A leisurely sojourn by the ‘Food King’ – Part 1

Yes, as the title suggests; it was a trip by the ‘Food King’ of Indian Railways – 10103 CSMT-MAO Mandovi express. IMHO, there could not have been a better way to start the last month of the year; than a train trip through Konkan Railway. Moreover, with a variety of mouth-watering delicacies to savour while taking in the gorgeous scenery of KR; it was easy to select Mandovi as the train of choice. The destination? Kudal, an important town in Sindhudurg district in Maharashtra. Mandovi would reach there by 15 53, leaving me more than 3 hours buffer for the return train – 11004 SWV-DR Tutari express.

However, there was a hitch; I had been tracking the train’s status daily through https://etrain.info/in and http://konkanrailway.com:8080/VisualTrain/# – the train was getting regularly delayed by 1.5 – 2 hours during the course of its journey. Hence, I decided to get down at Kankavli (another important station; 2 stations before Kudal) instead; which would ensure a buffer of almost 4.5 hours – more than enough even in the event of a delay exceeding 3 hours. On the day of the journey (Dec 1), I woke up around 05 20, completed my morning routine, took bath and left my home in an hour’s time; taking an auto till Vikhroli station, whereon I took a local to Dadar.

12138 Firozpur Mumbai Punjab Mail was announced as running 1.5 hours late. 17058 SC-CSMT Devagiri express arrived on Platform 6 at 07 09 (32 mins late) behind mega-offlink LDH WAP4 22691! :O 11007 Mumbai Pune Deccan express arrived on PF5 at 07 17 (6 mins late) with chocolate brown KYN WCAM2-6P 21869. After it departed 3 mins later, 17412 KOP-CSMT Mahalaxmi express came on PF6 at 07 21; 24 mins late. My train Mandovi express pulled into the platform vacated by Deccan exp at 07 28 (6 mins late), headed by KYN WDP4D 40277.

We departed after a halt of 3 mins. My coach S3 was an ancient Sleeper Class coach of 1998 make, but still had plug points in all bays, mirrors in the main bays as well as bio-toilets! :O I had a non-trackside Side Upper berth, but to my luck it was an open emergency window; which meant that I could enjoy wide views without bars in between! 🙂 We had a fast run till Mulund home signal, barring the PSR before Vidyavihar. Pulled into PF5 of Thane at 07 53, 7 mins late. The Deccan Odessey was on PF8. Many people boarded our train. An express to Mumbai rushed through PF6 – any idea which train this could have been? We departed after a stop of 5 mins.

My ticket was checked. I observed a PSR of 20 kmph on the lines joining us from Kopar. A WAG9 crossed with a container freight after Dativli. I had breakfast comprising upma and the sweet Sheera. Then I took a nap before waking up as we entered PF6 of Panvel at 08 43, 18 mins late. An announcement was made for 69165 Panvel Vasai Road MEMU to arrive shortly on PF5. We left after a halt of 8 mins. Saw ED WDG3A 13495 on a siding to the right. The line to Karjat curved sharply to the left. A highway passed under us as we picked up speed. Soon we blasted through Somtane (spotted Pune WDG4 70010 just outside), followed by a CFS; and raced vehicles on the road giving us company for a brief while in the left.

There was a factory near Apta (a famous Bollywood shooting spot), while we were surrounded by mountains in the distant left. After a murky river, we passsed through 2 tunnels. There were many curves in the route, which gave me an opportunity to observe the rake formation as well as our EMD. We passed under a road bridge and there was some construction work going on as we slowed down before Jite for a TSR of 60 kmph. This was followed by 3 sharp curves, a bridge over a stream and a temple. We again picked up the pace after Hamrapur and there was another sharp curve as well as a river before we zipped through Pen at MPS. Then we again slowed down and passed a packed LC, followed by some beautiful scenery (in the form of greenery, trees, big mountains and ponds) till Kasu. After this, there were 2 more rivers.

