The Return of the Thousand-Wheeler: Part 1

Oh! I know what y’all are thinking – pretty inane title for a blog, innit? But, well, I am weird myself – deal with it! 😛 Also, you might be wondering where I vanished all these months! I had a break from work in the most amazing way possible – a 10-day vacation to UK with family and relatives at the end of June! Hot on the heels of our return came the tail end of the Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon; culminating in those epic two finals…after all that excitement and drama, life was going to be pretty flat…especially in a third-world country like India!!

So it was…well, not quite! In fact, there was tension and drama of a different kind – to do with work of course!! It has been a hellish ride of three months, exacerbated by the hectic commute in the Mumbai local trains; worsened by the mercurial Mumbai monsoons…so, all in all, I was looking to get away from it all – and what better way to do that than a train trip? And by ‘train trip’ I mean of course a trip by a long-distance train; hence the blog title (Locals are hundred-wheelers) ! 😛 A Mumbai-Pune trip won’t even come close to, say, a ride on the Virgin Trains between Manchester and Birmingham; but then, something is better than nothing!

So there you go…a Mumbai-Pune trip for the umpteenth time, albeit during the charming monsoons. As you know, it’s been a while since I have written a blog post; so I must warn you that there will be a lot of technical jargon – please refer to the legend at the bottom for all the techie stuff and station codes! The train chosen for the onward journey was 22105 Mumbai Pune Indrayani express; the first of the Mumbai-Pune intercities to leave Mumbai as the day begins. Thus it meant that I had to follow the “early to bed and early to rise routine”; in order to catch the train successfully. In other words, it was a “sleep-killing trip” as my mother put it – in fact, that applies to many of my railfanning trips! 😛

Anyway, on the day of the journey (Sunday 15th Sept); I managed to get up at 04 30 (using an alarm of course!) and have a bath and some coffee, before taking an auto to Vikhroli station – was lucky to flag one at that unearthly hour! From Vikhroli I took a local to Thane; from where I would board Indrayani. I parked myself on Platform 5; where the train would arrive. There was a lot of early morning action as usual; especially in the UP direction. 10112 MAO-CSMT Konkan Kanya express arrived on PF6 behind Pune WDP4D 40595 at 05 54, 1 hour 2 minutes late. At the same time, 12051 DR-MAO Jan Shatabdi departed from PF5. However, it stopped briefly for 10-15 seconds before pushing on – a case of ACP?

22129 LTT-ALD Tulsi express arrived on PF7. By the way, Konkan Kanya was announced as 10512 instead of 10112; not for the first time I’ve heard such an error – a bug in the announcement system? What’s more, there was a sparkling maroon brown ICF AC coach at the front; marked AC-1! :O Anyway, the train left after a halt of 2 mins. Just a minute later; Tulsi exp departed as well; with a shrill HT horn mixed with a melodious (but short) LT horn. There was some waterlogging between PFs 4 and 5; thanks to the heavy rain.

A close to 2 hours late running 18519 VSKP-LTT express crawled through PF8 behind twin ALCOs (leading – 14813 of CLA). 51153 CSMT-BSL passenger then arrived with KYN WCAM2 21865 on PF5 at 06 08, 11 mins late. After 2 mins, the train left with a long and melodious LT horn. I observed that it was largely empty! Pune WDP4D 40265 passed through PF8; honking loudly. The action continued unabated; as the Utkrisht rake of 12112 AMI-CSMT superfast then arrived on PF6 behind KYN WCAM3 21889 at 06 16, 33 mins late. My train Indrayani then pulled into PF5, headed by Pune WDP4D 40424. There was a mad scramble to get inside my coach D4. Finally, I was seated and we departed at 06 20, 4 mins late. I had a trackside window seat; but unfortunately against the direction of the journey. The coach was an old one (made in 2001), but still had biotoilets.

We crossed an ALCO-headed train inside the Parsik Tunnel. I could hear mild flat wheel sounds from the rear of the coach! Then an Utkrisht rake hauled by an EMD crossed us after Diva; probably a 1-hour late running 12116 SUR-CSMT Siddheshwar express. We also passed a stationary BCNA freight led by twin EMDs on the 6th line. At Dombivli, a twin EMD headed express crossed us! :O Meanwhile, we crawled for a while before making an unscheduled stop for 50-55 secs. The frenetic action in the UP direction continued, as a close to 2 hours late running 17018 SC-RJT express crossed us on the 6th line; behind twin GTL WDM3As 16602R and 16715R! Then we crossed another stationary BCNA rake with a WDG4 in the KYN yard. We pulled into PF6 of KYN at 06 43, 10 mins late.

