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Blog Entry# 5896492
Posted: Nov 29 2023 (10:13)

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Last Response: Dec 03 2023 (17:11)
General Travel

Nov 29 2023 (10:13)   08551/Visakhapatnam - Kirandul Special | VSKP/Visakhapatnam Junction (8 PFs)
Siddharth S^~
Siddharth S^~   23597 blog posts
Entry# 5896492            Tags  
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As the travel bug bites me once a year, it bit me once this time with destination around Vizag. And what a trip to Vizag without a rail trip to Araku on the KK line , which got the initial Vistadome rake allocated by the Indian Railways !!

But Vistadome and railfans seem far off, thanks to the millions of travel agents who seem to take it as 1st choice of package. So while I plan my trip , it turns out that a month before my planned journey, the waitlist for
Vistadome springs upto 22

Not wiling to take a chance , looked up for the next premium class available on the train , SL, which stands at a dismal RAC8. Looked upto my parents for whether to proceed with same, when my mom asked "Sleeper class means SS quota will be there". Looked up, available was 008 for the single coach . Booked it for my parents and RAC for myself. If it at all it stays in RaC, I still have 2 windows for myself thanks to LB quota .

The RAC 8 refuses to move till I leave Bangalore by the 22884 Poor Man:s chariot on 19th November . The day before the Arakku journey, see that the RAC has dropped down to 2. The next morning it's confirmed in S1 53 , MB. Not bad think myself

Arrive the morning of 23rd and our driver drops us off at Visakhapatnam station, as we move on with a single bag and neatly packed breakfast from Sairam , open well at 530AM . The rest of the luggage dropped off in the car to be taken to Arakku . We reach station at 555AM, 50 mins before schedule departure of the train, welcomed by a hoard of tourists waiting outside for PF allotment .

PF allotment - Wait a second, the train itself is not in the list of arriving departure trains. Little did I realise then, that this was the train that Railways are least concerned about. Despite giving load enough for 4 Vistadome in peak seasons , the freight revenue loss in running the single passenger train doesn't seem to compensate enough for railways to run, that even in the running list, the name doesn't seem to come

PF-1 was occupied by the ICF rake of 22606 Villupuram Purullia express , preparing for departure . Seated my parents onbPF-1 and took a stroll around . Announcement went on for Gunupur passenger on PF-6, Koraput passenger on PF-5 , incoming lists of trains from Hyderabad region , Janmabhoomi leaving to Lingampalli from PF-4 , Shalimar Chennai arriving on PF-3 , but no mention of our train anywhere, as the time ticked to 545

While I made a walk between enterance and platform, something caught my eye which of course a railfan cannot miss ..2 Vistadome coaches linked with a EoG standing at the terminal end of Vizag . Confirmed with a tea stall that Kirandul pass is likely to be on PF-5 , informed my parents and slowly walked down to the platform, searching for a LHB rake and Vistadome coaches . Couldn't make out from the FoB , so asking my parents to wait there , went down to PF-5, as smoke of diesel spread through the air . It was a EoG. Wondering why Eog was standing in middle of the platform , went down to find display board saying it was 08546 Koraput pass on PF-5.. but EoG board was Kirandul passenger.

Got confused , looked around to understand ...the EoG was headless.. there was a blue ICF SLR ahead of the EoG which was the actual 08546. And our 08551 was the LHB beauty . Walked up few steps on FoB and waved to my parents to join me .

As oppossed to the IRI position , S1 wasn't in the start of consist. Walked back the UR, The D3-D1 position to reach S1, which was followed by a UR and EoG at end and the EV's. Crowd hasn't arrived yet as platform hadn't been announced, boarded our coach and I accompanied my parents in their bay, waiting to see to get someone to change the berth

Myself and Mom walked down to the end of the rake for the Vistadome , to take some snaps , as time ticked to 630AM. The Gunupur pass had departed , while Koraput pass was still waiting . Took some snaps in EV, as announcement also went in the time and passengers slowly started trickling in, a few arguing with TTE for not announcing the platform, despite paying through nose for a premium EV visit. In the meantime , ScR Queen, Godavari express entered in PF-1 with a TKD WAP-7

A group of elderly ladies , seemingly on a package , boarded the EV1 coach , shouting out to each other's to sit in next seat. Wondered what such a huge group would do, being friends , chit chat, eat, sleep after some time and visit Borra caves , at expense of some railfans who wanted a desperate journey through EV and settled silently for a SL. EV was filled with such groups looked like

In excitement to board the coach , didn't notice an aspect which couldn't be missed - if it was a metro , the voice would have warned -"mind the gap while boarding the train ". Here there was no voice to announce where train itself was . The EV was the last coach in rake , and the line was slightly deviated from platform, meaning , one had a major gap while deboarding from any door except the 1st EV1 door.

