Trivandrum to Ernakulam: Jan Shatabdi Express

Our return trip from Trivandrum to Bangalore was very interesting. Direct modes of transport were unviable. We were not very confident of being able to return in the evening from Trivandrum - so we had to return on Sunday. But then, we wanted to be back in Bangalore by Sunday evening - we checked flights, which were too expensive. I quickly checked for tickets from Kochi - and, bingo! The afternoon flight from Kochi had lots of tickets, and they weren't expensive either! Tickets for the flight were booked first. Then began the hunt for tickets to travel to Kochi from Trivandrum. We decided to take the Jan Shatabdi Express from Trivandrum in the morning.

July 09, 2017:
With the train set to depart at 0600hrs, we had to leave our hotel by around 0530hrs. We were not sure if it would be possible to get transportation to the railway station that early in the morning on a Sunday. We managed to get an auto - and the driver agreed to ferry all the five of us in his vehicle. It was exciting, no doubt! We got to the station by around 0540hrs. Our train was to depart from platform 2 - quite interesting, since Jan Shatabdi is considered a premium train! Although there was an escalator to get on to the foot-over-bridge, there was no escalator to get back to the platform! Our coach, C3, was the sixth from the locomotive. Going by the number of people on board, I could understand that we were full!

After leaving my bag in the coach, I headed towards the front to find who would be working the 21 coach consist to its destination. The train, #12076 Trivandrum-Kozhikode Jan Shatabdi, is perhaps the most successful Jan Shatabdi Express trains in Indiaa. At helm that day was Erode's WAP4 #22222. It was raining a bit, and that made it impossible to get closer to the locomotive. I returned back to my coach as the rain got stronger. A little later, I was back on the platform to have a cup of coffee, from the nearby Milma stall, and pick up news papers.

The train got moving exactly at 0600hrs. The initial run was a little slow, but we picked pace after Kochuveli. Being early morning, most passengers were asleep. Catering guys were sparse - the only item that came was tea/coffee. Breakfast items were not available yet. Our first stop was at Varkala Sivagiri (0638hrs). I slept for a while after Varkala - 'sleep' would be unsuitable, it was more of a nap. I woke up just as we pulled in to Kollam (0705hrs) - the stop was very brief, and we got moving by 0707hrs. Catering guys came out with breakfast items now. We were planning to have our breakfast after getting to Ernakulam - but hunger got the better of me, and we ended up buying two packets of Masala Dosa from the vendor.
WAP4 #22222 of Erode taking charge of my train..

Now comes the twist - the dosa smelled very stale the moment we opened the packet. The fear was true - the dosa was already rotten - probably stock from the previous day. The vendor had already disappeared by now. Mean while we pulled into Kayamkulam station (0743hrs). I got in touch with the TTE at Kayamkulam station - he advised I should get in touch with their supervisor, who would be present in C1 - I rushed there, but nobody was around. I got hold of the Commercial Controller's number at the counter, and called him. I raised my complaint, and he promised to get back to me shortly. In the meantime, I tweeted about this to the DRM.


The run after Kayamkulam was a hurdle-ridden. We pulled into Haripad station at 0759hrs. There was no signs of movement even after 5 minutes of halt there. I could guess that we were waiting for a crossing now. Trivandrum division has a very unique way of handling crossings - they make sure premium trains with tight schedules are made to wait! Things were not different here either! The Jan Shatabdi has a very tight running schedule, and this crossing sent the schedule haywire. The stop was about 18 minutes long, and we crossed a passenger train here! We started from Haripad at 0817hrs.
Waiting for the crossing at Haripad..

As we were leaving from Haripad, the catering contractor (Arenco Catering) called me up to enquire about the issue. He offered to provide us 'fresh' food from Ernakulam (indirectly admitting the food we got was not 'fresh'). I refused the offer - to be honest, I was afraid to have anything from their kitchen anymore! By now, we had reached Alappuzha (0856hrs). After Alappuzha, our next stop was at Cherthala (0921hrs). A little after we left Alappuzha, the catering supervisor comes to my seat and checks what was 'wrong' with the food - he opens the packet (which I had not disposed till then) and understands what was wrong. He immediately refunds the cost of the product, and offers an alternative! We refuse.
It seemed they had just removed an advertisement wrap..

I was hoping we have a good run after Cherthala - but the hope was shortlived. We were looped at Kumbalam again - this time to cross Chennai-Alappuzha Express! We started off from Kumbalam at 0951. We finally pull into Ernakulam Junction at 1004hrs - 39 minutes late! All thanks for that delay to the section controllers of Trivandrum Division! We were just 6 minutes late at Kayamkulam - instead of giving priority to Jan Shatabdi express, they decided to hold the train for two crossings enroute, and grant us a delay of 39 minutes!

Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 12076 Trivandrum Central - Kozhikode Jan Shatabdi Express
Loco link: Erode WAP4 #22222
Coach: C3, WGACCZ 02155 built by Integral Coach Factory Chennai in 2002.  

Ratings:
Punctuality: 7.5/10 (39 minutes delay at Ernakulam. All due to terrible sector control)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Very clean!)
Catering: 0/10 (Was served rotten food)
Overall: 6/10

Its a good option - a fast day train. The only catch being not to count on a perfectly punctual arrival, and may be being careful about the catering!

Comments

Sunup said…
I've always found Trivandrum Division's section controlling horrible. Feels good that at least someone shares my view. Some folks at IRFCA always go hyper whenever something is mentioned against section controlling in that Division.
As a regular traveller on JS, has no hesitation in stating that the train doesn't get the priority it rightfully deserves. 12076 getting held up for crossing with ALLP KYJ Passenger @ HAD & ERS ALLP Pass @ SRTL are routine. Imagine these trains have to have a decent run for hardly 25 - 30 km, to meet JS on schedule!
What's worse is that 12076 gets held @ KUMM too, for crossing with 22639 MAS ALLP SF Express, when it's already running late.
Evening run gets marred when ALLP ERS passenger(again the crossing is hardly 20 km from origin) doesn't reach MAKM for the scheduled crossing. However TVC controllers compensate by holding KCVL SBC Express endlessly @ HAD for JS to cross!
All said & done, 12075/76 continues to be one of those trains which will take you to destination, at least 10 - 15 minutes late.

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