Joined: 18 Dec 2012
|Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:09 pm Post subject: 3048 kms in 21 hours:ADI Shatabdi, 9W and many pics!
Greetings, fellow AIndia.netters,
This trip report reviews a winter trip from Ahmedabad to Mumbai and onwards to Aizawl for my semester break of 2 weeks. I am hopeful that you won't object to a significant portion of this report being devoted to the train ride from Ahmedabad to Mumbai. I am sure there are many railfans in this community too. Your suggestions and comments are a great encouragement for me to write TRs. As always, they are appreciated and most welcome.
My first semester of graduate studies was on in full swing when I realized that a break after it ends would be absolutely essential for me to maintain my sanity. There would be no better place than Aizawl to bum around and stretch my legs a bit before getting back to work. Hence, the planning of this trip began. Even though AMD is directly connected to AJL with a hopping flight operated by 9W, it wasn't an option for me because it was costlier than some business class options. The most feasible option was that through BOM because I could stay the night at home and catch the now direct flight 9W 615 from BOM to AJL with a stop in CCU. It was affordable and convenient. Because of commitments in college, the Shatabdi was the best option for me which would drop me home for dinner and a good night's sleep before the 07:05 flight out of BOM.
12010 Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express
4th December 2017
ATD-14:42 (2 minutes late)
ATA-21:42 (57 minutes late)
Coach C7, Seat 70
I happened to reach the railway station that morning up to 3 hours before departure. There were multiple Google notifications being received by for the past 24 hours, warning me about the cyclone Ockhi, which was to hit landfall by the evening of the 5th of December. Heavy rainfall was anticipated in southern Gujarat and Maharashtra. This was a concern for me because heavy rains would render Mumbai in a comatose state for a significant number of hours. The sky above Ahmedabad looked cloudy at worst.
I wasn't carrying too much luggage and headed towards the AC waiting hall at the end of platform 1, hoping for a comfortable place to sit and read for a while. When the train arrives from BOM, the loco is attached to the first coach, right in front of the waiting hall. I hoped to catch that too. The waiting room was rather crowded and it took me around 20 minutes to find a seat.
The train arrived 15 minutes before it's scheduled arrival time from Mumbai.
I saw the loco attachment, which happened an hour before departure and grabbed a quick lunch before heading for my coach.
This beast of a WAP 7 was our lead for the day: She would really unleash herself on the ride to Mumbai Central.
For some reason, Mumbai Central doesn't sound right to me. I have always heard my family call it Bombay Central during my childhood and I'm habituated to call it that way. Hope I didn't offend anyone and apologies if I did. However, I'm pretty sure that there would many here who would agree with me about the same.
The first impressions of my coach were rather good. It was immaculately clean, scented and comfortable with the blinds drawn.
Great legroom compared to aviation standards:
The housekeeping staff had done a great job. My fellow travellers trickled in as the departure time grew closer. A quick check of the reservation chart revealed that majority of my coach wouldn't fill up before Surat, which was more than 3 hours away.
The train crawled out two minutes past its departure time. It moved past the electric loco shed at Ahmedabad, the diesel loco shed at Vatwa and picked pace after Maninagar.
The WAP7 from Vadodara was HOG enabled and started its sprint right after passing Maninagar. Its acceleration was remarkable and peppered with the signature CBC jerks that passengers in LHB rakes have to endure. We had a quick halt in Nadiad and had a great run till Anand. This is where we crossed the Ahmedabad Mumbai Central Passenger which departed 2 hours before Shatabdi and would take another 12 hours to reach its destination.
The milk capital's railway station was really clean, with a traditional looking roof instead of the usual asbestos sheets.
As we moved out of Anand, the snack trays were passed around with a flask of hot water for tea. The cupcake was a good replacement for the usual boondi ka laddoo or soan papdi. There was a slice of bread and cheese, a samosa and a mango drink.
The train sped along at an MPS of 130kmph for a greater part of the run till Surat.
We passed the Ernakulam Okha Express at Bharuch and then sped over the Narmada to Surat.
It was absolutely on time till Surat but stopped at Surat outer for a period of 35 to 40 minutes. I feared water logging in Mumbai, but this thought was cast aside because we did pass the AC double-decker express at Surat.
The sun had set during our unwarranted halt at Surat outer and the meal service began. Starting with soup and breadsticks, followed by a dinner of reasonable quantity and vanilla ice cream, as we skipped Vapi.
The remainder of this ride remained fairly uneventful, with a late arrival into Borivali. It was pouring cats and dogs as I boarded my 12 coach Churchgate slow towards Goregaon.
Mumbai-Aizawl via Kolkata
Boeing 737-800, VT-JGE
Jet Airways has recently started with this utterly pathetic scheme of paid web check-in till 12 hours before departure time. This means that one needs to check in at 3 am for a 3 pm flight, to bag a free window seat. Also, I have never understood the point of paying additionally for a seat when I've paid to be on that flight in the first place. If I'm on the flight, I have to be given a seat no matter what. Are we in a position today where it wouldn't be an exaggeration to anticipate airlines asking their passengers to stand in the aisle in order to cut costs in the near future? I don't even need to comment about the legroom offered by jet airways in comparison to Air India, which almost borders on extravagance.
A good night's sleep later, I was on my way to the airport early next morning. The rain showed no signs of having ceased over the night. I was expecting to wade through inches of waterlogged streets, but thankfully it didn't get to that.
15 (1) by Danny Ram, on Flickr
It wasn't as much of a surprise to see a traffic jam outside the airport at that time of the morning, as is the norm these days.
