Its just about a 2787 kilometers long journey which was over 52 hours, in 3 different trains, I made back in October 2012.It was a special journey for me, taking risks, and this one will always be the journey of my life!
I am a big fan of Formula 1 and Michael Schumacher. I always wanted to watch him in action on track. The 2012 Indian Grand Prix was On October 28th, So I decided to go all the way from Ernakulam to new Delhi to see my favorite star in action. When I discussed about my plans to my friends, some of them were interested to join me for the trip. Finally, it was my great friends, Antony Gijo Paiva and Sivakumar Govindarajan who gave confirmation that they are coming with me to Delhi. But there arises the issues. Both of them are in Chennai, and I’m here in Ernakulam. We all wanted to be in same train towards New Delhi. Then, I prepared 2 Plans so that I can join them somewhere in the journey. So, the final plans were, they will start in a train from Chennai, I will join them either in Chennai itself, or somewhere else after Chennai. I made these plans :-
Take 12625 Trivandrum – New Delhi Kerala Super Fast Express from Ernakulam or Aluva upto Coimbatore Junction. It will reach Coimbatore by 20:00. I can take 12672 Mettupalayam – Chennai Central Nilgiri (Blue Mountain) Express from Coimbatore to Chennai. Its scheduled to arrive at Chennai by 05:05 next day morning. I can take either of early morning New Delhi departures like Rajdhani/Garib Rath/Duranto (which ever is available on the day of travel). So, Calculating the available buffer time (time between arrival and departure), I’ve 55 minutes at Coimbatore, and 1 hour 5 minutes at Chennai(Garib Rath departs at 6:10 from Chennai Central). We decided a weekend journey, so our train turned out to be 12611 Chennai Central – Hazrat Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express. It was a risky plan, and taking Garib Rath paved way for my Plan B.
Take 12625 Trivandrum – New Delhi Kerala Super Fast Express from Ernakulam or Aluva up to Gudur Junction. Kerala is Scheduled to reach Gudur by 05:55, which is the fisrt station where both the planned trains have a halt. 12611 Chennai Central – Hazrat Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express departs Gudur at 08:00. So I have an ample 2 hour 5 minutes buffer time. The Only issue was – I’ve never been to Gudur before!
From these two, I chose plan B, because it felt safer than Plan A.We made a final twist. We will get down at Agra, go and watch Taj Mahal, and will take one of the evening departures from Agra to New Delhi. We then decided to take 18237 Bilaspur Junction – Amritsar Junction Chhattisgarh Express from there.
So, this was my final plan – Take 12625 Kerala Express from Aluva up to Gudur Junction, Take 12611 Garib rath from there till Agra, and 18237 Chhattisgarh Express from Agra to New Delhi. Some nail biters were there, all the tickets were in Waiting List! Our Agra – New Delhi one got confirmed 2 weeks before the journey. Garib Rath Tickets were Waiting List 118,119,120 respectively, which moved to Reservation Against Cancellation just 2 days before the journey, and it got confirmed on the date of journey (Thank God). My real issue was the Kerala Express, it was waiting list 198 at the time of Booking, came down to waiting list 98, 2 days before the journey. I was thinking about taking a Tatkal ticket, but I hold on to this one, and I got this ticket Confirmed when chart was prepared!!
There were many firsts for me in this journey – crossing 2500kms, first ride behind a WAP7 locomotive, and moreover, first journey in an Air Conditioned Coach (I usually Prefer Sleeper class for my journeys)!
19th OCTOBER 2012 – The Journey Begins!
I left home by 07:00 with my Trolley and Shoulder Bag (My partners for 1 week). I left my luggage at Aluva Station Cloak room, and went to my office, which is at Info park, Kakkanad. After completing my works, by 14:45, bidding good bye to colleagues, I left off to the station. I made it to station by 16:00 and collected by luggage from the clock room. Now, I was all excited, hoping for a grand journey!
