Monthly Archives: December 2006

Wish You All A Happy New Year

MAS2007 Organizers Meet
My best wishes to all delegates of MAS 2007.

We had a brief meeting last year…well on 31-12-2006 :).

Not many updates except that the accomodation window is closed.

Most of the discussion was on tying up loose ends.

Attached here is a picture of the meet…Two people might need introduction. The gentleman with the cap is Mr. Swaminathan, an expert on diesel locos. Next to him is Mr. Ramprasad our General Counsel 🙂 and an avid railway modeler. Expect some surprises from him at MAS 2007. By the way, Ramprasad had attended the first one at Pune in 2006.

Gowri is also preparing a little surprise that will have everyone making a detour to the dias and saying…”let me do it” “:)

The delegate strength is really good this time. We are ensuring that the space constraint we had last time at Pune does not affect us this time. No Air Deccan style seating!

Please plan your trip well so that you get the best of the convention as well as the holidays.

The MG line between Tambaram and Chengalpattu is of suspect (Aravind can elaborate more) as Mr. Swaminathan indicated that they are already removing the electric catenaries and might start with the permanent way very soon.

Till the next update…Ciao.



Filed under News & Updates

Listen Carefully!

Hours spent IM’ing each other, calling potential speakers and having occasional disagreements. These are the things one goes through when putting together what is arguably the most important part of the convention – the speaker and sessions lineup. So without further ado here’s the list of who and what you will be listening to. Apologies in advance for not putting this in a tabular format (WordPress sucks sometimes!).

08:30 – 09:00 : Registration and Breakfast. Sridhar’s cooking up his signature dish – the veggie upma pongal!

09:00 – 09:15 : Where all of you will say, “Present, Saar” and watch as we start the loco.

09:15 – 09:45 : The Numbers Game – Rabibrata and “Koochuckchuk” Krishnan will let fly a volley of numbers. Ever wanted to find out what loco took out the Trivandrum mail on 26th Nov. 1983? This is the chance to find out!

09:45 – 10:15 : Driving by software – Sujeet Mishra from CLW will let us know how he did that on a WAP-7! Updates, news and all the loco gadgetry you ever wanted to know straight from the source.

10:15 – 10:45 : Private Railways of the 60’s – Ajai Banerjee delves into his vast source of trivia and comes up with something no one’s paid much attention to. If you are a history buff, you will love this.

10:45 – 11:30 : Shutterbug – “Poochi” Venkat and Apurva Bahadur share some tips and techniques on photography. They will also be delving into solving the obstinance of IR’s bureaucracy, RPF tightrope walking and all the other small things that go into taking photos. Please bring along your questions – we will have lots of time for Q & A.

11:30 – 11:45 : Chai (Laloo style, hopefully!)

11:45 – 12:15 : Errr..where does the transformer go? Mr. Parimala Kumar from Perambur Loco Works will be telling us about that and a whole lot more about loco maintenance, POH’s and other juicy details about operations in PeLW.

12:15 – 12:45 : To Road No. 6 – Sridhar Joshi will take you on a video tour of the MAS RRI cabin. He’ll be talking about receiving and dispatching trains and some mysterious bits about shunting.

12:45 – 13:15 : The UN is right! NMR richly deserves its Heritage status. Telling us about how it came to and a whole lot more will be a representative from the CME’s office.

13:15 – 14:00 : Lunch! (Three cheers for Chettinadu Chicken curry! Veggies, don’t worry. You will be catered to!)

14:00 – 14:30 : Part 1 of The Build Your Train Quiz. Ajai Banerjee and Sridhar Joshi test your IR knowledge.

14:30 – 15:00 : South Of The Vindhyas – Mohan Bhuyan talks about the line from Khandwa to Mhow. Includes some never before seen photos!

15:00 – 16:00 : Part 2 of The Build Your Train Quiz. Ajai Banerjee and Sridhar Joshi test your IR knowledge even more! Your only chance to be crowned the ultimate IRFCA guru.