Greenery between Kasu and Nagothane
Dry patches in between the greenery

There was a rocky outcrop near Nagothane. At the station, there was a BOXN rake on a siding in the distant left; while KJM WDG4 12637 occupied a siding in the immediate left. As we picked up speed, a highway passed under us; followed by another bridge over a river. There was a lot of lateral separation between the UP and DOWN tracks. After yet another sharp curve, there were some rock cuttings and another tunnel.

Mountains in the distant left
More mountain scenery
PSR on a bridge over a stream

We then made an unscheduled halt at Roha (PF3) for 12 mins. On the left was Pune WDG4 12663. The station was deserted but peaceful and scenic, with a lot of trees. KR territory begins after this station; so the delays would only mount as a result, being an entirely single-line section.

My coach S3 at a tranquil Roha station
Superb shelter provided by the trees
On a curve as KR begins after Roha

I observed that our loco was a decent smoker. We soon started blasting away, before slowing down over Godi river; more of a murky stream! Meanwhile,  I had a plate of delicious Khanda Bhajjis. We had our second unscheduled halt at Kolad. On the left was a board displaying the Roha to Veer line doubling work being executed by SRC Company. There were two trains on the right – 50105 Diva-SWV passenger (the culprit which had blocked our path at Roha) and 50104 RN-DR passenger (on the extreme right) with offlink ED WDG4 12914. 50104 departed soon, but even then we waited. After some time, a train hauled by an ALCO (going by its melodious HT horn) arrived on the platform which 50104 had vacated. Then we finally departed; after a long stop of 14 mins. In the process we overtook 50105; its loco was ED WDM3D 11193

We started ripping again with melodious clickety clack sounds and passed a bridge over a stream before reaching Mangaon at 10 57, 25 mins late. As we left after a halt of 2 mins, I could hear our EMD’s horns clearly – there were 2 HT horns (both of the pure EMD variety) and an electric-type LT horn. I could also hear the humming of the beast faintly at times. There was a beautiful river, followed by scenery in the form of trees and mountains in the distant left again. Then we passed over Dhanana river which was more of a small stream.

Mountain greenery and racing vehicles on the road
Broad and beautiful river after Veer

We encountered the first tunnel in KR after Veer; which is the station for Mahad. This was just the start, as we soon rocketed through a combination of mountains, greenery, tunnels and viaducts. There was a PSR through a long tunnel after Karanjadi, followed by many rock cuttings.

Brown mixes with green – dry patches along with the greenery, trees and mountains
Greenery and mountains everywhere; a warm welcome by KR!

19331 KCVL-INDB express was stopped for us at Vinhere as we sped through. Passed the dry Mallikarjun river before slowing down in the very long Natuwadi Tunnel. Then we picked up speed to pass a viaduct over a road and blasted through Diwan Khavati. There were more bridges and a river before we arrived at Khed at 11 55, half an hour late. 

Khed, another scenic station in KR
The FOB to connect the platforms enhances the charm of the station

After Khed we passed through Bhosthe Tunnel on a big curve, followed by the usual tunnels, viaducts and scenery; before another unscheduled halt at Anjani for a crossing.  It was a leisurely run so far, with the train being held up for signals and crossings and the delays would only mount further during the journey – hence the title of this blog post.

Quiet and charming Anjani
The panoramic view compensates for the lack of facilities at the station!

Meanwhile, I had an extremely tasty lunch of Veg. Fried Rice with Gobi Manchurian Gravy. We pulled into PF1 of Chiplun at 12 38, 42 mins late. I will wrap up the blog here for now and continue the rest in Part 2 – please stay tuned! 🙂

Technical Abbreviations

  • PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
  • MEMU – Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (or non-suburban local)
  • CFS – Container Freight Station
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • EMD – Electro-Motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • LC – Level Crossing
  • HT – High Tone
  • LT – Low Tone
  • FOB – Foot Overbridge

Station Codes

  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • MAO – Madgaon
  • SWV – Savantwadi Road
  • DR – Dadar (Central Railway)
  • SC – Secunderabad
  • LDH – Ludhiana
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • KOP – Kolhapur
  • ED – Erode
  • KJM – Krishnarajapuram
  • RN – Ratnagiri
  • KCVL – Kochuveli
  • INDB – Indore

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