As the title suggests, I was to take 22625 MAS-SBC DD express from Chennai- the day being 27th Dec. It was to be a one-day outing to Bangalore; the return being by 16022 MYS-MAS Kaveri express. As ever, please refer to the legend right at the bottom for all technical terms (won’t be covering all, though!) and station codes. I woke up half an earlier than planned, at 04 30. I then brushed my teeth, had coffee and took bath in a relaxed manner; before taking an Ola auto to reach MAS; more than an hour before the scheduled departure of the train. The view of the magnificent brick-red station building(that too at that twilight hour) gave goosebumps to a railfan like me, as always!
I had ample time to buy myself a copy of the “Trains at a Glance”; as well as have breakfast – comprising 4 vadas, and coffee. At 06 50, 12616 DEE – MAS Grand Trunk express arrived (half an hour late) on Platform 4, behind RPM WAP7i 30444. My train was on PF7. My coach C7 was 3rd from the front.
My seat 101 was in the Upper deck. It was a window seat, but non-trackside and also opposite to the direction of travel 😦 . As observed by many travellers, the legroom was very limited; there was even less space for the arms! However, the AC effect was very good – contrary to expectations of AC effect being less in the Upper deck and more in the Lower deck. A big backward jerk indicated to me that the engine had been attached. At that time, the fans and AC went off briefly and the roar of the EOG was silenced. Then the fans and AC came back on, but not the EOG sound; meaning our locomotive was HOG-enabled. It was RPM WAP7i 30545, and in good need of a bath 😛 .
With a steam-like HT toot we departed at 07 26, 1 min late. On PF8, lay the rake of 12842 MAS-HWH Coromandel express with an AJJ WAG5HA 23537 to be attached!!! I wonder how this freight loco would have performed with a crack superfast like Coro! As we moved away from the suburban terminus lines, there was a PSR of 45 kmph. Has the speed has been upgraded from the earlier 15 kmph? There was a temple in BBQ , and I could see tall chimneys of 3 factories in the distant right (one of them was GMR Power Corporation Ltd). Since I had not had much sleep the previous night, I dozed off for a while. When I opened my eyes, we made an unscheduled halt for a minute at Avadi home signal. There was an MS-Tiruvannamalai rake in the yard (most probably a special). It was a very jerky ride, thanks to the combination of the couplers of the LHB rake and the sheer torque of the WAP7 pulling the puny 10-coach load.
On the leftmost track, broken catenary wire was being fixed by the gangmen. There was marshy land, characterized by stagnant ponds, lakes with moss, weeds etc. This would continue even past KPD! After Veppampattu, there was a building on a ship on land (probably one of those ship model exhibits) ! :O There was a cemetery before Putlur. We blasted at MPS from Nemilicherry to Tiruvalangadu home. We passed forests after Tiruvallur, and I noticed that the line from MAS to AJJ seems to have been fully quadrupled (including the erstwhile triple line stretch between Tiruvallur and Tiruvalangadu!). An LHB express crossed us on the left after Manavur. At Tiruvalangadu, we switched to the leftmost track. Meanwhile, while using the loo; I noticed that the locking system was not proper – a gentleman was able to open the door after I had apparently locked it!! :O Also, the sliding doors to the interiors of the coach were too rigid – a lot of pressure had to be applied to open them.
The ticket checking process was not even a formality – the TTE merely asked my name; didn’t even ask for my ID! :O Again, the effects of my lack of sleep the previous night were telling – I dozed off once more. When I woke up, we were traversing through scenery in the form of forests and coconut and palm groves. There was an unscheduled halt after Sevur for a minute, near a cemetery full of cows. Then, the sight of the VIT campus, followed by a lot of cottages, bungalows, trash, coconut trees, water birds etc. signalled the arrival of KPD at 09 28, 25 mins late. There was a Plasser machine on the right. On our platform, there was a huge crowd as well as a Higginbothams book stall. After a halt of two mins, the line to VM passed above us. We had a blazing run through scenery like coconut groves, irrigated fields and palm trees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLUhNuzIcgk
The rake was smooth at higher speeds except for some sudden acceleration and deceleration jerks – an irony considering the jerkiness at lower speeds. There was a rocky hill after Valathoor, and a partly dry river with a lot of sand. Coconut groves dominated the landscape, and a mountain range loomed after Melpatti.
We overtook a BOXN freight hauled by Ajni WAG9 31112 at Pachchakuppam, before the sights of Florence Shoe Company (a Leather Tannery) and a lorry on rails signalled the arrival of Ambur at 10 05, now only 16 mins late – thanks to the quickfire run of 52 km in 35 mins; at an average of approximately 89 kmph. Of course, for the white beast with a measly load; it is all in a day’s work! 😀 The exit from the station was flanked by a Rest House, an India Lutheran Church, a Jainu complex with a school and its playground; and Bethesda Hospital. Then there were eucalyptus trees, bushes, shrubs, a temple, coconut groves (as always!) and a road bridge over rails – under construction. There was also a marshy pond(yet again!) near a building complex.
A highway started giving us company on our left, and the sight of bridges across us and Islamiah Women’s College marked the arrival of Vaniyambadi at 10 21, 17 mins late. After the station, there was a big curve to the left; and I observed Hotel Sri Balaji Bhavan on the distant left. A flyover descended on the left, surrounded by thick grassy undergrowth and small trees on one side and coconut groves on the other.
The sights of a tall Ashoka tree and an NMG rake led by LDH WAG7 28077 signalled the arrival of JTJ at 10 42, 9 mins late only – thanks to some slack. There was a road cutting across the platform and Sri Kanna A/C Lodge in the distant left. After a halt of 3 mins, we exited SR territory and entered SWR territory. At this point, I will also end Part 1 of this blog post and continue the rest in Part 2 – hope you are with me so far! 😉
EOG – End-on-Generator (Generator attached at either end of the rake)
HOG – Head-on-Generation (Power transferred from the loco to the coaches via a cable)
HT – High Tone
PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
LHB – Linke-Hoffman-Busch (German company whose technology is used to produce modern coaches – mostly seen in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durontos)
MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
MAS – Chennai Central
SBC – Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru (or just Bangalore City 😛 )
MYS – Mysore
DEE – Delhi Sarai Rohilla
RPM – Royapuram
HWH – Howrah
AJJ – Arakkonam
BBQ – Basin Bridge
MS – Chennai Egmore
KPD – Katpadi
VM – Villupuram
LDH – Ludhiana
JTJ – Jolarpettai