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Old 28th November 2023, 12:48   #1
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Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Introduction

This is a review cum travel experience on my personal favourite seater bus - a Scania Metrolink. What made the experience special was riding one after over five years.

Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_windscreen.jpg

Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rearrightview.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 28th November 2023 at 17:06.
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Old 28th November 2023, 13:09   #2
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

How did this ride happen?

I was in Chennai on a super short visit and was surprised to see no room on any train on my target date of departure; the evening Shatabdi Exp to Bengaluru wasn't plying that day and I had to return to continue on an official trip the next day. Although I've done KSRTC Airavat Volvo once earlier this year, the not so great seats and the infamous road condition on the Chennai - Vellore sector made me re-think on a road ride. I had to return, so decided to look for tickets in KSRTC.

There was this Ambaari Utsav at 1245hrs but I was in no mood for a sleeper journey in the day. Next was this 1505hrs Airavat Club Class in which only two seats were available; as soon as I saw that there was one seat in the front row, I grabbed it without any further delay. Even if this was going to be a bad seat, I was willing to take the hit for the involving virtual driving experience sitting in the front row.

Riding to the boarding point on a rainy day

A martial arts expert dropped me off at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT) on a rather rainy day and here I was - entering this massive bus terminal after over 5 and a half years. The huge hall there makes way to the various platforms, but what I didn't see was adequate signage right at the entry to point to the right platforms/destinations. I've never ever boarded a bus from here to Bengaluru ever, but guessed that the platform would be the one at the extreme exit end, and my guess was right. Although not really well kept, the terminal was in good shape for a 20 year old one. When this terminal was brand new, I'd come here for a bus to south TN in Jan-2003. As I walked my way towards the end of the platform (I think it was #6), I saw how big the terminal was, and when I got closer to the bay, my most pleasant surprise unfolded - a Scania Metrolink that was going to take me to my destination!

The massive CMBT
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-cmbt1.jpg

Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-cmbt2.jpg

The KSRTC Corner
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-cmbt3.jpg

Scania welcomes you! - someone had smashed a Benincasa hispida leaving some wet vermillion behind
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 28th November 2023 at 18:06.
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Old 28th November 2023, 13:32   #3
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Some information around the Scania Metrolink

The bus that I was about to board was a 13.7-metre 6x2 variant. More details around the various Scania Metrolink options can be found here (Scania launches Metrolink - New coach range for India) courtesy bhpian @Ashley2. The Scania Metrolink has a host of controls, but the more critical ones are housed in the stalk to the right of the steering wheel -

1. move the ring (like the foglamp switch on most cars) forward to put the bus in forward gear
2. push the ring in and turn back towards the driver for reverse
3. move the stalk up and down (like we do for hi beam/low beam) to manually move to upper/lower gears
4. move the stalk down (like we do for the turn signal in any car) from position zero to 5 to activate the retarder

Looks a little complicated but I guess drivers would get/ have got used to this. More on this in the following videos





Scania controls - handbrake in red, right side control stalk in blue, and the missing microphone marked in yellow
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_cockpit.jpg

Closer view of the right control stalk
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rightcontrolstalk.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 28th November 2023 at 17:13.
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Old 28th November 2023, 14:04   #4
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

My rides on board Scanias this far

This was going to be my fourth ride on board Scania Metrolinks - the earlier ones being in 2017 and 2018 by the now hibernating SRM Transports. In all my rides, and coincidentally all being in the first or second rows, I was pleasantly surprised at the in cabin silence and the plush ride, that made me a huuuge fan of this offering. I value the Volvo too, but have a soft corner for the Scania.

First impressions of the KSRTC Scania


Likes

• Looked good for a 2015 registered, 12 lakh km example
• Great seat comfort
• better leg room than what I've seen on the Volvo B11Rs - in the B11R, my foot on the aisle side would be dangling while here, there was enough room to place both feet on comfortably
• Cockpit (including the steering wheel, instrument console) looks way more modern than even what is seen on Volvos

Dislikes

• the calf support (Ottoman) isn't that effective

Few shortcomings as pointed out in an earlier interaction with a pilot from SRM Transports

I was fortunate to have a reserve pilot of SRM Transports riding alongside me sometime in 2017-18. He opined that although the Scania was a good ride for passengers, as a pilot he voted for the Volvo B11R. I asked him why and he said that the Scania was a more difficult vehicle to drive compared to the Volvo, plus the Scania scored poor on the FE front.

First row legroom - please don't mind the dirt brought in by footwear via wet muddy surfaces
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_firstrowlegroom.jpg

An overall neat cabin
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_firstrowview.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 28th November 2023 at 17:16.
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Old 28th November 2023, 14:21   #5
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Riding the Scania yet again

It was an on time departure, and after a slow exit from Koyambedu, it was traffic all the way to Maduravoyal, post which things began getting better. Sitting in the front, mild rains, experiencing the views through the massive windscreen - what more could one have asked for. The only shortcomings all the way till about Vellore were the inconsistent road condition and the constant diversions. Only saving grace - the diversions were actually well laid to help one cruise at approx. 55-60kmph.

