Year-end mini-vacation to Chennai – Part 1

After a memorable trip to Chennai the previous month, it was time for yet another such trip in the final month of the year. I was to take 11027 Mumbai Chennai Mail (yet again! 😀 ) on Saturday 23rd night. I had booked an AC 2 Tier ticket, which was originally RAC3 and then became RAC2 after a few weeks. When the charting was done finally (4 hours before the train’s departure – at 23 45), I got a message from IRCTC showing that I had a confirmed seat 22 in coach A1 (obviously, as it is the only 2A coach in this train 😀 ). I found out that it was an upper berth through the Rail Jankari app in my Android phone – this dimmed my excitement slightly 😛 . All the same, I was charged up as I left home at 21 45 after dinner. Oh, and for technical terms and station codes; please refer the legend right at the bottom (not all are mentioned, mind you! 😛 ). Also, non-railfans and purist railfans beware: there are a lot of technicalities in this blog post! 😛

I took an auto to Vikhroli station. There, after I bought a ticket to CSMT; I was greeted with the sight of 22106 Pune CSMT Indrayani express ripping past led by Indigo-liveried CLA WDM3A 16522R. This was followed by 12860 HWH CSMT Geetanjali express with its now regular WAP7, running almost 1.5 hours late. Then 12131 DR SNSI superfast chugged past with KYN WDG3A ‘Shakti’ 13557. I then boarded the 2nd class of a local (which was a mistake, since I had my First Class pass – valid till Dadar), but the crowd was so much (obviously pre-Christmas weekend rush!) that I had to get down at Sion. There 12133 CSMT MAJN superfast breezed past hauled by KYN WDM3D 11355. I then boarded the First class coach of a Dadar local – that way I could at least sit till Dadar! At Dadar I eventually had to transfer to the 2nd class coach of another local to CSMT; but this was much more bearable. I saw Pune WDM3D 11366 and ET WDM3D 11304 at Parel. Saw SRC WAP7i 30558 (probably the one that had brought Geetanjali) and ET WAP4 25029 at the ETS as we pulled into CSMT at 23 05.

11027 was berthed at Platform 14 as usual. Adjacent, on PF15; was 11057 CSMT ASR ‘Pathankot express’ (as usual, again!). It had a WR RMS coach of 2000 make painted in the standard blue-cyan livery of most coaches in IR; as opposed to the old red-liveried ones. 11027 had an Inspection car at the rear. My coach A1 was of 2012 make, with mobile-charging sockets in all bays (though I would much later find out that the one in my bay suffered from loose contact, working for only one gentleman in the side bay 😛 ). To my disappointment, 11027’s RMS coach (2004 made) too was in the same blue-cyan livery as seen in 11057. R.I.P red livery of RMS coaches in IR!

Our electric loco till Pune was KYN WCAM3 21884.

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I clambered into my UB without even waiting for the train to depart, that sleepy I was! I slept soon after my ticket was checked. I woke up a few times in between, but when I finally got down from my berth; it was 08 45. After I washed my face and brushed my teeth, we had a long 18-min stop at Mohol; a train hauled by an EMD crossed us – followed by the overtake of 12025 Pune-SC Shatabdi with another EMD. I ate the packets of Nachos (with Salsa) and Lotte Choco Pie that my mother had packed. I also had tea. There was a fog in the distant right. A BOXN freight (including flatbed wagons) led by twin ALCOs crossed us at MPS. We reached Solapur (Platform 3) at 09 55, 25 mins late. There was a DEMU on our right. On PF2 was 11031 SUR-BJP express led by KYN WDG3A ‘Shakti’ 13604. On the distant right were an ED WDP4D and Pune WDM3D 11368 with a rake in CR daytime livery.

Also saw our loco – KYN WDG4 12667 (SHF). After we departed, we had a brief stop at the outer. Then there was a lake partially covered by moss

At Tikekarwadi, 57650 Wadi Solapur DEMU was standing hauled by an EMD! :O Till Hotgi, there was a lot of lateral distance between the two lines. Our departure at Hotgi was also followed by a stop for a minute before starting again! On the Hotgi bypass used by freights, there was a BOXN rake waiting for clearance hauled by MLY WDG3As 13236 (looked weird and like what we railfans call Cyclops 😛 ) and 13245 ‘Shakti’. Then a train crossed us with an orange ALCO. There was scenery in the form of a man-made pond, goats grazing and lambs being looked after by a lady in a hut. There was a TSR of 75 kmph before we pulled into Akkalkot Road (start of the single line section) at 10 50, half an hour late. We had a long halt of 13 mins as the LC was opened at regular intervals to let vehicles cross. Then 11302 SBC CSMT Udyan express led by Pune WDP4D 40144 came and made its scheduled stop.

