Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Board The Flying Saucer

  The 22625 Chennai-Bangalore AC Double Decker express is nothing less than a 'flying saucer' - a 12 carriage train hauled by a WAP-7 class loco.
     After hustling through the streets of Chennai on a rickshaw early in the morning, we (my mom and I) arrived at Chennai Central station on time to board the Bangalore bound 22625 AC Double Decker express, luckily we didn't face any traffic woes. While entering the station building, I didn't feel anything different at all from entering the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (then Victoria Terminus) in Mumbai. Besides, traveling to Chennai always reminds me of my 2006 trip with my God Father, Jack McKinnon. The AC Double Decker express to Bangalore was not announced and hence I got a few minutes to walk around for some observation. The station was brimming with early morning arrivals from almost all parts of India. The 12624 Trivandrum-Chennai super fast mail had already been arrived, hauled by a WAP-7 class locomotive of Royapuram shed, then a little later came the legendary 12622 New Delhi-Chennai Central Tamil Nadu express, hauled by a WAP-4 class locomotive of Erode shed and many more arrivals and departures. In the meantime, the AC Double Decker express to Bangalore was announced and soon a WDM-2 class loco of TNP shed shunted the train. This was my first trip on AC Double Decker train although my mom had traveled on numerous occasions ever since its inception. From the outside, the train looked quite immense with high speed carriages made by Linke-Hofmann Busch (LHB), however I was not really happy to see the cramped seating arrangements but was not really surprised either because this train has been made for the 'masses'. 
The 22625 Chennai Central-Bangalore AC Double Decker Express
After settling in, I went to check out the loco link and it was, rather surprisingly, a WAP-7 # 30276 class loco of Lallaguda shed. Usually, this train is hauled by a WAP-7 of Royapuram shed.  Interestingly, even though hauled by the high speed locomotive and with high speed carriages (capable of doing 160 KMPH), the train didn't cross the speed of 100 KMPH anywhere between Chennai and Bangalore maybe due to slack time. My mom and I had been allotted seats in the lower deck, one of the seats was a window seat so I didn't hesitate to ask my mom to occupy the middle seat because railfanning and window seat/doorplating goes hand-in-hand!! 

The WAP-7 # 30276 of Lallaguda Shed at the Helm of 22625 Chennai-Bangalore AC Double Decker Express
     At 7:25 AM on the button, the train started and cautiously pulled out of the station while negotiating the On X-Over speed restriction of 20 KM. The acceleration of a WAP-7 class loco was quite impressive, in less than 5 minutes - the train was cruising around 60 KMPH through the suburban stations of Chennai and later maintained the speed of 100 KMPH. This was the second time I traveled on a WAP-7 hauled train, the first time I traveled was on the 12951 Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani express. 

      This train has got a pretty relaxed schedule, covers the distance of 358 KM in 5 Hours 45 Minutes with an average speed of 62.26 KMPH including seven commercial halts. 

Here are some more photographs: 

    The WAP-7 did a splendid job and the train pulled into Bangalore City Junction 5 minutes before time. I'd like thank my railfan crony Nikhil Manohar for printing my flight boarding passes and handing me over at Bangalore Cantt. station at a very short notice. 

On a Flight back to Mumbai: 

Although, I dislike flying because it is absolutely boring, at least for me, but I wanted my mom to come out of the fear of flying, so I canceled the train tickets and immediately booked an evening flight from Bangalore to Mumbai. I was very impressed with new Bangalore International Airport, much bigger and better than the old HAL airport. The Jet Airways flight was very smooth, arrived Mumbai before time but nothing can come even close to the service provided by Air India. Air India always rocks!! 

Climbing to a Cruising Altitude

Flying over Bangalore - Immediately After Taking Off.