Flashes of inconsistent brilliance

You know the feeling when a sports team you support (for eg. Pakistan cricket team) have a lot of talent and potential but don’t perform as well as their strength on paper says. In this case, it was a train instead – 12127 Mumbai Pune Intercity; covering a distance of 192 km between Mumbai and Pune in 3 hrs 17 mins – at an average speed of 58.47 kmph. It may not seem that great for someone who has never travelled in this route or does not know the geography; but the reality is that a steep 1:37 gradient (In fact, among the steepest broad gauge gradients in the entire Indian Railway network) on the Bhor Ghats between Palasdhari (near KJT) and Lonavala (24 km) is the main reason why this route does not see a high end-to-end average speed. Hence, this train is the fastest on the route; along with the pride of Central Railways – 12123/24 Deccan Queen. However, of late the punctuality of 12127/28 has taken a hit. On Sunday April 22nd, it was no different; with bouts of speed combined with frequent slow downs – thus the train lived up to the title of this blog post 😛 .

On the day of the journey, I had set an alarm to wake me up at 5 am; but overslept and missed the alarm, so my mother woke me up at 05 25. Anyway, there was enough time to take bath and have coffee. Left the house by around 6 am and took an auto to Vikhroli. This early hour being a time when many trains arrive; there was a lot of action to look forward to 🙂 . 12112 AMI-CSMT superfast passed the station silently at 06 27 behind KYN WCAM3 21934. About 10 mins later, 12859 CSMT-HWH Geetanjali express raced away; led by SRC WAP4 22826. Just 3 mins later, 12620 MAQ-LTT Matsyagandha express rushed through; hauled by a humming EMD. As I boarded a local towards Thane 2 mins later, a CR train with 6 AC coaches (probably 12116 SUR-CSMT Siddheshwar express) rushed towards Mumbai behind UBL WDP4B 40008. At Bhandup, the action refused to stop; as 12106 NGP-CSMT Vidarbha express (having 9 AC coaches!) blasted away with a typically whining Ajni WAP7 30465.

At Thane, the action continued; as 15017 LTT-GKP Kashi express (via BSB) arrived behind BSL WAP4 22790 on Platform 7. 17412 KOP-CSMT Mahalaxmi arrived on PF6 behind a WCAMx. Then 17617 Mumbai Nanded Tapovan express came on PF5 with KYN WCAM3 21893. Out of the 2 AC Chair Car coaches, C1 was an old 1999 make coach and C2 was of a 2013 make. The train departed after a halt of 2 mins, with a melodious twin-tone horn blown by the LP. At the same time, Mahalaxmi departed; 39 mins late. I was to board 12127 Intercity on the same platform which Tapovan had vacated. There was a lot of crowd. At 07 18, 12138 Firozpur Mumbai Punjab Mail made an unscheduled halt on PF6 behind GZB WAP7 30278. My train arrived at 07 19 (7 mins late) with a chocolate brown KYN WCAM2-6P 21880. My coach D7 (of a 2007 make) was 7th from the loco; and was very crowded. We departed after a stop of 2 mins.

There was an uneventful run till KYN home signal, where we were held up for half a minute. After moving, we stopped again; this time for a 3 whole minutes – as a slow local overtook us. The slow spirit persisted as the scheduled skip of KYN did not happen – we came to a halt at PF4 at 07 45. As a result, I was treated to continuous and melodious honking by the LP – first the HT and then the LT horn. We finally left after a minute, with the doors being locked to prevent unauthorized entry. There was a highway on the left passing over the KYN bypass for freights. Then another highway passed over as we picked up speed. Our loco seemed to have 2 HT horns, including a shrill whine! We blasted through Ambernath station and a Plasmatron factory accompanied by melodious twin-tone honking (the melodious HT horn being used more).

