It was going to be yet another long train journey from Mumbai to Chennai – yep, you guessed it – by 11027 Mumbai Chennai Mail. The 4th time in 6 months – boringly predictable to most of you by now….or so it seemed. Early on the day of the journey (April 30) I was just tracking the running status of 11042 MAS-CSMT express (the train with which 11027 has an RSA) on https://etrain.info/in – to my shock, the train was running more than 5 hours late! As I feared, 11027 eventually got rescheduled by 4 hours (to leave CSMT at 03 45 early the next morning instead of 23 45 in the night! :O ) thanks to 11042 arriving 6+ hours late! Later I found out that the late running of 11042 was due to a major maintenance block at AJJ (lasting about 2 weeks) https://www.irctchelp.in/2016/01/all-special-train-blocks-updates-2016.html – as per etrain 11042 was stuck at AJJ for almost 2 hours on April 29th, after starting from MAS 1 hour late!
I left my home by around 11 pm, intending to spend a few hours in the Upper Class AC waiting room at CSMT; as it wouldn’t be safe to travel in the locals beyond midnight. 12860 Howrah Mumbai Geetanjali express led by SRC WAP4 22529 overtook my local at Matunga – the train was running close to 3 hours late. I just about managed to get a seat in the waiting room, since there was a big crowd; I guess most of them were travelling in 11027! Announcements were repeatedly made for 01079 CSMT-KCVL special to depart from Platform 17 – important of course, but made it harder for me to get a decent sleep! 😦 More unhelpful was the temperature of the AC (predictably 😛 ). After 2 hours, I finally gave up and instead shifted to the adjacent non AC waiting room! 😛 There I ironically found it easier to sleep (even if it was not for much), before waking up around 02 45. I saw many passengers leave and head towards the platforms, which meant that the rake of our train must have finally been shunted to its designated platform. As expected, 11027 was on PF14. My coach B1 was of a 2013 make; next to an extra coach B2 and closer to the rear.
Our loco was KYN WCAM2P 21863.
There were plug points in all bays as well as bio toilets. The seats and cushions had a pleasing maroon brown hue. I soon clambered on to my UB and slept after having my ticket checked. Added to our very late departure, the going was slow as well; and we took almost 5 hours to reach Pune. I had a solid sleep of close to 8 hours, though I woke up a few times in between. I could make out that we were being hauled by an EMD post Pune, going by the pull of the loco and its unique horn. We had a long halt at Bhigwan, during which a raging ALCO with a shrill horn crossed us with an express – probably 11406 Amravati Pune express. There was a brief stop at Jinti Road home signal, following which we accelerated through the station; crossing a BCNA freight in the process.
I noticed that our loco was a strong smoker. There were many rock cuttings and mounds before we crossed the Ujjaini Reservoir (created through the Dam on Bhima River).
We then crossed a river at MPS before Parewadi – where we crossed another freight. There was another river with mounds of waste in it. There was a good amount of freight action, as we overtook a twin WDG4 hauled freight at Washimbe. Reached Jeur at 12 31, 6 hours 3 mins late. Here we halted for 3 mins. There were fields and rock cuttings before we crossed another WDG4 hauled freight at Bhalwani. Then there were plantains and rock cuttings before we pulled into Kem at 12 51. It was a long stop. 18520 LTT-VSKP express, which had been hot on our heels; arrived behind KYN WDP4D 40233 and made an unscheduled halt.
I sensed that there was a crossing. Sure enough, 11302 SBC-CSMT Udyan express rushed past behind Pune WDP4 40144.
Already running 6+ hours late, I thought we would be overtaken by 18520 (which is a faster train). Instead we were given the proceed and departed at 13 08, after a halt lasting 17 mins. Crossed a freight hauled by twin ALCOs (Leading – Orange & Cream livery; trailing – blue-white livery) at Dhavalas. There was an LC with a lot of vehicles before we arrived at KWV (PF4) at 13 26, 5 hrs 26 mins late – a good amount of slack between Kem and KWV reducing our delay. There was a pair of AEB-fitted UBL WDG4s (Leading – 12324) on the right. There was another pair of UBL WDG4s (Leading – 12156) on the left. At Wadsinge, we crossed an EMD-led express waiting for us on the right (probably 16340 NCJ-CSMT express) as well as a WDG4 with a freight carrying Steel coils in the distant right. Then we crossed 71414 Solapur Pune DEMU and another LC before Madha; where there was a TSR of 90 kmph on the right track. After that we crossed yet another freight pulled by a WDG4. I had Veg. Biryani for a late lunch.
Noticed that one of the bio toilets at the front of the coach had a “Bio toilet” sign even though it was not actually a bio toilet :O ! At Mohol, there was a sleeper factory which also housed cranes and lorries in sheds. There were also coconut trees in the distant right and a highway across us. We crossed a train having coaches in CR daytime livery headed by an ALCO – probably 12170 Solapur Pune Intercity express. Then there was a bridge over a river with small islands after Mundhewadi. The scenery continued, in the form of sugarcane and corn fields, as well as another bridge over a stream. We overtook a WDG4D hauled freight at Pakni. Then there were sugarcane and maize fields, stacks of hay, hay huts and cottages, cow sheds and meadows. At Bale, there was an empty and sparkling clean DEMU rake on the right. We crossed an orange and cream ALCO with an express. Then there were twin WDG4s with a freight on the right-most track. As we entered SUR, I saw a flatbed rake on the right which departed towards GR. Pulled into PF1 at 14 50, 5 hrs 20 mins late. I saw that our loco was KYN WDP4D 40260.
There were twin WDG3As – 14898 of GTL and 13263 of KJM; next to the rake of 12157 Pune Solapur Hutatma express (An AC Observation Car in the front).
The station was crowded as usual.
18520 arrived on PF3 at 15 01, 36 mins late. Will we again proceed ahead of this train or will it overtake us? How would the rest of our run to MAS shape up? I leave it here on a tantalizing note; you will be forced to wait till Part 2 to hear more 😛 .
EMD – Electromotive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
LC – Level Crossing
MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
AEB – Auto Emergency Brake
DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or just diesel local train 😛 )
MAS – Chennai Central
CSMT – Mumbai CST
SRC – Santragachchi
KCVL – Kochuveli
AJJ – Arakkonam
KYN – Kalyan
LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (or Kurla Terminus)
VSKP – Visakhapatnam
SBC – Bangalore City
KWV – Kurduvadi
UBL – Hubli
NCJ – Nagercoil Junction
SUR – Solapur
GTL – Guntakal
KJM – Krishnarajapuram