Answering The Call Of Pune, Yet Again! – Part 2

After a memorable trip to Pune (one of so many!! 😛 ), which involved touring the countryside with my friend Omkar and staying at his house with him and his parents; it was time to return to Mumbai. The train chosen was 11302 SBC-CSMT Udyan Express, since it was the only train leaving Pune in the afternoon/evening; in which AC accommodation was available – having planned this trip at short notice. The day of the journey was Sunday 16th October. For my account of the onward journey from Mumbai to Pune, please refer to Part 1: https://ashwinkumar1989.in/2022/10/23/answering-the-call-of-pune-yet-again-part-1/ . Also, as always; refer to the legend right at the bottom for all technical terms and station codes.

As per schedule, Udyan was supposed to leave Pune at 16 05; but Omkar and I had been tracking the train online and it was running late by close to an hour – due to a very long halt of about an hour at Boribial (a small station just before DD) for some reason. Thus, we deliberately decided to leave late and by the time Omkar dropped me at the junction (on his motorbike); it was already 16 05 – but, as expected, Udyan was nowhere to be seen. The station was packed to the hilt; as my father would remark the next day, it seems like people have decided to travel with a vengeance; since the COVID situation seems to be well under control!! I had some coffee and then proceeded to check out the waiting rooms; however, all seats were occupied. So, I had no chance but to look for a granite slab to sit on Platform 1 – this took me quite some time, as I had to walk all the way to the South end; owing to the sheer crowd.

Meanwhile, my train’s delay was growing with every minute that passed; I was tracking its status online, but there was no announcement regarding Udyan and the digital display at the station didn’t show the train either!! I decided to pass the time by writing a poem. After what seemed like an eternity, there was finally an announcement that Udyan was expected to arrive at 6 PM, 2 hours late; on PF1!! At that time, PF1 was occupied by 22194 GWL-DD Superfast. There was also an announcement for 11019 CSMT-BBS Konark Express to arrive on PF3 and for 12128 Pune Mumbai Intercity to depart from PF4. 22194 eventually departed at 17 50, 1 hour late; with a long WAP4 type HT horn from the WAP7 hauling it. Konark then arrived on PF3 at 18 01, 21 minutes late, behind ED WAP7 37463. PF5 was occupied by 12157 Pune Solapur Hutatma Express. Udyan eventually arrived on PF1 at 18 08, 2 hrs 8 mins late; with RPM WAP7 30419.

30419 had WAP4 type horns as well – the LT horn was rather sharp. There was some hot air blowing from the EOG and the Sleeper class coach S8 belonged to SER. My AC 3 Tier Economy coach M2 was of a 2021 make. A lot of people got down from the train and quite a few people got in as well! From what I could make of the people inside discussing; it seemed like Udyan had stopped somewhere for 2 hours due to some work going on!! Like in the case of the onward journey, I had a Middle Berth and hence could not see too much outside the window; however, this was slightly compensated by the fact that the windows were huge – this is generally the case with LHB rakes. We left after a halt of 8 mins. Saw KJM WDP4D 40357 on the right near PF3 and GZB WAP7 30766 on a siding outside the junction. We then crossed 22732 CSMT-HYB Superfast behind an offlink – BRC WAP5 30166.

We soon picked up speed and raced through SVJR; before slowing down and skipping Khadki at a sedate pace. There was a lot of noise coming from the next coach M1 owing to flat wheels. We had an unscheduled stop at Dapodi for 3 mins; probably due to following 12128, which must have left before us – at its scheduled time of 17 55. As we accelerated out of the station, there were a lot of LHB jerks that were really irritating; I suppose WAP7 with LHB is a deadly combination 😛 . Blasted through Kasarwadi before slowing down and skipping Pimpri at a decent pace; after which Chinchwad, Akurdi and Dehu Road were despatched at MPS. Then we slowed down once more and skipped Begdewadi at a sedate speed. Meanwhile, I decided to have an early dinner consisting of a plate of 3 Idlis and a Vada (the train had a Hot Buffet Car – that’s what Pantry Cars in LHB rakes are called!) ; since it would probably be too late to have dinner, by the time I eventually reached home.