Traffic until Maduravoyal
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-trafficmaduravoyal.jpg

Driving through the rain
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rain1.jpg

Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rain2.jpg

Passing the Hyundai Motor main gate
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_passinghyundai.jpg

Taking one of the many diversions
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_diverting.jpg

on the diverted path
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_diverting2.jpg

View of the road through the massive windscreen
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_windscreen.jpg


Chennai - Ranipet | How a beautiful surface gives way to a rough one

Last edited by vigsom : 28th November 2023 at 16:54.
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Old 28th November 2023, 16:35   #6
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Riding the Scania yet again (Contd.)

Our first pit stop was Hara's Cafe at Walajapet for tea and the dinner break was at Hotel Saravanaa Bavaa (double aa). It was only after Ranipet that the road began getting good to drive, and the conductor-cum-driver made good use of that opportunity to keep up pace. At no time was either driver doing over 95kmph.

Scania viewed from the rear
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rearleftview.jpg

Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_rearrightview.jpg

Cockpit at dusk
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-scania_cockpitdusk.jpg

Breaking for dinner
Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience-dinnerbreak.jpg

Trip log

I eventually alighted at Silk Board at 2200hrs, exactly 6hrs 55 mins from CMBT. Here is a brief on the approx. timings:

1. CMBT to Hara's Cafe Walajapet 2hrs 25mins
2. Halt at Hara's Cafe 15mins
3. Hara's Cafe to Hotel Saravanaa Bavaa Krishnagiri 2 hours 20 mins
4. Halt at Saravanaa Bavaa 20 mins
5. Saravanaa Bavaa to Silk board 1 hour 35 mins

Overall ride rating - 9/10

I arrived at my drop point in supreme comfort and in good time given the state of the highway until beyond Ranipet. It was a good decision to grab that seat no.2 and relive the good ol' Scania experience. Barring the two stops (I'd have loved it to be only one exactly midway), it was a great silent ride. For a 12 lakh km done vehicle, its condition was astoundingly good!

The ride was good, but the mood is sombre

From standing tall like this (00:02 to 00:10 and 01:32 to 01:50),



Scanias have almost been reduced to this



More such sad stories which are a grim pointer to the state of this otherwise competent machine!
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Old 28th November 2023, 19:32   #7
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th November 2023, 10:24   #8
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Great review as always from you. Sad to see the state of SRM Buses like this, COVID has reduced many bus operators to this picture, I hope they are back plying soon.

Last edited by Madrasin_selvan : 29th November 2023 at 10:25.
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Old 29th November 2023, 11:35   #9
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

That's a great review. Felt like doing one journey in these buses literally. After Covid many buses have been literally sitting idle. I see a few Volvos near my place just rotting on the side of the roads. Also, in TG, the AC buses have been put out of service altogether. There were some really neat buses plying in the city routes which have now been put out of service. Not sure where they have been parked.
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Old 29th November 2023, 12:24   #10
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

@vigsom: Your road trip reviews are simply awesome & nostalgic for me! I have had my share of good & bad experiences and I believe it is a mix of both, that makes a memory!

Good review of your trip via Scania but I always had a feeling that KSRTC (Karnataka) was more oriented towards Volvo as I have used their service for many sectors
Bangalore - Mumbai, Bangalore - Hyderabad, Bangalore - Chennai & Bangalore - Pune. I have never encountered a single Scania in these trips over the last 20 years!.

Though I have travelled in a Scania over shorter durations (Mumbai - Pune), I still feel the comfort & elegance of the Volvo is unmatched. (My personal opinion though)

Wishing you many more trips & look forward to reading more such reviews.

Cheers!
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Old 29th November 2023, 13:17   #11
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Nice to see a semi-sleeper review after a long time - vigsom. Semi-sleepers are a dying breed now and it's a rarity to see a semi-sleeper in major routes once they dominated in. My frequent travels pre-covid was Chennai-Madurai and Chennai-Tuticorin. Chennai Madurai, my preferred operator was Parveen (Mercedes Benz) and Chennai Tuticorin was Vivegam's B9R.

My last semi-sleeper ride was last year from Bangalore to Tirunelveli on board Murahara Travels B11R. Eagerly waiting for my next semi-sleeper trip.
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Old 29th November 2023, 15:46   #12
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

I have ridden a few public transport buses in haryana, himachal, and punjab. My biggest gripe is that they dont vacuum the seats ever which causes the dust to build up over years and they smell extremely bad. I wish these buses were retired or overhauled completely every 10 years at least
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Old 30th November 2023, 14:11   #13
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Happy to see your travel posts again, Sir.

Expecting more such posts from you.
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Old 15th December 2023, 11:31   #14
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Since I'm a sucker for European coaches, I once took a Scania on purpose after travelling for years on Volvos. The suspension was crazy stiff and I couldn't sleep properly on the all-nighter from Mumbai to Bangalore. The same ride from Bangalore to Mumbai on a Volvo was so much more comfier. Swore never to get on a Scania again, and I can see why I don't see new ones plying on our roads.
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Old 15th December 2023, 23:23   #15
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Re: Rare Ride: Chennai to Bengaluru by a KSRTC Scania Metrolink | Reliving a lost experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post

More such sad stories which are a grim pointer to the state of this otherwise competent machine!
Too bad that Scania coaches have left India, leaving the market for Volvo to rule. I wonder if Scania still produces chassis in India or whether they've left for good?
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