the daybreak ( later that day, the mercury touched 49 deg Celcius in BZA) so i just roamed around the station. BZA is a wonderful place for trainspotting and there is non stop action 24/7. In that 1 hour I saw plenty of run of the mill WDM2, WAP4 trains, but a few aberrations.... The prime shunter at BZA these days is a KZJ based WDM2 in the usual maroon livery bearing the road #018287 with the 0 being crudely hand painted. What does the '0' signify ???
Also I and herambh had reported that the BZA-Hubli Amravati Exp and its cosuin the BZA-Vasco Express gets a WDP4, but surprisingly it trundled into BZA behind a puny WDP1!!! now that was some shock and I need to find out more on that.
My Pinakini came into the platform hauld by its LGD WAP4 only and I got myself a window seat in 'Executive Class' (for further details on this form of travel, contact Milan Chatterjee) and got set for a 4 hour ride. the Pinakani is affectionately referred to me as the Pinky exp. is one of the most heavily patronised trains on the BZA-MAS sector as it is the only decent day train serving the BZA-Gudur-Madras Janta (the Krishna is a pseudo express, even though it is 21 coache slong and gets a WAP4). And its very very hard to find a seat in the pinky once out of BZA. The ride was smooth with no spectacular special effctes and the driver did a super pro job by coming into HYB bang on time isnpite of numerous cautions on the way due to track maintenance.
Just before HYB I also saw the wreckage of the recent Coromadel accident and let me tell the that after that, the track in that section has improved considerably. And there was another surprise, it is usually months before u see a diesel loco on this stretch, but an Ongole I saw a GTL based WDM2 (#18227) which is another of the relegated to shunting and Brach Traffic SCR locos , but it was hauling a 6 car departmental track maintenance rake. This loco is usually seen the HYB-SC area, but by the looks of it, it had come in from the GDR side, which was also very surprising.
The moment, the Pinakini stopped at HYB, on the opposite platform, the newly introduced Chennai Egmore-BZA express came in behind a BZA WAG5E (BZA WAG5Es are its passenger fit locos, in addtion to a couple of WAG5As). This as of now is a special train with a 3 digit number, but I have strong feeling that this will later turn into the proposed MAS-BZA Jan Shatabdi. As of now it had about 10-12 GS coaches with 1 ACC and 1 pantry.
Also during my stay at HYB I saw increasing # of passeneger trains including SFs being hauled by WAG5s from BZA, and also saw the Chennai Raj speed thru HYB station at 70kmph behind a CNB WAP4. The weather during the weekend was atrocious and deprived me of any extended railfanning session, as I had planned a photogrpahy trip from the Mica mines near Nellore.
The return journey was the the Superfast TPTY-SC weekend express. This train runs on Friday and Sat from SC to TPTY and returns on Sat and Sun from TPTY, and strangely has one AB rake and one VB rake. Before this train reached HYB, was preceded by the HYB bound 7053 exp from MAS and the NDLS bound GT exp. The HYB exp had its usual LGD WAP4, while the GT had an ED WAP4. The HYB exp was late by 20 mins and had held up both the GT and my train. My train arrived immideatly after the GT behind an AJJ WAM4-6PD and was out of HYB like a slingshot.
After crossing the Pennar bridge at the restricted 50kmph, the driver opened up and let the train rip, he maintained a steady 100-105kmph and at Bitragunta, both the GT and my Exp overtook the HYB express. I slept easy until BZA, where I saw the progress on the 3rd Krishna bridge, which is about 30-35% complete. After BZA I went to sleep again and woke up only at MLY, nothing unusual was seen till SC and the train entered SC on time.
Trip to SBC
The very same evening (Monday) I departed for SBC. Since no train ticket was available, I took a sleeper bus to SBC. These sleeper buses run by paulo travels of goa have always been my second choice if train wasn't available. Anyways I left HYB at 0730 and slept almost thru the way, I woke up near yelahanka and just after crossing the air force base, the bus stopped at the level crossing. This line I presume is the direct line between YNK and SBC rather than the normal one between SBC-BYPL-CSDR-YNK. After a short while a WDM2A from KJM came full horns blaring with an empty TK tanker rake. The brake van was just behind the engine while the last car was a TK van itself with LV written on it using chalk.
