Ending 2018 at a snail’s pace – Part 2

True to the title of this blog, the year 2018 was ending at a snail’s pace; in a journey by the supercrawler 11028 Chennai Mumbai Mail 😛 . We were halfway through – at Wadi, where the electric locomotive that had hauled us all the way from MAS would be replaced; with a diesel taking over till Pune. For the journey so far, please refer Part 1: https://ashwinkumar1989.online/2019/01/06/ending-2018-at-a-snails-pace-part-1/ . As for the diesel; pride of place went to offlink brand-new UBL WDP4D 40545 with no shed markings! :O

Our brand-new loco had an LT horn and a pure EMD HT horn that was rarely used during the journey.
Pune WDP4D 40575 inside a shed on the right.
GTL WDM3Ds 11180 and 11394 next to a BCNA freight in the distant right.

Our EMD was revved up furiously; the sound was music to my ears! We departed after a long halt of 40 mins; with a long and short blast of the LT horn. I spotted Pune WDM3D 11224 nearby in a siding on the left. The WDP4D accelerated quickly once we crossed the junction limits, before slowing down for a TSR over the Kagina river bridge. There was some moss below as well as garbage; in addition to a lot of weeds in the far right. Buffaloes were grazing on the grass nearby. As we picked up speed again, a BCNA rake hauled by an ALCO crossed us at a good speed. There were boys playing cricket with full gear on a ground before Shahabad. I saw a cemetery near the Shahabad Nallah.

As we picked up speed after crossing Shahabad town limits, there was quite a bit of lateral movement! :O I saw a cement mixer and a tractor at work in a field, as well as a guy riding his Hero Maestro scooter there! :O This was followed by cattle grazing and some plantains, before we blasted through Martur (where there was a fire burning in the distant left) at MPS. After Hirenanduru, the landscape became somewhat greener; with many neat rows of trees, orchards and coconut groves. Then came the town of Gulbarga; ironically with a lot of trash. There was a TSR of 75 kmph before we pulled into PF1 of the junction at 15 40, 2 mins early. We had covered the last 27 km in 22 mins at 73.63 kmph 🙂 . On PF4 was 57628 Gulbarga Solapur passenger with Pune WDM3D 11384.

We departed after a halt of 5 mins; with a long blast of the LT horn, followed by a short one. I saw sleepers stacked up and rows of tents nearby. Then we ripped through some scenery; followed by Bablad station.

There were rows of tents at Sawalgi as well, followed by clumps of eucalyptus trees; before we blazed through Hunsil Hadgil. Then there was more scenery in the form of woods consisting of small trees in the distant left, plantains and neat rows of trees. Land had been levelled for doubling work between Hunsil Hadgil and GUR. We reached GUR at 16 06, 5 mins early 🙂 . The last 27 km from Gulbarga had been covered in 21 mins at 77.14 kmph; the WDP4D was toying with the 19-coach rake 😀 . However, we ended up paying the price for peaking too early; as a monumental wait of 42 mins for 2 crossings followed! :O

What transpired was some strange section controlling by the infamous SUR division of CR. It was 16 27 when the signal on the mainline finally turned green (meaning – we were detained for 15 mins beyond the scheduled departure time of 16 12 just so that the crossing train could get clearance!) and we had to wait some more time before a Container train led by a loudly and continuously honking UBL WDG4 12010 passed through on the mainline. However, incredibly, our troubles were not yet over. The minutes slowly passed before 18520 LTT-VSKP express (headed by KYN WDP4D 40346) appeared at a crawling speed; the signal on the mainline was still red then! :O However, it turned amber and then green at the last moment; resulting in the EMD smoking profusely like an ALCO and accelerating! :O

Video of the 2 crossings – Please keep subtitles on for a detailed description!

The section controlling on the whole wasn’t clear to me – why couldn’t they have allowed us to depart from GUR as per schedule and wait for the crossings at the next station Gaudgaon (only 6 km away) ? I am saying this because we had to wait for 15 mins after our scheduled departure just for the mainline signal to turn green. Additionally; why were we made to wait after the container freight had passed – especially given that 18520 initially got a red signal which turned green at the last minute? I think the best way to handle this would have been to loop us at Gaudgaon for the crossing with the freight and at Kulali (12 km away from GUR) for the crossing with 18520. Seems to me that the elongated wait was only because of the slack in 11028’s schedule! 😛

Anyway, enough nitpicking for now! There was a new TSR of 30 kmph over the bridge before Gaudgaon; with a stagnant pond nearby. I also observed a giant plume of smoke rising from the far left; probably from a factory. Sleepers were stacked up at Kulali and track was laid from Kulali to Dudhani home signal. There was also scenery again in the form of sugarcane fields, a few eucalyptus trees, a vine yard and woods comprising short trees. Sleepers were stacked up at Dudhani as well. Track was laid in patches till Boroti; through which we crawled in order to change over to the double line (till Wadsinge; just before KWV). Crossed 57133 BJP-RC passenger with a blue/white ALCO before ripping through Nagansur.

