A Real superfast.. in Kerala!!

Perhaps for the first time in life I made one real superfast journey in a train in Kerala! In what could be described as a soon to be extinct species, this train made hardly any stops in the 223 kms journey I made in the train! After a mind-boggling day bus fanning and some tourism in Trivandrum, I was returning home. I was accompanied by fellow railfan Vibin Andrews.With some late bus fanning plans in mind (which got washed down, thanks to the rain), I decided to take the weekly 12698 Trivandrum-Chennai Super Fast.

We both were drop-dead-tired at the end of the day. After a light dinner, we headed out to the platform where our train was berthed. Sadly, the train was taken on PF4. Walking over the foot-over-bridge, we saw a loco with "top headlamps" pulling in to take charge of the train. It was a WAP4 - road number and shed unknown - rather, we did not bother checking which loco was that. My seat was in S1, while Vibin was in S4. S1 was fully reserved - all seats were taken, and most passengers were joining at TVC. However, S4 was a different scene - more than half the seats were booked from ERN! I decided to join Vibin in S4.

The train started off perfectly on time. The train picked speed in no time - we literally flew past Kochuveli, and the flight continued until we reached Paravur. We slowed down at the LC before Paravur, later picked speed and flew past the station. We reached Kollam on time. We crossed the LTT-Kochuveli Garib Rath here. While at the station, I was busy explaining to Vibin that QLN (Kollam) doesn't have any platform numbered "1". The 'first' platform at QLN is numbered 3. Platforms 1 to 3 were under the Metre-Gauge system earlier. Once the MG line was dismantled, a new platform was built on the BG line adjacent to PF4, and was numbered PF3. PF3 is peculiar in many terms - this platform starts around the mid of Platform 4, and runs a long distance after the station.

On hearing my explanation, a co-passengers jumped in, and argued Platform 1 exists! While both of us tried to explain to the 'intruder' that PF1 'existed' and does not exist anymore. Later, as the train pulled out, he (the co-passenger) was satisfied that he was wrong. Vibin was surprised to see that the new MEMU shed is 'almost inside' the station. Meanwhile the red beast at the front of our train put all its horses to work, and we were literally flying. Vibin slowly retired to his berth, as the passenger on the Middle berth wanted to sleep. Vibin tracked the train's progress in his GPS, and found that we were maintaining decent pace all the time.

With not much to see, I too retired on the lower berth (the remaining passengers in the bay were to join only at Ernakulam). I feel asleep soon after the train crossed Sasthamcotta. I jumped up all of a sudden when water gushed into the train - it was raining heavily outside. I pulled down the shutter, and continued sleeping. I woke up when my phone beeped - it was 2250, and we were pulling into Kottayam already! The remaining passengers in the bay, who were supposed to join in at Ernakulam, decided to turn up early! They got in at Kottayam. We left Kottayam at the scheduled time, 2310.

I could not lie down after this, but continued sleeping sitting upright. I remember seeing the train slowing down near Vaikom Road, but kept pace and ran through. We slowed down at Mulanthuruthy, and kept crawling for quite some time. In the mean time Vibin woke up and asked if we were close to Ernakulam - I said Yes. We stopped near the Ernakulam Coaching yard around 00:05.  I could see the Trivandrum-Mangalore Maveli express - this is the only train with LED boards that would run through the section at that time. After a longish halt near the yard, we were allowed to enter the main line, only to stop at Ernakulam Town's Home signal. This wait was very long, and we finally entered ERN at 0025, late by 10 minutes. I got off - still half asleep. Vibin was in deep sleep, so thought not to disturb him. I walked through the length of the station, still half asleep - went to the rickshaw stand, and got a rick to Ernakulam Junction, where i had left my car.

This train is perhaps the only "Real" superfast train in Kerala - Covering Trivandrum to Ernakulam in 4 hours and 5 minutes, that too via Kottayam is a huge task - this train managed doing that! The Halt pattern was mind-boggling as well. There should be more such trains in Kerala - almost all trains running in Kerala resemble passenger trains, and more halts are added each year! If only the railways could introduce the proposed MEMUs, and reduce the number of halts for these long distance trains. (But where are the tracks to run all these ??)

Comments

Krishnaprasad said…
I travels regularly on the TVC-ERS stretch. Once when I travelled by Vanchinad Express, it covered the distance in 4hrs15 minutes despite having many halts.(20 min early).The JS covers in 3hrs 15min.
But once in Island Exp and Malabar Exp, it took more than 5 hrs.
A Superfast bus covered the distance in 4hrs 15 min at night.
"the red beast at the front of our train put all its horses to work"

i like this..
Arvind said…
It could be only because the train travels over kerala overnight. if this train started at around 12 noon rest assured that you would need 2 hours extra to reach ERN from TVM

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