That was all the railfanning I could manage in the next 2-3 days. I did manage to speak to Mr, Rakesh Misra, but unfortunately I could not meet him. IRFCAN Ravi Sundarrajan met me though at my place and we had a nice long chat on trains over lunch. On the 21st I visited Bangalore Cantt. To recieve my friend coming from delhi. I saw the incoming Brindavan Express from MAS behind a spanking new red WAP4 (#22522) from ED shed. The loco had a yellow panto and I also managed to have a peek at the new pantry car in Brindavan. A few minutes later, the arrival of the Karnataka Exp from NDLS was announced, and shortly it came in behind twin WDM2As from Itarsi. The curve on the BYPL side of Cantt. station affords a beautiful view of trains sweeping in, and the sight of a 24 coach rake behind twin WDM2s with dynamics shrieking and smoke puffing was a truly majestic sight.
Both the locos were from the ancient 184XXX series and looked in dire need of an overhaul. The rake itself was in pretty bad shape and almost 40% of the AC coach windows were shattered and were held together just by the laminating sheets. So much for famed SR rake maintenance!!! I was again deprived of trainspotting for another 2-3 days when I went to SBC station to see of another friend on the HNZM Raj. It was hauled by a WDM2A (#17549) from KZJ and was painted in the Raj livery. There are atleast 3-4 such locos from KZJ who do duty on the Raj, while sometimes hauling normal Exps. too. i also saw a day train ( no destination boards !!! ) behind a KJM jumbo. the hindupur HHPDMU and some other exps with usual assortment of KJM and ED WDM2s.
IRFCAN John M and me had a small chat on the fone, but I couln't meet him also due to a very hectic schedule, but on Sunday....when I was due to return by 7086 to HYB, we (me and my pal) were met again by Ravi S Rajan at SBC station and we had a small look around the WDP4 (#20006) hauling the 86. also saw a KJM WDS6, the twin ET WDM2s waiting for the KK Exp and again the HHPDMU. Shortly before the start Ravi left to check out the starting blasts of the WDP4 while I settled at my side lower berth to enjoy some action. saw, the Marikuppam-SBC passenger behind a KJM WDM2 at Cantt. Along with a light WDM2 also from KJM on the loop line. Also spotted a long oil rake with twin WDG2s from GY near the windsor manor hotel. Then near BYPL a pair and a light WDM2 again from KJM crossed in quick succession.
The train climbed the Makalidurg Ghats with ease with the tremendous power of the WDP4 at hand and in the setting sun, the long rake snaking around the curves looked gorgeous. The 7085/6 pantry serves in my opinion the best food in the entire IR with the exception of the Raj's and Shatabdi's and even beats a few of them (the MYS and the PA Shatabdis especially), real Roti's hot off the Tawa...and Chanas, good rice and real friendly staff. Wish we had more of the sort........
Nothing unusual was spotted till GY, except the normal WDM2/WDG2 assortments hauling all sorts of passengers and freights. At GY though I had double luck. I spotted the now famous WDG2A 'Garuda' standing right next to the #1997 WDG4 in the EMD demo livery of blue-turquoise-white. The harsh sodium-vapo lights of the GY yard was reflected beautifully of the luminiscent paint schemes of these locos, but alas, I didn't have a camera suitably equipped to take a snap. It was a full moon night, and a cool breeze was blowing... and I was sleeping blissfully, only to be awaken occasionally by a passing train, and of course while crossing the 7085 towards SBC with the driver making full use of the nasty but oh so deliciious WDP4 horn....
I woke up to realize that somewhere we had lost 40 mins of time, and inspite of the best efforts of the driver, we pulled in 45 mins late at KCG...ending a real tiring but satisfying fortnight of non stop action.