There was a slow down from Badlapur home onwards before we passed the station at 08 04 – there were Plasser Machines on a siding in the left. Now we were thundering along, since the culprit responsible for our delay so far (the Badlapur fast local that had arrived at its destination, and which we were trailing); no longer hindered us 😛 . Slowed down just as we neared KJT, and I saw a triplet of bankers – KYN WAG7s 27102, 27150 and 27375 (the first two were in Tigerface livery and the 3rd in the standard blue livery as seen in most WAG7s). Pulled into the station (PF1) at 08 28, 23 mins late. However, we had covered the last 33 km (from Badlapur) in 24 mins at an average speed of 82.5 kmph 🙂 . 2 families got in during the 8 minute-halt. I dozed off and thus missed the Bhor Ghats.

Woke up as we reached Lonavala at 09 10, 22 mins late; on PF1. Many people got down here and a few got in. In the ETS I saw Tigerface liveried KYN WAG7 27130 and its blue shed-mate WAG7 27374. We left after a stop of 4 mins. An announcement was made for 11024 KOP-CSMT Sahyadri express to arrive shortly on PF2. The loopline cross-over speed was just 10 kmph. There was a proposed site for a Rail Museum in the left. On a siding in the left were KYN WDG3As 13638 and 13619 coupled together. We soon picked up speed and zipped through scenery while skipping Malavli at MPS, accompanied by honking and amazing clickety clack track sounds 🙂 .

The sight of the Indrayani river added to the adrenaline gushing through my veins 😀 .

 

There was a slow down to observe a TSR of 90 kmph at Kamshet. After we picked up speed, the inconsistency in the run showed up again as we slowed down from Vadgaon home before picking up the pace through the station; only to crawl from Talegaon home onwards. The culprit was a BCNA freight standing in the mainline at the station; which we overtook on the loopline at 30 kmph. Lines going to freight sidings branched off to the left before Begdewadi; joining us again before Dehu Road – where we overtook another BCNA rake hauled by BIA WAG9 31539 (and a dead WDG4 behind) at MPS. However, the fast run did not last long as we crawled from Akurdi home before accelerating after passing the station. The culprit this time was a blue-and-white twin ALCO pair in the left at Chinchwad (there were also container wagons in the distant left). Soon we were again ripping away with melodious twin-tone honking, the LT horn being used more now.

However, this run too was ephemeral; as we slowed down from Dapodi 😛 . The road-bridge over the dirty Mula-Mutha river was being expanded. We crawled through Khadki before briefly picking up speed. There was a pond in the left before we arrived at SVJR at 10 08, 25 mins late. The coach rapidly (and predictably 😛 ) emptied here during the brief 1-minute halt. The loopline speed here was 15 kmph. At the Pune ETS, there were a variety of locos – BRC WAP5 30070, Ajni WAP7 30489, BRC WAP4 22676, KYN WCAM2-6P 21861, KYN WCAM2P 21863 and BSL WAP4 22245. Near PF6 of Pune was BRC WAP4 22918. PF6 was occupied by the rake of 12136 NGP-Pune superfast. KJM WDP4D 40279 stood on a siding; the odd one among the largely electric crowd 😛 . We pulled into PF2 at 10 19, 22 mins late.

Thus came to an end an inconsistent run that had quite a few brilliant patches in between; but ultimately the train ended up more than 20 mins late – not very good for a daytime intercity covering a short distance 😦 . Hope you at least found this blog interesting! 😉

Technical Terms

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

LP – Loco Pilot

HT – High Tone

LT – Low Tone

ETS – Electric Loco Trip Shed

MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed

TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction

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

Station Codes

AMI – Amravati (in Maharashtra)

CSMT – Mumbai CST

KYN – Kalyan

HWH – Howrah

SRC – Santragachchi

MAQ – Mangalore Central

LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (or just Kurla Terminus)

DR – Dadar (Central)

UBL – Hubli

NGP – Nagpur

GKP – Gorakhpur

BSB – Varanasi

BSL – Bhusaval

KOP – Kolhapur

GZB – Ghaziabad

BIA – Bhilai

SVJR – Shivajinagar

KJT – Karjat

BRC – Vadodara

KJM – Krishnarajapuram

SUR – Solapur

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