Train 1 : 12625 Trivandrum – New Delhi Kerala Super Fast Express
My train was scheduled to arrive Aluva at 16:15. My coach was S3. when I inquired about my coach position, the lady in the information counter told its 5th from the locomotive. So, I went on to the platform and the wait was on! Announcements of Kerala’s arrival was made at 16:20, and it made into Aluva by 16:26, late by 11 minutes, with Erode WAP4 #22269 in power. Now, the real surprise came when it came to a halt. I couldn’t find my S3 coach on 5th from locomotive, it was an Air Conditioned 3 tier coach in front of me. I realized the mistake – My train had reversed the direction at Ernakulam South. The lady told me the coach position from trivandrum, not the one from Ernakulam. So, my coach is 5th from last, ie the 19th coach from the locomotive! I had to run with my luggage and managed to board my coach, just as my train started. The journey begins! It took a bit of time for me to settled in. We made it to Thrissur by 17:20, slightly behind the schedule. I had a coffe from here. We started off at 17:25, late by 10 minutes.
It started to drizzle at vallathol nagar, the entry point of Palakkad Division. So, I’m leaving my home division behind, and moving on! We crossed the Bharathapuzha bridge and rolled over to the fastest electrified section in Kerala, the Shornur – Palakkad Section. Soon after the negotiation of the long right hand curve,which has a permanent speed restriction of the 30kmph, 22269 unleashed the beast in it, and we hit the Maximum Permitted Speed of 110 for the first time in the journey. Just as my GPS showed 110 kmph, we slowed down and came to a halt at Ottapalam. This halt was introduced for this train just 4 months back. It was still drizzing, and was quickly getting dark. We departed at 18:10, now I moved to the door to enjoy the last rays of sun for the day and the light drizzle.We had been doing a superb run,and the stations were just seen for a mare seconds in the furious run! We finally Slowed down just before Palakkad Junction and crawled into Platform No. 3 by, 18:35, which means we are running as per schedule for the first time in the journey! I got down to take a coffee. The drizzle was gone. After 5 mins, we started off towards Coimbatore.
It was a sedate run through the Ghats, and we made it to Coimbatore Junction by 20:00, on time.I got down and bought a vegetable biriyani for my supper. I saw the slip coaches of Nilgiri (Blue Mountain) on the track right next to me, so, my part 1 of Plan A could have worked.By the time I had finished my Biriyani, we had reached Irugur. There was a painful crawl through Sulur Road, and we reached Tiruppur by 21:00, 12 mins behind schedule. While Approaching Tiruppur, my friend Rakesh Thampi who was at Erode called and told me that he is taking 12695 Chennai- Trivandrum Super fast Express Back to his home. My train started from Tiruppur at 21:04. Now, I wanted to meet him, but I was sure it was going to be close with the two trains, as 12695 is Scheduled to arrive Erode at 21:25, and its departure is at 21:30, where as, my Kerala Express’s arrival is Scheduled at 21:50. I have 50 kms to Erode, my train can do maximum of 110 kmph, and I tried to calculate the least time required to traverse this distance. With my very bad mathematical skills, I rounded off a running time of 40 mins, so I might arrive at Erode by 21:45, and not meeting him. Man plans, God re-plans. So, it was all upto my train’s run to make it to Erode and meet him.
Right after leaving Tiruppur, I called my friend Gijo and asked him to track me these trains via Rail Radar. After a few minutes, he rang me up and told me: “12695 is shown very close to Erode, whereas yours is no where near!” Oh Dear! Now, I may not be able to meet him. So I went to the door, to see whether any other train is going to my opposite side. Now, I my train was really running like mad, like there is some emergency to reach Erode soon! My coach was shaking very violently, making it feel like we might be thrown off the track anytime! My watch showed Its 21:37,and we started to slow down. I received a call from Rakesh telling my train’s arrival at Erode is announced and his train is about to depart. Wow! So, 22269 in its final strech had did a tremendous job!! We made it to Erode by 21:40, full 10 mins ahead of Schedule! I just jumped off from my coach and rushed to meet him, I could just say a hai and and a short talk, and within this, his train started. Phew! It was really close! Since we are very much ahead of schedule, I decided to walk to the front of my train and watch the Loco change.
