Yes. As you might have guessed. Another long and tedious journey (not for me though! 😛 ) by the famous supercrawler – 11027 Mumbai Chennai Mail. Well, it is almost impossible to get reservation (especially in AC) in any other train; unless you book at least 3 months in advance! That too, given the day of the journey – Tuesday 14th August; just before Independence Day! With Parsi New Year coming on Friday 17th, it was indeed a perfect time for a nice holiday; for most working professionals! 😀 Anyway, on the D-Day, I left my home by around 21 40 and took an auto to Vikhroli. There I was greeted with the sight of 11139 Mumbai Gadag express, hauled by KYN WDG3A ‘Shakti’ 13360, honking and chugging through the station; and crossing 17618 Nanded Mumbai Tapovan express at the same time.
Then I took a slow local to Dadar, before deciding to change to a Fast thereon. Accordingly, I shifted from Platform 3 to Platform 6. I was waiting for the 22 01 local, which was already quite late; and then got further delayed – as a WDS6-AD with 2 coaches (1 AC Jan Shatabdi coach, but in the regular blue-cyan livery instead) passed through PF6. The local eventually arrived 25 minutes late. To my surprise, we crawled under Arthur Bridge at Chinchpokli and almost came to a stop, before changing to the slow track prior to Byculla! :O Then we overtook Tapovan express at Sandhurst Road, but it eventually caught up with us as we stopped at Masjid for clearance. I saw that its loco was KYN WCAM3 21953. At CSMT, I saw that the loco for 22106 Pune Mumbai Indrayani express (on PF8) was Pune WDM3D 11388. On PF11 KYN WCAM3 21884 was resting, and on PF12 was UBL WDP4 20035. Tapovan arrived (as usual) on PF13.
My train was berthed on its customary PF14. My coach B2 was 6th from the engine and only B3 separated us from the Pantry Car. B2 was of a 2010 make and had plug points in all bays; as well as mirrors in the main bays. I had a trackside window 🙂 . The cushions were of a pleasant maroon brown hue. I saw the temperature settings – 19 to 21 degrees Celsius in winter; and 23 to 25 degrees Celsius in summer. Our electric power till Pune was KYN WCAM3 21957 – towing along with it a dead WCAM3 21931.
We departed at 23 46, a minute late. On a siding, I spotted twin KYN WDP3As in Tejas livery (leading – 15544). On departing from Dadar, we had a parallel run with 11003 DR-SWV Tutari express led by KYN WDG3A ‘Shakti’ 13604; before eventually overtaking the latter. After blasting through Thane at MPS, we overtook a stationary Container freight behind a WAG9 coming from the Thane bypass on the Turbhe line. Meanwhile, my ticket was checked; as I voluntarily displayed my e-ticket; the TTE only cross-checked the seat number with me. To my surprise, rather than crawling; we entered KYN at a decent speed and came to a smooth stop on PF4 – at 00 49, 12 mins late. 11057 CSMT-ASR ‘Pathankot’ express departed almost immediately afterwards from PF5, only to come to a stop. It eventually started moving two minutes later, but again came to a stop; before finally pulling out at 00 53 (20 mins late) !! :O A case of alarm-chain pulling, perhaps?
Anyway, I soon clambered up to my side-upper berth and went to sleep after a while. I woke up a few times during the night as well as early morning; and could thus make out (from the manner of acceleration as well as the unique horn) that we were being headed by an EMD post-Pune, and that we stopped for a few crossings. When I finally climbed down from my SUB, it was around 09 45. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, as we pulled into SUR at 09 57; 27 mins late. We were on PF3. There were 2 DEMU rakes on the right, on the same platform. On PF1 lay 57659 Solapur Falaknuma passenger behind GTL WDM3D 11450.
Our diesel power was KYN WDG4 12668.
We departed after a halt of 13 mins. The acceleration of the WDG4 was superb, as we blasted through a lake covered mostly in moss. At Hotgi, the loopline speed was 30 kmph; and there was a DEMU on the right. There were also twin KJM WDG4s 12027 and 12029 in a unique navy blue-cyan livery, on the distant right. As we departed after a stop of just 1 minute, I saw the sugar factory as well as the line to Bijapur on the right.
We then passed through typical rural scenery with a lot of cow sheds, a lady shepherding a herd of goats and lambs, lots of trees; and bushes and shrubs. Crossed an express with a WDP4B/D; probably 11302 SBC-CSMT Udyan express. After AKOR, there were corn, sugarcane and maize fields, cattle grazing, sunflowers, plants grown in neat rows; and a man-made tank for irrigation. We blasted through Nagansur at MPS, after which I could observe good progress in doubling (there is a 72 km single line section till GR). We made an unscheduled halt at Boroti for a minute, on the mainline – there was a passenger train on the left, headed in the opposite direction. There was also a BOXN rake on our right, which we later overtook – its loco was UBL WDG4 12149. Track has been laid in patches on the right; along with ballast piled up neatly, sleepers stacked up, and land levelled.
We then passed through more countryside scenery, comprising sugarcane and maize fields, cow sheds, meadows, plantains etc. The sight of huts and shanties indicated the arrival of Dudhani, where there was a BCNA freight hauled by GTL WDG3A 14995 and GY WDG3A 13067 on the right. I saw track again laid in patches before Kulali, as we entered Karnataka. Then we blasted through Gaudgaon.
Reached GUR at 11 41, 28 mins late. Here the freight action continued, as another BOXN rake headed by GTL WDG3A twins 13245 and 14686 departed from the loop on the right. Then we stopped before Hunsil Hadgil for clearance for 3 minutes.
It soon became clear that the reason for this halt was a scissor-crossing with 57134 Raichur Bijapur passenger at the station ahead! 😉 We accelerated, with our EMD blowing its unique horn and belching out smoke; while the passenger reversed behind its Pune WDM3D 11457 – it would then take our line!
After this unusual crossing, the WDG4 once again showed its prowess as we touched MPS before slowing to a crawl and almost stopping before Sawalgi. Then we accelerated again and crossed a BCNA freight (powers: KZJ WDM3A 18895R and BZA WDM3A 18763R) at a good speed at the station. From here the doubling work is in full flow once more, as track has been laid in patches on the right; till GR. I also saw a clump of eucalyptus trees as well as a road on the right, before we ripped through Bablad at MPS; honking all the way. Pulled into GR (PF1) at 12 17, 32 mins late. Here I shall wrap up for now; and continue the rest of the journey in Part 2. Please bear with me till then! 😛
MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
EMD – Electromotive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or diesel local train)
KYN – Kalyan
UBL – Hubli
CSMT – Mumbai CST
DR – Dadar (Central)
SWV – Savantwadi Road
ASR – Amritsar
SUR – Solapur
KJM – Krishnarajapuram
SBC – Bangalore City
AKOR – Akkalkot Road
GR – Gulbarga
GY – Gooty
GTL – Guntakal
GUR – Ganagapur Road
KZJ – Kazipet
BZA – Vijaywada