It was 22nd of January – A Sunday. Pretty unusual to be out of bed by 05 15, and out of the house by 06 15, right ? Nope, not for a railfan 😉 . He who is slow to wake up otherwise 😀 . Anyway, I managed to get an auto to Vikhroli ; where the tranquil peace of the early morning was broken by a high-pitched whine growing louder and louder. It was Ajni WAP7 30304, and she seemed to be in a terrific hurry with her 24 coach load of 12106 Gondia Mumbai Vidarbha express. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yma1V5psNLA
Just as I boarded an EMU to Dadar, it was the turn of 12859 Mumbai Howrah Geetanjali express to saunter past the station led by SRC WAP4 22262. Reached Dadar by 7 am, in time to see 12127 Mumbai Pune Intercity express depart from Platform 4 with an ALCO-type HT toot by the KYN WCAM2 21868 hauling it 😉 . 15 minutes later, my train to Talegaon – 11007 Mumbai Pune Deccan express – arrived on PF 5 behind KYN WCAM3 21894. For some reason, we departed only after more than 5 minutes. Spotted 12620 MAQ LTT Matsyagandha express waiting for clearance at Vidyavihar, powered by ED’s tiffin box 😀 – WDP4D 40175. We stopped at Thane home signal, before pulling into the station at 07 48, 15 mins late.
21894 seemed to be in no hurry, and our off-colour run continued, as we stopped at Thakurli home signal, where 12493 Pune – NZM AC superfast crossed us with GZB WAP7 30235. It was an ICF rake with 20 coaches. We also had a see-saw race with a lone Pune WDG4 12873 in which we had the last laugh before we pulled into KYN at 08 11, 18 mins late. Here I noticed 11025 BSL Pune intercity express in a platform on the far right, hauled by BSL WAP4 22848. Had a tasty breakfast of Sabudana vadas. From here, the WCAM3 began to show its true colours. After crossing a TSR of 30 kmph before Vithalwadi, we ripped Badlapur (where there was a TSR of 90 kmph) and other stations in Kalyan district before pulling into Neral at 08 41, 16 mins late – covering 33 km in 27 mins. This train seems to have been given a halt at Neral so as to connect with the 52103 NG passenger , which departs at 09 10 on its scenic journey to the hill station of Matheran 😉 . But most people seem to prefer the EMUs instead 😛 .
The single line from Panvel (on which there was a TSR of 90 kmph) soon joined as as we neared Karjat. Saw a train led by WAP4 waiting for clearance there – I learnt much later (at Talegaon) that it was BRC WAP4E 22942 with 19312 Indore Pune express. We entered KJT at 08 55, 12 mins late. There was a honk and 12124 Pune Mumbai Deccan Queen skipped the station in style behind KYN WCAM3 21885. I spotted a triplet of KYN WAG7s – 27121, 27400 and 27124. We had a halt of 5 mins during which the bankers were attached to the rear of the train. Saw another triplet of KYN WAG7 – 27138, 27136 and 273XX. At Palasdhari (where the ghat section actually begins) we crossed a stationary BCNA freight with twin Pune WDG4s 12461 and 70190.
For some reason, we had 3 unscheduled halts in the Bhor Ghats – at Jambrung, Thakurwadi (where we crossed 17032 HYB CSTM express with a KYN WDG3A and a dead WDP4D behind) and Monkey Hill. Usually these serve as brake-testing halts, but in the return direction. There were also 3 TSRs of 30 kmph and a TSR of 25 kmph before Khandala. Reached Lonavala at 09 47, 9 mins late (a bit of slack :D). We had a fast run upto Talegaon of 30 km in 21 mins(an average of approximately 86 kmph ;)) during which we raced cars on the highway and crossed a lot of goats/sheep grazing, a TSR of 90 kmph and a big curve after Kamshet (on the banks of the scenic Indrayani river) ;). Reached Talegaon at 10 10, only 2 mins late. Not a bad run 😉
Station Codes and Abbreviations
EMU – Electrical Multiple Unit
SRC – Santragachchi
ALCO – American Locomotive Company
HT – High Tone
KYN – Kalyan
MAQ – Mangalore Central
LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus
ED – Erode
NZM – Hazrat Nizamuddin
GZB – Ghaziabad
ICF – Integral Coach Factory (Perambur)
BSL – Bhusawal
TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
NG – Narrow Gauge
BRC – Vadodara
KJT – Karjat
HYB – Hyderabad
CSTM – Mumbai CST