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Showing posts from 2008

The year that was....

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Another year comes to an end... 2008 was truly a very eventful year. The new year is hardly 90 minutes from now. A quick recap at what the year was for me!


The biggest event for 2008, was that I shifted base from the Commercial Capital of India, Mumbai, to city that is called with various names ranging from the Pensioner's Paradise to the Garden City to the Silicon Valley of India - Bangalore. This maha-event took place in April. 
Although the year started with a bang - by a full day railfanning at Panvel, less than half the year later, I abandoned the very station and moved close to 1000 kilometres away. Railfanning has been lower than any other year.
I changed my stream of work from a BPO to a Media Intelligence Firm. The very basic of my job changed from Life Sciences to Language! A very interesting job with tonnes of information from across the globe going through by keyboard on a daily basis! I am Loving it!
I became a Registered Pharmacist! Yes! I am now a registered Pharmacist …

Day-out at Baiyyappanahalli

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Never had been a railfanning session been organised at such a notice in Bangalore. After close to two months since a day long railfanning session, it was time to have one more. Baiyyappanahalli on Saturday was the call, and two railfans - Ramdev Gowda and Santosh Kulkarni - were to join in. The time was finalised and we all decided to head off...
Saturday, December 06 was fixed and the time was 1100. I left home shortly before 1020 and got into a bus at 1030. I was sure to get late, but kept my optimism high. The driver of my bus (KA-01-FA-853; of Depot 24) was in no mood to speed up. The Eicher 20.15 bus was longing to break-free, and it couldn't get a chance till we crossed Marathahalli. Once we crossed Marathahalli, the bus got empty and the bus picked up speed rapidly. We kept cruising at around 65-70kmph till we reached Krishnarajapuram. The bus (on Route 500C) to terminate at "Tin Factory". I got down at the last stop, and hired a rickshaw to take me to Baiyyappanah…

KSRTC.... once again!!!

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Opportunities to travel by the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation is never to be missed. I simply love those red monsters. Last week, I had been to Trivandrum on some personal work. I wanted to travel by the City buses there, but had to leave the plan due to extreme time crunch. The next opportunity came in the way of a loooong journey back to Kodungallur by bus... but I had to half-mindedly choose a train - I had never traveled on the route via Kottayam earlier. I had to take the 6525 Bangalore Express from Trivandrum. However, the chance to travel by bus still remained! 
I took a bus from Ernakulam Jetty to reach my home in Kodungallur. The bus was TP36x of Guruvayur depot. It was a TATA bus, and I was seated right behind the driver. His driving skill was unique - he shifted gears quickly. The bus, however, performed marvellously, and he kept speeds in the range of 60kmph all the way. That was a journey all at night, and I was damn tired to enjoy the trip....
The next trip occure…

The trip...finally concludes!

My long trip finally concluded this morning! The last leg of the journey was really forgettable. My last leg was from Cherthala to Ernakulam by 6307 Intercity Express, and Ernakulam to Bangalore by 2683 Bangalore express. The loco for the first train was WDM2 #16877 of Ernakulam, and the loco for Bangalore express was WAM4 #20549 of Arakkonam.
Overall, the journey was badly delayed. The first train was about 20 minutes late, and the second train topped all charts! We left late by 4 hours and 30 minutes from Bangalore, and reached Bangalore delayed by about 5 hours and 35 minutes! We left Ernakulam at 2130 instead of 1700, and arrived Bangalore at 0955 instead of 0420! Too frustrated by the delay, I preferred taking a bus instead of "donating" to a Taxi driver. The Volvo bus was held up traffic block, and it took more than 90 minutes to travel a mere 13 kms distance from the City Railway station to the stop near home! 
To sum it up: a very forgettable end to the otherwise marve…

Finally..@ Home!

The long trip from Bangalore to Thrissur via Ernakulam, Alappuzha, Trivandrum, Kottayam is finally over! I took about 3 trains, 1 bus and 4 autorickshaws to complete the journey!

The first leg was on 6315 Bangalore-Kochuveli Express from Bangalore to Kollam. The loco was WAM4 #21233 of Arakkonam. Leg two was on 6303 Ernakulam-Trivandrum Vanchinad Express from Kollam to Trivandrum - the loco in charge was WAP4 #22568 of Erode. The third and final train was 6525 Kanniyakumari-Bangalore Express from Trivandrum to Ernakulam Town - the loco was WAP4 #22269 of Erode!

