A Summer time Railfanning
A Variety of locations!
It's just a day since my Theory exams got over, and hence, decided to go out on a Railfanning session! My Initial plans was to go to Thane since I had to go to the college Library, then spend some time at Thane and return by Train. But since I have to go to college again on Monday, my Mom suggested that I should stay back at home and have a days' break! But, when I made it clear that I just wanted to spend some time, my mom gave the starter! I had an approval to travel to Kasara. But unfortunately, by the time I left home it was too late to do the round! I initially decided to go about the trip and left my home at about 0930, and reached the Station by about 0955 (after taking a very long circuitous route to drop my mom at her workplace). I rushed to the ticket counter and took a ticket to Mumbai CST. I really had to rush to the platform, but unfortunately say the “LV” rushing out! On glancing though the timetable, I understood that my plans have already received the “danger” signal! I, but, tried to somehow reach CSTM to board the Kasara “Fast” local on time. By the time, I reached CSTM, I saw by “target” local departing! So quickly made some changes in the program and decided to instead explore some other line.
I went to the ticket counter and purchased the tickets to my “target” location. (That's a surprise!!!). After getting the ticket in my hand, I directly headed to the Railway Canteen to fill my stomach and make myself ready for the ‘hot' day ahead. (The mercury has already touched 33 deg and the high humidity to add to the misery!). While filling my ‘tank', I saw my local pulling out! The second miss of the day! But did not get tense, and instead had some more food. Soon, I found myself outside the canteen, and walking towards Platform 7 of the huge & magnificent Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus! On platform 7 was resting my local – BL19, Fast 12-Car local to Badlapur, scheduled to depart at 1155 (and it did!). I boarded one of the mid-coaches, and to my utter surprise found it totally empty! Sharp at 1155, with a long toot, the Jessops built DC 12-Car rake of Central Railway (Kurla Carshed), pulled out of the station. As we crossed the nearby platform (#8), I took out my camera to click something – The 6351 Mumbai CST – Tirupati – Nagercoil Express was ready for departure (The time of departure is 1205), and the Loco was… WCG2 #20128 from Kalyan! The Electric Loco Trip shed was full of WCG2s, a area which was earlier fill of WCAM3s is now full of WCG2s! And, to be honest, almost all the locos there were live, and imagine the symphony! The howlers are finally at their full fledge! A lovely scene indeed!
The train quickly picked pace and we once again crossed something special – WCG2 #20133, shunting a single coach! The coach was the Front SLR of the Hyderabad Express. Hiding behind the WCG2 (On the lines, parallel to the one on which the WCG2 was ‘standing') was two Pune WDM3As (17863R and 17897R). These Pune Locos work the Mahalaxmi Express from Kolhapur to Mumbai, and then proceed to Madgaon with the Konkan Kanya Express. We soon coasted through Masjid and as we crossed the Masjid Bunder Bridge, we crossed the rake of the 7031 Hyderabad Express. The rake did not have the Front SLR, and was being backed to the platforms by WDS4B #19563 (Kurla DLS). We rushed through stations and finally stopped at Byculla. The crowd as disappointing and the coach was more or less empty! We ‘zipped' across some more stations. We crossed the Kolhapur-Mumbai Sahyadri Express hauled by an unidentified WCG2 somewhere before Dadar. We pulled into Dadar, and the coach got somewhat full. We crossed Erode's WDM3A #14081 at Matunga. (How did this loco reach here???) The purpose of this loco being here was surprising! (More on this sometime later). We stopped at Kurla, and the coaches got full here. As we left Kurla, I noticed something surprising at the Kurla Diesel Loco Shed (or to be clearer, outside Diesel Loco Pilots' Lobby) – and that was WDM3A #16013R from Pune, in the original DCW Livery!
As we crossed Vidyavihar, I spotted a WDS4 (Kurla based) backing up some rake into the station. The speed of the train was impressive. We crossed an unidentified train hauled by an unidentified WCAM3 near Kanjur Marg. Right after Mulund, we crossed the 7032 Hyderabad – Mumbai Express hauled by some unidentified WCG2! The relative speed due to two trains speeding towards each other was too high, and even though I had pressed the shutter quite in advance, by the time the shutter actually went off the loco had already passed! We pulled into Platform #5 of Thane sharp at 1232, and that means we were early by 4 full minutes! On Platform #7 was the Gorakhpur bound 523 Summer Special, led by WCAM3 #21938 from Kalyan. I got down at Thane.
