Bangalore to Thrissur: On a Holiday special train!

An innocuous message on our colleagues WhatsApp group informed me about a one-off special train on September 01, 2017 from Yeswantpur to Kochuveli. I had no intentions to go home for Onam till this message popped up - in fact, I had planned to spend the weekend with my colleagues. I had just shifted my home to a location closer to office, and I had my colleagues and students all around. The lure of traveling home for Onam was much stronger - I fired the IRCTC Connect App, and it showed that the special train had some 13 seats more in Three tier AC. I made a split second decision and grabbed one seat in 3A - I got one Side Upper Berth. Then began the hunt for the return ticket - more on that later!

A little later my colleague informed she was in S18 - "Sleeper Coach 18?", was the first question in my mind. The answer for my question came the next morning - as I spotted a special rake with 19 sleeper coaches, 2 AC 3-Tier coaches and 2 Luggage-cum-brake vans in the consist. I was sure this would be my train - and I was proven right later.

September 01, 2017:
I fire up the Ola app and the Uber app on my phones to hunt for a vehicle that would drop me at Banaswadi railway station - some 3 kms from my office. The first attempt was to get an Ola Auto, which failed. Then an UberGo - the app didn't respond at all. It was an Ola Prime, finally! A not-so-new Nissan Sunny turned up a few minutes later. The driver just confirmed my drop location, fired up the navigation app and got going. The roads were chocked as the entire area geared up for Id celebrations. It took a little over 22 minutes to cover the 3 kms distance to Banaswadi station.

Banaswadi is a nondescript station at best - the station has three platforms - including one island platform. The station had a small office building - the display boards were silent about my train - 06575 Yeswantpur-Kochuveli Tatkal Special. Based on my observation of the rake, I knew my coach would be up at the front. I moved towards the starter. A little after I reached, a DEMU bound to Hosur pulled in. A lot of people actually mistook the DEMU to be the special train - and a lot of curious passengers enquired with passengers in the DEMU if that was the Kochuveli special!

A little after the DEMU departed towards Hosur, a WDG4 hauled BOXN rake that was on the loop line was cleared to go towards Yeswantpur bypass line. Now, this meant my train would surely be delayed! I moved towards the starter end of the platform a little past 1600hrs - there was no sign of the train yet. A completely undecipherable announcement was made at the station - which was not audible at the place I was standing. A little past 1600hrs, the cries from a WAP4 became audible. The train showed up a little past 1610hrs with Erode's WAP4 #22637 at the helm. My coach was the third from the locomotive - a 2000 built coach. The coach appeared quite well kept - I rushed in to the coach - the coach was empty. We got moving by 1614hrs - some 35 minutes behind schedule.
WAP4 #22637 of Erode arriving at Banaswadi with the 06575 Special to Kochuveli..

Our next stop was at Krishnarajapuram - 1630hrs. The train filled up here - including my coach. The two minute stop at Krishnarajapuram was sufficient to load the entire train! We got moving at 1632hrs - the coach was abuzz with activity for a while from then, as people settled down. The TTE came around checking tickets around this time. The train moved at a good pace and the WAP4 was having with the 23 coach rake as it went around through the roller-coaster like terrain. It was all fine till we reached Bangarpet (1717hrs). I was a little hungry and had almost finished my stock of water - I rushed off the coach to buy some food. I picked up a plate of Samosas and a bottle of water and returned to my coach. There was no sign of my train moving for quite some time. Sometime around 1733hrs, the Chennai Shatabdi overtook my train. We started moving at 1741hrs, behind the Shatabdi express.

It was another quick run after Bangarpet. We pulled into Thirupattur at 1852hrs. We were on the platform line for quite some time - I was clear about the purpose - another overtake in the offing! A little later a train whizzed past us (1859hrs). We got moving at 1903hrs. We were a little over an hour late now. I had prebooked my dinner through the IRCTC eCatering Portal, and my food was to be loaded at Salem. I was a little worried about the delay, since there were a lot of posts on the internet about denied deliveries due to delays. We had a fairly good run after Thirupattur - a little over an hour and 30 minutes of high speed run. We were looped at Karuppur (2033hrs) - for yet another overtake. This time an EOG powered train overtook us (2039hrs). We got moving at 2043hrs. We finally reached Salem at 2058hrs - an hour behind schedule. A delivery guy turned up soon after the train stopped - a packet of hot food was delivered at my berth. We departed from Salem at 2103hrs.
That excitement.. as the train arrives.. Home.. here I come!!!

The packet contained one hot parotta neatly packed in an aluminum foil, some fried rice in a plastic container, a veg kuruma and a vegetable raita in pouches. The Parotta was soft and awesome - the veg kuruma was a great combination as well. The fried rice was amazing - had the perfect smoked taste. I finished by dinner quickly - I was left licking my fingers. I would recommend Hotel Aargees at Salem to people booking for eCatering for sure! Soon after my dinner, I got up to my side upper berth to sleep for a while. I did not realise how long it took to fall asleep, though. I woke up hearing my alarm go off, at 0120hrs - the scheduled arrival time at Thrissur. I was sure that there was no way we reach Thrissur on time. I quickly opened the Google Maps app, and realised we were between Palakkad and Ottapalam. I dozed off for a while more, and woke up a little past 0210hrs. We were nearing Thrissur now. I got off my berth, gathered my belongings and got set to get off. The train pulled into Thrissur at 0223 - an hour and 3 minutes behind schedule. My home was then a 45 minute autorickshaw ride away!

Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 06575 Yeswantpur-Kochuveli Tatkal Special Express
Loco link: Erode WAP4 #22627 
Coach: B1, WGACCN #00105 built by Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala in 2000.  

Ratings:
Punctuality: 8/10 (Over an hour delayed - but still, great show)
Cleanliness: 10/10 (Very clean!)
Catering: 10/10 (A-W-E-S-O-M-E Food!)
Overall: 9/10

I really appreciate, and thank, the railways for declaring a special train, albeit at the last minute. Like every special train, they did give less priority to this train as well - and we ended up an hour late. That was not a big delay, but was a delay. The end-to-end running time was about 10 hours - about 2 hours more than what a bus would take! 

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