Dehradun Shatabdi Trip
by Vaibhav Sarin
Yours truly and Sandeep Sharma recently had the pleasure of travelling in the DDN Shatabdi all the way uptill DDN and coming back on the same day. The trip was a real eyeopener for myself. We arrived at NDLS sharp at 5:50 am in the morning and parked our car at the Paharganj side as the train comes back at PT-1. As we went inside the 2002 Bhopal Shatabdi was ready for its departure. The locomotive was the usual WAP-5 30011 NAVODIT. The occupancy charts were telling the tale of the train with 3 coaches absolutely running empty. Then we headed for the Platform No. 12 from where the DDN Shatabdi departs. I could see the 2004 LKO Shatabdi standing with its LHB rake. The train had an astounding occupancy of more than 95%.
The loco doing the honours was an unusual WAP-4 CNB 22547. The train departed sharp at 6:15am. Now I was waiting for the finale when the DDN Shatabdi would come in coupled with the ASR Swarna Shatabdi but unfortunately this practise seems to have been stopped. as soon as the LKO Shatabdi departed no time was wasted and within the span of 5 minutes a WDM-3a in orange cream livery came in hauling the Shatabdi right from the maintenance pit. Soon there was total bedlam at the platform. Both generator cars were in Rajdhani colouring scheme and were recently painted. The train departed on time though acceleration was a bit slow with jerks being felt each time the guy used to change from the high thrust mode to high speed mode. Sorry guys don't know the exact term for that thing as I am a non-technical guy.
We crossed the Yamuna bridge at 30km/h and were again flying with occasional braking due to speed restrictions and track work. We reached GZB in flat 30 min. It took us full 10 mins to negotitate from the GZB yard before we were back on the main line to Meerut. Surprisingly I guess WAP-5's I believe are in big trouble. I haven't seen them hauling any trains for a while and guess what there were 5 WAP-5's and 2 WAP-7's lying in the GZB shed. God knows what's happening. Surprisingly Vaishali Express came in with a WAP-5 while the poor LKO Shatabdi had to manage with a WAP-4.
Anyways coming to the DDN Shatabdi. Then train had a fantastic run between GZB and Meerut. The train did 110km/h with just fewer brakings and we arrived Meerut city 8 minutes before time. The train departed sharp on time and now it was the time for us to dive into our breakfast as we were terrible hungry. The usual meal of omelette and bread along with Heinz ketchup and butter along with coffee was served which proved to be very little for yours truly and Sandeep. So a 50 rupees note quietly tucked inside the waiter's hand and we were on our way for a second course of breakfast too. While we gobbled down on our meals we had a brief halt at Muzaffarnagar. Crossover took place at this station with the Jan Shatabdi which coming from DDN and was bound for NDLS.
After so much of a wholesome meal and a fantastic chilling AC we both went in for a brief nap. By the time we got up were at the Saharanpur station limits. The train had arrived 10 minutes before time. Finally after 30 minutes and loco reversal we departed for DDN. Guys, the catenaries and the wires are present on this route all the way up till Roorkee. Beyond this only poles are in place. Arrival at Haridwar was on time. Beyond Haridwar was the real scenic part of the journey which started. We crossed 2 tunnels and plenty of forests and curves which shatabdi negotiated very graciously. We arrived at DDN right on time.