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Then there was a ghost station called Nagansur. There were lorries on the rails before Boroti, as well as sleepers stacked nearby, lot of earthwork and mounds of sand – indicating the doubling work in progress. After Boroti, there was land being levelled, sleepers stacked and a line on our right for a while. There were also JCBs busy at work and ballast piled up. After a TSR, I saw some corn fields and a bridge over a dry river (except for a stagnant patch of water). There were also maize and other fields, plantains, bushes and shrubs; and a lot of sheep and goats grazing. The sight of a temple, shanties and huts; as well as a BCNA freight led by GY WDG4 12749; signalled the arrival of Dudhani at 11 29, 41 mins late. Here there was another longish stop of 10 mins as a BOXN rake crossed us at a good speed with UBL WDG4 12041 and WDG4D 70462 honking madly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_jcik1aEs

I continued to see ballast and sleepers stacked for a while. There was a pond in the distant right, as well as coconut and eucalyptus trees. There were also different kinds of fields and small trees here and there, as well as a bridge over a dry river after Kulali (the station marking our shift from Maharashtra to Karnataka). Again, there were lorries and JCBs at work. There was yet another bridge over a dry river (except for some stagnant patches of water) after Gaudgaon. At Ganagapur Road (a scheduled halt), there were gangmen pushing a flag trolley with two wheels on the tracks at the platform on the right! :O Again we had a lengthy halt of 9 mins as an ACC Cement rake crossed us led by KYN WDG3A ‘Shaktis’ 13638 and 13308 honking madly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3q4SZaTLlc 

Then a road gave us company on our right after Hunsil Hadgil. There was again scenery in the form of a pond with buffaloes bathing and eucalyptus trees. After Savalgi, I again saw ballast and sleepers stacked up; indicating doubling progress. After Babalad, there were goats and lambs grazing; as well as lots of hay stacked up. In fact, there was a lorry with a tall pile of hay which had two men standing on it! :O The sight of many cottages, bungalows, buildings, eucalyptus trees and a colony called Basant Nagar; signalled the arrival of Gulbarga (end of the single line section) at 12 30, 45 mins late. We came to a halt on a mainline platform; hence we didn’t have to slow down to a crawl well outside the station limits 😀 . Here there was a BCNA freight (facing SUR) hauled by twin WDG4s (trailing 12746 of GY), which left before us.

The food which I had ordered online through railyatri.in (a very useful rail portal) arrived here like clockwork 🙂 . It comprised a Chapatis and Panneer combo, which was very tasty – the panneer gravy being quite spicy. The pattern of departing and stopping continued – a case of alarm-chain pulling? There was a Plasser machine at Martur. Again we were treated with a mixed variety of scenery in the form of plenty of goats and sheep grazing, a stagnant pond, farmers busy in chaffing, boys playing a sport with sticks (probably gilli danda?) on a ground, a lot of stone-roofed huts, a temple and a dirty Shahabad Nallah (partly dry). Shahabad station had the main yellow board (at both ends) in English, Hindi, Kannada and Urdu.  However, the triangular boards in the middle didn’t have Urdu in them. Then I was treated to the lovely sight of the perennial Kagini river.

There were huge mounds of stone waste, as well as a huge pit of waste :O . There was also a factory in the right before we pulled into Wadi at 13 10, now only 20 mins late (thanks to slack as present for all trains at this juncture – crossing over from CR into SCR). Our loco was detached after having done a stellar job.

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It was time for the electric loco to take over for the remainder of the journey till MAS. Also time for me to take a break and resume in Part 2. Thanks for reading this long post, and stay tuned for Part 2! 😉

Technical Terms

ETS – Electric Loco Trip Shed

RMS – Railway Mail Service

EMD – Electromotive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)

ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and a class of diesel engines of the 1960s)

MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed

DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or just diesel local train 😀 )

SHF – Short Hood Forward

TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction

LC – Level Crossing

Station Codes

CSMT – Chatrapathi Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (Mumbai CST with the ‘Maharaj’ added 😛 )

CLA – Kurla

HWH – Howrah

DR – Dadar (CR)

SNSI – Sainagar Shirdi

KYN – Kalyan

MAJN – Mangalore Junction

ET – Itarsi

SRC – Santragachchi

ASR – Amritsar

SC – Secunderabad

SUR – Solapur

BJP – Bijapur

ED – Erode

MLY – Maula Ali

SBC – Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna Bengaluru (or just Bangalore City 😛 )

GY – Gooty

UBL – Hubli

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