Cometh the end of the year, cometh a trip to Chennai; to meet family and friends. However, there was a difference this time – instead of taking the supercrawler 11027 Mumbai Chennai Mail, I had chosen 22920 ADI-MAS Humsafar express; ‘Humsafar’ being a new class of LHB trains with only AC 3 Tier accomodation but with additional facilities – coffee vending machines (not applicable in this train’s case since it has a pantry car 😛 ), CCTVs, smoke and heat detectors, devices to preserve the heat of food cooked; and a display board showing the real-time location of the train. Since the train originates from ADI, I had to board it at Panvel; from where it departs at 23 40 every Monday and reaches MAS at 22 35 the next night.
On the day of the journey (the eve of Christmas), I left my home by 9 pm after dinner and took an auto to Vikhroli station; from where I took a local train to Thane. 22107 Mumbai Latur superfast chugged into Platform 5 at 21 46 (12 mins late) behind KYN WDG3A ‘Shakti’ 13579. It departed after a halt of 2 mins with a long and melodious HT horn. On PF7 KYN WDP4D 40277 and KYN WDM3Ds 11374 and 11254 were standing together. 17057 CSMT-SC Devagiri express arrived at 21 52 (10 mins late) on PF5 and 51154 BSL-CSMT passenger pulled into PF6 at 21 53, 3 hours 40 mins late (as usual!! wonder what’s the matter with this train as it gets so late repeatedly in spite of being a passenger? :O ).
I boarded a Trans-Harbour local to Panvel. While leaving the station we overtook Devagiri; which was hauled by a WCAM3. The going was slow, as there was a TSR of 50 kmph between Rabale and Ghansoli; and we had a halt of 11 mins at Koparkhairane home signal! :O We also crawled for a while before Nerul and were thus overtaken by a local coming from Kurla side at a good speed. There was a tunnel between Seawoods Darave and Belapur CBD. Then there was a broad river with an island in between as well as a lot of marshland before Manasarovar. The marshland continued till Khandeshwar. I spotted Pune WDG4 12388 at a siding before we reached Panvel. As I got down, I saw a Container freight hauled by CNB WAG9Hi 32093 depart towards Mumbai side.
I had to walk some distance to reach the long-distance train platforms; as the tracks are not connected with the suburban lines. I climbed over the FOB to reach PF7, where my train would arrive. UBL WDG4s 12070 and 12147 passed through the same platform, away from Mumbai side; honking loudly.
There were many dogs at the station and they were snapping, snarling, barking and growling at each other 😛 . Meanwhile, 12133 CSMT-MAJN superfast arrived at 23 35 (23 mins late) on PF6; led by KYN WDM3D 11362. It departed after a stop of 7 mins. My train then arrived on PF7 with BRC WAP4E 22769. After I boarded my coach B13 (which was towards the rear), I found an old Maharashtrian lady occupying my lower berth. I informed her that it was my seat, but she asked me to instead sleep on the upper berth. Since I was quite exhausted by then, I angrily retorted that I had reserved the LB. As the lady was reluctantly about to get up, I had a change of heart and grudgingly agreed to sleep on the UB; on the condition that I would have the window seat in the morning. She agreed; saying that she was anyway travelling till Pune only! So matter resolved, albeit with some unnecessary rudeness from my side! 😦
After clambering up to my UB, I couldn’t fall asleep immediately. Could notice that we stopped for a long time somewhere before Karjat before I finally managed to get some shuteye. Then I was woken up a short while later as we pulled into Pune at 02 56, 11 mins late. A train with 5 AC coaches on the right led by a chocolate brown KYN WCAM2-6P departed towards Mumbai – probably 12164 Chennai Dadar superfast. A lot of people got down (including the old Maharashtrian lady) and an equally huge number of people boarded. I reclaimed my LB and fell asleep again only once we departed after a very long halt. When I woke up in the morning, it was already past nine. I washed my face and brushed my teeth before having some tea.