16:00 – 16:20 : Throw Your Questions @ VSP – After the FAQ’s he is probably IRFCA’s most important resource. Don’t miss your chance to question him on reservation rules, train numbers and waiting list arcana.

16:20 – 17:30 : Engineering Allowance – Some videos, small talk, auctions, and good byes!

Update: Forgot to mention this bit — All sessions are likely to change. There is an odd chance that you all might see a dance show as a filler!

— Bharath


Filed under News & Updates, Speaker slot


I have extended the last date for booking your accomodation at Hotel Metro Manor till this weekend (Sunday, December 17, 2006).

Please send in your requests by then. 



Filed under Accomodation


Yes, the t-shirt idea is truly dead and buried. As Ranga mentioned in an earlier post, the ridiculously low numbers in our order made it extremely difficult to shop around. For those of whose paid up early expecting a brand new and shiny shirt to show around, we are sorry. But there is a silver lining to all this. Instead of T-Shirts, you will be getting –

  • A Desk/Wall Calendar featuring some of the best photos from the picture gallery
  • Jay Balakrishna’s recently remastered DVD (features wonderful shots of YAM-1’s)

Notes on the whole thing

  1. These goodies will be given only to those who’ve made payments.
  2. Delegates who’ve registered for the convention but not for the t-shirt – Write in to the e-mail address given below. We’ll reserve a copy of both the DVD/Calendar and will hand them over to you at the convention on payment of Rs.250/-
  3. Same goes for the people who’ve registered for the T-shirt but not made the payment yet.
  4. In case you don’t want these goodies, please write to the email address below indicating why you wouldn’t want such wonderful things. We’ll return your money at the convention.

The e-mail address to send in your requests is bharathmoro [at] yahoo [dot] com. As usual, please include your primary mail address and phone no’s in the mail.

The last date for sending in your requests is 23rd December 2006. There will be no extensions on this.

Update 1: Delegates who’ve paid for more than one 1 shirt – Write to the address above indicating how many copies of the DVD/Calendar you want. Excess money will be returned , although ideally you would want to donate this to the server 🙂

Update 2: Please note than any funds leftover from the DVD/Calendar distribution will be given to R. Anand for server maintenance. If you are unhappy about it, get in touch with me.

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Filed under News & Updates

TAAG Superstar

TAAG December 2007

The new Trains At A Glance cover features, once again, a picture by Poochi Venkat!
This image was shot by him at Perani on the Chengalpet – Villupuram

Those coming to the convention, get your copies and get it signed by him 😉

— Bharath


Filed under Misc


A brief respite from regular Convention updates.

Some of you (apart from the Hyderabad party) might be coming down to Chennai via Vijaywada. While some others might wish to take an opportunity and indulge in short rail fanning trips. So here is a write I compiled digging into past posts of IRFCA mailing list and the internet on Bitragunta. Hope it is of some interest.


Bitragunta is located between Vijayawada and Chennai on the east coast trunk line. The town is in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. Nearest major stations is Nellore to the south and Ongole to the north. But a few express trains do halt at Bitragunta today. 

Bitragunta’s significance lies in the history of the Steam Era. The abundance of suitable water and availability of plain land enabled the construction of a unique Mechanical Loco Shed. The loco shed was first constructed in the year 1885. A roundhouse with turn-table facility was added in 1934. The roundhouse was known for its architectural value and joined the Mysore roundhouse as one of two spectacular loco sheds in the country. At that time, the loco shed handled 45 steam locomotives and later went on to become one of the biggest in the Indian Railways. Bitragunta was also provided with a major yard and also inter-changing depots for the drivers and guards.  The steam shed was logistically important to medium and long distance trains originating from Madras and the ones passing through Vijaywada down south. In those days, experiments were being made with the Pacific locomotives (WP) of the Grand Trunk Express to provide it more mileage in terms of water and coal consumption. The objective was to provide the GT with a non-stop run between Madras and Vijaywada.  The WPs were fitted with water scoops, to enable them to take on water while on the run. A water trough was constructed at Bitragunta just for the purpose. The water scoops on the WPs worked well enough. Unfortunately, due to a deteriorated level of the quality of coal, the engine had to be changed at Bitragunta. The coal carried in the locomotive’s tender could not sustain the 420 km long journey, due to the high ash content. Bitragunta had 22 WP locos in its shed then. Later, the shed, under South Central railways held 59 WG and 5 XD locomotives.