I'll post some notes from the trip and if possible the pics tomorrow! Feeling too sleepy to hit the keyboard... so good night for now! Come back tomorrow to check out the updates :-)

The journey has begun..

The journey is finally on! I am traveling by the 6315 Kochuveli express. The power for my train is Arakkonam WAM4 21233. We crossed krishnarajapuram a while back.. More details tomorrow...

Time for another trip!

Finally its time for another trip! I am leaving for Kerala this evening. The journey is by 6315 Kochuveli Express upto Kollam, then by Vanchinad to Trivandrum (reaching Trivandrum tomorrow morning). I'll return to Trichur tomorrow itself.

From there it will be to Alappuzha on Saturday, and finally back to Bangalore by 2683 Express from Ernakulam on Sunday....

Hopefully the trip has some surprise spottings in for me... will be updating the blog as far as possible ( as long as I have network connectivity).. so do drop in here for updates... bye for now...

Now KSRTC from Shantinagar?

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After moving all Kerala bound buses to the Satellite bus station on Mysore Road, here is the next move: Move all Tamil Nadu bound buses (except the premium Airavat Volvo, of course!) to Shantinagar BMTC Bus station.

As a prelude to the move, all KSRTC Rajahamasa buses to Kerala/Tamilnadu added Shantinagar as a pick up point. Services to Kerala via Mysore now start from Shanti Nagar and then go via Mysore Road Satellite bus station, while service to Kerala via Hosur start at Mysore road and go via Shanti Nagar.


A KSRTC Rajahamsa bound to Kannur waiting at Shantinagar terminus a few days back... apologies for the poor pic...

I'd welcome the move which is benefit quite some passengers who find it easier to reach Shanti nagar compared to MCTC. The bus station, however, is not big enough to hold on buses for a long time. Ideally, these buses will have to be parked outside the bus station (it appears that a vacant plot right next to the bus station has been cleared and some sort of constru…

A late Sunday afternoon railfanning...

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A normal Sunday (A working day for me) was just on... It was about 11AM when my phone received a very unexpected call... from Colin of IRFCA Bangalore...That was an invite to go railfanning! It has been a long time since I used by camera to shoot trains, and I readily agreed. I rushed through my work in office, and headed out from there at around 1250.

Colin had instructed me how to reach the bus stop from where I could get a bus to our meeting point, and even tipped me on the fare that rickshaws would charge. Getting a rickshaw to travel short distance from my office is a pain, and I decided not to try for it. Instead, I walked off toward the Stadium (about 200 metres from office) and took a rick from there. He said that he needs to take a round-about route and asked (to be noted, not demanded) for Rs. 25. I said okay, and we were off! That was really decent driving, and he dropped me off near the bus stop.

Just as I got off the rickshaw, saw a volvo heading to my destination going off…

No takers for the Rs. 5 scheme?

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Buoyed by the Re. 1 initiative that was run by the BMTC earlier (read my post on this) in September, the state transport minister announced reduction of Volvo fares on Weekends and holidays to Rs. 5 (minimum) against the normal fare of Rs. 10 (Minimum). The maximum fare charged by Volvos normally is Rs. 55, but on weekends - under the new scheme - it would only be Rs. 22!

This was what happened:


(The first image was taken when volvos were for Re. 1, and the second when the Rs. 5 scheme came in!)

Quite interestingly, The Times of India ran a story on the low patronage for Volvos, right the next day after the Scheme was inaugurated. (You can read the story here).

So what went wrong?

The newspaper (and some authorities/crew) blamed it on "low awareness" or "wrong day" for the poor patronage. I was on a Volvo on the day the scheme was launched (imaged above, right). I was traveling to Arakere Gate on the Bannerghatta Road, and the conductor charged me the normal fare. I was…

The Bangalore "Satellite" bus station...

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The authorities at the Karnataka Transport Department hatched a plan to decongest the crowded and congested Central Bus station (officially called the Kempegowda Bus Station, and locally called Majestic) located right opposite the City Railway Station some time in 2004-5. The new terminus - called the "Satellite Bus Station" was planned at a place called "Guddadahalli" along the Mysore Road. This place is about 6 kilometres from the existing Terminus at the heart of the city.





