The Mother Of All Passenger Trains – Travel experience in Ratlam Akola Fast Passenger

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March 30, 2012

Last night I had an amazing experience. I want to share this with you like I have shared it with my brother and sister. I was in Rawatbhata since 25th March and I left for Khandwa yesterday only.

As I always love to discover new routes, I found one more route which was ‘strange’ and I was quite uncertain if it will work or not.

When me and my friend from Chennai first came to Khandwa, a red colored small train which runs on meter gauge welcomed us. The train is called Ratlam Akola Fast Passenger.

Ratlam Akola Fast Passenger Stading at Indore MG Platform, Photo By: Manoj Yadav

Ratlam Akola Fast Passenger Standing at Indore MG Platform

Initially, it was amusing to see it. But, we later came to know that they close the gate on railway line crossing for about half an hour in the morning for that small train which moved real slowly in the city. Thus, it later became a frustration. Soon we shifted on the other side of the track and got rid of daily waiting while going for job.

So, we were talking about this new route. Well, this train plays the main role in my story of last night. I used to travel the earlier route from Khandwa to Bina and further connecting Bina to Kota. But, the problem was timing. I used to reach Bina at 2-3 am in the morning. Once, I missed the connecting train too because of only half an hour of gap. And you can understand how difficult it is to change trains in late night.

This forced me to take another decision. The decision was to travel this small train which welcomed us in Khandwa. Yes, the small meter gauge train is called Ratlam Akola Fast Passenger Train which travels via Indore, Mhow and Khandwa. And, I call this train “The Mother of All Passenger Trains.” For your kind information, the route of this train is one of the rare surviving meter gauge routes in the country.

So, I booked a ticket from Kota to Ratlam in Jaipur – Mumbai Super Fast. This train dropped me at Ratlam at 2130 hours. My little train was meeting me at Ratlam station’s “choti – line”. Yes, this is what the locals call it here.

I waited for an hour for that train at Ratlam station. It came at 2230 hours and I boarded its sleeper coach. Until this time, I was in doubt if the train actually has a reserved coach or not. I already has a reserved sleeper class ticket in this train for upper birth (so no one disturbs me while I am sleeping).

Even more amazing was to see well-off families boarding the train. I thought only locals would be traveling this train but considering the fact that this is the only railway line from Ratlam to Akola (Maharashtra) it must not be surprising to see long route passengers boarding this train.

And the coach of the train was so creepy and amusing. Well, creepy because the coaches are small. It does not have any side berths. And the height of the train is also less than standard broad gauge coaches. If you’ve got a good height then you can easily extend your hand and touch the ceiling. It looks very old from inside just like outside. The bulb’s light intensity and the speed of the fan varies with the speed of the train. It feels like the engine and the coaches are from the time of Britishers. It is true that the Britishers established this line long back. In last one month, the engine failed almost three times and there were fire accidents too.

But, the ride was definitely amusing. It was just like a roller coaster I should say. It started slow but soon accelerated so fast that once it felt it will come off the tracks but somehow it managed to stay on the tracks! The motion in a normal train is side-to-side or to-and-fro but in this train it was also up-and-down. So, it was a complete three degrees of freedom. Once, I got completely detached from my birth while sleeping. For a second I felt I was flying. But, soon I was thrown back on my birth by another jerk.

Initially, it was difficult to sleep in such a motion. But, now I understand why little babies sleep so easily in their moving cradles. I had a good sleep.

The stations in between Ratlam and Khandwa were very small villages never heard of before except for the cities of Indore, Mhow, Sanawad and Omkareshwar Road. I woke up at six in the morning as the train was about to reach Khandwa at 0640 am. I looked outside and what I saw were very old platforms. They were not painted and looked abandoned. These villages are deep in forests and the view was ghostly.

Unexpectedly, the train was only 10 minutes late when my journey ended at platform number 01 of Khandwa Station and the train left for Akola. I was happy and satisfied because I discovered a new feeling in me. It was a completely new and different experience. I also discovered a new route to my hometown Rawatbhata from Khandwa which I now approve to be taken while coming back every time to Khandwa from Rawatbhata. I went to my friend to get ready for bus to power plant site at 07:35 am without wasting a moment. And, I was there on time.

I will always remember my first ride in a meter gauge train. By the next time I shall also be able to figure out how to easily get in and out of the upper birth in a the creepy coach of a meter gauge train!

For more information about this train route please visit Wikipedia.

August 13, 2012

Last night, as I have already decided to make this route from Ratlam to Khandwa a preference, I travelled the third time.

Second time when I travelled it was like hell. There was an RAC and whole night I came sitting. The train left Ratlam station at midnight — about 1.5 hours late than its right time of 2230 hours. By the time I should have reached Khandwa in the morning at 7 pm, I was still in Sanawad — about 1.5 hours late.

Since, I had to go to my office on time, I got down at Sanawad and took a bus directly to Mundi (my construction site). I hope this never happens again even though I got bus and was able to reach my destination only 1 hour late.

But my third time, i.e. last night was beautiful. There was a heavy rush at the platform. In the meter gauge waiting hall, a group of folk singers were singing religious songs which obviously was amazing to hear also many passengers also were forming a circle and listening to them.

Thanks to God, I had a confirm seat (again and preferably the upper berth). When the train started, the village family in the side by compartment which was also traveling for the first time, was shocked by the up and down motion of the train. One of them said that it feels like the train will jump of the tracks!

Anyway, I enjoyed the movement and fell asleep soon. Do you know that the coach was leaking as it was raining outside and water was dropping in from its roof. OMG! what a crazy train it is! In addition to this in the whole coach ‘S1’ only one light bulb was working and all was dark.

Most importantly, I reached Khandwa on time and I was happy after this ride and of-course satisfied.

July 28, 2013

Well, a bad news though, the meter gauge line between Ratlam and Fatehabad has been converted into broad gauge. So, this train does not go to Ratlam anymore. Instead, it goes to Ujjain from Akola via Khandwa, Mhow and Indore. So, I can’t travel this route anymore during my home visit. Anyway, I now travel upto Indore from Kota by rail and from Indore to Khandwa by bus.

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