Yielding to the pull of the magnet, yet again! – Part 1

A train trip on a weekend is a veritable magnet for a railfan; especially one who has to deal with the combined stress of working in a small startup and commuting in Mumbai locals daily. Yet, why a trip to Pune everytime; you might as well ask! Well, my excuse this time was to meet my friend (railfan Omkar) there and do a lot of railfanning with him 🙂 . Thus, the magnet of Pune had lured me yet again 😛 . The train to get there? The slow and steady tortoise – 11007 Mumbai Pune Deccan express 🙂 . On the day of the journey (Saturday 30th November), I got up at 05 25, had coffee and took a bath; before taking an auto to Vikhroli.

There was a lot of early morning railfanning action. At 06 30, 12164 Chennai Dadar ‘Super’ express rushed through the station; hauled by ET WAP4 22875. The train was running late by close to an hour. 2 minutes later, 12859 Mumbai Howrah Gitanjali blasted past behind a WAP7. 2 more mins later, 12620 MAQ-LTT Matsyagandha express crawled through the station with a GOC WDP4D 40103; before accelerating and clearing the station limits. Meanwhile, I boarded a local to Dadar; we overtook Matsyagandha before Vidyavihar. I saw 15017 LTT-GKP Kashi express joining the mainline with an offlink – BZA WAP4 25005. After Matunga, I spotted GOC WDP4D 40405 on a siding.

As we reached Dadar, I noticed that “Bleed Blue” KJM WDP4 20036 had brought in 11006 PDY-DR Chalukya express. 12127 Mumbai Pune Intercity departed from Platform 4 behind a DLW-made Ajni WAP7 37006. 17412 Kolhapur Mumbai Mahalaxmi express then pulled into PF6 with Pune WDP4D 40574; at 07 06, 9 mins late.

Mahalaxmi departed after a halt of 3 mins. Hot on its heels (less than 10 mins later) came a 40 mins late running 17058 SC-CSMT Devagiri express behind KJM WDP4 20045; on the same platform.

Meanwhile, my train 11007 Deccan express arrived on PF5 behind KYN WCAM2 21878. I had a non-trackside window seat; though facing the direction of the journey. We departed at 07 22, 9 mins late. Had a fast run till Thane, overtaking many locals on the way. We pulled into PF5 of Thane at 07 43, 10 mins late; having covered the last 25 km in 21 mins at 71.43 kmph 🙂 . I dozed off briefly. When I opened my eyes, we were arriving on PF4 of Kalyan at 08 04, 12 mins late. 2 mins later, 16587 YPR-BKN express pulled into PF7 with its usual EMD. 2 more mins later, we left. Picked up speed from Vithalwadi home signal onwards, before ripping through Ulhasnagar and Ambernath; passing Wilson & Albright Chemicals and Universal Chemicals & Industries in the process.

Then we slowed down slightly, passing a tank before Badlapur. Then we passed through a lot of scenery in the form of marshes, lakes, ponds, bushes, lots of dried grass and trees. After passing a lot of hay huts, we thundered through Vangani. Slowed down again before Shelu; accelerating after the station. Meanwhile, I had bread omlette for breakfast. We reached Neral at 08 40, 14 mins late. The TTE came to check our tickets; he merely asked my name! :O We departed after a minute. Since I had had less than the usual quota of sleep the previous night, I dozed off once more. When I woke up, we were nearing Khandala. Our bankers were twin WCAM3s with melodious twin tone horns. The sight of L&T’s Leadership Development Academy marked the approach to Lonavala.

We pulled into the station at 09 46, 8 mins late. A lot of people got down here. We left after a stop of 3 mins. At the ETS, I observed KYN WCAM3 21956 and Tigerface KYN WAG7 27228. In the distant left was an APU-fitted CLA WDG3A 14678R heading a very short cement mixer freight. We overtook it as we accelerated out of Lonavala. On a siding in the far left were maroon brown BSL WAG5s 23290 and 23115. We kept going at a really fast clip till Malavli; before starting to crawl for a while. The Indrayani river soon gave us company on the left.

Ahead was a road bridge over the river; or rather two bridges – one for the DOWN direction and another for the UP direction.

17032 HYB-CSMT express then thundered past us; led by an ALCO with an EMD horn. We were then blessed with the view of the river at its broad, beautiful best 🙂

We blasted through a lot of scenery in the form of meadows, groves of different trees, buffaloes grazing, ponds and tanks; as well as a lot of residential areas near Kanhe.

There were also some woods before we reached Talegaon at 10 19, 10 mins late. Many people got down here. We departed after a halt of just a minute. 11042 Chennai Mumbai express crossed us behind a WDP4D after Ghorawadi. Listen to the audio of us ripping through Dehu Road (where we overtook a BCNA freight headed by Ajni WAG9H 31072) and enjoy the clickety clack track sounds:

At Chinchwad, we overtook a container rake hauled by TKD WAG9H 31299 at MPS. Then we ripped through groves of eucalyptus and coconut tress near Pimpri; after which we passed a huge Sandvik factory near Kasarwadi. There was a TSR of 75 kmph before we pulled into Khadki at 10 41, 4 mins before time – having covered the last 28 km in 21 mins at 80 kmph 🙂 . Left after a stop of 4 mins. We passed through more eucalyptus and coconut trees; as well as a big pond (man-made and slightly murky) before arriving at SVJR at 10 52, 2 mins late. The coach virtually emptied here! 😛 We departed after a halt of 2 mins. By the way, all the 4 toilets were Indian; and they were really dirty! 😦 We crawled over the Sangam Bridge; there were a few eagles flying above the road bridge.

Just after crossing the bridge, we made a stop for clearance. At first, it seemed to be a routine clearance halt; but the minutes continued to trickle by, with us remaining stuck at the same point. Finally 11014 CBE-LTT express crossed with KJM WDP4D 40495; a pleasant shock that it was running more or less on time!! The rake comprised mainly Utkrisht coaches. However, we still remained where we were. After what seemed like an eternity, a stationary Pune-Lonavala local started and accelerated past us; and we started moving at the same time – after a stop that had lasted 19 mins!! :O Was it simply a platform availability constraint at Pune or a bigger issue?

Anyway, we crossed a light LGD WAP7 30338 in the yard. There were a lot of locos outside the ETS – TATA WAP7 37032, Ajni WAP7s 37028, 37022 and 37006; and a dust-covered KYN WCAM2 21874. We passed an APU-fitted Pune WDM3A 16750R in the right; before pulling into PF5 of the junction at 11 25, 20 mins late. 12127 Intercity had arrived on PF4. Well, it’s time to wrap things up. Stay tuned for Part 2 – the return to Mumbai! 😉

LEGEND

Technical Abbreviations

  • DLW – Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi (largest diesel engine manufacturer in India; now manufactures electrics as well!)
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel locos)
  • ETS – Electric Loco Trip Shed
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • APU – Auxiliary Power Unit (specifically for charging the loco batteries when it is idle)
  • ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)

Station Codes

  • ET – Itarsi
  • MAQ – Mangalore Central
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • GOC – Golden Rock (Ponmalai)
  • GKP – Gorakhpur
  • BZA – Vijaywada
  • KJM – Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram)
  • PDY – Pondicherry
  • DR – Dadar (Central)
  • SC – Secunderabad
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • YPR – Yeshwantpur
  • BKN – Bikaner
  • CLA – Kurla
  • BSL – Bhusaval
  • HYB – Hyderabad
  • TKD – Tukhlaqabad
  • SVJR – Shivajinagar
  • CBE – Coimbatore Junction
  • LGD – Lallaguda
  • TATA – Tatanagar

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