The place is undoubtedly mordern that the current bus station, but is not even one-fourth the size of the current place!


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The plan behind the entire move was to decongest the current bus station. The terminus finally was inaugurated sometime in August 2005. As an initial measure, all express services towards Mysore was shifted there. Sometime in August 2007, another 419 services (including 373 of Tamilnadu) were sent there. The terminus is situated away from the city, and for passe…

The tale of a corporation called BMTC...

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The title is a kind of misnomer - it is not about one but many travels in one very inefficient transport system: The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation.This corporation - born out of the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation some time during August 1997 (to be exact - on August 15, 1997) - is reportedly the biggest urban transport corporation in the country, operating about 4887 schedules deploying about 5071 buses!
This corporation was the first in the country to operate Volvo City buses (B7RLE model). It now operates about 154 such buses on city routes, and about 69 on airport routes (taking the total to a mind-boggling 223 buses - the aim is to have 340 buses by April 2009!!!). The conventional city Volvo buses are called Vajra Hi-Tech bus by the corporation. The airport bus initiative by the corporation (aptly named "Bangalore International Airport Service - or BIAS) is one of the most innovative, if i could say so, measures taken by a government run corporatio…

How is a train stabled?

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Many of us would have seen trains (or their rakes) parked in vacant loop lines or at sidings at different stations. Rakes of weekly trains, especially ones which come calling from other zones, are normally parked at a vacant siding line till the time the rake returns back to its home. 
One such train is the 2691/92 Chennai-Bangalore Weekly express. This train leaves from MAS on Fridays at 2330 and arrives Bangalore at 0555. The train returns only at Sundays, departing from Bangalore at 2300, arriving Chennai at 0515. The rake is shunted from Bangalore City at around 1045 to Bangalore Cantonment. The rake remains at Bangalore Cantonment till 2100 on Sunday, which is then shunted to City station for cleaning and departure back to Chennai. 
I was witness to one such shunting recently. The rake is stabled at Cantonment due to space crunch at the City station. On Sundays, the problem gets worse with the arrival of one more weekly train. This train however is sent to Whitefield!
Here is a step…

What a transition?

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The Tamil Nadu State Express Transport Corporation, which was earlier called Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation, is a Tamil Nadu State Government undertaking responsible for operating "Express" services both within the state and across state boundaries.

In the initial days, Tamil Nadu had seperate transport corporations for each district, and had individual name - the Corporation which ran buses in Coimbatore was called Cheran Transport Corporation, the one in Erode was Jeeva Transport Corporation, and so on. Similarly, long distance bus services in Tamil Nadu was exclusive to Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation (TTC). The district corporations were given rights to operate only short distances. 
The monopoly of TTC was broken when the then Chief Minister inaugurated the Puratchi Thalaivi J. Jayalalitha Transport Corporation (JJTC) sometime in the 1991-1996 period. It was perhaps for the first time in India that a chief minister spent state money to run a transport corporation…

Mega Busfanning at Kempegowda....

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The Kempegowda Bus Station, popularly called "Majestic" in Bangalore is breathing its last days. The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation, which owns and operates the bus station is planning to pull down the bus station and replace it it was a new one which would also house a metro station for the upcoming "Namma Metro" network in the City.

A Satellite Bus station was built on the Mysore road for the purpose. The terminus was opened in 2005, and currently handles about 800-odd buses. Now, the KSRTC (Karnataka) has decided to move all bus services towards Kerala (operated by themselves and their counterpart) to the Satellite Bus station. The move happens effective 29th of this month (September).

So, busfanning at KBS would not be the same again. Hence, I decided to make a big one last Tuesday. I left home at around 1400, and reached there at around 1500 or so. I was at the terminus till around 1715 or so.

The main spotting of the day was the brand new APSRTC Volv…

Ten traffic commandments for Bangalore...

Bangalore (er! Bengaluru), the so-called silicon valley of India, has the worst traffic conditions that you would expect in a metropolitan city. Traffic rules are seldom followed by road users and it appears that traffic rules do not apply to Bangalore city! Here are some tips, in case you plan to drive in Bangalore:  

1. First and foremost rule: Drive on the right hand side of the road if you want to drive slow. Do not exceed speeds of 40kmph if you are on the right hand side of the road. Faster vehicles will need to clear obstacles, a.k.a hurdles to reach their end point. In case you are not sure of whether you are fast or slow, stick to the middle of the road!  