Just as we departed after 2-minute halt, a CR train hauled by a curious link – GOC WDP4B 40067 – pulled into PF7. Which train could this have been? :O Anyway, I was feeling quite sleepy; thanks to my limited sleep the previous night. Hence, I dozed off for a while. After I woke up, we had arrived at Karjat at 07 25, 12 mins late. Left after a stop of 5 mins; during which twin WCAM3 bankers were attached to our rear, for the climb up the Bhor Ghats. Crossed a stationary tanker in the yard; led by Pune WDG3As 14814 and 14886. We then had another unscheduled stop before Palasdhari for 3 mins; during which a container freight crossed us, headed by a Tigerface WAG7 and braked by KYN WCAM3 twins 21943 and 21956. I again napped briefly during our climb up the Ghats; but could make out that we were surrounded by greenery and waterfalls on all sides! 🙂

Fog obscures the greenery near Jambrung as we climb up the Bhor Ghats

In between, to my shock; we stopped at Khandala for 3 mins. What’s more, we came to a halt with 2 resounding jerks!! Also, we departed in a weird manner – by moving backward and then forward! What was going on? :O Anyway, we then crossed 12124 Pune Mumbai Deccan Queen behind KYN WCAM2 21867. Reached Lonavala at 08 19, 21 mins late. A lot of people got down here, including (much to the relief to most of us, I think! 😛 ) a noisy group of college students who had been playing some word game all this time! 😛 As a result, there was a lot more breathing space within the coach. As we departed after a stop of 2 mins, the rain continued to pour! As a result, the surrounding mountains continued to be obscured by fog and there as waterlogging near the tracks; amidst greenery everywhere! 😛

We crawled for a while; before picking up the pace from Malavli home signal. Here is the video of us blasting through Malavli station, racing vehicles on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and crossing 12126 Pune Mumbai Pragati express with a WCAM3; all under the cover of moderate to heavy rain! 🙂

The fast run continued till Vadgaon home. Here is an audio clip of us ripping after Kanhe. Enjoy the clickety clack track sounds; you can also hear vendors selling food! 😀

We crossed 11024 KOP-CSMT Sahyadri express with a WCAM3; the rake had a few Utkrisht coaches. There was yet another unscheduled halt at Talegaon home for about 45 secs. The culprit proved to be another container rake led by a blue BL WAG7 28637 (in WAP4 shell) at Talegaon station; which we overtook through the loopline. The acceleration of our WDP4D with the small 17-coach rake was amazing; we had a fast run from Ghorawadi home onwards – though we slowed down slightly at the station. I spotted boys playing cricket and football on a ground before Dehu Road. We thundered through Akurdi, crossed a WAG9-headed parcel van rake and slowed down slightly before racing through Chinchwad.

Our fast run continued till Dapodi, with another small slowdown after Kasarwadi. Then again we blasted away from Khadki home till SVJR home. Pulled into SVJR station at 09 17, 28 mins late. Here our coach nearly emptied! 😛 The DOWN mainline was occupied by a stationary tanker rake. 51318 Pune-Panvel passenger departed behind a WCAM2. We left after a stop of just a minute. As we overtook the tanker train, I noticed that it was hauled by KZJ WAG9Hi 32129. 17032 HYB-CSMT express crossed us slowly; hot on the heels of 51318! As we crawled from Sangam Bridge onwards, vehicles on the road overtook us. At Pune yard, I saw APU-fitted Vatva WDM3D 11542 in Gonda livery attached to the rake of 22845/46 Pune-Hatia superfast!

As we continued to crawl at around 10 kmph towards the junction, a loudly honking KJM WDP4D 40330 reversed and raced us! Inside, I saw that the LP was a lady who was being assisted by an ALP! 🙂 We pulled into PF5 of Pune at 09 29, 24 mins late. 71403 Pune Daund DEMU was on PF6 and 12136 Nagpur Pune superfast was to arrive on PF3. 11042 MAS-CSMT express departed from PF1 at 09 36 (just a minute late) behind KYN WDM3D 11363.

It is time to wrap up Part 1. Hope you’ve enjoyed my first blog post in 4 months!! Please stay tuned to part 2 for the return journey to Mumbai! 😉

LEGEND

Technical Abbreviations

  • ACP – Alarm Chain Pulling
  • ICF – Integral Coach Factory, Perambur (Chennai) [manufactures most of the coaches in Indian Railways]
  • HT – High Tone
  • LT – Low Tone
  • ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • ALP – Assistant Loco Pilot
  • DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or self-propelled diesel trainset)
  • CR – Central Railway
  • APU – Auxiliary Power Unit (specifically for charging the loco batteries when it is idle)

Station Codes

  • MAO – Madgaon
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • DR – Dadar (Central)
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Termius (Kurla Terminus)
  • ALD – Allahabad Junction
  • VSKP – Visakhapatnam
  • BSL – Bhusaval
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • AMI – Amravati
  • SUR – Solapur
  • SC – Secunderabad
  • RJT – Rajkot
  • GTL – Guntakal
  • GOC – Golden Rock (Ponmalai)
  • BL – Valsad
  • KOP – Kolhapur
  • KZJ – Kazipet
  • HYB – Hyderabad
  • SVJR – Shivajinagar
  • KJM – Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram)
  • MAS – Chennai Central

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