Posts

Showing posts from July, 2009

Bharathapuzha and the Railways...

Image
Nila, or Bharatha Puzha (loosely translated as India River), originates in Anamalai hills on the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, and flows to the Arabian sea, covering a distance of over 209 kms. Most of the distance is in Kerala. The districts of Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram are served by this river. The river is often referred to as the Nile of Kerala. The river is entwined with rich culture and is often very closely associated with the history of Kerala. Bharathapuzha formed the border between the Princely state of Cochin and the British ruled Madras Presidency.

When the British laid the first railway line in Kerala, circa 1862, the line followed a more-or-less parallel alignment with the river, starting a little away from Palakkad till Tirunnavaya. The line was laid in a manner that the line never had to cross the Bharathapuzha, except for a tributary of the legendary river. The railway line crosses the Toothapuzha, near Pallipuram. The river also marks the boundary between the r…

The first Shatabdi experience

Image
I saw the first Shatabdi express in my life, way back in 1998. That was the Coimbatore - Chennai Shatabdi Express, and I still remember the distinct livery and the soft music inside the coach. Shatabdi expresses trace their roots back to 1988. These trains were introduced on the Centenary year of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India). (Shatabdi, in Sanskrit, means Centenary). Shatabdi Expresses, like their long distance counterparts - Rajdhani - have all-inclusive fares, and meals are served on board the train.

The First Shatabdi Express in India ran between New Delhi and Jhansi, which was later extended to Bhopal. The Bhopal Shatabdi (numbered 2001/2002) is the fastest in the country and is also the longest (in terms of distance covered). Shatabdi expresses have only sitting accomodation, and all coaches are airconditioned. There are two classes, viz, Second Chair Car and Executive Chair Car. While the former has a 2x3 seating arrangement, the latter has 2x2 se…

The Northern Hop: Complete

The great trip to the land of the whites finally concluded this morning. The final two parts of the three part journey was interesting and exciting in their own respects. The first - of the last two - hop was on the 2006 Kalka-New Delhi Shatabdi Express. I was in coach C11, and the loco that worked my train was WAP7 #30222 of Ghaziabad. The train had an amazing run from Chandigarh (from where, it started with a slight delay) to New Delhi (where it arrived early). I saw a WDP4B in flesh for the first time in my life, at Ambala Cantonment.

The second - the third of the journey - hop was on board the 2626 Kerala Express from New Delhi, to my "nearest railhead" - Thrissur. The loco allocated to my train was WAP4 #22666 of Erode. We left New Delhi delayed by about 9 minutes (there were two incidences of Emergency Chain Pull, and each incidence delayed us by 3 minutes). The arrival at Thrissur was delayed by about 2 hours and 50 minutes. The train was more-or-less on time till Pala…

The Northern Hop: Hop 2 & 3 commences tomorrow

The last two hops of The Northern Hop begins tomorrow. The tickets were booked just yesterday night. Hop 2 would be on the 2006 Shatabdi from Chandigarh to New Delhi, and Hop 3 would be New Delhi to Thrissur on the 2626 Kerala Express.

I just hope that the tradition of surprises continue on this journey too. Expect more updates to pour in, as time and network permits....

The Northern Hop: Hop 1 complete...

Marking an end to "Hop 1" of the Northern Hop, I reached Chandigarh yesterday evening at 1853, delayed by about 38 minutes. The journey had quite some surprises and an even bigger lot of disappointments.

My train, 2653 Kochuveli-Chandigarh Kerala Sampark Kranti Express, was worked by WDP3A #15532 of Golden Rock, from Kochuveli to Vadodara. The train was late right from Thrissur (the point where I boarded), all the way till we changed locos at Vadodara. The 3100-hp rare specimen of ALCOs in India (this loco becomes rare by the fact that it is the only diesel loco in India to have twin cabs), did a marvellous job with my 20 coach train. The run on KR was amazing, and we were allowed to run through at most occasions, without having to stop for crossings. The technical halts in the diesel run segment were at Ratnagiri (Pilot Change), Chiplun (Watering), Roha (Pilot Change and Vasai Road (Pilot Change).

My train was overtaken by both the Rajdhani's from Mumbai and also by an un…

The Northern Hop

A trip out of the blue, to the land of the whites - this is what can be said about a journey of mine, that I commence today. The journey is about 5833 kms long (all on trains), planned to be completed in 8 days - starting and ending on Saturday. The journey begins today at 1030 hrs (July 11, 2009) and would end on July 18, 2009, perhaps at 1030 hours itself.

The trip would include just three trains, with the first one alone lasting about 2400 kms and 53 hours. The approximate trip schedule is: Thrissur to Chandigarh on the 2653 Kerala Sampark Kranti, Chandigarh to New Delhi by 2006 Kalka-NDLS Shatabdi (on the 16th of June) and New Delhi to Thrissur by 2626 Kerala Express (departing from NDLS on the 16th of June).

Its a no-brainer trip, intended to have very little railfanning other than the ones while traveling. I do hope to keep updating the blog, but all that depends on GPRS connectivity (Thanks to BSNL, that has a different access setting for each circle, much to the 'help' o…

On the legendary Parasuram, to Kannur

Image
Parasuram Express traces its origin to the early 1970s, as the 49/50 Link Express to Shoranur. Later, the then Day Express (numbered 49/50) was introduced between Cochin Harbour Terminus and Cannanore (now Kannur). Not much later, the train was extended to Trivandrum Central and Mangalore, and named Parasuram Express. The train is still fondly called as the "Day Express" by many people - and the train, true to its name, covers most of Kerala in broad day light.
The train has a very glorious past, but is now reduced to mere tatters of what it once was. This train makes a grand 41 halts in its 634 kms run from Trivandrum Central to Mangalore Central, averaging a royal 45.83kmph. (The train averages only 44.49 kmph in the opposite direction, taking 43 halts over the 634 kms distance). The train takes a halt, on an average, every 18 minutes. The shortest gap between two halts is just 4 minutes (between Divine Nagar and Chalakkudi) and the longest is one hour (between Kasaragod …

A trip to a reservation counter.....

Image
The advent of online railway ticket reservations, through IRCTC, changed the way many Indians book their train tickets. While the system offers loads of advantages, it comes it its share of dis-advantages. The extra cost incurred becomes a huge minus for the cost-conscious, while security of the transactions worry many others. I and my family have been using the system since its initial days, and we were overwhelmed mainly by the convenience of booking a ticket sitting at home.

However, the charm of having a physical ticket in hand, hard-earned after waiting at the reservation counter in a queue, is something that IRCTC cannot match. I had been to the reservation counter, about two weeks back to book a ticket and the experience was interesting. Today, I faced yet another reason to be at the reservation counter. I had to book a Tatkal ticket for a train that departs on Saturday. I woke up late at morning, unmindful of the fact that it was opening day for Tatkal booking. I logged on to t…

The scary private bus...

Image
The roadway public transporation scene in Kerala - the southern-most state in India - is controlled mostly by Private operators. According to anecdotal figures, there are over 30,000 private buses operating on scheduled routes as of today. Private buses make up more than 75% of the public transport system, with the state-run KSRTC operating only about 5,000 buses as of today. While KSRTC handles most of the long intra-state and inter-state routes, private buses were restricted to shorter routes around smaller towns and villages.
The scene changed a while back with private buses too operating on ultra-long routes within the state. Private buses taken longer routes to circumvent operational restrictions. Private stage carriages are not permitted to operate on routes notified as "nationalised" routes. Earlier restrictions only implied that they could not run more than a specified distance on such routes, and to avoid such problems, they run for some distance through smaller roa…