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Some Memories..
Prakash Tendulkar


Although Indian Railways in general is an efficient organization, there happen to be some loopholes. Unfortunately, these events receive wider publicity, tarnishing otherwise good image of railways.

I was posted in Surat for a year and half. A great city for food but not for cleanliness in those days. So my stay in city was limited to weekdays only minus occasional trips to Atul near Valsad.

Mondays I traveled by (then) 11 Dn Gujrat Express to return back on Friday (then) 24 Up Ferozpur Janata Express.

I knew P. D'Mello, Ignacious D'Mello, Kali Charan as well as Sudhakar R., all A-grade drivers from MCT, to name a few. To make my life easy, Sudhakar introduced me as his brother to everyone at Valsad. We shared the same last name, he lived near Naigaon, I at Vasai. Well, over the period of time, I made more friends.

Ferozpur Janata Express was in fact a fast passenger between Surat and Saphale but did not stop at Vaitarana, Virar or Vasai. So change of train had to be made at Borivali in order to return at Vasai.

No big deal, if I was the only passenger to reach Vasai. Unfortunately, about 40 - 50 young gentlemen worked at Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) who lived in Vasai or its' neighborhood. They relied on this train, too.

EC pull was common on this train at Vasai.

Things changed a bit when I joined this crowd, at least one day a week. I waved them from cab and they would understand that they need not perform the exercise of EC pull that day.

The train would stop on platform with driver sounding two short one long whistle to indicate EC pull, the vacuum was restored in less than a minute and rake would chug towards BVI. Passengers got off safely and crew saved time in resetting the flag.

Hari Yadav was Loco Inspector at Valsad. Hari was M/man before getting a promotion. I knew him from his days as M/man and we maintained cordial relations after his promotion.

Many times, he would ride in the same cab on his way to home in KILE quarters. He knew that this rake would stop at BSR with false EC pull whistle because I would get down. He did not care.

One Friday was different. Hari was kind of hostile to let me in the cab. He warned me that a large # of cops are on board and anyone who gets down at BSR will be arrested on the spot and hauled to Valsad for court appearance.

What Hari did not know is that P. D'Mello, the driver and I spoke East Indian dialect fluently and were very close friends. (East Indian are Catholics in and around Mumbai whose ancestors embraced Christianity during Portuguese rule. The lingo is derivative of Konkani but not exactly the same.). 

The train was late that day so I reached Valsad by Surat Valsad shuttle. I had a tea session with P. and Uday Singh Rana, the charge-man at Valsad.

Both warned me of what is going on. We worked out a plot. I knew P. D'Mello was on my side.

GRP had made an observation that EC pullers traveled mostly in the middle of the train and they were in big strength there.

I boarded the coach that was attached at Valsad, right behind the loco.

I met TAPS folks and apprised them of the situation. Between then and Saphale, everyone moved in small groups towards the last coach in rake.

As we were approaching Vasai, EC pull occurred. We were very good in setting and resetting flag so rake stopped on platform with about 6 coaches trailing behind.

As expected, GRP got off immediately to see who is getting down. Hari was watching from the trailing cab door, too.

Nobody had got down and the flag was already reset, hence the culprit coach could not be identified.

As vacuum built up, P. D'Mello gave one long horn and started the rake. WCAM1 locos work like bullocks rather than horses in DC mode. As the last coach came near the (Naigaon) end of platform, EC pull occurred again leaving the last coach as the only coach stopped on platform.

Everyone jumped on the wrong side, jumped from tracks to platform #1 and dashed for bus stand. GRP could not catch anyone by running on tracks.

I met Hari next week at Valsad. He hit in my back and said, "You guys are smarter than GRP".

Little did he know that P.D'Mello had agreed to apply brakes or keep accelerating to make sure that only the last coach stops on platform.

P. D'Mello later moved to become M/man and get rid of hectic life of loco driver. He died within a few years after he retired. He suffered from lung cancer.

Charminar Zindabad!!

This train stops at Virar now, I believe.