By the time I reached in front, 22269 was already detached and gone, and Another top mount head lamp fitted WAP4 loco was coming towards my train. As it drew closer, I got a look at it, it was another Erode WAP4, 22273! So, its 22273 which is going to take Kerala Express in the rest of the journey. Now, I was feeling a bit tired after all this action, and started walking back to my coach. In between, I saw a shop selling uzhunnu vadas, I bought 3 of them (It was really delicious ones!). I finished them in no time, bought a coffee and boarded my coach.
We left Erode at 22:00, and 22273 was doing a good job upfront,and made it to Salem Junction by 22:55, bang on time. We departed Salem at 23:00 and then I dozed off in my Side Upper berth,to a deep sleep!So, I missed the some big staions like Jolarpettai, Katpadi and Renigunta. I had kept an Alarm at 05.50, and the scheduled arrival at Gudur Junction was at 05:55, for the 2 minute halt. My ticket is only upto here. It was very hard for me to wake up this early morning (I Love Sleeping!), and unfortunately I hit the snooze when the alarm went off! After 5 more mins, my alarm buzzed, and this time I woke up, with all my senses, only to realise my train has stopped somewhere. Oh My God, have I reached Gudur? I went on to panic mode in no time, grabbed my trolley and shoulder bags. All the shutters were closed in my coach. I managed to open the shutter close to me and found out we are not in a station (Thank God!). It was raining outside, so I couldn’t look outside. I asked the passenger near by me when did we leave Renigunta, and he replied he don’t know. Now I was really nervous. Thoughts of running late eluded me. What if I miss Garib Rath? What will I do next? All these thoughts came to my mind. I rushed to the door, I somehow opened it with trembled hands (I was scared and tensed) and look outside. My train had started to move in between, now we were approaching a station, and it was Gudur Junction! I then rushed to my seat, grabbed my trolley and shoulder bag and reached back to the door. It had started to rain heavily,so I had to run into the benches in the station. In between, 12760 Hyderabad – Chennai Charminar Express had came to the opposite platform. Kerala Express left Gudur at 6:15, leaving me behind in the unknown territory.
I had to be at that very place I got down for almost an hour, since it was raining heavily. I didn’t had an umbrella with me. Brushed my teeth here. Trains were coming and going, and I was seeing majority of them for the first time in my life! 18496 Bhubaneswar – Rameswaram Weekly Express came in to Platform Number 1 at 06:23 and left after a 2 minutes halt. It was hauled by an Itarsi WAM4-6P #21357. There were no signs of rain getting weaker, so I had to sit there itself. A passenger train was there in the 3rd Platform, going towards Vijayawada. A Container rake hauled by Jhansi WAG5H #24074 came into platform number 2 and stopped there. The passenger train in 3rd Platform started its journey towards destination at 06:50. The container train started at 07:00, 10 minutes behind the passenger, towards Vijayawada.Sivakumar and Gijo were giving me frequent updates regarding their run in Garib Rath from Chennai Central Onwards.
For the next 20 minutes, the station was like a barren land with no trains. 57240 Bitragunta – Chennai Central Passenger came into platform number 3 at 07:22, powered by Arakkonam WAG5A #23201. It had coaches wrapped by United India Insurance advertisements. It left towards Chennai at 07:30. Just after 5 minutes, 16094 Lucknow-Chennai Express came to platform number 1 with Erode WAP4 #22340. Now it was a small drizzle, so I went out to platform number 1 with my luggage to buy Breakfast for me and my pals. I got a call from my friend Gautham Kumar, who hails from Nellore telling he is about reach the station to meet me. I ordered 3 sets parcel of Idli and Vada at the restaurant in 1st platform. After 10 minutes,the restaurant guy gave me 2 packets instead of 3. I asked him to give 1 more, and he gave 2 more instead. God, I should learn telugu to communicate with them!
Train 2 : 12611 Chennai Central – Hazrat Nizamuddin Garib Rath Express.