We reach back to our coach as watch clicks to 635AM, 10 mins left for our departure. Announcement goes across the platform for the Koraput passenger departure and slowly for Kirandul passenger, as crowd trickles to the platform. The express from Shalimar to Secunderabad has arrived and waiting for reversal , as announcement goes for the Duronto arrival. The rake of 18561 Vizag Kollam weekly is pushed back into PF-7 for impending departure

We move past the departure time of 645, as announcement goes for the 18517 Korba Visakhapatnam express arrival onto PF-6, left vacant now by the Gunupur pass that has departed . Then goes for the incoming Visakha express. Our train is now almost full, with few EV passengers rushing towards the coaches after enquiries.. reason ...D2 is standing at place where digital board is marked as EV while EV is almost 6 coaches behind . Everyone rush. S1 RAC passengers try to shuffle between the SLB SUB for 3 people . The UR behind is empty

We experience a jolt, push and pull and a horn. Our loco ia finally attached and we have to pull out. Atleast something positive that has happened

In the meantime Visakha express positions itself on PF-2 , and Shalimar Chennai makes the way out , as our clock mobes to 7AM. A passenger looks for seat No. 10 and finds me seated. Requests him to exchange for 53 for which he is happy for he has his friends in 51/52. Well heights of coincidence this should be

The clock keeps ticking , past 715AM and it was time for 18561 to make a move at 720AM, with bustling crowd of Sabarimalai crowd . Few minutes later it was the time for Garib rath from SECUNDERABAD to make entry , and our TTE to make his entry , checking the details. Passengers throng him enquiring about departure time , as he points out to Visakha saying , he is last of the set, after which we will. Dad was like , so this train will run only after VSKP station will run out of trains, controllers will get bored thinking which train to handle next and then they will be like oh this is there send him.. in meantime Visakha left and Garib rath arrived and platforms fell silent , time 745AM

Passengers kind attention please , raised the eyebrows of everyone. It was for the arrival of the 12840 Chennai Howrah Mail onto PF-4 . Yipee we leaving I shouted only to realise soon , we were on PF-5 and not 4 and incoming arrival has no impeding effect

Finally at 752 AM , an hour and 7 mins behind schedule departure, we slowly pull out of Visakhapatnam station , by the time we were tired of early morning waking up, hungry stomach already having grumbled and gumbled the idlis and upma we had packed for the day. Dad went and washed his hands only to remark - The UR is literally empty , only reserved coaches are full...I said 80% bookings only for Borrha and Arakku, not for any other place.. so that explains the relaxed Ness of railways's not a "official" train only a "leisure" train that everything happens at leisure .. if it runs on time , it would only mean VSKP is enjoying "leisure" moment ...

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Nov 29 2023 (12:04)
deepak.yerr~   5692 blog posts
Re# 5896492-1              
Great writeup of travelog.

The train used to leave on time or at 700 before with PF 6&7 and from about 11 months post Vande Bharat is introduced there is a scuffle of PFs and dep to make VB leave on time and multiple dep from 500 till 900 the confusion continues which train wil leave first preference is express train VB then Shalimar SeC, Villupuram Purilia Janambhoomi, Gunpur next Kirandul.

Next do visit Draksharamam 30km from Kakinada and Samalkot the second temple of Lord Shiva of Samalkot and Pitapuram Kukkuteswara swamy temple and both are Shaktipeetas.

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Nov 29 2023 (13:38)
Siddharth S^~   23597 blog posts
Re# 5896492-2              
Oh ok

We couldn't visit Draksharamam. Visited Pittapuram and Samaralkota (Samalkot) temples
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Nov 30 2023 (22:29)
Siddharth S^~   23597 blog posts
Re# 5896492-3              
Trip continued
The LHB jerk indicated that we are proceeding . A sigh of relief went across the train. We called our driver to inform that the train has finally departed . Fine sir , after breakfast I will also start, it will take me half an hour lesser , he said . Ok I said

The cloudy atmosphere spread across a
chill breeze as our coach finally exited the platform onto the tracks taking us out of Visakaptnam. The Howrah bound legendary mail crossed us soon with a trail of AC coaches and few sleeper coaches for name sake purposes . Hope he doesn't overtake us before we turn , thought to myself , echoed by dad.. 25 kms... Anything possible .