Check-in was reasonably quick, with some kind of activity going on while I waited in line. There was this person who had turned up at the counter 30 minutes before his flight to Bhopal that morning. He kept requesting the staff on duty there but she asked him to walk over to the reservations counter rather coldly. He was followed by another lady who had missed the same flight and was also shown the way to reservations.
There had been an incident with me last February when I had arrived at T2 BOM for an Air India flight to CCU, up to 95 minutes before the scheduled time of departure. Gross mismanagement on part of Air India's incompetent junior staff meant that the check-in lines were at least 60 meters long. I approached the AI staff there and enquired if the line was any reason to worry as I didn't see myself making it for my flight within 90 minutes with a line that long. I had done web check-in and needed to drop my luggage. Her reply was, "Don't bother. We'll make calls if you get too late. All flights are delayed this morning". I waited in line patiently and asked her twice more if it was a cause for concern, with 35 minutes for my flight. Same response.
When I did make it to the counter, I was told that my flight was closed. I lost it then and there. I was being told to shell out 22000 bucks for absolutely no fault of mine. I stood there for another 20 minutes as this lady at the counter refused to give me information on what to do next. FR24 suggested that my flight was delayed by 40 minutes, which enraged me further. I could've made it. I walked over to the reservation desk to see a dozen more passenger who had missed their flights because of the same reason. We stormed off to the duty manager's room downstairs but were stopped outside the entrance by CISF personnel. They weren't authorized to permit more than 4 passengers entering the chamber at any given time. We waited for our turn and chatted with the CISF people meanwhile. One of them recalled an incident where a passenger had beaten up the duty manager with shoes and AI had complained to AAI regarding the incompetency of CISF personnel. "Yeh log toh pitne waala kaam karte bhi hai sir lekin humko hi jawaab dena padta hai", he said.
Heated arguments and 3 hours later, I had tickets for 24 hours later on the same flight free of cost. While I had also registered a complaint with the CMD's email id, a reply that I got later from AI blamed me for the incident and absolved their mediocre staff of all charges. They also mentioned that it was a good gesture on their part to accommodate me on another flight free of cost and that I should be appreciative of the same. All these thoughts were running through my mind when I stood in line for my flight in BOM that morning. It probably was a good gesture on AI's part. The Jet Airways staff in front of me while not wrong, wouldn't have accepted to be wrong even if they were. (6E would've probably beaten me up for the same, )
I made it to security, where a Tupperware water bottle in my bag was stopped and I was made to drink over a litre of water before they could clear me for my flight. It was a mistake on my part, but hilarious nevertheless.
There were these beauties on display after the security area:
I settled near one of the empty gates and waited for boarding time.
VT-JGE doing the honours that morning was a 13 year old 737-800, which had been involved in a serious tail strike just two years ago at CCU's runway 19L on landing. She looked great to fly that morning, We were bussed out from 45A to meet her on the tarmac. The Turkish 777-300ER, the Kenyan Dreamliner and El-Al 777 were the only interesting birds around. 3 of the 4 AI 744s were around that morning.
It was pouring as we boarded and it seemed almost pointless to try and take pictures from the window.
Pushback was delayed by 10 minutes owing to traffic congestion in BOM (traffic problem is all over the place). Things got really interesting after pushback. We taxied over to runway 27 and waited behind 5 aircrafts for our turn. 3 other planes landed meanwhile and I may have dozed off in between. I was woken up by the last aircraft in front of us taking off, a SpiceJet 737. We then entered the active runway and I anticipated the CFM roar. But nothing happened. The engines were not spooled up and we exited the runway onto the parallel taxiway. The pilot then came on the PA system and informed us in a rather angry tone that ATC had changed the runway to 09 and we were now in line behind 4 other aircrafts for take-off. It was hilarious and frustrating at the same time. We were delayed by an hour.
Mumbai was soaked up that morning:
The meal trolley was rolled out half an hour later and a big disappointment it was.
Jet Airways has to figure out a way to serve better food soon. That is something they can learn from Air India. Also, that 5 Star chocolate is just like their scheme of having their customers pay for checking-in. It is a terrible addition to the menu.
It became clear and beautiful as we moved eastward.
The Jetscreen feature on this flight was working just fine, but there were some 3 minutes of advertisements before each video. Also, there is an app that you are required to have on your phone before you can view the content. Since there was no way to download the app in flight, I dozed off.
I woke up when we were descending into CCU. The visibility was in plentiful of 2kms. It was a beautiful approach into CCU.
Here are some pics from the ground at CCU as I waited in the aircraft for the next leg. The meal offered on that leg was no better and I'll let the pictures do the talking.
VT-SCA/B/C are now replaced by them in CCU:
Why don't you guys start advertising on my forehead when I report for Check-in?
NEOs are almost common:
Busy time at CCU ATC:
We took off on time and headed east. We were offered this pathetic excuse for a snack within the next twenty minutes.
We started the descent into AJL soon after and we were treated to 6 km of visibility, which was the highlight of this flight.
VELP from above:
We were an hour late overall. This entire flight was below par considering that the airline in question was TripAdvisor's Number 1 airline.
I had to wait another 15 minutes for the luggage, but that's how it is for all airlines at AJL.
In conclusion, Jet Airways is probably not in a place to call themselves a Full-service carrier at this point. The product on offer lacked in various areas. While the cabin was clean and fresh for a 13-year-old aircraft, legroom wasn't great. The additional Jetscreen app required to view content is a bit of a sore. They should try and get rid of it. The food was a major let-down. They should stop serving that chocolate if it is too much for them. Hope things get better soon.
Again, suggestions and comments are welcome. I hope you liked the report.