October Bonanaza - Down Journey
|Date of Journey:||September 29 , 2007||Total Words:||4205|
It was a long dreamt of journey, with months of planning and reservation of the ticket exactly on the date of opening of reservation! SO, this was a well planned journey, but in the two months since reservation, there were many “edits” being done on the program. We were initially supposed to go to Alappuzha, and hence booked the tickets upto Ernakulam on the train. Later we revised it to Thrisur – Thrisur is just two stations before the end point of the train. It was all well and going when a final change was proposed about 10 days prior to the journey, and now the trip was to be cut short at Kasaragode itself! Kasaragode is some 300kms before our earlier destination!
So after all these changes, the appointed day – September 29, 2007 – came in. I was busy through the day with some miscellaneous jobs, and then with packing. It was getting dark outside when I went in for a bath and around the same time, my mom was busy calling up the taxi driver. His phone was unreachable, and my mom informed the (taxi) operator. The car came in at around 2030. We had dinner and left home by around 2100. It was a tired looking Tata Sumo doing the honours of taking us to the railway station. The driver was pretty disciplined, and he did follow road rules pretty well!
We (I, my dad and mom) made it to the station by around 2130. We had about 2 pieces of baggage, and we lugged it ourselves to the platform. We went straight to the waiting room, and the room was stinking very badly! I asked my mom to shift to the nearby Ladies waiting room, while I and my dad decided to roam on the platform. Announcements were being made that the Madgaon-Dadar Jan Shatabdi was running late by around 25-30 minutes, and the Ernakulam-Okha Express was running late by an hour-and-a-half. I had a quick look at the reservation chart, and our names were surely there! The station had heavy booking for my train. About 12 seats were confirmed in AC 3-Tier, while some 50-odd seats were confirmed in Sleeper class. Around the same number of wait listed passengers too were listed in the chart without confirmation.
Many passengers were anxious about their journey, while some returned home dejected after knowing that they couldn't get their seats confirmed! The rush at the ticket counter (unreserved ticketing system) was swelling by the minute, and most passengers were getting tickets to different places in coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka. I quickly checked our coach position (which unfortunately was not written on the board!). My train was scheduled to arrive at 2215, while there was no announcement about my train even at 2200. An announcement was finally made at around 2210 that my train – 6337 Okha Ernakulam Express – was to arrive soon on platform 1.
I got out of the coach for a quick look at the rush in the general coaches, and I noticed that the signal was already off and was in “Caution” aspect with the route set to the Roha line. The loco gave off a long horn, and started crawling out. The time was 2234, and we were now running late by 14 minutes. I moved on to my side-upper berth, and by now my train pulled into the loop line of Somatne. We crossed some train here. I slept after some time, and had a pretty deep sleep. I was woken up by some commotion in the coach by around 0530. A group of women were traveling to Kankavali, and they were waking up each other.
There was still a tinge of darkness when I hit the door at 0610. We were sent to the loop line of Rajapur Road station at around 0619. I was pretty surprised that we were running a bit late even then. At around 0625, WDM2 #18483 of Ernakulam rushed through the station with a rather late running 2617 Mangala Lakshadweep Express bound to Nizamuddin. We left the station a couple of minutes after the express cleared. We rushed through Vaibhavwadi Road. We crossed the Chandigarh bound Kerala Sampark Kranti Express at Nandgaon Road. We pulled into Kankavali at 0716, late by a full hour and 6 minutes. We left the station a couple of minutes late.
The run was rather sedate from Kankavali to Pernem. The train never exceeded 75kmph (which is the monsoon speed limit). We slowed down at Pernem home signal, and this served as a signal to me that something is waiting for me! I had the camera ready, and that was WDM3A #17803 of Erode working the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus bound Netravati Express. We pulled into Thivim at 0833. The train was late by 43 minutes now. I had a short stroll on the platform, and heard manual announcements that the “KR8 Madgaon-Sawantwadi-Diva Sindhudurg Passenger” was arriving soon on Platform 1. WDM2 #18378 of Kalyan was seen curving in to the station with the passenger. Guntakal WDM3A #14022 was riding dead behind the loco (I couldn't really understand what this loco was doing here!).
We left Thivim at 0838. We pulled out fast since we were on the main line. We had a quick dash through Karmali station, and slowed down on approaching Verna home which was at “ON” (Red aspect). The signal turned to Caution (single yellow) as the train neared the signal. As my train approached the station, I saw some train entering Verna with its headlamps on. I was pretty sure of what it was! The yard lines were empty. There were no locos around the station, and this baffled me! We slowly approached the station, and the train waiting was the Mumbai bound 0104 Mandovi Express. WDP4 #20033 of Krishnarajapuram was in charge.