2. Never ever expect Autorickshaws or Bikers to drive decently. Be completely prepared to have a scratch or two on your vehicle by the time you complete you drive through the city. Beware of bikers, they may just land up in front of you without any warnings – keep an eye, else you’ll land up in Jail for causing injury due to …

Volvo for Re. 1!!!

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The "One Rupee" ride on BMTC volvos ended yesterday after long 4 days. The deal that BMTC offered was to ride to any place on a Volvo for just Re. 1!!!

Newspaper reports suggest that these red whales carried as many as 18,000 on day one [DH, Bangalore] of the offer. Volvos, which were earlier seen running with enough empty seats (barring the ones to the IT parks), were seen running with no space to spare! Passengers flocked into these buses to enjoy the air-conditioned comfort - with many people traveling just for the sake of it!

The ride starting hitting autos badly by day three. The buses reportedly sold 72,000 tickets on Day 1 and 97,000 on the second day!!! One incident of a bus breaking down annoyed passengers and activists, but the gimmick seemed to have worked for BMTC.



On all the four days, many passengers who earlier used to purchase full tickets for volvos, decided to give those red buses and miss and resorted to traveling "comfortably" in the normal buses i…

The Re.1 initiative

BMTC, in a bid to make its Vajra (city volvo) service popular, is offering to carry passengers for just one rupee. The normal fare starts at ten rupees. The result is evident! One volvo on route 365 just overtook my poor MBS13, which is craving for passengers today! The conductor of my bus was laughing out at the plight of the one in the overcrowded volvo!
But, remember the one rupee offer is only for four days! At the end of that, it would be the Volvo crying for passengers once again!

A quick trip to Kerala...by road (Part-I)

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August 22, 2008: One fine Friday morning... I was busy at office trying to finish my work when I got a call from home. I was working from 0530-1430 that week. I was feeling too sleepy and attended the call without paying much attention! That was my sis-in-law, and an unexpected and exciting news came in... we were going to kerala that evening!

My bro had decided the trip in a very short notice. He outlined the route and decided to make it. I had to finish my jobs quickly and rush home. I had a hard time reaching home, since the number of buses seemed too low. I made it home well past 1415. We left home at 1445 after a quick round of freshening up. My brother took to the wheels and we rushed towards Mysore. A left turn from Bannerghatta Road, and we then pulled into a fuel station to tank up. After tanking up, we headed off towards JP Nagar 6th phase, and then took a left turn at JP Nagar signal to enter Kanakapura Road. After driving down for some distance, we pulled into the new NICE …

Bangalore-Mumbai-Kerala odyssey! Done....

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I am finally back in Bangalore after a 2885 kilometre round trip spanning over 7 days! I started off on August 03 (Sunday) heading to Mumbai on board the 6530 Udyan Express. It was Krishnarajapuram WDP4 #20044 which did the honors of taking me to Mumbai.

The train left Bangalore on time, and we managed to be not much delayed through the trip and reached Mumbai with a delay of just 3 minutes!

It was then two rain drenched days in Mumbai, when i was busy to the core with time for nothing! Still managed to sneak in an hour long railfanning at Ghatkopar and Kurla.

It was then time to head home...in Kerala! I took the Netravati Express from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on August 07. The loco that did the honors on this trip was WDM3D #11149 of Erode. The run was normal, and we were more-or-less on time till we reached Kudal, but was about an hour late the next morning! Finally landed up at Trichur delayed by around 51 minutes.

After two full days of relaxation at home, it was now time to head back …

Heading back to Bangalore!

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After a week long journey, its now time to head back to job in bangalore! The usual run-of-the-mill trains are running full, and i decided to take the Kannur-Yeswantpur tri-weekly express. I am now waiting for that train to reach Shoranur - the station most convenient for me.
The journey from home, at Kodungallur, to Shoranur was interesting - all the way by bus with a change over at Thrissur. I reached the station at 8 pm. The loco in the image above is a WAP1. The loco was spotted sleeping off at the platform. The arrival of my train is already announced - a full 30 minutes early! I can see the train already coming in! More details tomorrow!

In Kerala...

