Last day made a change to travel in the new Scania Metrolink HD13.7 bus from Kannur to Ernakulam owned by KSRTC which is being branded as “Garuda Maharaja” . Being a weekend, the bus was almost full but luckily I got the seat just behind the driver.
The machine is powered by a massive 13 litre cylinder monster engine generating 360hp power and 1700Nm torque. With 8 speed automatic gearbox which is known as “Scania Opticruise”, which could be similar to the DSG gearbox found in Volkswagen engines as the gear shifting was absolutely smooth without any jerks.
The ride was absolutely comfortable. Speeds were locked at 85 km/h, but the bus attained that speed from zero within a few seconds..!!!! I could see the tachometer hitting the red line occasionally.
The bus had 49 semi sleeper seats manufactured by Harita seatings. The leg space was just adequate but could have been better but the seats are comfortable. Speakers, AC vents and reading lamps are configured above all rows. A power socket is also provided for every row which can be used for charging mobile phones and other portable devices.
The ride: The bus belonged to Trivandrum depot, operating Kollur Mookambika service. Actual arrival time at Kannur was at 20.45. The phone number of the crew was provided just before the bus departed from its origin. I called and confirmed the location of the bus about 2 hours before the scheduled arrival time. The bus was late by about 30 minutes, thus reached Kannur bus station only by 21.15.
Blankets and drinking water were provided only on request. The blanket was excellent. Heavy, tough and absolutely snug. The AC was set at 24 degrees which was comfortable for me. No movies were played, but the driver had some good collection of old Malayalam and Tamil songs which were played in light volume.
We left immediately after all the passengers boarded. Lagging 30 minutes behind the scheduled time, the driver nailed the throttle hard to escape quickly. Speeds, locked at 85 was good enough. With tremendous acceleration, the driver was confident in making up the lost time.
At about 21.55, we reached Mahe. There was a huge line-up of trucks waiting to fill fuel resulting in a nasty traffic jam which was about 5km long. The driver did his best to squeeze the large 13.7 meter long Maharaja out of the tight streets of Mahe but took an hour to do so. It was 11 pm when we left Mahe; thus the bus was now late by 1 hour 25 mins with miles to go to reach its destination. The bus started speeding and was able to maintain consistent speeds now.
I think we reached Kozhikode just after midnight. I was too sleepy and couldn’t check the time. We left Kozhikode at 00:15 and as we were leaving, the other Maharaja coming from Manipal, which was about an hour behind our scheduled time just entered the bus station. The arrival time at Ernakulam bus station of my bus was at 3.30am. The bus was undoubtedly speeding. I had an excellent sleep. It was too comfortable; maybe I was too tired after a heavy trekking. I had alarms set at 3 am just to make sure that I wake up before reaching Ernakulam bus station.
I woke up at 3 and surprised to see that we have reached Aluva, right on time even after losing almost one and a half hour. The bus dropped off me at Edapally junction at 3.30am. 3 hours 15mins from Kozhikode to Edapally with speeds clocked at 85km/h is just incredible performance. I walked towards my home after a comfortable ride.