Flattering to deceive, yet again – Part 2

12125 Mumbai Pune Pragati express is a very important train for officegoers between Mumbai and Pune (especially for those from Navi Mumbai) and is one of the 4 dedicated superfasts connecting the 2 cities. However, it always flatters to deceive as far as punctuality is concerned (hence the title of this blog post! 😛 ). On Saturday May 18th it was no different; we had departed Panvel at 17 51, 21 minutes late already and we were not even at the halfway stage! 😛 For the run from CSMT to Panvel, please refer Part 1: https://ashwinkumar1989.online/2019/05/26/flattering-to-deceive-yet-again-part-1/ . We crossed a river (partly covered with moss! 😦 ) soon after exiting the junction limits.

We picked up speed on a big curve and were soon ripping through mountains and greenery; accompanied by goats, lambs and sheep grazing. In between, we crossed the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in style over a bridge. Our WCAM2 was toying with the small rake and I was treated to a musical combination of clickety clack track sounds and honking 🙂 . Whenever I’ve travelled in the Panvel-Karjat route, I’ve always heard the same track sounds – they are unique and I have rarely noticed such sounds in other routes. Is it because of the way the tracks have been welded? Anyway, there were some rock cuttings soon after. The mountains towered over us in a formidable manner; despite the lack of greenery.

Following a short tunnel, we slowed down; before picking up speed again quickly and ripping through Chowk, horns blaring. Then we crossed another river with a dam (with the letters “Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation” written in Hindi) in the distant left.

We passed through more rock cuttings before slowing down through a long tunnel; where water was dripping from the walls and a man (probably a railway employee) was standing. Had an unscheduled stop of 15-20 seconds at the outer, before joining the mainline at Karjat.

About to join the main line from Kalyan to Karjat

We pulled into Platform 1 of Karjat at 18 23, 16 mins late. There was a long LT toot by the bankers attached at our rear (for the climb up the Bhor Ghats), followed by a gap of a minute; before the same toot was blown again – as we departed after a halt of 5 mins. I don’t understand why this practice was followed. Anyway, we crawled out of the junction and maintained that speed till Palasdhari; thanks to a Car Carrier Rake (belonging to TRAC1 Logistics and hauled by LGD WAG9 31179) that we had to overtake through the loop line. In the meantime, a local from Khopoli crossed us at a good speed. We finally accelerated through a big curve and crossed a largely dry stream. The Bhor Ghat views were breathtaking as ever, despite being the summer season! 🙂

There was a long TSR of 30 kmph before Thakurwadi. Then we crossed a pair of WAG7 bankers. There were some people living in tents nearby! :O The greenery as we approached Khandala was magnificent; again despite being the summer! 🙂

Yellow lights shone as we crossed the longest tunnel in the ghats; before crawling through Khandala (there was another TSR). Then we raced some vehicles on the highway before Lonavala. I saw a rather rundown looking water park on the left, before we pulled into PF1 of Lonavala at 19 10, 22 mins late. Many people got down here! I spotted KYN WAG7s 27110 and 27124, as well as WCAM3 218X1; in the ETS on the left. We departed after a stop of 2 mins; with a long and melodious HT horn. Meanwhile, as I went to answer the call of nature; I noticed that the Indian toilet at the rear (though furnished in home style) was dirty and not much water gushed out from the flush 😦 . We quickly picked up speed, before slowing down for a TSR of 45 kmph before Malavli. Crossed the Pune-Lonavala local which is supposed to serve as a connection to 22106 Pune Mumbai Indrayani express at Lonavala.

After we again started ripping post-Malavli, Indrayani raced past us with its usual EMD. The LP had his foot firmly on the accelerator till Kanhe (except for the PSR of 90 kmph at Kamshet) ; and liberally used all the 3 horns (the HT whine was used less though). As we slowed down to a crawl (there was a TSR of 20 kmph), I could see the full moon up in the sky (being Buddha Purnima!) and it looked beautiful 🙂 . Another EMD-led train crossed us slowly; probably 16532 SBC-AII Garib Nawaz express. I noticed a man-made pond in the left. Yet another EMD-headed train crossed us just 6 mins later; it had an Utkrisht rake – possibly an almost 3 hours late running 11302 SBC-CSMT Udyan express? This train has become a notorious late-runner off late in the UP direction! 😛 Meanwhile, the beautiful presence of lights all around the mountains indicated the settlements nestled around this picturesque setting 🙂 .

We had a really fast run from Vadgaon to Ghorawadi, except for the PSR of 80 kmph at Talegaon. After Begdewadi, yet another train crossed us behind a WCAM3 – probably an almost 1.5 hours late running 16340 NCJ-CSMT express. So we had crossed 4 trains in less than half an hour; and that was excluding the local to Lonavala! Gosh..quite some traffic indeed in the UP direction! 😀 We then thundered through Dehu Road, honking madly and overtaking a local to SVJR in the process – this was the culprit behind our slowdown at Ghorawadi! 😛 Anyway, the fast run (accompanied by rhythmic clickety clack track sounds) more or less continued till SVJR home signal, but lacked consistency; for we slowed down 4 times in between.

