My day started at 10:15 AM when I reached PA
loco shed to explore a ride in loco.
My friend escorted me to the platform and introduced me to driver working Karjat
shuttle. It was hauled by a WCAM3, with nice interior but the "shunts"
were disconnected, thus limiting the speed and acceleration to some extent. We
did manage to touch 100 kms/hr at some stretches. It did not matter though, as
we were stopping at all stations.
At one station, (forgot the name but I think it ended with "wadi",
Assistant went out to get a wonderful "Bhel". To add flavor, driver
added "Besan Ladoo".
As we approached Malavali, I asked my driver friend (we had become friends by
now) to check where my Ghat driver friend is. He used walkie talkie to confirm
that my Ghat driver friend was working. (I knew it for certain as I had talked
to him previous night over phone)
He then contacted my friend over walkie talkie as we reached Lonavala. He
was working in down direction (climbing up the hill) between Monkey Hill and
While approaching Khandala, he called my friend again. My friend would exit out
of the first tunnel in another five minutes, was a reply.
I got down from shuttle at the entrance of first tunnel and bingo, my friend was
waiting for me there to offer me a big hug.
Since the bankers line up for duty in sequence, my friend had received a train
that nobody wanted to work with. Half a km forward, then one km backward.
For little over 2.5 hours, we were visiting every tunnel in Ghat.
Long tunnels are refreshingly cool in the middle. (Chilly for natives though).
3 PM was our cut off time and we started for Lonavala, stopping for Satya
Narayan Pooja, en route.
As we were ready to depart from Lonavala to Karjat, Hussein Sagar came in. (I
had stopped looking at watch because I was enjoying every minute of this
We lined up at Karjat. We were second in queue and Konark Express was our
target. Assistant lowered pantos and raised the other set from another cab.
About 15 minutes before her arrival, we lined up in siding at the southern end
of Karjat. Konark came on time. It had one observation car at the end but no
"Big shot" in it.
The speed limit in Ghat is 55 kms/hr. As usual, banker started the train till it
cleared the starter when lead loco "kicked" in.
Regardless of walkie talkies, banker driver needs basic instincts to handle the
train. As in old days, his eyes are focused on ammeter and brake gauges. They
are the pieces that communicate between lead loco driver's mind with his mind.
You need to see the action to understand it.
Journey to LNL was perfect. The banker was disconnected; new crew picked it up
right on platform as my friend had finished his duty. He logged off in loco shed
and we headed platform when Kanya Kumari Express came in.
We were considering a ride in rear driving cab but the driver of KK insisted
that we ride with him. He ordered tea for us.
The gate signals at Malavali had died so we received authorization to pass it at
red. The porter got off at platform to pick another authorization for
We dropped him at Shatabdi. Travel from there to Dehu Road was eventless. There
was an EC pull at Dehu. It was so perfect that only a skilled person would have
done it. The loco stopped exactly at the end of platform.
The person reset the flag soon after getting down so ASM could not get the coach
#. After a brief hassle over walkie talkie, driver and ASM zeroed on one coach #
to satisfy paper trail monitors.
We reached Pune few minutes before time, detached the loco, led it to loco shed
and headed for home.
It was Aditi's birthday (Apurva's cheerful daughter) and I missed the event.
Being a rail fanning family, everyone understood.
When I was heading for Mumbai, I was the only one in reservation list in the
entire first class coach of Koyana Express. Eventually some more travelers and
railway staff came in but each one of us had an option to select a window of
At Karjat, EMU left before us giving more break time for me. Tasted Divadkar as
I was bit hungry. I was not disappointed because my expectations were lowered.
I wish I can make similar trip during monsoon in Khandala Ghat.
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