I heard a WAP4 horn all of a sudden and much to my surprise my 12611 Chennai Central – Hazrat Nizamuddin Garib Rath Garib Rath Express, hauled by Erode WAP4 #22890 came into platform number 2 and came to a halt! It has reached 5 minutes ahead of its schedule!Now, I’m standing in Platform number 1, with my trolley bag in one hand, 2 covers containing the break fast for all of us, and my shoulder bag. My coach was G13, which was 3rd coach from the locomotive. I was standing way back, somewhere near G4 or so, and to make matters worse, I’ve to cross the track to take my train. I ran with all my energy through platform number 1 with my luggage towards my coach, only to see my pals looking for me in the other platform! I was literally shouting their names to help me. They saw my struggle, Gijo came to my side and took my luggage and Sivakumar took our breakfast pack. What a way to get into the train! Guatham was there in platform number 2, and we took this picture just before the start of the journey of my life!
Finally, we started off from Gudur at 08:01, as per the scheduled time. It was for the first time I’m traveling in an Air Conditioned coach. Our berths were 20,73 and 74. The Traveling Ticket Examiner came and checked our tickets. I changed to a T shirt, with which I was more comfortable. It had started to rain again, so door plating was out of question for the moment. We went on to have our break fast, which was really delicious. It was lucky that I had an extra set, because all of us really wanted to have some more of that Idli! In between, we had skipped Nellore, a major halt for many train in this route. We were doing good speeds, and by 09:00 the rain had gone, but it was cloudy atmosphere. We came to an abrupt halt after Kavali, at 09:20. We started after a minute, and this was where Sivakumar took this beautiful picture.
We had a good run till Ongole, and came to a halt at 10:05 , 15 minutes behind Schedule. It was a short time halt and we started off towards our next Scheduled Halt – Vijayawada Junction just after a minute. Just before reaching Chirala, 12655 Ahmedabad Junction – Chennai Central Navjeevan Express crossed us with an Erode WAP4 as it power. We were then waiting for our biggest catch – The Coromandel Express to cross us. Since we had been standing on door for past 1 hour, our legs were starting to hurt. So what we did is, we pulled down the Coach attendee’s berth, which was kept folded near the door. Upon reaching Tenali, it started to rain heavily. 12841 Howrah Junction – Chennai Central Coromandel Super Fast Express crossed us just after Tenali Junction. Now our WAP4 in charge was really showing some great performance, doing the maximum permitted speed of 110 kmph for a long time. It seemed like the Loco Pilots wanted to end their duty as soon as possible! But we had to slow down and to take the loop line at Duggirala since a BCNA rake was occupying the mainline.
Jayakar sir from Vijayawada called me in between, and informed us that he is coming to meet us at Station. Once the loop was cleared, the Loco Pilots wasted no time and it was a furious run in the pouring rain! The superb run ensured we entered the mighty Krishna bridge by 11:50 and proceeded towards Vijayawada Junction.
Thanks to that final rush, we made it to Vijayawada Junction by 11:57, 7 minutes behind Schedule. 18645 Howrah Junction – Hyderabad Deccan East Coast Express was there in the station, with Lallaguda WAP4 #22609 attached to it. Another train with Krishnarajapuram WDP4 #20022 came in our adjacent platform. We went on to buy 3 vegetable biriyanis for our lunch. Jayakar sir came to our coach, and it was very nice to meet him in person. He also got time to take a few snaps with us.
We started from Vijayawada at 12:07, 7 minutes behind schedule. Some of the passengers hadn’t got in, and someone in the group pulled the Alarm Chain to stop the train. We started after 2 minutes, but some one pulled the alarm chain again! 3 of us got out of the coach to see what has happened now. Jayakar sir came to us and told a few guys couldn’t make it to the train, so their friends in the train pulled the chain. Finally, after the two short lived starts, we started off at 12:12, with a delay of 12 minutes.Our new Loco Pilots were on a charge straight away, hitting 110 kmph very soon. I was expecting my train to do 120kmph here, since the tracks are fit for 120kmph. The maximum we reached was 115kmph, as per my GPS. We went on to have our biriyanis. Frankly, there were not of good quality. So I wont prefer biriyani from Vijayawada anymore!
