My First Train Journey in an AC Compartment

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AC Double Decker Train at Chennai Central Station

For sometime my mother had been nudging me to visit Kolkata for some family work. So went to Indirangar BDA complex to book the tickets. As usual these days getting confirmed train tickets are not easy. For onward journey to Kolkata found two AC 3 tier tickets on Guwahati – Bangalore express but I had to book upto New Bongaigaon (Assam) costing me Rs 3035 (including half cost for a senior citizen). For return, had to do a break journey. However, was lucky to find another 2 tickets on AC 3 tier on Howrah – Chennai mail. From Chennai booked AC double decker to Bangalore. The double decker leaves from Chennai Central at 7.25 am which gave me around 3 and half hours buffer time. Tickets for return journey cost me Rs 2620.

We left for Kolkata on Thrusday, 8th February 2014. Typically 12509 up Guwahati express runs every Wednesday, Thrusday and Friday from Bangalore. We boarded the train from city station but one can also board it from Cantonment and KR Puram as per convenience. It typically leaves from platform # 4 but that night it was changed to Platform # 3. Bangalore city Railway station has only 6 platforms and with the increase in number of operating trains, the schedule is pretty congested. This the reason why trains are stationed on the platform little before departure. Wheres in Kolkata and Chennai trains are stationed on the platform around 45 minutes earlier giving people ample time to board. The train leaves Bangalore at 11.30 pm IST from city station.

As soon as I boarded my coach B1, I found in my compartment a typical sub-continent family with tons of luggage jostling for space. Then one member from the family requested if I would like to swap our seats to their two seats in another coach. With so much jostling around and keeping in mind mom’s knee condition, I told him, it will not be possible. However, as time passed we all became friendly. They also offered the lower berth to mom as she would have difficulty climbing. Here mom got a middle berth and mine was a side upper.

Apart from the cool temperature and more clean compartments, passengers are also provided with pillow, blanket and bedsheets. Both sides of the passage way has curtains so that you can sleep peacefully. But it was not to be in my case this time. My berth was just above the AC door and people continuously open the door which makes an uncomfortable Chna Chna sound. One of the highlight moment of this journey was when two kids came to our compartment and started doing lungi dance (a song from a Bollywood movie).

The train was late and we reached Howrah station around 11 am. Walking through the station I started inquiring for pre-paid taxi. Found it is located just outside the Terminal 1. They have divided the station into two terminals. The old section is Terminal 1 and new section is Terminal 2. I wanted to stay at Salk lake and I had to look for hotel. As we did not had a definite location in mind, booked a taxi till Hotel Hyatt (EM bypass). The rate was Rs 170 + Rs 10 service charge, but the person manning the counter asked for Rs 200 (saw the actual rate later). One has to handover the slip to a constable and he will tell you which taxi to board. In case the counter asks for money above the rate written on the slip, complain to the constable. Pre-paid texi service is available 24/7 – phone: +91-33-26404001. After over an hours search found Hotel Ayash near City Center, Salt Lake. Stories of next 5 eventful days will come in separate posts. However, I will continue our train story with return journey.

On 12th after watching Victoria memorial we went to Haldirams at Chowrangee to have some light food. We left there by 8.30 pm and reached Howrah station by 9 pm. Went to Terminal 2, as our train Chennai (Madras) mail was supposed to leave from there and platform # was 23. Howrah station is the largest railway station in India and in all it has 23 platforms. The terminal 2 looked good and I found railway people cleaning the platform even at 10.30 pm. Our train was stationed on the platform by 10.45 pm. We coolly boarded our coach and found our seat. This time mom again had middle berth and I had upper berth. Chennai (Madras) mail’s AC coaches looked little more sophisticated. It had reading lights (which did not work), one extra fan, one extra bedsheet provided. Hoped it will be a peaceful journey with our co-passengers were a old tourist couple and two young guys. I was happy thinking that my seat was not near the AC door. As it was almost midnight, I went to sleep. Little into the slumber, another horrible sound came back to haunt me. One of the guys who was sleeping on the other upper berth started snoring. And Lord! it looked like he was an award winner in snoring. I have never heard anyone snoring at that sound. I could hardly sleep for the two nights of journey. The train reached Chennai Central station in time (4 am). Our train to Bangalore was at 7.25 am. While waiting at the station, saw many interesting facets of people. At 7 am we boarded our Double Decker train to Bangalore. The double decker train launched last year is nicely built and runs pretty good as well. We reached Bangalore in flat 5 hours.

Leaving aside the journey in double decker train, the comfort was missing because of the two sounds. Hope better next time!