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Eat-Sleep-Railfanning 🔄 Repeat - Shankar Mehani

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Blog Entry# 4263709
Posted: Mar 17 2019 (20:15)

12 Responses
Last Response: Sep 15 2019 (18:29)
Mar 17 2019 (20:15)   11043/Mumbai LTT - Madurai Weekly Express (PT) | AJJ/Arakkonam Junction (8 PFs)
Vaigai SF Express
Dheleepan_G_V^~   2058 blog posts
Entry# 4263709            Tags   Past Edits
The Unforgettable 12 Hours!

It was in the first week of January, 2014, my sister and I decided to spend the Pongal
holidays at our aunt’s home in Madurai. Our tickets from Chennai to Madurai were booked in one of the least preferred trains between these two cities. Contrary to the usual uneventful train journeys, this particular journey was so interesting that this
has become our most memorable trip over the years. Join with me to find out why this journey has become unforgettable for us. Welcome to my travelogue “The Unforgettable 12 Hours!”

Booking Tickets:
It was on 9 th January 2014, I queued up as early as 06.00 A.M in the morning at the
Railway Reservation Office to book tatkal tickets to Madurai. Due to our own reasons we had to travel only by train. If we were unsuccessful in securing confirmed berths we had to cancel the trip. The bookings started dot on the scheduled time. When I reached the counter, my hopes of getting a confirmed ticket diminished as the clock ticked 10.10 A.M, a good ten minutes after the sale of the tickets started. Much to my anticipation, the Booking Clerk said all trains were sold out. My regular blogging at the and the IRFCA, helped me recall that on Fridays, the 11043 Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai) - Madurai Express was available from Arakkonam
to Madurai at 11.45 P.M. Arakkonam is a small town located about 60 km west of Chennai but well connected by the Suburban Rail Network. I asked the clerk to check for seat availability in the said train. Hurray! Eight seats were available in Third AC. For a moment, I felt that I was the luckiest person on earth. The tickets were issued. Luck favored me for the second time; I got my desired seats, the Side Lower and Side Upper berths.

Chennai to Arakkonam:
On 10th January 2014, I and my sister bid adieu to our parents when the clock at my home struck half past seven in the evening. We set off on our journey to Madurai. This was the start of our unforgettable 12 hours. In the next ten minutes we were at the Pallavaram railway station to board a Chennai Beach local to the Park station. We soon boarded the train and in the next thirty five minutes we were at the Park station. We made use of the underpass to cross over to the Chennai Central Suburban Terminal for boarding the Arakkonam local departing at 09.00 P.M. After an ordeal in the underpass, we managed to reach the platform to find huge crowd waiting to board our train to Arakkonam. Looking at the rush we decided to board the 08.45 P.M Tiruvallur local and change to the Arakkonam local at Tiruvallur. We knew that the idea of boarding a Madurai bound train from Arakkonam would not be taken well by my family
members. So, we had simply told our parents that our train would depart from Chennai Central at 09.00 P.M. to Madurai.

Sharp at 08.45 P.M, our train pulled out with a customary jerk and a loud honk. As the
journey progressed, I had weird thoughts, rather disturbing thoughts in my mind. What if, the Arakkonam local overtakes us in between? Will there be enough connecting time? Though the local trains usually run on time and are rarely delayed, possibilities of late arrivals could not be ruled out. I always had second thoughts in my mind, may be because of my umpteen number of trips in local trains between Pallavaram and Tambaram. At that time, the Chengalpattu bound locals take platforms 8 or 9 at Tambaram station whereas the Tambaram bound locals arrive at platforms 1 or 2. On most occasions, the platforms for Tambaram bound trains were not available and these trains were made to wait at the outers for a few minutes. When trains to Chengalpattu trail closely, they overtake the Tambaram locals at the outers and arrive at their
designated platforms earlier than preceding Tambaram local. Anyhow, we decided to stick to our original plan. We reached Tiruvallur around 10.15 P.M. Our train to Arakkonam arrived at 10.30 P.M and departed in a couple of minutes. Another uneventful train ride of about 35 minutes took us to the third platform at Arakkonam Junction. It was 11.10 P.M, thirty five minutes still left for the scheduled arrival of our train to Madurai.

The next part to be continued soon...

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