Our constant run was interrupted at Madhira for the first time, as we had to take the loop line since a freight train was occupying the main line. We proceeded with our fast runs after it, but we were only doing 110 kmph! At 13:48,We came to a stop at a station named Mallemadugu, and was there for 3 minutes. Continuous Door plating had made me tired, so I went on to have a power nap. I kept an Alarm, to wake up at 14:45(but I did a blunder, I actually set Alarm for 02:45!). I woke up by 14:50, from a nice dream, with out the help of alarm. I first thought my alarm is not working properly. Then I realised my blunder – I had kept the alarm for next day morning! Whatever, I woke up and washed my face. My train was slowing down. Where have we reached? Gijo was reading a book, and Sivakumar was busy with his Laptop. We came to a halt at Chintalapalli Home signal.
I was witnessing a weird scene now – A freight train is taking main line from the loop line and it is proceeding ahead of us! Once that freight was out of our sight, we made a slow run to to stop in the main line of the station. We stopped there for 5 minutes, and started our journey again. We were gaining speed, but we stopped just after a few kilometers. This was getting frustrated. We ahve stopped no where, all because of getting impeded by a freight. “Great job South Central Railways! You are really screwing up our run!” I thought. After a 5 minute halt, we started, and we were approaching Warangal. Since the freight ahead was blocking us, I was expecting a halt at Warangal, even though we do not had a scheduled halt. As I expected, we came to a halt in Warangal at 15:30. Some people got into our train from here. Kazipet WAG7 #28480 went non – stop through the down main line this time. We started after a 5 minutes halt, started to gain speed, and slowed down again, came to a halt at Kazipet Bye Pass. This was an extended halt for over 10 minutes, and we started at 15:55.
My train must have covered some 10 kilometers, and again we came to a halt. This was like a routine now. We start from a halt, comes to a halt in a few mins. The sad point was we were not stopping in a station, but in some places where there are just barren lands! This “procedure” happened again. This time the halt was for 5 minutes. Finally, after all this halts, we started, and now my clocked showed its 16:22. We started off again. I was calculating the delay of my train now. These unscheduled stops has really thrown my train off its schedule. Still we were trailing that freight which got ahead of us at Chintalapalli. As if my prayers were heard by the section controller, we got a clear run from then! Overtaking freights became a routine now, and after all the hiccups, now we started off to a superb run after a long time. We were doing 110-115 kmph consistantly,but still not touching 120 kmph! Potkapally was despatched at 16:40, and this train came across us at 16:55.
We are on a splendid run, and the stations were dispatched in mere seconds. We skipped Ramagundam at 17:05, which has a power staton near by. It was getting darker, but we were really enjoying the ride now. Staions like Manchiryal, Belampalli, Sirpur Kaghaznagar were all dispatched in a flash, and this phenomenal run ensured we are reducing our delay in schedule further. We crossed the legendary 12616 New Delhi – Chennai Central Grand Trunk Express some where in between, and the other legand 12622 New Delhi – Chennai Central Tamil Nadu Super Fast Express crossed us just before Balharshah. The excellent run ensured we rolled on to Balharshah at 18:44, 54 minutes behind schedule.
We started at 18:54, but another Alarm Chain Pulling delayed us further. Finally we started at 19:00, exactly 1 hour behind schedule. We started having the snacks we had brought, without noticing what is happening outside. We came to halt at 19:20, but started soon from there. We were really crawling then. We made it to Nagri by 20:13, where we overtook a Passenger train. At this time, my friend Adarsh Nair called me and told “as per railradar, your train is right behind Kerala Express (the one I came!). Get ready to witness it being overtaken”. We were all pumped up, and I “patrolled” the left door, sivakumar and gijo on the right door. We were skipping Hinganghat at a sedate speed at this time. Then we started out to accelerate at brisk pace. We were all keeping our eyes on our GPS, watching the speeds building up. 80.. 90… 100..110… Now my heart was racing, went on to 115… 120!! Now we have hit 120kmph for the first time in this entire journey. Wow! That was all I could think!! We were simply doing a phenomenal run!
