New Delhi to Jaipur by Shatabdi Exp.
by Mani Vijay (AKA Vijay Balasubramanian)
Here's the second of my travelogues. First, a synopsis of the Shatabdi run.
|Time||Station||Comments||Commercial speed (in kmph)|
|06 15 d||New Delhi|
|06 51 a
06 53 d
|Delhi||Cantt 11 mts. late|
|07 14||Garhi Harsaru||77.14|
|07 31||Pataudi Rd.||70.59|
|08 42 a
08 44 d
|Alwar||10 mts. late||80.73|
|09 09 a
09 14 d
|Digawara||Unscheduled halt for
Jodhpur-Delhi Exp. crossing
|10 52 a
11 03 d
|Jaipur||Arrived 12 mts. late
departed 18 mts. late
A fairly consistent run. I was told that the train goes at 110 kmph. max till Rewari - the train seemed to attain this in short bursts. The surprise halt was at Digawara for allowing the Jodhpur-Delhi Exp. to cross it. Indicates that schedules can get messed-up in single line sections if trains are running late. And then there was a rather long halt just after a signal during the last leg - I found out that the loco. was experiencing some problems. So, it could not make-up lost time and reached Jaipur 12 mts. late.
After just a day's rest at Delhi (actually Ghaziabad), we were back on the rails, this time towards Jaipur. Although we reached the station with 1/2 hour to spare, I was somewhat worried about the number of luggage items and how it would fit inside an AC chair car. Fortunately, the coach was about 2/3rds full and we were able to use the space behind the last row of seats. Interestingly, the train was parked on the very same platform on which we had arrived the previous morning (by Tamilnadu) and would depart in the same direction, as well. I went over to the WDM2C loco. to ask the driver about a possible footplate. He pointed me to the inspector in charge. One look at his grouchy disposition and I knew that my chances were minimal. He was quick to exercise his authority and turned down my request. No harm trying, eh?!
The train departed on time but stopped for a brief 2 minutes near the rake maintenance yard - this was to our left. It crawled for the next 5 minutes or so. So, nearly 8 minutes were consumed in heading out of the station. Around 6.27 am, a WDM2-hauled push-pull train crossed us with a neat livery - cream on top, black band above windows, red at and below windows. Couldn't catch the name in the darkness. By this time, soup had been served and I had to temporarily leave my position at the door. Although the Shatabdi's exterior appeared decent including the windows, the seats looked worn-out. By the time I re-appeared at the door, we had left electrified territory and were being accompanied by an MG line on our left. Even as daylight descended upon us, we had the first crossing with MG stock. The 13-coach train was accelerating out of Delhi Cant and the YDM4A belching out the familiar Alco exhaust. Most probably the Bikaner Mail - 6 sleeper coaches and 1 AC 2-tier.
After a brief 2-minute halt at Delhi Cant, we were off towards Rewari. Delhi Cant. has a non-island platform for MG, and two islands for BG. As the train start to accelerate, I poked out of the left door and was rewarded with the elegant Palace-on-Wheels rake standing on the other island. The livery was a nice one - cream throughout with three bands running across, midway between the windows and the bottom - a dark brown band sandwitched between two thin red ones. The last coach was a generator car with "Palace-on-Wheels" etched in white on a brown nameplate. The next coach was a non-AC luggage van with "Palace On Wheels" painted on it as a running script. And then a bunch of AC coaches with huge windows and fancy curtains. Had to zoom-in to estimate the count. Looked like an 18-coach train. On the other side of the island platform, was another cream-colored train - probably the old POW rake?
We accelerated out of Delhi Cant with the WDM2C's primeover making music and crossed the MG track so that it was to our right. It stayed that way till Rewari. I observed that semaphore signals were still being used here. In fact, my first sighting of a color-light signal was only at Alwar. Very surprising, indeed!! I would have thought that a Shatabdi/Rajdhani route would be operating only on color-light signals. This was a rather cold early morning run and my exposed hands reminded me of that - but I was in no mood to leave the door! At 6.56 am, we crossed a 20 coach MG train, most probably, the Ahmadabad - Delhi Sarai Rohilla Exp. Composition - 1 sleeper, SLR, 2 GS, 5 sleeper, 1 1AC-cum-2AC, 1 2AC, 5 sleepers, 2 GS, SLR, 1 sleeper. So the two end coaches were actually sleepers instead of the normal brake vans. Sectional coaches, maybe?
