Its been a very long time since I travelled by trainThis was the first thought I had in mind when I received the order to be present in Gulbarga (now called Kalaburagi) as external examiner for a practical examination. It was a 600-odd kilometre journey to reach Gulbarga from Bangalore. I had the option of taking a train or a bus. I decided to take a train one way and bus the other way. The Indian Railway website showed up a lot of options for my journey, with the average running time being above 12hours. I decided to take the last train out of Bangalore, so that I'd have sufficient buffer time to get to the railway station after office. I booked the ticket through the IRCTC website for 22134 Yeswantpur - Solapur Super Fast Express, which departs from Yeswantpur at 2050hrs, and is scheduled to arrive Gulbarga at 0625 - this train is also the fastest between the two places.
December 10, 2015:
I had to sit late in office, and thanked my stars for having booked on the last train for that journey. It was past 1900hrs when I left office - the office shuttle left me a little away from the nearest metro station - thankfully, a BMTC bus came right behind the shuttle, and I could get to Dasarahalli Metro station soon. I reached Yeshwantpur station sometime around 2000hrs - 50 minutes to spare for my train. My first priority was to have dinner, and hence headed straight to the food court - the place was a disappointment, and hence I took a parcel and headed to the platform.
The station was a big shock - the entrance towards Tumkur road side was badly underlit, and absolutely no public information displays were working. There was no indication of which platform my train would arrive at all! I decided to try my luck and got on to the FOB. The LED boards near Platform 1 kept displaying my train's number - so I headed straight to Platform 1. Interstingly, my coach (#A1) was right next to the FOB. I was disappointed to see a very old coach for me - #94052 would take me to Gulbarga that night. This 1994 built coach has sure seen better days - the interiors wore the drab blue curtains. My seat (#41) was a side lower berth - I hate side berths in 2A. The berth never aligns comfortably and it is narrower than the other berths.
I headed to the front to see which locomotive would be the power that night. The train had a very unique formation - it had the AC coaches at the middle. The train had a full 1A, two 2As and only 1 3A! There were three sleeper coaches and the same number of unreserved seater coaches between my coach and the locomotive. The unreserved coaches were all packed to capacity, and the RPF guards had a tough time managing crowd. As I neared the loco, I heard the typical EMD Sneeze and the hums - I was sure its an EMD at the helm. It turned out to be WDG4 #12884 of Pune in charge.
|WDG4 #12884 of Pune, which worked my train..
I had a nice long sleep afterwards - not continuous, but fairly continuous. I woke up only when the train had reached Wadi! The time was around 0600hrs then. We were running late for sure. I was too sleepy to get up, and tried sleeping for some more time. We left Wadi at 0603hrs. Wadi station brought a lot of nostalgic memories - during my Mumbai days, our train always stopped at Wadi for breakfast, and we used to be before time regularly. I couldn't relive the nostalgia this time though. I got off the berth as the train pulled into the next stop - Shahabad. We started from Shahabad at 0620 (about 16 minutes late).
By now, my coach got active. People were busy collecting their baggage and preparing to get off. We pulled into Gulbarga at 0642hrs. More than 90% of the train emptied out at Gulbarga - and it took a long time to get out from the station.
I was really excited about this train journey - especially since I was traveling after a really really long time by train. Central Railway deserves appreciation for keeping the coaches in good shape. The journey as such was comfortable - I slept really well, and woke up only when my alarm rang. There is not much change in cleanliness in coaches. Neither the attendants nor the TTE ever made their appearance in the coach - not a great idea IMO. All said, a journey I was excited about, and something that I liked.