Trip to NDLS
by Dr. Shirish Yande
On my way back from Manali to Mumbai, I boarded August Kranti Rajdhani Express last week. I managed to do some footplating from H. Nizamuddin to Mathura. Here's an account. I am sure you will like it.
The WAP 4E, heading the Rajdhani Express was well poised to move out of the H.N. Station. There are always two A Special drivers on board. It's always quite exciting to watch these pretigious trains move out of the stations. I for one love these sights. The starter turned yellow exactly at 1655 hours and the train started rolling gracefully out of the station. H. N. is a small station and the train only has to go over a couple of points to get back on the main line.
It rolled rather slowly thanks to severel caution orders of temporary speed restrictions for the first 15 kms. Indeed it never crossed 60 kms/hr until it passed the Palwal station. We had a total of 19 coaches with a load of 1045 tonnes (which means that an average weight of an AC coach is around 55 tonnes).
As we passed Palwal station, the driver started notchig up. The loco swiftly accelerated and reached 130 kmph within minutes. It was simply fascinating to watch the loco speeding past several small stations on the way. We were on notch no. 26 (out of 32 on the tap changer) with the Weak Field lever pulled down to slot four. It is often quite difficult to appreciate such high speed when you are looking through the windscreen. I had to move over to the side door and stand there for some time to feel the speed and enjoy it. We rolled over the smooth track at the speed of 130 kmph for exactly 45 minutes continuously covering the distance of about 100 kms. The overspeeding beep sounded only once when he reached 132 at one point. He immeditely corrected it with a touch of air brake. This happened on a downward gradient of 1:100.
The track between Delhi and Mathura is long welded track with switch expansion joints in between. The track is indeed very smooth; the side swaying is truly minimal. After Palwal we entered the Automatic Signalling territory, but the convention of the Distant, Home, Starter and Advanced starter remains the same in this territory. There are a few IBS ( Intermediate Block Sections), which certainly help to speed up the traffic, by allowing more trains to run in the section. Another point that struck me was the braking is very fast, but it does take severeal minutes to accelerate and resume the top speed. This is prabably due to the high aerodynamic resistance at that speed. (My elementary knowledge of Physics tells me that the drag increases by the square of the velocity) which takes a much higher force to push the load at a faster speed.
Although the loco appeared swift and smooth, the trim level was rather unsatisfactory. For Rajdhanis both Drivers are of A Special grade and they run the Rajdhanis alone.We arrived at the outer signal of Mathura Jn. ten minures ahead of schedule and then waited there for the Jhelum express to cross over to the down line.
It was a thrilling experince altogether. I.wished I stayed aboard longer( which was possible). The most charming thing is the hospitality we receive from the drivers. This ride certainly was no exception. This breed of drivers on IR certainly make our journey more enjoyable and have added character to the Indian Railways.
But these superfast trains always have very long hauls and do not allow us to go back to your coaches easily. This is one strong reason I enjoy tarvelling on not so fast trains, so that you can jump in and out of coaches as well locos whenever you want. Hence the next time I travel down to Delhi my choice is of course going to be the Golden Temple Mail.