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The maximum point is 10. Punctuality rating is based on personal observation.

October 2006

Southern Sparkle - Down Journey

This travelogue is 1715 words long

After a long tiring day, I reached home to find the power supply dead. There was no power until about 2300. We had all the packing remaining. I went to sleep at around 0100. I had set the alarm for 0330, but the alarm apparently did not work. I was waken up by my dad at around 0415 or so. We both had to rush through our morning chores, and we finally left our home at 0500. Public transportation hadn't started yet. No buses or Auto rickshaws were seen. Finally at around 0510, we managed to wave down a “call centre” taxi. The driver was ready to drop us at the station. We reached the station at 0520 or so. There was a Mumbai CST bound EMU at 05:31. We purchased tickets and boarded the train. The coach was more or less empty. The run was interesting. It was dark all around and stations were totally deserted. The EMU finally made it to CST at around 0640 or so. I was at the door from Sandhurst Road to Mumbai CST. On the way I spotted a few odd shunters pulling out rakes from Mumbai CST. As the EMU pulled closer to Mumbai CST, I saw the rake of our train waiting at Platform 8. The loco was yet to arrive.

We walked towards the terminus end of Mumbai CST with our luggage. The first priority was to have a cup to tea, and we had it from an IRCTC stall at the main concourse. We slowly walked towards the Main line terminus after picking up a copy for the day's newspaper from the nearby AH Wheeler's Book stall. The AC coaches appear in the front of the train, and we had to walk a very long distance. The General Coaches as well as the Sleeper coaches were yet to be opened, while the AC coaches were already opened. We reached our coach – HA1, 05026 built by ICF in December 2005. The coach was the third from the loco. We were in the “AC First” portion of the coach, and had the lower berths in B Cabin. The Upper berths were allotted to a couple who were upgraded from Second AC. I had a walk around, and decided to check the loco which had just arrived and was being attached.

The loco was WDP4 #20023 from Krishnarajapuram, working Long Hood Forward. This is incidentally the first WDP4 to be homed at this loco shed. The loco was too long, that I couldn't photograph the loco by standing on the platform! I walked down from the platform and took an image. Surprisingly, there wasn't a single RPF officer seen around. The front GS was ear-marked for Railway Mail Service (RMS). So in short, passengers were having only one-and-a-half General Coaches. The coach composition of the train was: Loco-SLR-RMS-HA1-A2-A1-AS2-AS1-S4 to S12-GS-SLR (Ladies). I decided to go back to the main concourse to get some food for breakfast. Just as I reached there, the arrival of Konkan Kanya express from Madgaon was announced. I decided to check out the loco. The loco was WDP4 #20012 working Long Hood Forward, and the train had arrived on Platform 15. I went back and got breakfast. While I was walking back, the Devgiri Express from Secundrabad was announced. The loco was WDM3A #17910 from Pune.

I got back to the train, and settled in the cozy comforts of the First Class Air-Conditioned Coach. The seat was just too luxurious. The train pulled out with the characteristic jerk, which is seen only on Electric loco hauled trains, sharp at 0805. The train crawled through, passing the Loco trip shed. There were a good number of WCAM3s, and two Pune WDM3As were seen. WDP4 #20026 from Krishnarajapuram was waiting at the main line for us to overtake. The loco was working the Madgaon bound Mandovi Express. I was busy having my breakfast when the train pulled into Dadar. The train was on time upto Dadar. The train slowed down after Thane. We crossed the Mangala express some where near Kalyan. Kalyan was reached at 0910. We left Kalyan at 0910, delayed by 15 minutes. The run from Kalyan to Karjat was uneventful. We crossed the Deccan Queen near Ambernath, Pragati after Badlapur, and Sahyadri at Karjat. We pulled into Karjat at 0958. WCG2 triplet 20113-20121-20137 was ready to push our train up the Ghats . Karjat was overflowing with WCG2s. On the line adjoining the platform line, two WCG2 triplets were waiting for their duties. The First triplet was 20114-20148-20130, and the second was 20119-20150-20123. All the six locos were live and were waiting one behind the other!!! WDS4 #19565 of Kurla was roaming around the station.

The train pulled out of Karjat at 1003. We crossed a Container rake hauled by WCAG1 #21972 waiting outside Karjat station. The climb started at 1008. The bankers did a good job of pushing us up the ghats. I enjoyed each metre of the Ghat section. We crossed the Hyderabad-Mumbai express near Khandala. The train pulled into Lonavla at 1040, and we bid bye to our bankers. I spotted WCAM1 #21843 waiting at Lonavla to proceed towards Pune. Our coach was right outside the Trip shed. The shed was full of WCG2s. We crossed the Chennai-Mumbai Express (WCG2 #20131) right outside Lonavla. I settled inside the coach for the rest of the journey since it was getting hot outside. We crossed the 1014 Coimbatore-LTT Express at Kasarwadi, and the Karjat Passenger at Khadki. A person came for taking the orders for lunch, and we ordered Veg. Meals.