The run was outstanding from Verna to Madgaon. We had no crossings on the way. The pantry guy did not take orders for breakfast; neither did he ask if we wanted. He later fetched it for us from the pantry. The train slowed down near Madgaon home, and we were diverted towards Platform 1. The Sky Bus track was indicating that the station is close. WDM2 #17676 of Erode was sleeping off on a siding near Platform 1. This loco would be the power for the Jan Shatabdi to Mumbai later in the noon. The train stopped on the platform at 0935, late by 45 minutes now. I had a quick walk to see my loco! This was one loco that I was searching for since a long time! This loco kept evading my camera for a long time now. The loco was being refueled, and the pilots had changed. There was one RPF officer standing right outside my coach.
I spotted the Erode loco roaming around as the starter for my train went off. We pulled out of Madgaon at 0950, late by 50 minutes. We slowly moved out. The coaching yard was empty, with just some spare coaches lying around. The number of coaches was enough to create a spare rake for running the Mandovi or Konkan Kanya express. The yard was being cleaned. The rake of the Jan Shatabdi was parked at a short parking line a bit ahead of the coaching yard. We had a good run from Madgaon onwards. We slowed down at Canacona home. A BCNA rake headed by WDG3A #13135 coupled to WDM3D #11183, both from Erode, was waiting on the loop line. A signal post ruined my attempt for a photograph! We picked speed quickly after the crossing.
We once again slowed down, this time at Asnoti home. We did not stop at the signal however. As the train curved towards the station, I saw some other train on the loop line! That was the Trivandrum-Bikaner Express, and the loco was a shocker: WDM2 #17838 of Ludhiana! This is not the first time I am spotting a Ludhiana loco on the KR, but this is really intriguing! We picked up speed as the train crossed the starter on the main line. We had a pretty good run, and made it to Karwar at 1056, late by 51 minutes. We left a couple of minutes later. Here on, we slowed down to pay respects to each station!
Some 4 minutes later, the signal on the main line in the UP direction turned green. I sensed that we were headed for a crossing now! The signal remained green for a pretty long (6 minutes to be precise), and there was no movements. Around 1140, I heard a WDG4 like horn, and some train seemed to be approaching the station. That was WDG3A #13222 of Erode working a RoRo rake. Our signal was cleared quickly, and we pulled out soon. The loco working my train was a good smoker, and had clear loud beats. We rushed through Gokarna without stopping, but at a lower pace. The surroundings change drastically after Gokarna, and it resembles Kerala in every aspect.
History says that the land from Gokarna to Kanniyakumari was reclaimed from the sea by Lord Parasuram by throwing an axe into the sea. This could explain the identical topography of the region. The train was doing a respectable speed as we moved ahead of Gokarna. Just seconds after clearing the starter, I saw something flying off from the loco. That was poor little dog! The dog died instantly, and by the time my coach crossed the victim, he was still! We slowed down at Kumta home, and we were put to the loop line – the non-platform loop. The platform had many passengers waiting for “some” train. An announcement clarified that they were waiting for the KR2 Mangalore-Verna Passenger. We reached the station at 1212, and there were no movements for pretty long time. I spotted a Golden Rock loco pulling in at around 1227. The loco was WDM2 #16880 of Golden Rock. The train was the Verna Passenger. Out of the 10 coaches the passenger had, 4 were from SR (including both the SLRs). This is one peculiar train running with KR markings, but maintained entirely by SR at Mangalore!
We pulled out of the station shortly after the crossing. We had a short halt at Honnavar, where we reached at 1246, and left at 1248 – late by an hour and 21 minutes. We had a non stop run after Honnavar. Lunch was served sometime after 1300. It consisted of Rice, Sambhar, a dry vegetable accompaniment, curd, pickle and water. It was okay, and the quantity served was sufficient. We stopped at Bhatkal at around 1328, and left two minutes later. We were running an hour late now. We next halted at Kundapura, at 1418. After two minutes, the signal on the main line turned green! “Another crossing”, I said to myself! This time, the horn of the loco was already audible and the loco came closer. That was WDM3A #17924R of Pune hauling a RoRo rake. The loco was in the Deccan Odyssey livery.
We left Kundapura at 1421, now delayed by an hour and 5 minutes. I decided to stay at the door till Udupi since I was expecting a crossing. We rushed through Barkur. We slowed down at Udupi home, and slowly moved towards Platform 2. The Lokmanya Tilak Terminus bound Matsyagandha Express was waiting on Platform 1. WDM2 #16860 of Ernakulam was in charge of the train. We left Udupi at 1500, now late by 44 minutes. The train crawled out of the loop line, and entered the main line. The loco went “chuff…chuff…chuff…” and the beats were getting clearer. The loco notched up heavily.
