I had an exciting first weekend of August ahead for me, which involved a trip to Manthralayam; primarily for the train journey, secondarily for the Tungabhadra river; and lastly for darshan at the famous Swami Raghavendra Temple . I was to take my favourite train 12163 Dadar Chennai Super express , from Dadar to Raichur ; on Friday 4th. As to why I chose Raichur as the destination instead of MALM, well; as per the information I had gleaned from Wikipedia, frequent KSRTC buses were available from Raichur. Moreover, my hotel in Manthralayam was right opposite the RTC bus stand . My office being located in Lower Parel made it very convenient for me to board 12163. As my office ended at 6 pm, I could attend a full day and still have more than enough time to board the train; which would depart at 20 30.
I took an EMU to Dadar, where I had an early dinner at a restaurant nearby. I had close to 1.5 hours to kill as I headed to the Terminus, where 12163 was berthed on Platform 7 as usual.
My coach S2 was 2014 made, so would be having biotoilets and mobile charging sockets in every bay.
It was 10th from the loco, which was a BSL WAP4 22899. It was 19 45 when S2 was finally opened, and I settled on my seat; which was a side upper berth. At 19 50, I observed 11030 KOP CSTM Koyna express arriving with KYN WDM3D 11456. Half an hour later, I observed KYN ALCO pair – WDG3A 14727 and WDM3D 11470 heading towards CSTM. 14727 had a melodious LT horn similar to that of GTL ALCOs, while the HT horn was a high-pitched toot not too different from that of a WAP5/7! At 20 30, 12289 CSTM-NGP Duronto overtook us from PF 4 with Ajni WAP7 30301.
On PF 5, 12111 CSTM-AMI superfast was standing. A minute later, we departed. Then 12111 also started; so for a while we had parallel action! 12111 was headed by a KYN WCAM3, and had 7 AC coaches. We stopped after 3 mins and it overtook us. In the cool breeze of the night, the engine sounds were intoxicating – an EMD honking and humming and also a WDS6 burbling in the distance! A KYN WCAM3 then passed towards CSTM with a virtually empty train – any idea which train could this be? We finally started moving again at 20 38. I could hear mild flat wheel sounds. We soon picked up speed after the usual crawl through the points, and the melodious P4 twin tones were a treat to the ears. Interestingly, this loco had two HT horns – the 2nd one sounding more like P5/7!
There was a huge glass building in Sion West which housed the pharma giant Abbott. My e-ticket was checked and ticked before Vikhroli. We had a really fast run from Bhandup to Thane, with the P4 in full flow; honking all the way. The station was skipped in style, before we slowed down to crawl through the famous Parsik tunnel. It seems trains have started crawling through this tunnel again since the monsoon season – earlier it used to be skipped at around 70-80 kmph. No wonder. There was water dripping from the side everywhere. At Thakurli, there was an extra platform under construction – a double discharge platform like the one at Kanjurmarg. Reached KYN at 21 27, 22 mins late; on PF 5. 12111 was still waiting on our left on PF 4! Here a lot of people got in, and the coach was predictably full. I clambered onto my SUB, ready to call it a day.
I had a really good sleep overall, though I woke up quite a few times in between. Of course we had a long halt at Pune, where the WAP4 was replaced by a diesel. I woke up a few times after the break of dawn, but took one look down at the side lower berth (which was occupied by a lady in deep sleep) and decided to go back to sleep!The blanket I had brought from home turned out to be quite useful, as the weather was a bit chilly. When I finally climbed down from the SUB, it was around 07 30. I answered the call of nature, sprinkled water on my face 7-8 times; and brushed my teeth. Then I squeezed into a legs-folded position on the SLB; as it was already occupied by two people – the one on my right probably didn’t have reservation and was using the train as a means of commute; no wonder 12163/64 is famously known as a ‘town bus’ .
The shrill horn of our diesel loco was a treat to the ears, as we passed through green fields irrigated well, cows grazing; and a road kept us company parallely for a while; also there were mountains in the distant left background. A church in the distant left, a few settlements and a few pigs in a slush signalled the arrival of Yadgir at 07 44, 16 mins late. During the 3 min halt here, a lot of people got down; only for almost as many people to get in as well! I had some tea. We then had a quick run till the next halt Saidapur, accompanied by ALCO chugging sounds which were as usual music to the ears; and a mild transition jerk. We passed through green and brown fields, bushes, shrubs, a few palm trees and meadows. There were also eucalyptus trees and an abandoned cabin at Lingiri, which was skipped at MPS. Then there were trees here and there, stagnant ponds and black soil. A few settlements, a graveyard in ruins and a deserted church signalled the arrival of Saidapur at 08 06, 18 mins late.
Here a few people got in. After a 2 min halt, we started; only to stop again – before starting finally with a short honk a minute later. There were more meadows and trees here and there, and metalled roads that seemed to start from nowhere; and a Telangana State board at Chegunta. Then there was a TSR of 30 kmph and a curve to the left; where I could see our orange and cream GTL ALCO. A road and a substation signalled the arrival of Krishna at 08 26, and we had a long halt of 15 mins for watering. I had some coffee. There was a PSR of 50 kmph over the Krishna river, which was (as expected) 60% filled.
We transitioned over the river (again mildly). There was a line to the Raichur Thermal Power Station (RTPS) after Yadalapur, which bypassed Raichur. Then came the iconic RTPS, with its 8 cooling towers – a sight that has never ever failed to impress me even in uncountable number of trips along this route!
After Yermaras, there was an non-electrified line from our left to RTPS. A few mosques, temples, a lot of buildings, an auditorium and the sight of a few pigs signalled the arrival of Raichur at 09 10, 37 mins late – on PF 1. I got down and had 3 dal vadas from a stall nearby. 12163 left after a halt of 4 mins. 16594 SBC NED express came on PF 2 at 09 18, half an hour late; headed by GTL WDM3D 11552 in the shed’s orange and cream livery. A lot of people (mainly vendors) got down and crossed the tracks to the other side.The train left after a halt of only 2 mins. I then took a share auto to the Bus Stand; where I had to wait for 15-20 mins before I could get a bus to Manthralayam; which turned out to be a nearly 1.5 hours ride.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this long report!
EMU – Electrical Multiple Unit (Local train)
ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and a class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
EMD – Electromotive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
HT – High Tone
LT – Low Tone
MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
MALM- Manthralayam Road
BSL – Bhusawal
KOP – Kolhapur
CSTM – Mumbai CST
GTL – Guntakal
NGP – Nagpur
AMI – Amravati
SBC – Bangalore City
NED – Nanded