The AC Express to Kochuveli!

Another trip to Trivandrum - this time at a very short notice. I was totally unprepared for this one, and actually caught me off guard. With tension brewing between Karnataka and Tamilnadu, bus services were in a complete mess - even otherwise, buses weren't fitting into my requirement. I had to be in Trivandrum early in the morning, so that I can reach the program that I had to attend, which starts at 10am. The focus turned to trains now - a colleague was to travel with me. We did a quick search on the Indian Railway website - and found that the Yeswantpur-Kochuvei AC Express was operating on that day. Tickets were booked in AC 3-Tier, through the IRCTC website.

Fast-forward to September 22, 2016:
We started off from office around 1345 in a fairly tired Tata Indica cab of a cab aggregator. The driver took a quick route, and dropped us at the railway station by around 1415hrs - with over an hour to go for our train. Yeswantpur is a very unique station that there are hardly any signages or information display systems. We were completely in the dark about which platform our train would arrive on. We decided to wait on the foot-over-bridge, so that we could head to which ever platform the train arrived on. The railway station was quite dead at that time - a couple of passenger trains arrived and an express to Machilipatnam left.

The information display screens did not seem to be aware of our train - the screens kept giving out information of trains that had already departed. The rake of our train was brought in by a WDG3A of Krishnarajapuram shed sometime around 1445hrs. The EOG was already running, but the coaches weren't opened yet. We headed towards the front - I wanted to see what loco would be hauling my train, and also stock up some snacks for the evening ahead. As we walked half the way to the front, the ever familiar jerk was seen - the locomotive had already arrived. It was Erode's WAP4 #22390 at the helm. After downing a cup a hot badam milk, and stocking up some snacks for the evening ahead, we headed to our coach.
WAP4 #22390 at the helm of our train..
We had our tickets in B6. The train had a total of 8 3A coaches, around 3 2A and 1 1A, along with 2 EOGs and a Hot buffet car. A short rake for the WAP4 to toy around with. Our coach (LWACCN 10114C) was built by RCF Kapurthala in 2011 and was intially given to Northern Railway. We started off from Yeswantpur at 1521hrs, with a nice heavy jerk. I was traveling by a CBC rake after a very long time - the jerk was really bad, and hard enough to kick down a person standing. I doorplated for a while - but the jerks everytime the LP accelerated was quite scary, and I headed back to my berth. We had to stop at Banasawadi to cross twin light WDG3As. I was traveling by the Banasawadi-Baiyyappanahalli line for the first time - I was quite awestruck to see the coaching yard there. I never knew that the yard was already ready. We pulled into Krishnarajapuram by 1609hrs - majority of the passengers go here. Since the stoppage was very short, people had to jostle for space to get into the train. We started off by 1612hrs.

The LPs let the beast loose once we were past Krishnarajapuram. The train remained at MPS for most of the time. Our coach had a flat wheel - the constant thud thud noise was irritating. I was enjoying the run though. Few vendors made their appearance in this section. A guy from the base canteen took orders for dinner - very few people ordered though. The food was quite pricey (at Rs. 170 for a Veg Biriyani and a plate of Chapati with veg curry) - although I had tweeted about this, I didn't receive a satisfactory reply from the railways. We pulled into Bangarpet by 1654 and started off again by 1655hrs - I think the food was loaded here. This was an unscheduled halt - but, in all probabilities - a regular technical halt.
The train was a melange of coaches - some in the awful duranto livery and some in the LHB livery
The fast run continued after Bangarpet as well - so did the jerks. We came to a complete halt at the Jolarpet "bypass" - I believe some train was crossing over on the mainline - so we had to wait. The wait was over 10 minutes long. I remained at the door till we started and entered the mainline - a first time experience for me, since all my previous runs in this sector were at night! Once on the mainline, the beast was let loose - this time with higher MPS, the train rocked and jerked for most of the time. The run got boring as darkness fell - there was nothing to see, or nothing to do. Watching a movie on the phone was the only way to pass time. We were looped at Karuppur to let some train overtake us, as well. Salem was reached at 1956hrs - we were late. I wanted to buy some water and headed towards the door - but just as I reached the door, the sharp jerk, and the train started moving! It was 1958hrs then - a two minute break at a divisional headquarters!

We had our dinner - the typical railway food - over on price and low on taste. I wanted to try the online food ordering service - but it appeared a bit too pricey and I had junked the idea - only to have this terrible food at the same high price! The long day at office was already bearing down on me, and I badly wanted to sleep. Since we were the only passengers in the entire cubicle, and the others were to join en-route, we pulled up the berths and I hit my lower berth. The bedrolls were really fresh - they were crisp and shining white. The rolls were in disposable paper covers  - two bedsheets and a blanket were provided. Hand towels seem to be omitted these days. I remember the train pulling in to Erode (sometime past 9pm) - but slept even before it started moving from there. I had a nice long sleep - didn't realise the commotion of people getting off at Tiruppur or getting in from there.

I woke up hearing a noisy snore from a berth nearby - we were stationary. I could hear announcements outside - and we were in Kerala already. The time was 0239hrs. And we were at Ernakulam Town Railway station. By now, there was a competition among snorers - this was the loudest I've heard - they were so loud that I felt a WDM2 in full notch would've been silent! I struggled to fall asleep again amidst the cacophony. But then, sleep was more powerful - I did not realise when we started moving. I slept again for quite sometime - only to be woken up by my colleague as we neared Kochuveli. The coach was empty again - just about 5 of us. I headed to the washroom to get fresh - the toilets were still clean and in good shape. We finally pulled into Kochuveli station at 0628hrs - more than 25 minutes before time!

I was fore-warned that getting a bus from there was a tough task - but lady luck accompanied us - our coach stopped right in front of the exit, and the bus was right in front of the exit! We just ran into the bus, took a seat towards the middle - some 25 minutes later, we were at Trivandrum Central Railway station, walking towards a nearby lodge.

I quite liked this journey - my longest journey by train in recent times. I was quite excited to be on board an LHB rake as well. The ride was really comfortable - the horizontal sways characteristic of the old generation ICF rakes were absent, making for a very comfortable ride. The jerks were very pronounced - it was surely dependent on the loco pilots - since the rake hardly jerked after Ernakulam. The food was the old railway style - tasteless and expensive. The coach was clean, so were the toilets. Sorry for the lack of pictures - I felt really uncomfortable standing at the door - maybe I am getting "old" :p

Comments

Sunup said…
Nice to read a rail review from your end after a long time. The last time I took this train, it had 9 3AC coaches. Now it's going to be (or already is) augmented by 1 more 3AC coach (mainly coz of its RSA YPR-DEE Duranto). So maybe the day you were traveling, one of them was detached for maintenance. As for the food price, even I has raised an online complaint about it but didn't get any satisfactory response as was in your case too! So now, whenever I travel on this, I skip ordering on-board and buy a parcel from Salem station instead.
Arun said…
For whatever reasons, this as well the SBC ERN Intercity keep having random changes in their combinations. Each of the pair of intercity train has different formation and indian railway site is often incorrect. Boarding at Carmelram, it has always been a last minute thriller to know the coach composition as well as position.
Krishnaprasad said…
Great to see a train report after a very long time. I agree to the point that CBC jerks are LP specific - had a ride in ERS LTT Duronto last month, and the SR crew didn't let me sleep throughout the night. Post MAJN, the ride was smooth. There were no foldable trays in side bearths, which was annoying.

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