The Return of the Thousand-Wheeler: Part 2

Will you be able to understand “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” without reading “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” ? Same way, will you be able to understand Part 2 of this blog of mine without reading Part 1? Hence, I would suggest you to read Part 1 at length before coming here! πŸ˜› Here is the link: https://ashwinkumar1989.online/2019/09/22/the-return-of-the-thousand-wheeler-part-1/ This blog post will describe the return journey from Pune to Mumbai by 17321 UBL-LTT weekly express (via Solapur-Bijapur-Gadag). This train is due to be cancelled very soon (due to poor patronage); thus I was lucky to get an opportunity to travel in it one last time – especially considering that it traverses the scenic Karjat-Panvel route! πŸ˜€

Due to slack, 17321 pulled into Platform 1 at 11 26; nearly half an hour before time! πŸ˜› 11026 Pune-BSL express was on PF2. My coach S6 was a very old coach (made in 1997) but still had mobile charging sockets in all bays; as well as biotoilets! :O

Our loco was UBL WDP4 20022.

I had a non-trackside window seat (Side Lower Berth); but facing the direction of the journey. As per the announcements, 11301 CSMT-SBC Udyan express was to arrive at 12 noon (20 minutes late) on PF3. Meanwhile, 18520 LTT-VSKP express arrived on PF6 behind Pune WDP4D 40265, at 11 48; 1 hr 33 mins late! πŸ˜› A tanker train hauled by KYN WAG9Hi 31590 pulled up on a siding next to us. We departed at 12 02 (2 mins late), with the LP blowing the LT horn; followed by a pure EMD HT horn. The HT horns (occasionally the LT horns as well!) were frequently used, as we exited; overtaking the tanker in the process! There were mighty jerks as we crossed over the points! :O I saw Pune WDP4D 40156 roaming around in the distant left. 19312 Indore-Pune express (via Panvel) crossed us behind a WAP4 – the train was ahead of time and also had a few Utkrisht coaches. We soon blasted through SVJR and passed through some greenery (with buffaloes grazing), before crawling through Khadki.

Meanwhile, while answering the call of nature; I noticed that the bolt was broken in one of the toilets at the rear! 😦 After the crawl through Khadki, we picked up speed very quickly; thanks to the superb acceleration of our WDP4 with the puny 16-coach load. 11025 BSL-Pune express (running more than half an hour late) raced past us before Pimpri. There was a TSR of 90 kmph on a huge curve to the left after Chinchwad, as we ripped along. There were more buffaloes grazing after Akurdi, followed by another big curve to the left. We crossed 11029 CSMT-KOP Koyna express on another huge curve to the right, before zipping through Dehu Road at MPS. There was a slight slowdown before Begdewadi; before we started hitting MPS again. Here are the pictures of a lot of monsoon greenery along the way:

The greenery continued after we skipped Talegaon at MPS as well; along with rainfed ponds and a huge cloud of fog hanging over the Sahyadri mountain range πŸ™‚ .

After Kamshet, the Pune-Mumbai Expressway gave us company on the left; along with some marshland and more ponds. The tiny waterfalls flowing down from the top of the mountains (covered with a small layer of fog again!) added to the charm πŸ™‚ .

I was enjoying the fast run (accompanied by HT honking all the way!) through all this beautiful scenery on offer; when it finally came to an end at Lonavala home signal. We overtook a stationary Container rake led by UBL WDG4 70075 and WDG4D 70480 in the yard; before arriving on PF2 of Lonavala at 12 55, 5 mins before time! We had covered the last 64 km from Pune in 53 mins at an average speed of 72.45 kmph; our EMD making mincemeat of the light load! πŸ™‚ After leaving, we took the Midline to descend the Bhor Ghats. On the UP line platform of Khandala, I saw a Duomatic machine attached to tricolour-liveried CLA WDGA3A 14695! Soon, we were treated to breathtaking valley views; with green everywhere! πŸ™‚

There was a TSR/PSR of 45 kmph, before we crossed a tanker freight headed by a WDG4D and a WDG4. Then there was another TSR/PSR of 25 kmph just before Monkey Hill, Khandala – our second brake testing halt (first being Khandala itself!). For some reason, we were diverted to the UP line from thereon! :O This was followed by really priceless views of the Sahyadri mountains and the valley (as well as a stream flowing down the valley) in all their glory, as we passed over a viaduct.