The train crossed Shivajinagar, and I went to the door. The sidings at Pune were occupied by a very long Military Rake. We crossed WDM2 #18554 from Erode at the outers of the station. We pulled into Pune station at 1140. The train was taken to Platform 3 instead of the usual Platform 1. People, unaware of the RMS coach, were rushing towards the front GS. They were disappointed and had to then rush towards the rear GS. The coach was already carrying a huge crowd. I saw people hanging out of the coach as the train left Pune. WDM2 #16578 from Guntakal was roaming around the main line. The rake of Patna Express was occupying Platform 1. The train pulled out sharp at 1150. We crossed the Daund-Pune Passenger near Ghorpadi Yard. The loco was WDM2 #17904 from Pune. I saw WDG3A #13047 of Pune DLS rushing towards its home. Lunch was served shortly after Pune. We crossed the Karnataka Sampark Kranti somewhere before Daund. Lunch was average, but the service was good. We pulled into Pune at 1255, early by 5 minutes. We were sent to Platform 3 at Daund. Platform 1 was occupied by the rake of Nanded-Daund-Nanded Passenger. The loco was WDM2 #17558 from Moulali. In the meantime, WDG4 #12030 went through the station with a long BCCN rake of ACC Cements, Wadi. The train left Daund at 1312, now delayed by 2 minutes.

The section from Pune to Bhigwan is doubled. The train rushed through the section, and slowly pulled into the loop line at Parewadi for a crossing (1354 hrs). At about 1408, the Mumbai bound Udyan express rushed through with WDP4 #20019 in-charge. We reached Kurduwadi, late by 30 minutes. The run from Daund to Solapur was totally eventless. We pulled into Solapur at about 1610. The loco went out in about 2 minutes to bring the slip coaches which were parked on Platform 1. Platform 2 was occupied by the rake of a passenger. A loco, WDM2 #17223 from Pune, was at the head of the passenger rake. WDM3A #18767R from Pune was parked at Platform 1. The train left Solapur at 1635, now late by 20 minutes.

We pulled into Nagansur at 1724 for a crossing. We crossed 6010 Chennai Mumbai Mail, led by WDM3A #18915R of Guntakal here. After the crossing, the train picked up speed once again. We pulled into Dudhani for a scheduled halt at 1748. The Gulbarga-Solapur passenger, hauled by WDM2 #17849 from Pune was waiting for us at this station. The train showed no signs of moving even after a couple of minutes. That indicated another crossing! At about 1751, the Mumbai bound Konark Express rushed past our train with WDM2 #16579 from Kazipet doing the honours.

I had a good sleep from Dudhani onwards. I was woken up by my Dad when the train reached Wadi, for dinner. I had dinner, and slept by the time the train left Nalwar. I had a very deep sleep, and the AC was too cold for me. I had covered myself with the blanket. The sleep was too deep that my dad had to wake me in the morning. When I got up, our train was slowly moving out of Hindupur. The rake of Hindupur-Bangalore passenger was spotted with WDM3A #14080 from KJM at its helm. I got up and went to toilet. After getting fresh, I went to the door for a round of railfanning. There were no crossings, and I settled inside the coach. I went back to the door as we approached Thondebhavi. I wanted to see the way the WDP4 performs at Makalidurga.

The loco climbed effortlessly hauling the 22-Coach load. We reached Yelahanka at 0750. A huge number of passenger got down at this station. The train crawled towards Chennasandra. We slowly entered the main line. At Baiyappanahalli, I spotted the Bangalore-Salem Passenger hauled by Golden Rock WDM2 #18324 waiting for us. The loco notched up heavily after Baiyappanahalli. We reached Bangalore East at 0822. The train ran faster after Bangalore East. We reached Bangalore Cantonment at 0830. The Bangalore-Chennai Express, hauled by WAP4 #22380 of Erode, was just pulling in. We departed at about 0835 or so. The train crawled from Cantonment to City. We finally entered Platform 4 of Bangalore City Junction at 0848, early by 2 minutes. The crowd was enormous, and we decided to wait for a few minutes before entering the Foot-Over-Bridge.

We were out of the station by about 0900. My brother was waiting for us outside the station. We finally reached his home by about 0940 or so. There ended Part 1 of a 13 day tour!!!

I am eager to know how you liked this report! Please send in your comments and suggestions (brick-bats also welcome) to binaiks [at] gmail [dot] com

©2005-06 Binai Kochunni Sankar