Along with the growth of Indian Railways, the marshalling activities at Bitragunta increased manifold. In 1968, a full-fledged marshalling yard with hump facility was established and a wagon-repair depot was added later. The marshalling activities included segregation of wagons and long-distance marshalling orders. The activities continued until 1998. Bitragunta was also a known “railway cantonment”. Predominantly occupied by Anglo Indians, it had 1000 spacious railway quarters built in European style. It also hosted a Western Culture Institute that is standing till today as the legend of those glorious days. The evolution in the mode of traction power from steam to diesel and diesel to electric caused the reduction of shed-activities and finally the steam shed at Bitragunta was closed. The closure of the marshalling yard brought a complete closure to the glory of the railway town. Consequent upon the closure of the steam loco shed in Bitragunta, the infrastructure, other equipment and land have not yet been utilized for any purpose. But Bitragunta still continues as a changing point for all up & down freight trains. Most of the express trains continue to halt here. An ART and MRV are still stationed at Bitragunta. The station still retains vestiges of the glorious past in form of its long platform and old buildings. The remains of the steam shed and the roundhouse can still be seen today.

Suggested itienery from Chennai:

Leave Chennai by 6031/6093 Andaman/ Chennai-Lucknow Express.

Reach Bitragunta by 9.09 AM.

Return trip involves a halt at Nellore as there is no suitable direct train from Bitragunta. here are the options:

10:45 AM Vijaywada Gudur passenger. Arrive at Nellore by 11:25 AM.

11:59 AM 7481/7479 Bilaspur/Puri – Tirupati Express. Arrive at Nellore by 12:28 PM.

From Nellore:

12:12 PM: 2655 Navjivan Express. reach Chennai by 16:05

15:40 PM 5630/5930/2663/2665 GHY-MS/Dibrugarh Town-MS/HWH-TPJ/HWH-CAPE. Arrive at Chennai Egmore20:05/20:30

17:40 BZA-MAS jan Shatabdi Express. Arrive at MAS by 21:05

The last one might involve quite some time of waiting. Either way, have lunch at a local restaurant, the famed ice cream at Babu Cool Drinks and spend some time watching freights go by.

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Full House!

It took me longer than expected to post this. But sheer laziness combined by work pressures put me off. But here is an update: We have received all the payments and guess what, all those registered have paid up.

Bharat Moro landed at Chennai last Saturday and five of us met at my home. We closed one important milestone of the Convention: The final list of payments. We have a full house of registered payees.

W/L folks, I am afraid, this train has no cancellation. Still, I would say, wait till the end. There might be cancellations between now and the Conventions. But we have effectively closed the registrations and payments as of now.

We also had a discussion on the sessions. Some of you have sent in your requests for a presentation. We have made a provisional list of events. I would not update the Sessions page yet. It would be ready in a couple of weeks. We have 8 slots of half our plus a half hour Quiz preliminary and an hour of final Quiz. Breakfast, Lunch, two teabreaks and some time for socializing also included.

The arrangements for accommodations has begun. I have 16 requests so far. Please send in your requests. We have spoken to the hotel that hosts the convention. Rooms are available, but limited. So please send in your requests soon. We have decided to scrap the T Shirt idea fully. It was a futile exercise to run behind suppliers for 40-50 pieces in a state where a 1,000 pieces of export is considered normal. We have another plan regarding the amounts already paid. Bharat would be coming up with the proposal.



Filed under News & Updates