We rushed through Mulki station at an outstanding 106kmph. The loco pilot clearly enjoyed being out of the monsoon speed restricted area! The loco slowed down after some time, and we slowly entered the platform line of Surathkal. The time was 1537, and we were late by 39 minutes now. There were no signs of moving even after 10 minutes. A RoRo rake led by WDG3A #14798 of Erode was occupying the other loop line. Trucks were just loaded, and were waiting for clearance. We finally left Surathkal at 1602, now late by a whole hour and 6 minutes.
We got a danger signal at Thokur, and we pulled into the station at 1610. A BCNA rake was occupying one of the loop lines, and a twin Kalyan WDM2 unit was parked a bit ahead at the Kankanadi end of the station on the same loop as the BCNA. We left Thokur at 1637. Thokur is only a halt station, and has only a rail level platform. The station building is shared with the signaling cabin. The cabin actually handles a short spur of line going to the HPCL siding nearby. We crossed over into Southern Railway at 1642. We were running very late by then. We slowly moved ahead from Thokur, and I guess this section is not cleared for speeds above 100kmph.
We slowed down as we neared Kankanadi. I spotted a small “reversal avoiding line” being built to connect the Thokur line to the Hassan Line. Using this line, freight trains coming from the Hassan can proceed directly towards Panamburu/Mangalore port without reversing at Kankanadi. We pulled into Kankanadi at 1705, late by an hour and 45 minutes. WDG3A #14661 of Golden Rock was occupying Platform 2 line working a LPG rake. This rake was cleared immediately after we stopped on Platform 1. I spotted a lot of locos the last time I was in Kankanadi, but it was disappointing this time! But a few minutes later, I heard a much familiar whine, and spotted a “white mass” moving around.
We crawled out of the station slowly. The run was slow out of Kankanadi. The train continued its slow run well after Netravati “C” Cabin. The Hectometre markings change here, and it shows “0/9”, while line towards Mangalore (from Kankanadi) shows “2/6”. We slowly approached the Netravati Bridge, and the line from Kankanadi (on which my train was running) joins the Main line (Mangalore to Shoranur) at Netravati “B” Cabin. The Hectometre marking for my line now reads “0/0” while the one on the main line is now “882/5”. Now, to the significance of all this stuff is like: The chargeable distance from Kankanadi to Thokkuttu (the station immediately after Netravati Bridge, having Hectometre marking 879/9) is 10 kilometres. The actual distance is only 6.4 kilometres!
We slowly entered Netravati Bridge. This bridge is around 900 metres long: begins at 882/4 and ends at 881/5. The train exited from the bridge slowly. The lone guard working at Netravati “A” cabin waved his green flag as my train crawled out of the bridge. From a marking on the cabin, I found out that code of these cabins were “NTVT”. The train crawled ahead as we slowly entered the UP main line. It is doubled from Netravati “A” Cabin onwards till Valapattanam near Kannur. The train picked up speed quickly. I decided to stay on at the door for some time, and then freshen up. After a visit to the toilet, I got back inside the cabin, and sat down for some time. We overtook a twin Golden rock WDG3A hauled freighter at Manjeswar, and at the same time crossed another BCNA rake.
The run was smooth, and the train was doing pretty good speeds. We moved our luggage to the door as the Hectometre stones read 841. I remained at the door, and just around this time a passenger train rushed towards Mangalore with an unknown loco. (My brother confirmed it later that the train was the Coimbatore-Mangalore Fast Passenger). The train entered the station at a pretty good speed (The platform was on the main line itself). My dad remarked if the train was to stop there! The train slowed down after the loco cleared half the platform length. My brother and my cousin brother were waiting to pick us from the station. The train stopped pretty ahead of the exit. The time was 1825, and we were now late by two hours and 12 minutes! The platform was pretty low, and it was difficult for my mother to get down.
She managed to get down, and we started walking back towards the exit. The train left at 1827. Just as we were walking out of the station, an Erode WDG3A in typical “orange” Shakti livery pulled in with a LPG rake. We walked out, and rushed off to my aunt's house in the southern part of the town. Kasaragode is a little town in the northern most district in the state of Kerala. This town is pretty rich due to good remittances from NRIs abroad. The roads were almost empty, thanks to the fact that the day was a Sunday, and the city's most predominant population – Muslims – was busy with their iftaars. We made it to my Aunt's home some 10 minutes after leaving from the station. Here ends part 1 of the trip!
I am eager to know how you liked this report! Please send in your comments and suggestions (brick-bats also welcome) to binaiks [at] gmail [dot] com
©2005-07 Binai Kochunni Sankar