Ending 2018 at a snail’s pace – Part 1

2018 had been a largely eventful year. Sometimes the year is so memorable that you are sorry to see it end. Hence I took the slowest train (11028 Chennai Mumbai Mail) to return to Mumbai; after a rather enjoyable trip to Chennai. Just kidding; I booked 11028 because I couldn’t get reservation in the other trains! πŸ˜› On the night of the journey (29th Dec), I left my grandparents’ home in Abhiramapuram by around 22 20 and took an Uber auto to MAS. I reached there an hour before my train’s scheduled departure (23 55), leaving me enough time for some railfanning. 12657 MAS-SBC ‘Sleep killer’ Mail was to depart from Platform 4, while 11028 was to depart from PF7.

13352 Alleppey Dhanbad express had come on PF9 with AJJ WAP4 22809, while KZJ WAG7 27390 had shunted in the LHB rake of 12291 YPR-MAS superfast to PF10.

At 23 07, an announcement was made for 12676 CBE-MAS Kovai express to arrive on PF3. ED WAP4 22828 had brought 12841 Howrah Chennai Coromandel express to PF8, ready to depart as 12840 Chennai Howrah Mail. The front SLR of Coromandel (i.e. rear SLR of Howrah Mail) belonged to SR! RPM WAP7 30378 had brought 22807 SRC-MAS AC superfast to PF5.

My coach B1 was of 2013 make, 4th from the loco; and had bio-toilets as well as plug points in all bays.
Our loco till Wadi was AJJ WAP1 22026.

Meanwhile, 22646 TVC-INDB Ahilyanagari express had arrived on PF6. I clambered up to my side upper berth in order to sleep even before our train’s departure. However, sleep was not easy to come and before that my ticket was checked. After that it was a sound sleep of more than 9 hours; except for waking up a few times in between, mostly to use the toilet (there was less water in the Indian toilet at the front! 😦 ) . Our WAP1’s melodious LT & HT horns (sometimes used together; sounding like one of the old WAM4s!! πŸ™‚ ), combined with the gentle swaying motion of the train; was a perfect lullaby πŸ™‚ .

When I finally got down from my SUB, it was 09 50. We reached Adoni at 10 11, 58 mins late. There was a BOXN freight and an express in the distant right. We departed after a halt of only a minute. I had breakfast consisting of a plate of veg cutlets. After Kupgal, we passed through scenery in the form of coconut and eucalyptus trees, rocky man-made hills in the distant left, massive herds of lambs, goats and sheep; and meadows. After Kosigi, there were cattle ploughing the fields, palm and eucalyptus trees, woods full of small trees and paddy fields; before we pulled into PF3 of MALM at 10 53, 54 mins late. PF2 was on the mainline.

We had a watering halt of 12 mins at MALM; departing with a long HT horn.
The Tungabhadra river was 70% full; though with many islands in between.
A substantial amount of water though.
At its broadest best here.

After crossing the Tungabhadra river, we sped through corn fields, plantains and pits; accompanied by melodious HT honking (there were 2 HT horns!). After Matmari, a freight hauled by an EMD blasted past. Then there were corn and maize fields, as well as eucalyptus and ashoka trees in the distant left; before the ghost station Marichethal. This was followed by a man-made pond, tall corn fields, meadows and a pond with thorns. The sight of an Indian Oil Plant signalled the arrival of Raichur. We pulled into the station at a good speed at 11 36, 1 hour 13 mins late. On the right, 11013 LTT-CBE express was waiting with a WDP4D. We left after a stop of 2 mins; with a HT horn and a short burst of the LT horn.

It was obvious that we were passing through an industrial belt, as evidenced by the presence of Balaji Warehousing and Sri Hanuman Cotton Ginners. To add some contrast to the landscape, there were beautiful twin ponds and herds of lambs, goats and sheep grazing; before we blasted through Yermaras at MPS. Then there were stagnant ponds and a pipeline, followed by a big curve to the left; before the impressive structure of the RTPS showed itself. After Chiksugur, we passed through dark brown soil, coconut groves, a man-made pond and irrigated fields; before an unscheduled halt of a minute at Yadalapur on the mainline (there was a BOXN rake on the right) . Then came the almost half-dry Krishna river.