Our seat was facing the opposite inbound track that I didn't notice to my left , untill i suddenly spotted a freight to my left on our directio Thought it was on a siding line when suddenly another one stood facing opposite .. is it a face to face situation?? Who will get to proceed ?? Or will they fight for space .. optical illusion, it's an up and down for freight seperate .

We have a quick halt and go at Marripalem where few people board . WAP7 showed its power with the tiny coach as we went past with the acceleration...passenger is a no load , passengers are less load , sang the WAP7 as it made its way to Simmachalam station , the announcement going on for the Palasa Visakapatnam express special to enter.. No words to express for these poor MEMU express , expressed my brain .... A quick stop and go followed .

Visakaptnam - housing a harbour , HPCL, steel corporations is a haunt for freights , and every station, every siding , every inch of track seem to be occupied by the WAG7 twins / WAG9 twins hauling their rakes in and out with BOXN , CONCOR and tankers in consist and a solo guard at the end of front depending on the consist .

A LHB rake crossed behind a WAP7 as we crossed Pendurthi, as my dad exclaimed " This is very high traffic - how to follow schedule ??? Slack I said.. I thought doubling was a major achievement , now it's tripling , quardpling and the rush just doesn't seem to reduce . And so is the demand . Don't know where we are heading !!! But seriously interesting how railways is managing this loads.. too technical, everything requires priority exclaimed my Dad , as we approach Kottavalasa with a line of freights occupying the siding lines . Junction point I remarked , for the main line and the hill line, so freight aplenty here, waiting their turns entering , exiting Visakapatnam region. With so many freights around, what do you expect this passenger to prioritise, asked my dad, for my mom replied - EV coaches should be only reason for this train to run . What we have paid is mere 175 vs the 750 what that seat generates ... But tonnes of freight for the section , revenue is ....Colgate smile follows

The Quardple Howrah line deviates straight while we curve left to enter the hills exiting Kottavalasa. What I assumed to be a single line turns out to be a double line , but I fail to notice we are in middle track , untill i notice a next BOXN on left.. Freight have changed's triplets of WAG-5 chocolate liveried that we are encountering now. Up and down the hills , WAG-5 and WAG-9 have increased their haulage by a loco each, triplets of 5 and doublets of 9 ..but main consist BOXN ... Sand I remarked seeing it till dad clarified , it must be ore. 70T beamed the coach painting mark in white .. 50-60 coach consist *70 T *revenue.. a huge coffee compared to Rs.75000/- what we are hauling behind us in white & blue .

The scenery enroute was beautiful with green beds of lands across , and white egrets flocking by the JCB machines, cattles , humans and whoever working on the field , in hope of their food. An occassional open bills stork, painted stork and wooly necked stork made their presence felt by their wingspans and size , but domination was the cute egrets

The next station nearly threw me out of gear ... Malliveedu ...(Again him ???) Is this station provoking our passenger train...oh there he has come again...why the hell did he come .. The angry look on WAG-5 seem to indicate the same as I said , once we leave full track is yours ... Where ...there are plenty before me

Malliveedu is despatched shortly and Shrungavari Kota is approached . APSRTC holda a depot here with Ultra deluxe services plying to Arakku frommthere , with board and stickers sporting S.Kota .. A small station, quick cross, a namesake halt at many of these places , for our train has majorly noone to board or deboard anywhere , but we are still a passenger ... LHB passenger

We have almost covered 60 kms since we left , and 80 mins since our departure, but the MSL has just crossed the 3 figure mark. We have way ahead to go , thought to myself , as we approach Boddavara , where we reach the 150 mark . Slow ascent thought to myself, as the hills beging to close down on us .

The coAch began to hustle. Woke up mom, who had stretched in the empty LB next to me , as the couple on opposite woke up their daughters from UB. The RAC passengers were now away from LB , everybody ready for the photoshoots , cameras , views and whatever they wanted to check out on the KK line .. the time starts now , field set , players ready, and WAP7 ready to bowl the 1st ball - World Cup just got over 4 days before this trip mind it please ...