It was really a thrilling run, our Loco Pilots were maintaining 120 kmph. Stations were all are like a flash of lights for some 10 seconds! We all were really looking forward for the Overtake now. But we were only watching freights in every station getting overtaken. A track divereted to our left and we slowed down to 50 kmph, and took the sharp right hand curve. We were traversing the Sewagram curve! We slowed down and joined the Mumbai – Howrah main Line, heading to Sewagram Junction. From there, the Garib Rath Started to show off its real pace. The Storm has begun. We hit 120 kmph in no time, and it was something I was experiencing for the first time in my life. I could even see sparks coming off from the wheels while taking curves! Pantograph sparks were really brilliant, and our Erode WAP4 #22890 was showing off brilliantly. We were doing frantic run, superb honking and lots of overtakes. Stations felt like stars, they just appear and disappear momentarily.
I was thanking my dear Loco Pilots in Charge and Central Railways for giving my train such a superb run and priority over every other train other. The splendid run came to a halt at Ajni, and my clock showed its 21:33. My friend Kshitij Halbe was there in Nagpur station, waiting to meet us. We started off from Ajni in 2 minutes, and made it to Nagpur by 21:47, 1 hour 12 minutes behind schedule. Rahul Ware and Ishaan Wasu had also came to meet us.
Meanwhile, Gijo went out in search for something for us for dinner. But unfortunately he returned empty handed. I asked khitij has Kerala Express already gone. Her replied Kerala is some 40 kms outside the city, and is yet to reach Nagpur. So we had overtook it before Adarsh had called me! We started from Nagpur at 21:57, after bidding good bye to our fellow friends. We traversed the famous Nagpur diamond crossing and headed over to Bhopal. I had been to Durg before, so I’ve seen the places till Nagpur. From now its an unknown territory for me. Shan H Fernandes, one of my good friends from Bhopal rang me this time and enquired how are we doing. He greeted a good night, and I went in search of food. The onboard catering guys gave us 3 packets of chappathi, rice, daal and curd. The food qauity was above our expectations! We had them. I went to my berth, Number 20, so as others to their own berths, and I drifted off to sleep in no time.
I woke up at 05:40 after the deep sleep. I had missed the big skip of Itarsi Junction and the action between Nagpur – Itarsi and Bhopal. There was a text message in my phone which I received from sivakumar a few minutes back. It read : “Jyo, we are doing 130 kmph” I checked my GPS (I had’nt turned it off), and I saw it. Current speed :129.7 kmph! I rushed to the door near me, and opened it in all rush, only to close it instantly. It was really cold outside! I was really shivering! I didn’t realize it till then since my excitement was at its peak! So I returned to my berth, having a constant watch at my GPS. We made it to Bijauli, the station just before Jhansi Junction at 6:10 and came to a halt. Now, our train has cut down the delay to some 50 minutes, which meant we had done a brilliant run in night.
The rays of sun were slowly making its way to Earth this time. We started from Bijauli after a 10 minutes halt. We had a slow run till Jhansi home, came to a halt there at 06:30. We started after a 5 minutes, and made it to Jhansi Junction by 06:41, 1 hour 5 minutes behind Schedule. 12522 Ernakulam Junction – Barauni Junction Rapti Sagar Super Fast Express was there in our adjacent platform. We started from Jhansi at 06:47, 1 hour 6 minutes behind schedule. Our new Loco Pilots started off in grand style and we hit 130 kmph in no time. At this time, this train crossed us.
We were doing another fantastic run at 130 kmph, the fastest I’ve ever did in my life yet. I haven’t brushed my teeth yet! But I was in no mood to waste this run! I countined door plating in that chilly conditions. By 07:30, I went on have my break fast, bread and Omlette. We had also bought vegetable cutlets (Superb ones). We had met the person who was in the Side Lower Berth near our bay. He was going for to meet his would be’s parents. We came to a halt at Gwalior home at 07:51. We were made to wait for 5 minutes to enter into the staion. The gentleman near our bay de boraded here,wishing us all the best for the trip. We left Gwalior by 08:03, 1 hour 25 minutes behind schedule.