The train thundered through Garhi Harsaru Jn. Just after the station, a line took-off from the MG track next to us - the branch line to Farukhnagar. A young journalist was traveling to Jaipur on business - he informed me that it costs around Rs. 70,000 ($1500 approx) for the entire Palace-on-Wheels experience including food, lodging, sight-seeing, etc. He ended paying a fine because of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Here's what transpired - this chap had arrived at New Delhi just in time to catch the train - he was told that the ticket could be bought inside the train itself and that he should look for the TT. Apparently, he could not find the TT or had not bothered to do that. So, when the TT came to check for tickets and didn't find one with this guy, he imposed a fine. An altercation resulted with Mr. Young Blood threatening the TT that he would have him exposed, blah! blah! That certainly didn't help matters. To make a long story short, the fine was paid and the TT was on his way.
The train slowed down around 7.23 am as it passed through Jataula Jauri Sampka (another candidate for a long station name). An MG train had already left the station ahead of us and disappeared into the distance. We caught up it at Pataudi Rd.and overtook it as it was pulling out of this station. This was the Delhi Sarai Rohilla - Rewari pass., a 11-coach train hauled by YDM4A #6345. The sun had come up and was casting a shadow of the coach frames & couplings onto the adjacent track. It's interesting how one can judge the horizontal movement by observing the shadow's position on the track. Has anyone else engaged in this peculiar act, or am I the odd one out?? Ten minutes later, we crossed the Rewari-Delhi MG pass. Five minutes later, we slowed down on our approach to Rewari. A line took off from the parallel MG track, crossed us and curved away on the other side. Just after that the BG line from Hisar-Bhiwani crossed the MG track and joined us. Rewari has a reasonable size MG yard - in fact, the two BG islands are sandwitched between MG tracks. We went through the station at a leisurely pace and crossed the Rewari-Alwar passenger which would follow us 15 mts. later. This was headed by WDM2 with wings in front - Ratlam shed?
A sharp curve to the left brought us out of Rewari - the cream-blue coaches glittered in the sunlight. I observed that ours was a 12-coach Shatabdi and we were 4th from the loco. As we passed the semaphore signal (lower quadrant), the loco. accelerated with repeated horns and spilled out thick diesel fumes. Ahh, that smell!! I was back in my seat for breakfast. I love omlette and toast -how about you guys?? At 8.15 am, we crossed the Ashram Exp. I captured the doubled-headed train from inside while holding my sleeping daughter and supporting the camcorder with the free hand. Looked like Abu Rd. WDM2s. Composition - SLR - 2 GS - 13 sleepers - 2 3AC - 3 2AC - 2 GS - SLR - 24 coaches. 15 mts. later, we crossed another train at Parisal. This one had a peculiar symmetric compositon - two WDMs followed by 7 coaches - 3 GS - 1 SLR - 3 GS. Could have been the Jaipur-Hissar Fast Pass. Pretty soon we encountered some hillocks (part of the Aravalis) as we neared Alwar. A bypass line took off on the left and we went through the quaint town. The line from Mathura joined us on the left. As we branched-off the main line onto the platform loop line, I saw color light signals for the first time on this journey (besides Delhi, of course). Alwar has just two platforms with four tracks in-between. No yard.
After a 2-minute halt, we were off towards Jaipur. No more semaphores! After a fast 20 mt. run, we stopped for a crossing - this was something I had not expected at all. I got down and crossed the Up track to capture the oncoming express. The 18-coach train thundered past us - only 3 sleeper coaches, one AC 2-tier, one AC 3-tier. The 25 minute run till Bandikui was through flat terrain. We went through a sharp curve to the right as we approached the 3-platform station of Bandikui - 1 island. I was hoping to overtake the Delhi-Jaipur superfast exp. but we never met the train at all - looks like it stayed ahead of us all the time. For the next 20 mts., the train went at a steady 100 kmph. or so and did not slow down at Dausa. Quite a few curves after this. The longest unscheduled halt happened just after a signal - looks like the loco. has some leakage problems - is this common on WDM2s? We crossed the Ala Hazrat Exp. at Khatipura - a 16 coach train - SLR - 2 GS - 7 sleeper - 1 2AC - 3 sleepers - 1 GS - SLR. All coaches except the first had the dark/light blue color. We finally landed in Jaipur 12 mts. behind schedule. I had a chance to capture the train in full glory as it left the station after a 11 mt. halt. The loco. was WDM2C #14029 from TKD shed. It was blue on top with the usual dip in front and cream below it. The AC chair cars were numbered C1 to C9, followed by C10 for the executive chair car. C4 had elongated windows.
And so, a short-but-sweet journey came to an end.