January 09, 2022:
This was the last day of the last "trip" I had planned before I shift gears in my career. I had just alighted from the Chennai - Palakkad Express, and was wandering around on Platform 1 at Palakkad Junction station. I had to purchase tickets for the last leg of the journey, from Palakkad to Thrissur. TW and TD would be joining me on this journey - they were at TW's place since a week, then. I had targeted the 12677 Intercity Express, and the train had over a hundred seats still available for Current Reservation. I headed straight to the reservation counter, and purchased the tickets - despite a lot of seats still available, my request for window seats were turned down.
The next stop was the retiring room. I had booked an AC dormitory for the next 4 hours that I would spend at Palakkad - I badly wanted to sleep for a while before starting off the last part of the journey. I only remember reaching the bed and crashing on to it. I had left an alarm, and that helped me get up on time. After getting fresh, I checked out of the dormitory and headed down stairs to the main entrance - TD was standing there excited, as she met me after close to about 8 days! We headed straight to Mani's Cafe outside the station for lunch - a sumptuous Kerala styled meal. I picked up some snacks from there as well, and then returned to the station.
Our train, the 12677 KSR Bengaluru - Ernakulam Intercity Express would depart a little past 1400hrs. We were back at the station by 1330hrs. The station was getting set for the busy hour ahead - quite a few trains would depart in either directions over the next one hour. The first among them was the Trivandrum bound Kerala Express. The Kerala Express was brought in by a WAP7 - this train departs ahead of my train, but would get overtaken at Ottapalam a little later. This overtake was one reason, rather, the main reason, for selecting this train! In the opposite direction, the Gorakhpur bound Raptisagar Express had arrived. Soon after the Kerala Express departed, my train was announced on Platform 3.
|WDP4D #40485 of Golden Rock arriving at Palakkad with the Intercity Express|
My train turned up at 1406hrs - about 4 minutes behind schedule. The train was hauled in by WDP4D #40485 of Golden Rock diesel shed. Our coach, D8, was a 2017 built Second Class Day time sitting coach. The builders plate mentioned it was built by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai in April 2017 - the coach was classified as "WGSDC" (this class code isn't used any more - they use WGSCZ instead). The coach had a very unique seating pattern with bus like seats, but arranged facing each other. We managed to find a few empty seats and moved there instead of our reserved seats. The train started off at 1409hrs - maintaining the 4 minute delay.
The train picked pace quite soon after leaving Palakkad. Interestingly, the platform (#3) was located on the main line, and hence we just took off quickly. The initial run was eventless - we slowed down at a couple of places due to speed restrictions. Just that. We overtook the Kerala Express at Ottapalam, as scheduled. It was exciting to see this overtake - especially overtaking a train as prestigious as the Kerala Express. The revised Zero-based Timetable (ZBTT), is a disaster in many cases, and the schedule of Kerala Express is just an example. The train got a convenient departure time from New Delhi, but then sucks all along after that!
We slowed down after Ottapalam, eventually coming to a complete halt at the, now defunct, Bharathapuzha Halt station. Shoranur "A" Cabin in located right after the halt station - and we were actually stopped at the cabin's home signal. I was continuously tracking the status of trains in the region using the NTES (National Train Enquiry System) application. The Trivandrum bound Venad Express is scheduled to run ahead of this train - but on that day, the late running 22113 Kochuveli bi-weekly super fast was also sent ahead of Venad Express. These two trains being sent ahead held us up for 12 minutes there!
We crawled over the link line - we crossed the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus bound Garib Rath express over the Bharathapuzha bridge. We crawled through Vallathol nagar, and finally came to a complete halt at Mullurcarai station - not the station actually, but at the Intermediate block signal located right outside Mullurcarai (Mullurkara) Halt station. We crossed the Hazrat Nizamuddin bound Mangala Lakshadweep Express here - this was my first spotting of this train after it got new LHB rakes. This wait was about 3 minutes long. We started crawling soon later, only to be halted at Wadakkanchery station again.
The Venad Express, running ahead of us, had a halt at Wadakkanchery, and we were running just one block behind. This made it difficult for us! The railways, especially Trivandrum division, is a tough nut and they keep doing such interesting things. Sending a train with an intermediate stop ahead of a non-stop train is such a senseless thing to do. And in any case, the Intercity overtakes the Venad express a little later! They could've just preponed this overtake to ensure punctuality of Intercity express.
The halt at Wadakkanchery was also about 3 minute long, departing at 1524hrs. It was as if the Loco pilots had vengeance as we departed from Wadakkanchery (WKI). The train maintained quite good pace after WKI. We had a few more slow downs after WKI, finally reaching Thrissur at 1544hrs - delayed by 25 minutes, up for a 4 minute delay, all due to the flawed section controlling.
Do check out the video of this journey on YouTube!
Journey in a Nutshell:
Train Number: 12677 KSR Bengaluru - Ernakulam Intercity Express
Loco link: WDP4D #40485 of Golden Rock diesel loco shed
Coach: D8, WGSCZ 171343/C built by ICF, Chennai. Based at Ernakulam Coaching Depot
Punctuality: 7/10 (Delays due to section control)
Coach Maintenance: 10/10 (Very well maintained)
Bedroll: Not Applicable
Catering: Not Applicable
Overall: 8/10 (Potentially a good journey, made terrible due to poor section control)
A journey on the 12677 Intercity was something I wanted to do ever since the Zero-Based timetable was introduced. The Intercity was always a speedster, and with the new timetable, it got a bit more of energy! The Intercity overtakes two trains within Kerala itself, and this journey let me experience one - and that too overtake of the prestigious Kerala Express! It was a short journey, screwed up due to the inefficient section controlling - a train that was only 4 minutes late at Palakkad, ended up 25 minutes late at Thrissur - no explanation other than poor section controlling. That said, I'd love to do an end-to-end journey on this train some day (have done that in the past, but then a lot of things have changed over the years!!).