Sunday, 6 July 2014

My very first Scania experience from Pune to Bangalore in SRS Travels.

              My very first Scania experience from Pune to Bangalore in SRS Travels.

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Pic taken during inauguration

Date of Journey: 06/07/2014
Service: SRS Travels
Distance: 840kms(appox)
Fare: 1045/-

Scania Mania finally takes over.

Ever since the launch of Scania buses in India, I was eagerly waiting for an opportunity to travel in these state of the art buses. Since I missed an opportunity last month, this time I took no chances. Since the plan to Shirdi was on the cards, careful and meticulous planning was done weeks before the journey to avoid any last minute hiccups.

The Plan-

As planned, me and Deepak decided to catch an Airavat from Shirdi to Pune and later catch Scania from Katraj, Pune. It was a risky plan as traffic always plays a spoilsport however we decided to go for it. The plan however backfired at Shirdi as the seats on the Airavat Club Class were full. Thanks to the courteous Airavat Club Class crew who upon request allotted seats to Pune in their bus which was running full from Shirdi. Finally, both of us reached Pune (Katraj, Wondercity) at around 6pm from Shirdi.

The Wait-

We were joined by Ashith Shetty and the wait for the bus seemed never ending. We watched many operators heading to Bangalore however our bus was nowhere in sight. The scheduled time of arrival was at 7:45pm. By around 8pm, she arrived at her pickup point. It was exactly a month ago when SRS introduced their Scania service and it was about time to experience the journey.

The crew immediately recognized me as we both were a part of the marathon journey to Bangalore from Ahmedabad which we undertook last year. Myself and Deepak had booked seats A1, A2 and rest assured we knew this was a memorable journey in the making. We waited for another 10minutes and with all passengers accounted for we departed from Pune.

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Pic taken during inauguration

The very first experience you feel when you board this bus is that it is nothing ‘Volvo’ like. The bus is powered with a 13000cc engine with 410hp. The bus was exactly a month old and had done around 31000kms on the Odo. The interiors too were very plush and the high deck seating is something that should be felt rather than being explained. As we settled down, we were joined by another SRS B9R and we began to climb the ghat to head out of Pune. The bus climbed the ghat effortlessly however was finding it difficult to match its (B9R) pace on a straight stretch as the bus was speed locked. We were joined by the 2nd driver and he recognized us from the photo shoot we had a month ago when the service was launched. Both the drivers gave the same feedback that the bus is both driver and passenger friendly. While we went ahead with the tech specs of the bus, we neared for our Dinner break.

The dinner break was not short as the place was crowded. The crew gave ample amount of time for the passengers and after a 30minutes break, we returned back to the highway. This time the 2nd driver was at charge and I decided to take the co-driver’s seat to enjoy the rest of the journey as my sleep had given away. The co-driver’s seat is placed lower when compared to Volvo. Initially I found it difficult, however after a couple of minutes I felt comfortable sitting there. We continued our conversation about the tech specs and the passenger’s feedback about this bus and as we chatted along, the barrage of Volvo B9R’s heading to Mumbai and beyond started from the opposite direction. First up was SRS followed by VRL, Neeta, National, KSRTC and Konduskar. We were cruising at 85kmph and the driver showed no sense of urgency and ensured passengers had a sound sleep. We reached Kolhapur at around 12:10am and picked up passengers who were waiting for the bus. We entered Karnataka at around 12:45am and headed towards Nippani. The bus handled the steep stretch with no glitches as the diver kept the bus to the left lane to let go off fast moving vehicles on the right lane. We were nearing Belgaum when SRS’s Jodhpur-Bangalore B9R overtook us. We continued further and headed for a pit stop for fuel. The bus gulped around 157ltrs of Diesel for the rest of the journey.

We reached back on the highway and finally I finally decided to get some shut eyes. I came back to sleep and the next thing I remember was waking up somewhere between Chitradurga and Hiriyur. It was around 6:20am. We continue further and finally stopped for the last break for the journey at Sira. Paulo’s MAN, Anand, SRS jodhur-Blr service, Sharma Leyland sleeper welcomed us. The breakfast stop was brief as Bangalore was now in striking distance.

After a 20-25 minutes break, we resumed our journey towards Bangalore. The comfort of Scania, thanks to the suspension was putting me back into sleep however, I decided to stay up and enjoy the remaining part of the journey. We started covering ground quickly and reached Nelmangala Toll booth at around 8:40am. We quickly joined the Yeswanthpur-Nelmangala toll way and was dropped off at Navrang signal at 9:30am

Will I try this service again?

