Sunday, August 16, 2009

NZM-BSP in Gondwana Exp, june 09

It has been a long time I have posted something in irfca. Last post was perhaps in the Lalu era. Somehow the railfanning took a loop line and couldnt get a proceed from there. Now finally it seems that the "clear" has been given and the notches are on the way up.

I had to do a NZM-BSP-NDLS round trip sometime in the second week of june. As the student life is over and so is the training, the professional life is demanding tight schedules. So much so that I was tempted to take a flight, something which I have not done till now. But somewhere deep down the railfan prevails... which tempted me to take the Great Indian Railway once again.So as it turned out to be, I had work in office till 1230 in Delhi on Thursday and had to reach Raipur rather 100 kms away from Raipur as soon as possible on Friday for a family function. Options avalable Rajdhani at 2040 from NDLS or Gondwana at 1530 hrs from NZM. I decided for the latter.

Due to last minute programme I managed a sleeper class tatkal confirmed ticket in an otherwise packed train. The ticket indicated Side Lower.I was excited. But the June heat was really threatening. It was literally boiling hot inside the comprtment as the rake moved in pf 4 of NZM. The honours went to a BSL wammie. We started on time and picked up decent speeds till outskirts of FBD. But the run was not smooth. It was marred by some slowing down and even halt. Meanwhile the sun baked the rake relentlessly and was in no mood of mercy. Just as we were about to enter Palwal we came to a grinding halt. But surprsingly the clouds made their presence felt and first relief from the heat. But sooner I realised that its almost 20 min now and my sole purpose o taking this train was to reach Raipur on time! ! The halt stretched to 40 min still no sign of any chance of moving ahead. Meanwhile TVC Rajdhani went towards NZM. This brought a sense of relief that at least section ahead is clear. But why on earth were we not moving?? I thought of a loco failure. By now all my thoughts of the train reaching Raipur in time had evaporated. Since I was traveling alone I decided against leaving my luggage unattended and walking to the loco.

Evening was setting in and I had a mixed feeling of excitement and frustration. Excitement coz it was now almost certain that we will be overtaken by both the Mumbai bound Rajdhanis and frustration coz it meant more delay!! Anyways I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the train to move ahead!! Like a blessing came the now familiar horns of BSL wammie!! Familiar coz if the coach is in the front half of the rake we usually recognize the honking wether this is our train or not. And this time it was unmistakably our Wammie which was whisteling loud of its departure. But I admit my mind was now focussed on the crossing of the Rajdhanis. Just as we entered in loop line of Hodal I jumped out of my seat armed with my N73 for my first video ever of the mighty couples.

By the time we halted the main line signals were already showing "clear" for the mighty BCT Raj. I was amazed by the proximity to which the Rajdhani was following us. Barely a couple of minutes and came the horn of the king. The crowd of our train which was by now in the platform looked in anticipation. And in she came in the full glory with WAP7 with horns blaring,obliging the clear ahead with the elegant red LHB coaches. It was not a thundering speed but sufficient enough to make arailfan's day!! com/watch? v=hvjMjcWMFp8
The advance starter at Hodal turned Red then immediately to amber and again proceed in quick succession and this time it was for the deputy. And again within a couple of minutes came August Kranti Rajdhani Express with a BRC WAP4 matching neck to neck in elegance with its predecessor. com/watch? v=31lDK6ctTTI
It really feels satisfying to see these kind of scenes up close. By now after this much action I was totally absorbed in the railfanning fever and was hoping for Paschim to make its presence felt as well.. :-).. But soon I returned to practical world when I again heard the familiar loud honk. We were more than an hour late now.

After Hodal till MTJ and beyond the run was steady. We met AK Raj again at MTJ. Raj was in pf 2 and we were in pf1. It started as soon as we came 2 a halt. The pleasant evening had now turned to a warm night and again there were no signs of temperatures decreasing. Such was the condition that as soon as the train stopped I was awake. I coul literally feel the summer in the night!! Anyways I tried to sleep just thinking that the train will cover something at night (the most general perception I'd say..:-))..

The morning was pleasant however but I was waiting desperately for NGP!! But I soon realised there is some time left in reaching there when we entered Betul at around 0620.. still 40 min delayed. We made a decent morning run amid Multai Pandhurna Narkher etc. The temperatures again started becoming uncomfortable as the day progressed. But I was now worried because it was another 100 kms after Raipur that I had to travel. But the train really ran well against my predictions and we managed to stroll into NGP by 0930 or so still delayed. Although 30 min delay is not a big deal partticularly after the hour long halt before palwal but I was worried about the things to come. 0900 hours means NGP is choked with superfast trains bound for BSP. What priority we will get remained to be seen.

We were taken in Pf 5. The BSL wammie reversed and prepared itself for the final portion of its journey. Porbandar Howrah Exp was adjacent to us ready with a P4 and I had all the reasons in the world to believe that it will move ahead of us. But something good again happened not for the first time in the trip that we got a go ahead and the BSL Wammie now proceeded comfortably with tiny 13 coach load towards Raigarh.What followed after this was something that I am yet to experience even in the Rajdhani!! I have always lamented the stretch for delays and all. But this was probably the day when SECR guys decided to show me their might!!

We rolled off NGP at 1015 or may be a bit later. I was by now interested in minute by minute records of the train. The train really did awesome speeds through Kamptee/Kanhan/ Chacher/Salwa etc till Bhandara. The LPs were realy charged up folks and the section controllers really complemented them with au literally free of uscheduled halts!! By Bhandara the attitude of LPs were pretty clear. As soon as we got the proceed signal we again notched up aggressively. The wayside stations really flashed by and we did some continuous runs of pretty good speeds and more importantly without any obstruction. We reached Gondia and thanks to the fantastic run we had not aggravated our delay. Rather we were on the course for better.

What followed after Gondia left me spellbound. The setting was like high day tmperatures, I was near the gate charging the phone and simultaeously listening some numbers. The combination of heat and speed of the train forced me not to open the door. The mini ghat section before Dongargarh/Amgaon all were crossed in a flash. I really didnt realise and we had left Dongargarh/Rajnandg aon and were on our way to Durg. I was expecting Durg at around 1400 hrs. But the train made good use of slack available between Rajnandgaon and Durg and we swiftly crossed Rasmara/Murhipaar Sivnath and marched into Durg beforetime 1315 hrs!!Full 5 min beforetime. Nothing strange but after halting at Palwal for a hour and letting the Rajdhanis pass, I guess this deserved some accolade!!

We waited till 1330 and again started for Raipur. I was praying for this kind of run to continue till Raipur as well and so it happened!! Again at Raipur we were almost 5 min ahead of time. I thanked the LPs the section controllers and sprinted towards the bus stand for a bus to Ghari Chowk and further to my destination! !It was indeed a satisfying run that changed my notion that a SF can indeed make up lost time between NGP and Durg!! Beware Rajdhani, my expectations from you next time will be much higher.. :-))

The return journey was a more steady yet unusual affair. Unusual because for the first time I took the Howrah-BSP-NDLS Rajdhani Exp which means for the first time I took it from pf2. So accustomed I was to see it depart from pf 6.. Changing times.. I'd say.. Well, by the time I reached the station the train was already in the pf so cant comment on the occupancy prior to BSP but there were a few gentlemen in my coach who looked like coming all the way from Howrah. com/watch? v=KENex52UeIY
In this link you can enjoy the Rajdhani crossing Betul at a pretty good speed. Thanks for patient reading... Comments/Suggestions awaited.

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