Now coming to the ‘Surprise'…I was in Thane according to my plan to go to Vasai Road via Diva! I soon rushed to Platform #2 to board ‘some' slow local towards Diva. (Fast trains do not stop at Diva!). As I was on the descend towards the platform from the Foot-Over-Bridge (FOB), I saw a slow local leaving and though I made an attempt, couldn't board the local. The next local was only at 1243! Had some cool drinks from the nearby “Rail Ahar” stall. By about 1245, the local – K49, bound to Kalyan – pulled into the station. I now boarded a coach towards the rear end of the rake, and again, the coach was empty! The speed was impressive and we finally pulled into Diva at about 1300. I directly proceeded to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket to Vasai. I was taken aback when the ticket counter clerk informed me that ‘Return' tickets are not issued for branch line. I was in an utter state of confusion, and purchased one ticket. I proceeded to the platform, but it was too hot. I decided to be on the FOB so that I could continue with my Railfanning. The first train to cross was the Varanasi bound 1071 Kamayani Express hauled by Kalyan WCAM3 #21959. On the line close the platform, WDS4B #19465 (from Kurla) hauling a Departmental ‘wagon' was waiting for the starter. The heat was irritating me. Just around this time the Hyderabad Express passed. Soon, the signal (Kalyan/Vasai/Panvel end) at the end of the platform turned to ‘double-yellow' or ‘attention-required' aspect. I was thrilled and surely knew what was in store for me! I took positions at the end of the platform (facing Thane) and kept my camera ready. Soon she came in…WDM3A #14081 from Erode (spotted earlier at Matunga) hauling the 165 Dadar-Ernakulam Holiday Special. The rake surprised me! The rake had “printed” destination boards! I strongly suspect that CR was expecting this train to be announced in this budget!
There were no signs of the rake of the Vasai Push-pull coming in, and the crowd waiting for this train was enormous! I decided to give off! I returned to the ticket counter and asked for a ticket for Thane! Soon, I was inside a coach of a slow local from Ambernath. I got down at Thane and rushed to the ticket counter. A huge queue surprised me! The time was now 1400, and I was planning to take the Matsyagandha Express which departs at 1430. My plan was to get down at Panvel. The slow-moving queue and the heat took a heavy toll on me! I got the ticket at 1420. I immediately purchased a bottle of cold ‘packaged drinking water'. I was literally dragging myself to Platform 7, where Matsyagandha arrives. The crowd waiting to board the front General coach was enormous and I decided to board the rear General coach. I dragged myself across a vast ocean of passengers waiting to board the train.
At about 1425, the Dadar bound KR4 passenger pulled into Platform #6. The loco was Pune WDM3A #18925R. It left sharp at 1428. The rake is 16-coaches long. This train earlier used to get Kalyan WDM2s, but now has been ‘upgraded' to a WDM3A. The loco was a good smoker, and hence make a smoky departure! Soon, the PA system came alive and the familiar ‘female' voice announced the ‘expected' arrival of Matsyagandha express along with its coach composition in three languages (Marathi, Hindi and English). The train soon made its appearance, and the loco was WDM3A #18700 from Erode. The coach composition was surprising…2x SLR, 2x GS, 10x Sleeper, 1x 2A and 4x 3A!!! One of the 4 3A coaches had a marking “empty” on it! The SLRs really smelled of fish! (The name ‘Matsyagandha' is apt!). The rear GS was full, and passengers literally were hanging out of the coach! I decided NOT to board this train, and instead wait for the KR3 passenger which is expected at 1615! Totally tired, I settled down onto one of the many seats of the long platform. At about 1445, the Chennai bound 6011 Express pulled into the station, hauled by WCG2 #20123 from Kalyan. Later at 1450, a pair of WDM2s (MU-ed) pulled in. The locos were #17577 (from Itarsi, Leading) and #17721 (from Bhagat-ki-Kothi, Trailing). Both the locos were in the same livery, and probably were painted at Parel (Since both the liveries were exactly the same, including the style of writing).
After these locos passed through, I went to the “Rail-Ahar” stall in the same platform, and had a glass full of fresh lime juice (having salt and Chat Masala). The water and the salt helped me revive from my state of dehydration! (At this time, I clearly remembered the lecture where we were taught about the importance of salt during dehydration!). After getting refreshed, I walked back to my ‘vantage point' and waited for the next train. The next train was the Pune bound 1009 Sinhagad Express hauled by WCG2 twins #20130 (leading) and #20139 (trailing) both from Kalyan (obviously!). Now I was too tired to continue, or even wait for the passenger, and so I decided to find out another way to get back home! As I slowly walked towards the FOB, I noticed a WCAM3 pulling in!!! Wait…The loco was #21940 from Kalyan and the train was 1094 Varanasi – Mumbai Mahanagari Express. I slowly climbed the steps of the FOB, and when I reached right on top of the loco, she gave a very long toot. I looked down, and was surprised to see the top of a WCAM3 for the first time. That's too crowded and ugly!!! Slowly walked out of the railway station, and walked towards the bus station. Took a state transport bus (should it be called so?) which was going to Panvel. Took a 15-Rupees ticket to Belapur and slowly settled to a corner of a seat, having an open window! Soon, as we approached the Kalwa Underpass, I saw the Nagpur-bound Sewagram Express zipping across with a WCAM3 at its helm. There was a Military coach right next to the loco. The bus continued its journey……..and I reached home….sat down in front of my PC….transferred all the images shot in the entire day and edited all of them, slowly uploaded them onto my gallery while I simultaneously started to write this 2000+ word report…...the upload is complete and so is this report. The End! Thank you for the patient reading, and I appreciate you ability to spare time to read is long report!
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©2005 Binai Kochunni Sankar