We overtook a freight at MPS at Chegunta and then crossed a BCNA rake headed by an EMD. Then there were pits, small mounds of mud stacked up and an LC with a lot of 2-wheelers, a lorry as well as a Tata Sumo with a group of people sitting on the top!! :O After Saidapur, we passed through similar scenery in the form of maize fields, meadows and trees here and there. At Lingiri, there were eucalyptus trees as well as a lot of sleepers stacked up. A mosque and rows of coconut trees signalled the arrival of Yadgir at 12 38, 39 mins late only; thanks mainly to slack : 50 mins allotted for a distance of only 25 km between Raichur and Krishna! πŸ˜› In addition, we had covered the last 43 km (from Krishna to Yadgir) in 35 mins at 73.71 kmph, including a stop at Saidapur πŸ™‚ .

We had a really long halt of 24 mins at Yadgir
The water vending machine didn’t work and returned my 2 rupee coin!! 😦
An OHE van on a siding

After this extended stop at Yadgir, we passed through a bridge over bushes, shrubs and some stagnant water covered by moss, a pond, some woods with small trees and coconut groves. Meanwhile, I had a tasty lunch of Veg Biryani; as we arrived at Nalwar at 13 25, 1 hour 1 min late. Here we had a massive halt of 40 mins; the reason for this was obvious – ridiculous slack of 2.5 hours for the next 13 km to Wadi! :O Since the train reaches Mumbai at an already unearthly time of 03 45; this slack can’t be removed either – as it would mean that the train would reach Mumbai at an even worse time! 😦 Meanwhile, a BOXN freight overtook us at MPS – ultimate insult! πŸ˜› When we finally departed, it seemed the LP was also feeling the frustration; since s/ he blew the HT horn, followed by 2 long LT horns! :O

We sped through maize and corn fields, bushes and shrubs, trees here and there, a stagnant pond and piles of stone waste; with melodious HT honking (both HT horns used) all the way – the LP probably looking forward to the end of his/her shift; thanks to loco change (to diesel) at Wadi! πŸ˜› The town soon appeared, followed by a PSR of 10 kmph for freights and 15 kmph for M/E trains. I saw KYN WDG4 12535 on a siding on the left, as well as our counterpart 11027 CSMT-MAS Mail (close to 1.5 hours late! :O ) ready to leave with a WAP4 on the right; as we pulled into PF4 of Wadi at 14 21, a whopping 34 mins early; thanks to the gargantuan slack from Nalwar! πŸ˜› It is time for me to wind up for now; will continue the rest of the journey in Part 2 – thanks for being with me so far! πŸ˜€

Technical Abbreviations

  • LHB – Linke-Hofmann-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features; used in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis , and many Durontos and AC expresses)
  • SLR – Seating Cum Luggage Rake (attached at the front and rear of every ICF self-generating rake)
  • ICF – Integral Coach Factory, Perambur, Chennai (manufactures most of the coaches in Indian Railways)
  • SR – Southern Railway
  • LT – Low Tone
  • HT – High Tone
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • RTPS – Raichur Thermal Power Station
  • LC – Level Crossing
  • OHE – Overhead Equipment
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • M/E – Mail/Express
  • PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction

Station Codes

  • MAS – Chennai Central
  • SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City/Majestic)
  • AJJ – Arakkonam Junction
  • KZJ – Kazipet
  • YPR – Yeshwantpur
  • CBE – Coimbatore Junction
  • ED – Erode
  • RPM – Royapuram
  • SRC – Santragachchi
  • TVC – Trivandrum Central
  • INDB – Indore
  • MALM – Manthralayam Road
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST

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