We continued to pass through beautiful countryside scenery in the form of bovines grazing, another vine yard, a man-made pond beside sugarcane and maize fields and a few coconut trees before AKOR. Then there were cow sheds and rows of coconut trees, as well as tractors and 3 bikes parked in the field! :O We overtook 2 vehicles on rough, unmetalled road; before blasting through Tilati. This was followed by huts, cottages and an LC under the beautiful setting sun. Spotted twin WDG4s with a BOXN rake on the Hotgi bypass. At Hotgi Junction, I had a glimpse of the sugar factory as well as the line to BJP in the lovely twilight.

I had my last glimpse of scenery (for it would be dark soon!) in the form of a clump of eucalyptus trees, coconut groves and bushes and shrubs; before we ripped through Tikekarwadi. The scenery soon gave way to a mass of huts, cottages and residential buildings; as the town of Solapur approached. The yard appeared on the right, separated from us by a wall; saw the rake of 11051/52 SUR-KOP express parked there. Waiting on a siding was the slip coach (packed with people!) that was to be attached to our rake at SUR and again detached at Daund – to be attached to 11039 Kolhapur Gondia Maharashtra express there.

We slowed down to a crawl; as the loop speed within the station limits is only 10 kmph. Spotted an Accident Relief & Medical Tool Van on the distant left, before we pulled into PF1 at 18 16, just 6 mins late (we were 36 mins late when we departed GUR after that massive halt for crossings); thanks to slack again! 😛 Quite a few people got down here. A WDP4 was the power for 11311 Solapur Hassan express on PF5; while PF4 was occupied by a DEMU. By the way, the early dinner that I had ordered in advance online through https://www.railyatri.in/ was duly delivered here. It consisted of 3 rotis with panneer butter masala and was delicious 🙂 .

We departed after a stop of 16 mins. By now it was too dark to see much outside the window; so I instead settled into reading the book of short stories by 19th century American mystery writer Edgar Allan Poe titled “The Murders In The Rue Morgue And Other Tales” . I also had some Tomato Chatpata soup (the pantry staff were using Knorr’s mix; something I had noticed even during my onward journey from Mumbai to Chennai by 22920 ADI-MAS Humsafar express! 🙂 ). As we crawled before Wadsinge in order to enter single line territory again (till Bhigwan; before Daund) , an express hauled by a madly honking ALCO blasted past us. There was a lone ALCO on a siding to the left at Wadsinge.

We reached KWV at 19 52, 17 mins late. Here we again had a long halt of 23 mins for crossings. While departing, the LP blew 2 short blasts of the LT horn followed by a long one; the process was repeated twice! Then (after a minute or so) there was again a long blast before we finally started moving! :O I would love to be enlightened as to the reason why s/he had to use the horns in such a way. I also noticed 2 RPF personnel sitting on the coach attendant’s seat near the door; one of them had a rifle! :O I suppose it was to do with this notorious section till Daund that is known for stone-throwing, chain-snatching and dacoity.

I soon retired to my SUB and had a decent sleep, though I woke up a few times in between (mostly to use the loo); including at Pune. When I finally got down from my berth, the coach had almost emptied; we had just departed Dadar. I washed my face and brushed my teeth. Time seems to fly when you are nearing the destination; particularly at the end of a long trip 😉 . In almost no time we were crawling into PF14 of CSMT. It was 03 51; we were only 6 mins late 🙂 . Our electric loco from Pune was a chocolate brown KYN WCAM2-6P 21861.

I crossed over to the suburban end of the terminus and boarded the first local of the day – the 04 15 Slow to Kasara. At Dadar, I noticed 11020 BBS-CSMT Konark express arrive at 04 40; 1 hour 18 mins late. Got an auto from Vikhroli to reach home by around 05 15. Thus ended a memorable trip of Chennai on the last day of 2018; the year had thus truly ended at a snail’s pace – with the journey by this supercrawler 😛 . Now hope you have read these 2 parts…err…at a snail’s pace! Just kidding; I guess you would have skimmed through them at the speed of a bullet train! 😛

Technical Abbreviations

  • LT – Low Tone
  • HT – High Tone
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel engines)
  • ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • CR – Central Railway
  • LC – Level Crossing
  • DEMU – Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (or diesel local)
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • RPF – Railway Protection Force

Station Codes

  • UBL – Hubli
  • GTL – Guntakal
  • GUR – Ganagapur Road
  • SUR – Solapur
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • VSKP – Visakhapatnam
  • KWV – Kurduvadi
  • BJP – Bijapur
  • RC – Raichur
  • AKOR – Akkalkot Road
  • KOP – Kolhapur
  • ADI – Ahmedabad
  • MAS – Chennai Central
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • BBS – Bhubaneswar

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