Finally, have made it to Kerala! My 6345 Netravati Express managed to reach Trichur at around 1344 - over 40 minutes late! The journey was overall good.... more news coming soon...

Returning from mumbai - 2

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Oh! What a run! The monsoon restrictions on KR seem a bit relaxed this year around - thanks to the under performing monsoon! My train managed to keep good speeds every time it was possible. It was raining almost since we entered kr territory!
We are now at Ratnagiri, just slightly behind schedule. We were made to wait for most crossings, but that doesn't seem to affect the spirits of our pilots, who just handed over duties to a new set.
The occupancy in my coach is poor.. More details on the trip follows..

On my return journey!

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After spending two wet days in Mumbai, it now is the time for me to head back home. I am heading home, to kerala, on board the thiruvananthapuram bound Netravati express!
I joined the train at LTT itself. The loco working my train is WDM3D #11149 of Erode. We left LTT with a delay of about 2 minutes. We crossed Pen a while back, and are now blasting off towards Roha. The loco is a decent smoker, and the pilots are doing a really awesome job! More info on this trip would keep coming as and when GPRS reception is available.. Bye for now!

heading to mumbai..almost close!

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The tortuous journey to Mumbai is almost heading to a close.. We were before time at Daund, and also at Pune home signal! We had a long-ish wait at pune home for that speck of yellow which would allow us in!
Though we were before time at the signal, we got delayed by 9 minutes by the time we stopped on platform 4. We had to wait till the Mumbai - Thiruvananthapuram express pulled into platform 3. Platform one was occupied by a rake of Jhelum express and two was held by Gyan Ganga. The latter got twin MLY WDMx locos later!
Platform 5 was occupied by a pretty early running Koyna express.. We finally left Pune at 1604, after accumulating a delay of 14 minutes! Hopefully we make up the loss by the time the train reaches Mumbai!

heading to mumbai..

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Here we are.. Kurduwadi was reached at 1253, delayed by 19 minutes. We started moving out of this station at 1256.
Its been raining almost continuously since morning. Its drizzling even at this moment.. More news as I reach mumbai..

Off to mumbai..

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Good morning! My train is now at Raichur - running late by about an hour and 30 minutes.. The reason for the delay is not known!
there goes the starter.

Heading off to mumbai...

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It finally is here... Another visit to mumbai.. I am taking a train that i've never traveled on - the 6530 Udyan express. The loco heading my train is WDP4 20044 of Krishnarajapuram.
My coach is A1 - 00063 based at bangalore. The AC is yet to be switched on.. It rained pretty well a while back, and the platforms were too slippery to walk on!
Psst! We've started moving... perfectly on time...

Weekend Trip: Thrissur - Bangalore on July 13, 2008

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I started off early from home (around 1540) for a train leaving at 1820. I had to travel to Thrissur to get into my train. I left my home along with my dad, who was heading for some shopping, towards Kodungallur, the town nearest to my home. I got into a bus from there, which left the bus station at 1610. It was a limited stop bus headed to Thrissur. Bus fares had been increased just the previous day, and the conductor was confused at the fare that he had to charge, and passengers too as a token of dissatisfaction, handed over only currencies of higher values and demanded change from a tired looking conductor. He too dispensed change without much grumble. The ticket to Thrissur made my wallet lighter by Rs. 21.

The 30-odd kilometre bus ride began at 1610. The driver was initially decent and drove at normal speeds (never went above 60kmph). This went on till Irinjalakuda, where we reached at 1640 and left after a customary 3 minute halt to pick up more passengers. The driver went berser…

the bangalore power scene..

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Bangalore probably has the worst power distribution system in India. The supply goes off often and is pretty erratic. The system is obviously unable to cope up with the burgeoning demand of the city, which seems to grow the same way as a tree - adding annual rings.

The circumferance of the city is increasing each year. According to my experience, there would be atleast two hours without current each day. This number is now increasing each day. Some issues at the Raichur thermal power station has just worsened things. The supply company, BESCOM, recently declared that the city will have to bear at least an hour each day without electricity. The "atleast" part was inserted cleverly! The city goes without current for atleast 2-4 hours each day!

To add fuel to the fire, the government is now bent upon giving free power to farmers! Dark days ahead for the city. The new government is in no mood to solve the miseries of the so called metropolitan city!

An incident which just blew off …