Yes, we all dearly love to escape from the rigours of our daily work routines in fast-paced metros, don’t we? Especially if the metro happens to be Mumbai; more so, when it involves commuting to work by the Mumbai locals with their super dense crush load! Considering all that, it is a delightful irony that my form of escape also involves trains, isn’t it? 😛 Well, don’t ask me. I am a railfan; and we railfans are supposed to be crazy! 😛 Anyway, the destination of this latest escape was Igatpuri; and the means to get there? 15017 LTT-GKP Kashi express (via BSB). On the day of the journey (Saturday 16th November); I got up early in the morning at 05 10, took bath, had coffee and left my home by 05 55.
I took an auto to go to Vikhroli; where I was greeted by the sight of an Utkrisht rake hauled by Ajni WAP7i 30737 blasting through the station; at the same time, 22105 Mumbai Pune Indrayani express passed behind KYN WDP4D 40260; slowing down in the process. I boarded a local and reached Thane by 06 25; thus leaving me with more than half an hour to board 15017 – enough time for some railfanning 🙂 . 17058 SC-CSMT Devagiri express arrived on Platform 6 at 06 28, 16 minutes late. Then 11067 LTT-FD Saket express departed (about 50 mins late!) with a short blast of a harsh LT horn; the loco most probably being a WAP7. This was followed by 12859 Mumbai Howrah Geetanjali express led by DLW-made SRC WAP7i 37117 ripping through PF5.
Just a minute later, 12620 MAQ-LTT Matsyagandha express arrived on PF8 at 06 39; 45 mins late. It departed after a halt of 2 mins; I noticed that the coaches were not in a great condition 😦 . The action in the UP direction continued, as 12138 Firozpur Mumbai Punjab Mail arrived on PF6 less than 10 mins later; headed by GZB WAP7 30353. It left after just a minute; with a short HT toot of the P7, accompanied by a very brief LT note. Then 17617 Mumbai Nanded Tapovan express pulled into PF5 with a WCAM2. It departed after a stop of 2 mins. 17412 Kolhapur Mumbai Mahalaxmi express then pulled into PF6 behind Pune WDP4D 40153 at 06 58, 31 mins late.
Then my train 15017 arrived on PF7, hauled by ET WAP4 22922.
There was a mad scramble to get inside my coach S1, and by the time I was seated in my Side Lower Berth (non-trackside); the coach was quite crowded. We departed at 07 03, 3 mins late. An LHB rake entered on the right, just as we exited the station. As we slowly crossed over the points, a slow local to Kalyan overtook us. The action on the UP line continued unabated, as a train led by an ALCO crossed us before the Parsik Tunnel. At Diva, another LHB rake crossed us with a WAP5/7. We then overtook a short rake of cranes headed by a WDS6 on the right. After thundering at MPS for a while, we slowed down in the Kalyan yard; while overtaking a stationary tanker train hauled by Ajni WAG9H 31067. Then we came to a halt for clearance.
As we started moving a minute later, with a characteristic WAP4 horn of the LT variety; the tanker almost managed to catch up with us – it was heading towards the Kalyan bypass. We pulled into PF4 of Kalyan at 07 31, 12 mins late. The coach became even more crowded now; and I could sense the the journey ahead was not going to be very pleasant – even if it wasn’t that long! We left after a stop of 5 mins with a brief LT toot. After crossing over the points, the WAP4 was soon in its element hauling the 24-coach rake; and we ripped through Shahad at MPS, horns blaring; I observed that there were 2 LT horns and an HT horn – of these, the LP used one of the LT horns liberally; using the HT horn whenever we skipped stations at full speed. We crossed the Ulhas river before thundering through Ambivli and Titvala; horns blaring as always!
We then crossed the Kaloo river. By now, I was feeling sleepy; since I had got up quite early in the morning (especially for a weekend!) and moreover I was not enjoying the journey due to the crowd – including me, there were 3 people on my side bay! :O So I dozed off for a while. After I woke up, we blasted through scenery (in the form of meadows, forests, uneven mounds of earth covered with dried grass, rock cuttings and stagnant ponds); accompanied by rhythmic clickety clack track sounds. There were huge piles of sleepers stacked up at Khardi. After Oombermalli, we slowed down to a crawl and thus vehicles on the highway overtook us. My earlier sleepy spirit seemed to have infected the LP too; as we made two unscheduled halts, combining to a total duration of 11 mins! 😛 During the latter stop, 12110 Manmad Mumbai Panchavati express crossed us behind its customary WAP7.
We then reached Kasara at 08 51, 23 mins late. After a stop of 6 mins; during which bankers were attached for the climb up the Thull Ghats; we left. At the same time, 13201 RJPB-LTT express arrived with a DMW-made CNB WAP7i 39083. As we exited the station, we overtook a container freight on the left; headed by twin blue WAG7s in WAP4 shells (leading – 28163 of BNDM). As we began the climb up the Ghats, a train hauled by a WAP4 crossed us. Here is a taster of the Ghats:
There were stunning valley views, especially over the viaducts. Here are the views from the first viaduct:
However, the green cover had faded away to a certain extent; since it had been more than a month since the monsoon had finally ended!
Below the 2nd viaduct, a dry and rather murky stream flowed through the valley; down a capricious ravine.
Here is the view from the last viaduct in the Ghats, …as a half-dry river serves as yet another reminder that the monsoon was over a long time ago! 😛
We then arrived on PF1 of Igatpuri at 09 25, 20 mins late. On PF4 was an LHB rake led by GZB WAP7 30243; probably 11054 AMH-LTT express. Banker couple KYN WCAM3s 21881 and 21943 rested on PF2. Well, with this I will wrap up Part 1 of the trip. Please stay tuned for Part 2; in which I’ll describe the return journey! 😀
- LT – Low Tone
- HT – High Tone
- DLW – Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi (largest diesel engine manufacturer in India; now manufactures electrics as well!)
- 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)
- MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
- LP – Loco Pilot
- ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and an old class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
- DMW – Diesel Locomotive Modernization Works, Patiala (serves to extend the service life of Diesel engines and significantly raise the level of their availability; now also produces WAP7s!)
- LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT)
- GKP – Gorakhpur
- BSB – Varanasi Junction
- KYN – Kalyan
- SC – Secunderabad
- CSMT – Mumbai CST
- FD – Faizabad
- SRC – Santragachchi
- MAQ – Mangalore Central
- GZB – Ghaziabad
- ET – Itarsi
- RJPB – Rajendranagar
- CNB – Kanpur
- BNDM – Bondamunda
- AMH – Azamgarh