Thursday, 21 February 2013

Tues/Weds 19/20th - Sole purpose of visit.

The metre gauge platforms at Ahmedabad's main railway station are located at the far distant side from the city and the main entrance. Our train will depart from Platform 12 which seems to be singularly devoid of comforts and smells quite strongly of fish and pee. There is a bright and comfortable A/c Class waiting room on platform one, as far away as it is possible to get. It even has a fish tank. D does not mind this as it gives the perfect excuse to go for a wander round the station every now and again. We recover the bags from the cloakroom and settle in. About an hour before its due departure time our train appears at the platform.

Train 19944 Udaipur Express is painted in a proper train livery - red. It is a sort of mixture of LMS Crimson Lake and Red Oxide. Some of the coaches on the train appear to have been repainted quite recently although the solitary AC Sleeper coach that contains our bed for the night looks very shabby indeed. The less said about Western Railways mauve and yellow loco livery the better.

Inside the coach is like a scaled down broad gauge 1AC class coach with 7 compartments which have sliding doors. There are no coupes in meter gauge coaches so we are in a 4 berth with two Indian men. The first thing that we notice is that the space is significantly less than in BG coaches. We have to unpack some of our rucsac to get it under the seat and our trolley bag has to stand on the floor underneath the window table. R pronounces herself happy with both the cleanliness of the coach and of the bed linen. In her view it is much better than some of the BG trains that we have taken.

One of the Indian guys is going on holiday and is very chatty. The other is quite grumpy and wants to get his bed sorted asap. The compartment next door has a Swiss couple and he is another train nut. He is fascinated by D's indian Railway Atlas and delighted by the news that in the morning nobaody is going to stop him leaning out of the door to take in the view. We leave bang on time and go straight to bed to keep Mr Grumpy quiet. He also announces that he wants the cabin door leaving open.

We sleep pretty well although the A/c makes it pretty chilly and we have to use blankets. D wakes at 6.30 and is able to grab a spot at the open door as it starts to get light. At first the countryside is flat but we soon move into a hilly section with quite spectacular scenery. This line did not exist prior to Independence but was built before the decision was taken to convert all of the metre gauge lines to broad gauge. Work to create a track-bed for the 5'6" track has already started in places and this line will not be around for much longer.

Around 7.30 we make a long stop at a station where chai vendors appear and we get a very welcome sugar boost. Sadly they no longer use clay pots to go with the vintage train. Further on we stop in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. Quite a few people get down and stretch their legs on the trackside. They are almost left behind when we get under way again at short notice. The reason for the stop becomes apparent when we move on to a station where we cross a southbound train.

R said that she enjoyed the trip and recommends it. Mr Grumpy managed to get his eight hours in and was quite chatty by the time that we pulled into Udaipur City Station. We had a bit of a wait for the queue to get onto the footbridge to subside but this gave us time to view the alternative accommodation on the train. Even D isn't up for ten hours on wooden seats.

No comments:

Post a Comment