There was a beautiful pond before we reached SVJR at 20 05, 27 mins late. Predictably, the coach almost emptied here! We left after a minute; with the LP blowing a long HT whine, followed by a short HT melody. There was a TSR of 85 kmph, before we crossed another local. As we crawled through the Pune yard, I saw the rake of the Pune-Daund-Baramati DEMU on the left; a lady was sitting inside! :O There was the usual variety of locos in and around the ETS – GZB WAP7 30223, Ajni WAP7 39003, BZA WAP4 22214, GZB WAP7 30217, ET WAP4 22799, TKD WAP7 30665 and KYN WCAM3 21899. We had a halt of a minute for clearance, before limping into PF5 of Pune at 20 19, 29 mins late! 😦

Thus Pragati had again flattered to deceive, taking 3 hrs 53 mins for a distance of 189 km – at an average speed of 48.67 kmph; a far cry from the threshold limit of 55 kmph for superfasts! 😦 There were multiple instances where we lost time:

  1. We took 25 mins from Dadar to Thane, as against the allotted 16 mins (of course unrealistic for a distance of 25 km; demanding an average speed of 93.75 kmph in such a crowded suburban section! :O ) It didn’t help that the run from Dadar till Ghatkopar home was rather lukewarm.
  2. It took us 42 mins to cover the 35 km from Thane to Panvel, as against the allotted 34 mins (again too tight, considering all the track-switching at Diva and the freight traffic in the Diva-Panvel section).
  3. We consumed 42 mins for the distance of 28 km from Karjat to Lonavala through the Bhor Ghats; as against the allotted 40 mins (on an average, most trains cover this stretch in 35 mins; thanks to the acceleration provided by the twin (sometimes triple) bankers. Sometimes the distance is covered in 31-32 mins; on rare occasions when there isn’t any TSR/PSR in the Ghats). However, in our case; there were 2 TSRs, including a long TSR of 30 kmph before Thakurwadi. Also, we crawled all the way from Karjat till Palasdhari thanks to a freight which we had to overtake through the loop – usually trains manage to hit 80 kmph when they reach Palasdhari, before slowing down to observe the Ghat MPS of 60 kmph (while going upwards).
  4. It took us 53 mins to cover the 61 km from Lonavala to SVJR, as against the allotted 48 mins (an average speed of 76.25 kmph; which is tight but can be achieved – provided there are green signals all along the way and not too many TSRs/PSRs.) In our case, we trailed a local to SVJR till Dehu Road; plus there was an extra TSR of 20 kmph at Kanhe – this one was really long and we lost quite a few minutes while crawling. There was also another TSR of 45 kmph before Malavli; but then, this one has been there for many months.
  5. We took 13 mins for the 3 km from SVJR to Pune, as against the allotted 11 mins – of course a slow stretch anyway, thanks to the PSR of 30 kmph before the Sangam Bridge and the Pune yard speed of barely 10 kmph. But we additionally had a stop of a minute at Pune outer for clearance.

If you total the time lost in all the above instances, it comes to 26 mins – not surprising that we reached nearly half an hour late! 😛 As has been pointed out by quite a few IRFCA members, this train needs to be downgraded to a regular express with a run time of 3 hrs 40~45 mins; to maintain a semblance of punctuality – but Indian Railways can’t do it, since they are running in losses and thus need the revenue which comes through the superfast charges. By the way, speaking of IRFCA; a lot of information in these blog posts (and probably every train blog of mine! 😉 ) is largely due to the painstaking observations of the forum members 🙂 .

Coming back to Pragati; apart from disappointing with its speed and punctuality on the whole, it also didn’t cover itself in glory as far as the Utkrisht rake was concerned – there was no mobile charging socket in my coach D6 despite being a newer 2014 coach; and the dirty Indian toilet with less water in the flush left a bad taste. Anyway, to end this blog on a happier note; I will leave you with this compilation video of my journey – please keep subtitles on for a detailed description while viewing the video!

Technical Abbreviations

  • LT – Low Tone
  • HT – High Tone
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
  • ETS – Electric Loco Trip Shed
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or self-propelled diesel trainset)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • IRFCA – Indian Railways Fan Club Association

Station Codes

  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • LGD – Lallaguda
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City/Majestic)
  • AII – Ajmer
  • NCJ – Nagercoil Junction
  • SVJR – Shivajinagar
  • GZB – Ghaziabad
  • BZA – Vijaywada
  • ET – Itarsi
  • TKD – Tughlakhabad
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