The honk was heard.. curve started .. ascend starts ...MSL ticks per curve .....bated breath awaiting ..... Curve numbers tick down , electric poles close in...we are single line , noone to call for, the remaining 2 tracks got tired to go uphill that they rested down at Boddavara saying anyway all freights have to come down here we will wait for them...who will climb up ...we are tired

We aren't ... The light light of the day's sun shows up between the clouds. We walk up to view the hills , camera position , when a honk came up , followed by a loud howl of the forward coaches and darkness set in.....the 1st of the tunnels was entered into ... The young children on opposite looked perplexed as their parents explained what it was ... Soon we were out and onto a bridge .. seriously don't know how many bridges and tunnels we crossed. Mom took oppostunity to switch off the tubelight in the coach, adding to the beauty ..white smile of the girl opposite in tunnel seemed like a lightning in darkness .a quick stop at Shuvalingapuram , sand any freight (surprising) , we pull out to the next series ...thug thug thug....dang dang dang....owwwwwwwwww...darkness....light ...

A siding line joins us as we enter the tunnel No. 13 , and we respect the signal , slowing down, chugging into the tunnel at speeds of 20-30... that the 200 mtrs tunnel seemed to go on for ever before showing us the light , as a group of tourist photograph the train exiting the tunnel, past a waiting WAG-5 triplets to Tyada, the only location on this route where the Ananthagiri / Arakku road passes closest to the track , next pojlint being in the plains of the Arakku valley

The MSL increase close to 500 mtrs indicate our ascent is short , slow and straight , but more views yet to come as we proceed past the stations . The track makes interesting curvatures and though poles block our view for good shots, competing with the ferns, there were scenes we couldn't not miss . S curves were common, and even for the short rake , the engine and the coach are in a straight line , while the middle bulges in opposite , like a snake stuffing in the meal ..

The view of a line passing somewhere uphill , electric poles lined up , on opposite hill catches attention, as we wonder whether we approach a junction. The stallion makes its presence next to a JCB breaking a hill on the curve, some development works going on in hills for railways .. track doubling ??? The green and brown presents a gory sight as the white and red pass close. It wont be long before hills move away at a arms length distance and another track and freight wil block the regular views of the hills along with poles

The white stallion moves at right angle to coach indicating an approaching bridge . We understand what he intends to do .. cross the valley rivulet over a bridge , cut into a tunnel, move to opposite hill and move the up hill on track we noticed minutes earlier and again do the winding up and curving into the green . Few minutes later , we are watching a downhill track and JCB on opposite hill with bridge at end , showing the ascent we have had . Of course we have ascended , for when we reach Chimidipalli, we have accomplished 600 MSL

52 tunnels was supossed to be the number , and we were quite behind when I notice that few tunnels were back to back . Some tunnels indicated with 2 numbers (25 & 26 were one marking if I remember on one , not sure of exact number ) while some , like city bus route numbers had a A & B prefix . Station after station freight awaited us

The tunnels back to back progressed , and soon a huge crowd on platform of approaching station surprised us . It was tourist station and autos drivers waiting to pounce on the approaching partners . Good crowd waited to deboard here

Sir , come sir , Borra caves , I will take you called a driver through window. I am not coming though the window boss I said to myself. A quick halt and honk indictated the departure and we have pulled out of the station

A series of tunnels follow up soon ...Borra caves doesn't end the journey, there is the Ananthagiri to be crowded indicates the curvatures .. 44-45-46-47 follow on quick succession and land us up in what was one of the highest broad gauge station a decade or two back. Platform and expansion works for doubling happening around , as we proceed for the halt, at 4 short of 1K MSL ( Did Don Bradman visit this station anytime ??) .

The hills have now opened upto a plain valley and double line starts again.. plain lands , fields follow up...a mild crisp chillness fill the air , at the plain, as the train descends down the hills into the valley...Everytime you people do this- remarked my mom...take us uphill and descend down stating it's the destination..never stay uphill...Ghum & Darjeeling , Pykara & Ooty, Munnar everywhere same story ...take me uphill uphill up up hill and pull us down

Screech...screech.....usssssshhhh... We pull us to halt in middle of nowhere... Is this Arakku.. slight confusion prevailed around as passengers deboarded to waiting autos and taxis... Called my taxi driver... No sir train is not at station, get off at station he said as train pulled out, taking a curve into the platform 1 of Arakku as majority of passengers deboard leaving empty space.... Long cherishable ride comes to an end, it's now time to explore the valley !!!

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Dec 03 2023 (13:16)
ER_PRAGADESH_SK_NGT^~   17596 blog posts
Re# 5896492-4              
Nice narration. Sad to see only passenger train dragged this much.
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Dec 03 2023 (17:11)
Siddharth S^~   23597 blog posts
Re# 5896492-5              
More of freights so passenger is not a priority
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