There was yet another TSR/PSR of 20 kmph through a really long tunnel; followed by more panoramic views – including waterfalls as well as clouds of mists at the top of the mountains.

The TSRs/PSRs continued unabated (undoubtedly due to the recent spate of landslides!!); meanwhile, my ticket was finally checked! πŸ˜› Here is one last look at this epic Ghat section:

After Palasdhari, we took the track used by locals from Khopoli! :O Then we overtook a stationary BCNA rake with Ajni WAG9H 31437 in Karjat yard; before skipping the station slowly through PF3. As we took the line to Panvel, I could hear our WDP4 humming; even though our coach was closer to the rear! :O We soon crossed a very long tunnel; where water was dripping from the walls and the roof in most places. Though we crawled through most of the tunnel, we were thundering at MPS soon after exiting it. Then we were halted for clearance at Chowk home signal; surrounded by greenery, mountains and of course the Expressway.

On the other side was a huge Dam built by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.

After crossing a bridge over a river, we came to stop again; this time on the mainline of Chowk station. On the loopline was a train with boards “Panvel express” led by an EMD! Probably an almost 4 hours late running 07618 Panvel Nanded SpecialFare Special!! :O This train soon departed, but we stayed for 8 mins! The station was totally bereft of facilities; and would have been quite eerie in the night! :O

After finally leaving, we soon accelerated to MPS and blasted through a tunnel; followed by a lot of greenery, huge wells in an industrial belt and rock cuttings. Here is a video compilation of: a) Crossing the very long tunnel before Chowk. b) Blasting through the tunnel after Chowk, followed by greenery, the huge wells and rock cuttings.

After crossing a rainfed stream, we had yet another unscheduled halt at Mohope. This was a pure ghost station; the letters on all the boards had totally faded away. Moreover, we stopped well ahead of the platform (just like at Chowk), since it was way too short! :O

One consolation for the elongated stop (of 14 mins) was that the views on both sides were very scenic! πŸ˜›

Including the view of our train on a curve where you can faintly make out our EMD! πŸ˜€

After finally making a move, we passed through more greenery, trees and mountains; before crossing the Expressway over a bridge and skipping Chikhale. Then I saw some men fishing in a stagnant pond; as we began to crawl on the approach to Panvel. As the line from Roha joined us on the left; we overtook a stationary freight on that line – headed by CLA WDG3A 14850. Pulled into PF7 of Panvel at 15 08, 12 mins before time in spite of all these stops; indicative of the huge slack on offer! πŸ˜› On PF6, 51317 Panvel Pune passenger (hauled by KYN WCAM2 21863) was yet to depart; it was supposed to have left at 14 25! :O Meanwhile, my lunch (which I had ordered through https://www.railyatri.in/ ) was duly delivered here – it consisted of Jeera Rice and Paneer Mutter gravy; and was really tasty! πŸ™‚

After a rather uneventful run of half an hour, we had yet another unscheduled halt at Diva; just before joining the mainline. At first, I thought it was a regulation stop for clearance; but, as the minutes passed by, I realised that it was something more ominous. This was Sunday – and thus the day of the Mega Block! On this particular instance, the slow lines were blocked and all slow locals were diverted on the fast track! This meant that our path would be blocked by not only long-distance trains and fast locals; but by slow locals as well! What’s more, we were a weekly non-CR train soon to be cancelled; and thus our priority would be rock-bottom!! πŸ˜› Ultimately the agony lasted for a total of 1 hr 7 mins; during which 2 expresses (11060 Chhapra-LTT Godaan express and 11080 GKP-LTT express via Barhni) and 7 locals overtook us! :O After departing with utmost reluctance, we limped into Thane at 16 51, 38 mins late; after being more than 10 mins ahead of time at Panvel! πŸ˜›

I got down here and took a fast local to Dadar; where I spent time with my friend and ex-colleague at Cafe Coffee Day, before reaching home finally in the night. Thus an eventful and much-awaited trip (being my first train trip in more than 2 months!) had come to an end. If you’ve read this far; I’ll leave you with this for your troubles!! πŸ˜‰

LEGEND

Technical Abbreviations

  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • LT – Low Tone
  • HT – High Tone
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • CR – Central Railway

Station Codes

  • UBL – Hubli
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • BSL – Bhusaval
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City/Majestic)
  • VSKP – Visakhapatnam
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • SVJR – Shivajinagar
  • KOP – Kolhapur
  • CLA – Kurla Junction
  • GKP – Gorakhpur

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