Mega Block Blues – Part 1

Being the crazy railfan that I am, I had decided upon another sleep-killing trip 😛 – to Pune this time instead of Manmad; to know what I am talking about, please visit the blogs of my last trip: https://ashwinkumar1989.online/2018/03/03/half-a-day-and-300-miles-away-from-home-part-1/ and https://ashwinkumar1989.online/2018/03/04/half-a-day-and-300-miles-away-from-home-part-2/ . Coming back to this trip, it started with an overnight journey to Pune by 51033 CSMT-SNSI Fast passenger on March 10th; reaching Pune by 04 05 in the early morning. The return was to be by 12126 Pune Mumbai Pragati express. Alas! The mega block of Sunday March 11th put paid to the return bit 😦 – I got a text message from IR on Friday 9th evening about Pragati’s cancellation. To add insult to the injury, no tickets were available in 12124 Deccan Queen. Moreover, 11010 Pune Mumbai Sinhagad express was cancelled as well! :O

I had no choice but to chance my arm in booking a Tatkal ticket the next day morning. As luck would have it, Google Chrome turned out to be a roadblock; a page loading error came up when I clicked on “Book now” – this happened twice! In my desperation, as I turned to the ever-reliable (but underrated) Mozilla Firefox; the familiar Captcha error once again tripped me up 😛 . In the meantime, the no: of available tickets (in 2S; AC Chair Car  had already become waitlisted by 11 AM – the Tatkal starting window for non-AC) swiftly shrank in a geometric progression; from 44 to 28 to 6! In the last attempt, even that 6 became 0! 😦 So, my last resort was the supercrawler 11024 KOP-CSMT Sahyadri express. As if to mock my attempt with the prestigious superfast DQ, there were 121 seats available in SL in Sahyadri; and I had no issues whatsoever in getting an LB! 😛

Coming back to this blog, in the overnight journey by 51033; we reached Pune 04 40, 35 mins late – thanks to an overtake by 16507 JU-SBC express at Khadki (where we had a long halt), and another long halt at SVJR. I had an intermittent sleep at the waiting room on Platform 1. Just like at MMR, the taps in the washroom were useless; so I had to rely on a water-bottle (that I purchased) to brush my teeth and rinse my mouth 😛 Thanks to the announcements, I came to know that the Pune Lonavala local departing at 05 45 was also cancelled along with Pragati and Sinhagad! :O Meanwhile, a petrol tanker train (with  a BOXN wagon at the front) led by KYN WDP4D 40312 (:O!) and KYN WDM3D 11390(dead) passed on a siding next to PF1 towards Mumbai without stopping. This was soon crossed by another tanker rake hauled by a tigerface-liveried WAG7 (with WAP4 shell) on a siding next to PF2. While this non-stopping freight action was happening, another local (to Talegaon) got cancelled! :O Sahyadri arrived on PF1 behind Pune WDM3D 11366.

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My coach S7 was 5th from the loco. I had a non-trackside window seat. The coach was of a 2014 make.

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There were mobile charging sockets in all bays; and a square mirror in our bay 🙂 . Our diesel loco was soon detached, to be replaced by KYN WCAM3 21963. As usual, the railfan-like enthusiasm of the public for a locomotive-coupling operation amused me!

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12130 HWH Pune Azad Hind express was running 3 hours late. A local on a siding next to us stopped and started towards LNL. Our scheduled departure at 7 am never happened – we were instead overtaken by DQ (from PF5) at its scheduled departure 07 15! This trolling (right at the start) would be an ominous sign of things to follow! 😛 A reasonably crowded 71416 Solapur Pune DEMU arrived on PF3. We finally departed at 07 22, 22 mins late. Pune WDG3A 13548 was on the right. On the left was the rake of the cancelled Sinhagad express; there was a Jan Shatabdi AC Chair Car of 2002 make, and a JS 2S coach (only for Ladies) next to the Brake Van. On the right was a Pune-Baramati DEMU rake. There was a TSR of 90 kmph before SVJR, where a family got in. A diesel-hauled BCNA freight crossed us. There was some scenery with lots of trees, as well as slums and a Petroleum Platoon (ASC) before Khadki. We had a fast run after Dapodi, and I was enjoying the clickety clack track sounds and LT honking.

There was a lot of crowd at Pimpri. Some people got in, and began talking about trains being cancelled- including locals! There were a lot of curves and we were riding yellows before pulling into Dehu Road at 08 03, 09 mins late. We started after just 30-40 seconds, only to stop after a few metres – and we did not move for the next 20 mins!! :O 12940 Jaipur Pune superfast blasted past with a WAP4. Then came (IMHO) the highlight of the trip – a dust-raising overtake by 17221 COA-LTT express (having 6 AC coaches) behind KYN WDG4 12762.

After we finally left, a local bound for Pune innocently entered the station. There were two more curves before an unscheduled halt at Shelarwadi for 6 mins. Meanwhile, our coach was quite crowded now; thanks to the megablock. Our slow run continued as we pulled into Talegaon at 08 49, 35 mins late. Here we had another long halt of 20 mins, during which the trees provided some respite from the heat.

 

There was mayhem in our coach, thanks to a load of passengers with unreserved tickets  – due to the megablock of course!! 😛 Meanwhile, a loudly honking Pune WDG4 12885 crossed us with a BRNA rake carrying steel rods on the loopline. There was a TSR of 85 kmph and an English Medium School before another unscheduled halt of 8 mins at Vadgaon. To my shock, 22105 Mumbai Pune Indrayani express pulled behind an orange ALCO and stopped on the platform! It was running at least an hour late! :O Further on, I observed staff climbing on signals to fix them! :O There were lot of eucalyptus trees, before we crossed 12127 Mumbai Pune Intercity with a maroon-brown AC converted KYN WCAM2-6P near Kanhe – quite late, just like Indrayani! The megablock was taking its toll on trains in either direction! The scenery (with Eucalyptus trees and mountains in the distant left) somewhat made up for the lack of speed.

 

 

There was a TSR of 20 kmph, and some construction work going on.

 

 

We were held up at Kamshet home signal for 2 mins. As we entered the station, I saw yet another casualty of the megablock on the right – 18520 LTT-VSKP express with KYN WDP4D 40316 stranded there. We crawled and overtook the culprit-in-chief holding us back – the tanker freight led by KYN WDP4D 40312 (and dead KYN WDM3D 11390) that had earlier skipped Pune! :O On overtaking the tanker, the chains holding us back seemed to have given way at last; we were soon speeding away! Crossed the next casualty 11007 Mumbai Pune Deccan express before Malavli (as well as a TSR of 105 kmph! :O ). There was a TSR of 50 kmph before LNL yard, where we overtook a stationary ACC Cement rake behind UBL WDG4s 12040 and 12126. Entered the station at a decent pace. It was 10 07, and we were 1 hr 13 mins late.

We had taken 2 hrs 45 mins for the distance of 63 km between Pune and LNL – a staggering speed of approximately 23 kmph!! 😛 With this, we had crossed Pune division of CR and entered Mumbai division. Accordingly, Part 1 of the blog also ends – will Mumbai division also play spoilsport and delay the train further? Find out in Part 2!

Technical Terms

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

TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction

LT – Low Tone

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

Station Codes

CSMT – Mumbai CST

SNSI – Sainagar Shirdi

KOP – Kolhapur

JU – Jodhpur

SBC – Bangalore City

SVJR – Shivajinagar

MMR – Manmad

KYN – Kalyan

HWH – Howrah

LNL – Lonavala

COA – Kakinada Port

LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (or just Kurla Terminus 😛 )

VSKP – Vizag

UBL – Hubli

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