Bangalore to Nedumudy, Alappuzha: Kerala Lines AC Sleeper

It all began in August - right after the massive deluge hit my home state, Kerala. My students were among the first people to respond with flood relief material - they focused a lot on medicines, and ensured supply of basic medication to the badly affected parts of the state. After the initial response, the students got accumulating funds for the post-deluge rehabilitation work. They contacted a lot of NGOs to identify the needy, and finally a list of beneficiaries was prepared, and based on the funds available, we shortlisted two groups who were the most needy. A lot of relief material was collected as well. We had to find a safe and reliable way to getting the things to Kerala - first up on the priority list was my friend at Kerala Lines - he agreed to transport the material without any cost at the first talk itself - there was no hesitation on his side, and he agreed to make all arrangements.

October 10, 2018:
0930hrs: My phone rings, and its my friend at Kerala Lines. "10 Boxes, right?" was the first question. I replied in affirmative. "9pm Pathanamthitta Sleeper. Take U4, U11, U12 and U13. The dickey is all yours - load all the stuff in the same bus, and let the driver know where all the stuff needs go". I was excited, thanked him profusely, and call up my students to inform them about the update.

Four of us - three students and I, were traveling to Kerala to distribute the material. They got busy packing the stuff, arranging the transportation (to send the materials from our campus to Madiwala, from where our bus would depart). My uncle did his bit by helping us get a vehicle for transporting the stuff from the place the bus would drop us, to the places where we would distribute them. We all started to Madiwala, from our places by around 1900hrs - the goods vehicle with all the stuff went ahead, and two of us took the metro. We got to Madiwala by around 2030hrs - it took a while to get our tickets issued. We were informed around 2050hrs that the bus wouldn't come in front of the office due to some traffic restrictions, and that the bus is parked on the other side of the road - the students got to their task immediately, carrying all the stuff across the, very busy, Hosur road.

Loading took considerable time - the crew got a little impatient over the delay, but understood the situation. With all the boxes inside, we boarded the bus, and the bus got moving by around 2117hrs - about 17 minutes late. I was on berth U13 - this was my first ride in a SMK (SM Kannappa Automobiles aka 'Prakash') built sleeper bus, and also the first time in the last berth. The last berth is 'rotated' - as in, the pillow area is in the opposite direction of travel. I found this layout more comfortable than the forward facing layout, but then, it hurt every time the driver braked. The bus was fast from the word go - all the passengers had boarded from Madiwala itself - we had 29 passengers out of a total capacity of 30. The driver took the elevated highway, and rushed towards Electronic city.
The bus, NL-01-B-1199

The ride quality was good - the air suspension dampened the ride really well. I slowly dozed off - I was tired, and also had to conserve energy for the long day that was coming up. The bus stopped for a while after Attibele toll gate - about 5 minutes or so. A couple of other Kerala lines buses were also parked there. We got moving from there by 2214hrs. I dozed off even before we reached Krishnagiri. None of us had taken our dinner - maybe that too added to the tiredness. I had a nice long sleep, until about 0200hrs - the bus had stopped near Perundurai for crew change. I got off the bus, used the restroom, stretched a bit and returned to my berth - the stop was hardly 5 minutes long. I slept soon after the bus started.

I woke up briefly as the bus passed Kuthiran pass - the bus swayed quite badly at that point of them. The bus had stopped at Mannuthy bypass to drop passengers - around 0515hrs. I slept soon later - quite well actually. I woke up again as my phone rang - our taxi driver for the day was on the other end - he wanted an update about our location - we were just passing Aluva then. I dozed off for a while more - had to wake up as the bus hit some really horrible potholes around Palarivattam. We stopped to drop a couple of passengers (0636hrs) and moved on. The bus stopped again after Vyttila to drop passengers (0641hrs). I kept dozing off while and again - the bus had stopped at Cherthala (0723hrs) on the way.

I got off the berth after the bus passed Alappuzha - I headed to the cabin as we entered Alappuzha-Changanassery road. Traveling on that road is always a pleasure for me - and I always get excited travelling amidst the paddy fields (which were all deluge damaged), with the breeze on the face. The driver was in a bit of a hurry - the bus was running behind schedule already. We were finally dropped of at Pooppally junction, just before Nedumudy - at 0800hrs - I believe thats more or less on time.

Remarks: The bus, NL-01-B-1199, was fairly new. The body was built by SM Kannappa Automobiles (Prakash) on an Ashok Leyland Viking 222" Chassis (180hp engine). The interiors were really good - plush, and well put together. The railings in the bus were powder coated and had a premium feel, not the usual bling chrome finish. The berth was wide enough - but the area around the leg was narrow, due to the curvature in the rear profile of the bus. The AC vent placement was not the best - the one pointing at the leg blew a lot of cold air. The cushion provided as a pillow was soft enough as well. I could sleep quite well - except for the stress on the neck as brakes were applied. The run time from Bangalore to Nedumudy was a little less than 11 hours - perfect for a bus speed locked at 80kmph! Overall a great journey - special thanks to Kerala Lines for their cooperation in transporting the relief material.

Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available. Worked.
Entertainment: Not Available.

Maintenance: Not Rated
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: Not Rated
Punctuality: 5/5 (Acceptable delay)

Overall: 4.75/5

Pros: Value for money, excellent service
Cons: Nothing really!

Will I take this service again? Absolutely yes!