We were back to 130 kmph again in no time. Morena was dispatched in grand fashion, overtaking an express train led by a Duranto livery WAP7. We were really showing the brute power of WAP4. Just as we were reaching Hetampur, we were watching trains being send to loop in the adjacent down line. After a minute, the signal towards opposite side started turing green. All the next 4 signals were green, and now we knew a high priority train is coming opposite to us. Oh dear, how come I forget this! We are going to cross the fastest train in India, the 12002 New Delhi – Bhopal Shatabdi Express! Now we all got to the doors, waiting for the precious capture. Our train slowed down at a caution, right then, we heard the scream of a WAP5 and it was all over in seconds!! Phew! That was seriously fast!! The king never disappoints!! Here is the Video:
I had a look at the video I took again, savouring that moment I saw Bhopal Shatabdi for the first time in my life. It might seem like a simple thing for others, but this moment was something for me. After the caution, we were back to our storming run, and I continued doorplating.Dholpur Junction was crossed at 08:55, overtaking some other train. After 1849 kilometers of journey, my train came into a halt at Agra Cantonment Station at 09:30, 1 hour 35 minutes behind Schedule. It was such a nice journey, which I will remember forever in my life. I just wanted a snap – myself posing in front of the loco. Gijo took care of our luggages, and Sivakumar clicked this picture for me – Which I’ll always remember in my life.
Train 3 : 18237 Bilaspur Junction – Amritsar Junction Chhattisgarh Express
We got back to Agra Cantonment Station by 3.15. Now we have time to kill, but we decided to sit in the platform waiting for the train. Announcements of Chhattisgrah Express was made by 16:00. A steam engine kind of horn woke me up my dreams, and with a very dirty looking AJNI WAP7, Chhattisgarh express came in. Our coach was S1, it was at very end of the train. Again, I had to run with my luggage towards my coach. The last part of the Journey begins! My First WAP7 journey. In the mean time, 18478 Haridwar-Puri Kalinga Utkal Express came into Platform number 1 led by Itarsi WAP4 #22756. We started at 16:23 from Agra. Just as we started to gain speed, I saw a few railway tracks going under our line, towards the right. I have no idea where it was heading to! Just as I was thinking about my train’s acceleration, we slow down and came to a halt at a station called Raja Ki Mandi. Then only I realized – It was my train’s next scheduled halt after Agra! It just took 8 minutes, and the distance is hardly 4 kilometers!
We started from there at 16:34, and now we were running behind schedule. We were then having a stop-go run: We accelerates, stops somewhere, starts again, stops again. It was frustrating! We stopped at Baad for 3 minutes. Finally after all this hiccup runs, we made it to Mathura Junction by 17:25, late by 20 minutes. Secunderabad Rajdhani crossed us here. As we were making our way out of Mathura, 16032 Jammu Tawi – Chennai Central Andaman Express mas making its way into the station, led by an Erode WAP4. Before reaching Chata, our next scheduled halt, the King of Western Railway – 12952 New Delhi – Mumbai Central Rajdhani Express stormed past us with a Ghaziabad WAP5. The king’s deputy, 12954 Hazrat Nizamuddin – Mumbai Central August Kranti Rajdhani Express passed us just before reaching Kosi Kalan. We made it to Palwal by 18:50, 10 minutes behind schedule. The thoughts of my destination getting closer and closer was really making me exited! We passed Asaoti at a sedate speed, which is one of the most known stations in India for high speed action among railfans. We left Ballabgarh by 19:15, and made it to Faridabad by 19:32, 20 minutes behind schedule. Now, the next scheduled halt is our destination!
I was hoping for an on- time arrival, but some passengers in our train had other ideas. Just as we were skipped Tuglakabad and was about to reach Okhla, some one pulled the Alarm Chain. We were stationary for 5 minutes then. We started off, again someone pulled the Chain. We were stationary for 2 more minutes, and finally we made it to my destination – Hazrat Nizamuddin by 20:05, 20 minutes behind Schedule. I was totally exhausted, but after all, 2 days of journey which I thtoughly enjoyed. As always, this journey will be remembered in my life -the whole risks and runs, the Garib Rath, 130 kmph run, and a big thanks to my fellow pals : Gijo and Sivakumar who joined me.
3 Trains in total and the whole great 52 hours I had – It was indeed the journey of my life!