3 years in, and this is my first journey on the Indian Railways. Now I had some high expectations as people talk as if the railways here are the best in the world… so I was skeptical.
I knew the stations stunk, as I had on a previous trip gone and observed a train station in Barielly and notice the shit and pee from the trains goes straight out onto the tracks, then a person comes along and washed it away (ie disperses it into the stones around the sleepers).
So our train is going to go through a Maoist area, which means there are no trains at night. Our train is actually scheduled on the ticket to leave at 10pm, but in fact it is scheduled to leave at 4.30am!! If you werent told this I guess you would do to the station at 10pm and sit all night!
The Rourkela station on arrival at 4.15am is packed with sleeping bodies … there is also a ominious huge blood stain/puddle as we walk into the station… I dont want to know what happened there.
Rourkela Station with people asleep everywhere
Strange place this station, there are no signs and no one to help. If it wasnt for the hotel driver we wouldnt know which platform to go to.. we go to platform number 4.
Platform 4 rourkela
On arrival on the platform a train sits… its not our train. According to the scratchy speaker system which is really hard to understand our train is 30 min late and will arrive after one more train has come and gone.
Then we hear an announcement that the train we need is arriving on platform 3… so off we go trudging over the bridge to platform 3.
But wait this isnt our train
We get there only to find it is in fact not our train, we can hear the announcement on platform 4 saying the next train to arrive on the platform is the train we need! AHHHH. its not 5am!
The old diesel clunker to take us to Kolkata
5.20 am on platform 4, our train rolls in. We scramble to find the 2nd Class AC train carriage, as Indian trains are put together in a hit or miss affair, and they are all different. In our case, the 2nd class AC carriage is at the rear of the train! We board the train, and it sits and sits and sits… finally at 7am it leaves!
(next the cabin and bedding)