A Train-o-logue after long...

Since over a year, buses have been my preferred choice for travel. Trains never came on my list, at any point of time. Since shifting to Kerala in 2009, the number of travels by train can be counted on fingers! I did make a few train rides with college mates to attend various seminars, but the travels would be more of a fun trip, and very rarely did I railfan during those trips. A couple of weeks back, a friends get-together was planned at Paravur (near Kollam). I quickly zeroed in on a train journey, and booked tickets in CC of the Guruvayur-Trivandrum Intercity express.

The journey was on May 01, 2011. My initial plan was to start from home at 4.30am, and reach the station by 5.15am, for the train departing at 5.50am. However, things did not work according to my plan, and I could start from home only around 4.50am. It was mad rush afterwards, and finally ended up with a closed level cross at Edappally, trailing a slow moving truck for quite some distance in the city - at the end of all confusion, I reached Ernakulam station only at 5.30. Parking my car took more time, and it was 5.40 when I entered the platform. On entering the station, I found that my train would come on Platform 4. The PA system blurted out that the train would depart at 5.50, just as I entered Platform 1. It was a mad dash over the Foot-over-bridge to reach the train on time. Just as I reached Platform 4, WAP4 #22548 (of Royapuram?) pulled in with my train.

The crowd on the platform was very high, and the unreserved coaches were already spilling out. There was no indication of where my coach would be, and I had to run to find out my coach before the train left. I reached my coach just about in time - my seat was #61 in C1. It was, thankfully, an aisle seat. The entire coach was booked out, and a lot of "wannabes" were standing around the entry to get a seat. The TTE checked all passengers even before the train started off. We started off exactly at 5.50am. The TTE finished checking all passengers and turned down the "wannabes". My neighbour was a lady in her 50s. I switched on my iPod, and remained tuned to music for a good part of the journey.

Thuravur was our first halt. We kept very good pace for most of our journey. My train crossed other trains at very frequent intervals - we were never made to stop for any train, till we reached Cheppad. This was out first halt for a crossing, and turned out to be a long one too. The opposite train was the Kozhikode bound Jan Shatabdi - which came in with WDM2 #18698 of Erode. The train had a medley of coaches - some wrapped in Joy Alukkas advertisement, while some appeared freshly repainted. I noticed that there was another train at the station - which had an NE rake (the Raptisagar express?). Our next scheduled halt was Kayankulam - which turned out too long. We were overtaken by the Vanchinad express here (Could not notice the loco, since the rake of the Kayankulam-Ernakulam passenger blocked my view). I did not notice the time when we crossed each station - I was not in railfanning mood anytime during the journey.

I was in a semi-awake state through the journey - and hardly noticed details of the run. The catering in the train was handled by one "Joy", and the items they sold were all good. I had breakfast from the train (Idli-Vada) - the food served was decent. The vendors were mostly from TN, with a few north indians completing the "gang". I was to get off at Paravur. I was in constant touch with a "new born" railfan, Sankar, throughout the journey. Sankar was reaching Paravur from Trivandrum by the 16382 CAPE-CSTM Express, while I was reaching there by the 16341 GUV-TVC Intercity express - both trains are scheduled to reach PVU around the same time. I finally got off at PVU around 9:30, delayed by about 35 minutes (thanks to the long waiting for the JS to cross, and the stupid decision to let the Vanchinad ahead). The Vanchinad express was running a good 50 minutes late that day, and we had to wait a good 15 minutes for it arrive at Kayankulam, and another 10 minutes for it to clear the block ahead!

Paravur was hot and humid.. what ensued was some train spotting, and finally a lively journey back home by BUS!!! I know I did very little justice to this journey as a railfan.. did not even notice the number of my coach (I vaguely remember, it was a 98 built coach). Hardly noticed the details of the journey.. hope to get into some railfanning this year!