To my dismay, the door knob of the toilet which I used was broken! Meanwhile, we had an unscheduled halt at Sawalgi for 4 mins; as 11302 SBC-CSMT Udyan express crossed us behind a continuously honking and smoking Pune WDP4D 40417. I observed that the doubling work between Hunsil Hadgil and Gulbarga was progressing at a good pace, with the track having been laid in many places. Reached Gulbarga at 09 50, 7 mins early. There was a BCNA rake headed by a WDG4D and a WDG4 on the right. After a stop of 10 mins, we departed and started blasting away soon; the platform being on the mainline. I had breakfast consisting of a tasty plate of dhoklas (the train having its base at ADI 🙂 ) as we crossed some arid land followed by meadows, before skipping Shahabad at MPS. This was followed by the broad and perennial Kagini river; over which there was a TSR.
There was a PSR of 10 kmph on the line to the ACC Cement factory; I could see a plume of white smoke rising from the chimney. We pulled into PF2 of Wadi at 10 30 for a technical halt (yes! this train doesn’t have a commercial halt here! :O ). Spotted Pune WDP4D 40262 on a siding in the distant right. 57134 RC-BJP passenger arrived on PF1. A BOXN freight hauled by GY WDG4s 12454 and 12496 departed from PF3. We left after a stop of 10 mins. I noticed that there were strong LHB jerks while departing. Saw a Rajdhani-liveried WAP1 in the distant right. The turn-out speed was 30 kmph unlike the 15 kmph present at most junctions 🙂 . There was a lot of lateral separation between the DOWN and UP tracks after we crossed the outer.
16594 SBC-NED express crossed us with APU-fitted GTL WDM3A 14013R. There was a solar factory on the right before we ripped through Nalwar; where 11018 KIK-LTT express was standing. Then there was a tank covered with moss in the far right. Now the UP track was at a much higher level.
I had forgotten to mention that; among the passengers who had boarded at Pune in the middle of the night, there was a large Tamil family of 8; including a mother of 2 boys who had boarded our coach B13. However, this lady’s sister and her two young daughters had got accomodation in coach B8 – 6 coaches away (the Pantry Car, or rather the Hot Buffet Car as is the case in LHB trains, also being one of them!). In order to ensure that this family was united in B13 in the same row, I (along with a young Maharashtrian couple) moved to B8 with bag and baggage and settled there. Luckily the 3 of us got the same bay and I again had the LB! 🙂 The Tamil family ensured that the shift to B8 was smooth and completed with no fuss for me and the Maharashtrian couple.
Meanwhile, we blasted through Yadgir and overtook a nearly 3 hours late running 71301 SUR-GTL DEMU in the process! :O There was another solar factory on the left before we skipped Saidapur (where there were massive piles of sleepers stacked up) at MPS. I saw goats, lambs and sheep grazing everywhere before we skipped Krishna station at a slow pace. Then we crossed the partially dry Krishna river.
We crossed a stationary Birla Cement rake at Yadalapur, before the impressive RTPS loomed with its towering Cooling Towers and Chimneys.
We had another unscheduled stop at Chiksugur for 2 mins. This was followed by another factory with its own set of railway lines.
We had yet another unscheduled halt at Yermaras and this was a really long one – 21 mins. An express blasted past us in the meantime. After we finally started moving again, we overtook a stationary Concor freight on the left with APU-fitted KZJ WDM3As 16388R and 16683R. This was followed by many sugarcane fields, an MSPI factory, a stadium being constructed and a temple; before we reached Raichur at 12 34, 9 mins early in spite of all these unscheduled stops – indicative of an ample amount of slack! 😛 I shall wind up for the present and continue the rest in Part 2; please bear with me till then! 😀
- LHB – Linke-Hofmann-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features; used in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis , and many Durontos and AC expresses)
- APU – Auxiliary Power Unit (specifically for charging the loco batteries when it is idle)
- HT – High Tone
- TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
- FOB – Foot Over-bridge
- MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
- PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
- RTPS – Raichur Thermal Power Station
- ADI – Ahmedabad
- MAS – Chennai Central
- KYN – Kalyan
- CSMT – Mumbai CST
- SC – Secunderabad
- BSL – Bhusaval
- CNB – Kanpur
- UBL – Hubli
- MAJN – Mangalore Junction (Kankanadi)
- BRC – Vadodara
- SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City/Majestic)
- RC – Raichur
- BJP – Bijapur
- GY – Gooty
- GTL – Guntakal
- NED – Nanded
- KIK – Karaikal
- LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
- SUR – Solapur
- KZJ – Kazipet