Needless to say that Volvo re-defined comfort, class and luxury to Indian travelers. Both Volvo and Scania have their own views in the area of technology, however they have both won hearts of people for being safe and comfortable. The comfort and safety levels of Scania buses too are top class. The only problem which the crew is facing currently is the ire of passengers as the bus is locked at 85kmph. However with the first oil change around the corner, this issue should be resolved. If you are looking for comfort and safety, this bus is a must try. I am eagerly waiting to try this service again.

Few pics of the bus-

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Hubli to Shirdi in Airavat Club Class (Goldie)

Hubli to Shirdi in Airavat Club Class (Goldie)

Date of Journey :05/07/2014
Service: NWKRTC’s Airavat Club Class (Gold Class)
Distance: 646kms(appox)
Fare: 1011/-

The Plan-

My plans to visit Shirdi were on the cards from the past Three months however, I had to postpone the same to numerous reasons. It was not until Deepak made plans to visit the Holy shrine which got the plan going again. As planned we decided to visit Shirdi with a stopover at Hubli and then continue further to Shirdi with Prashant in Airavat Club Class of NWKRTC (Gold Class)

NWKRTC previously operated Airavat Gold Class (53 seats) and Express services to Shirdi and very recently introduced non a/c sleeper services. But then NWKRTC began to add seats with Calf support and renamed the service as Club Class. Though I had travelled in NWKRTC Gold services before, this was the first time I was trying the Moff-3, Hubli division bus.

After enjoying an eventful day in Hubli, thanks to Prashant Kallimath and his family for their hospitality it was time to board the bus. We had booked the front row seats weeks ago to ensure not to miss any part of the journey. The clouds opened up as we headed to the depot and moderate showers began as the bus was getting ready in the depot for departure. 

Journey Time-

With the intensity of the rain increasing by each passing minute we decided to find solace in the warmth of the Club Class as she began to make her way out of the depot. We were seen off by depot officials and we headed towards our first pick up point, Hubli Old bus Stand.  We reached the Hubli Bus Stand by 19:50hrs and made our way to Platform. The bus was running almost 90% full with pockets of passengers boarding from Dharwad and Belgaum. While the crew enjoyed a small tea break, passengers began to settle down for the journey up ahead. At 20:05hrs, we began to pull out of the platform and headed out of the bustling bus stand. Our next stop was the new bus stand. The evening traffic with rains was testing the skills however Mr Kundgol was up for challenge as he drove the bus effortlessly and reached new bus stand in no time. We began to leave immediately and headed out of the bus stand. Fatigue was finally catching onto me as I slowly shut my eyes down. I woke up in Dharwad and got an opportunity to meet Mr. Shashidhar, DTO NWKRTC Hubli Divison. After a brief discussion, we resumed our journey and so did my sleep. I vaguely remember waking up at Belgaum bus stand and at Ramdev. We finally pulled over for dinner. While I insisted to continue my sleep, Prashant and Deepak forced me for dinner. Thanks to Prashant again for the home made food, my stomach was full and was eager to resume my sleep.

Snoozzzze Time-

No sooner we joined the highway; I decided to resume my sleep. I made my way to the rear of the bus as the seats at the rear, next to the Emergency exits were empty. I made myself comfortable as the blast of cold air from the air vents put me back to sleep. The last thing I remember seeing out of the window was the Canara Pinto 2nd service heading towards Mangalore. When I woke up we had passed Swargate and had pulled over for a tea break. The crew change happened here and we resumed the journey and again I resumed my sleep. The comfort and ride quality was very smooth. The next thing I remember was waking up to the honking of SVR B9R which was ahead of us desperately trying to overtake a truck. We pulled over for the final break at Ahmednagar. 

The Last leg

After a 20minutes break, we resumed our journey. I decided to take over my favorite seat at the front as Mr Kundagol skilfully drove the bus on busy highway. We overtook the APTDC ‘s single axle merc when it had pulled over for a break. The traffic started to slowly build up as we neared Shirdi. This was expected considering it was a weekend. We reached Holiday Park, the last stop of our journey at around 8:10am.

Will I try this service again?

I am not very sure if I will be trying this service again as I usually take the direct D-4 buses of KSRTC to Shirdi. However, nothing can take away the service NWKRTC provides to its passengers and this was one such service. The bus had done around 5.2lac kms on the Odo and was very well maintained. Comfortable seats with calf support ensured better leg space. Needless to say but hats off to the crew who were very friendly and ensured their passengers had no hassles at any point of the journey. And as for me, well it was an experience I will be cherishing for a long time to come.  

Some pics taken during the journey-