We had another unscheduled stop at Talegaon for 5 mins; by this time, it should have dawned on me that something was amiss. However, since we then proceeded to skip the next 3 stations (Vadgaon, Kanhe and Kamshet) at MPS; I was lulled into a false sense of security (a quote borrowed from the book “Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince”!) . Then we stopped at Malavli home signal for 4 mins and I finally realised that there was a serious problem. But this was just the tip of the iceberg; as we proceeded to halt at the station as well. Now my fellow passengers began to get irritated. The minutes passed by in a trickle and we remained where we were. Then an ICF rake overtook us at a great speed; couldn’t see the loco, but it had a WAP4 type horn. The train was probably 22150 Pune ERS superfast (via Panvel). Since Udyan was running more than 2 hours late, it had lost all priority and hence other trains were being given preference.

If I thought we would leave soon, I was sadly mistaken. We continued to stay put; eventually there was another overtake – 16506 SBC-GIMB Express ripped past; led by an EMD with a unique horn. We finally limped out of the station a minute later; after an agonising wait of 19 mins!! There was more humiliation in store for us, as we were made to stop at LNL home as well!! 4 mins later, an LHB rake crossed us at MPS; but we still didn’t leave! One of my co-passengers was complaining on the phone about the delay and swore he’d never travel by train again!! We eventually left after another protracted halt of 12 mins; but not without some violent jerks. For a split second I was irrationally afraid we were going to derail (I have never experienced a train derailment in my life!!); but soon realised that we were just experiencing more of those infamous LHB jerks.

The drama didn’t quite end there; for we stopped again after 5 mins!! Thankfully this time the halt was for just 2 mins and we proceeded to reach LNL at 20 27, now running 3 hrs 4 mins late!! What’s more, we had taken 2 hrs 11 mins to cover the 63 km from Pune; at a staggering average speed of 28.85 kmph – a speed that would have put a passenger train to shame!!! The line ahead seemed to be clear; so we departed after a stop of only 2 mins; to begin the descent of the Bhor Ghats. By now it was too dark to see much out of the window; moreover I didn’t have a window seat either. Hence, I instead decided to focus on typing my poem (which I had written in my diary; in order to kill time at Pune Junction) on YourQuote and posting it there and on Instagram and Facebook as well. However, posting the poem took much more time than I had anticipated; since I lost network coverage in the Ghat section.

Meanwhile, we skipped Karjat at 21 26 and blasted through Badlapur half an hour later. After we skipped the next station Ambernath, I (along with quite a few others) gathered my luggage and headed towards the door; so as to get down at Kalyan. However, we seemed to be destined to experience one last moment of agony; as we made yet another unscheduled halt at Vithalwadi, just one station before Kalyan. Thus, we were mightily relieved when the train finally limped into PF6 of Kalyan at 22 25, 3 hrs 33 mins late!!! In less than 5 mins, I was onboard a slow local towards CSMT. However, I had not reckoned for the sheer crowd in the Second Class coaches; which was more than pre-COVID levels!! Got down at Dombivli and purchased a First Class ticket to Vikhroli; missing a local in the process!

It seemed my troubles for the day were not over yet; for the next local (which was supposed to arrive at 22 39) was badly delayed! Since there was going to be a long wait, I decided to do a bit of railfanning in the meantime. Took a video of 18029 LTT Shalimar Express blasting away behind SRC WAP4 22601, horns blaring (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SMGpu6NE00); followed by that of a close to 3 hrs late running 12860 HWH-CSMT Gitanjali Express ripping behind a furiously honking SRC WAP7 30633 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlgxSrTDZ7U). The 22 39 local eventually arrived 29 mins late!! I had no trouble in finding a seat in a First Class compartment. After getting down at Vikhroli; I had some trouble in finding an auto, as the autos just outside the station were plying till Suryanagar instead of Powai. There were share autos as well; but they were plying only till Vikhroli Park Site. Thus, I had no choice but to walk some distance; till I somehow managed to find an autowallah who agreed to drop me at my home in Hiranandani, Powai.

By the time I reached home; it was 12 mins past midnight!!! Thus, a trip which was rather enjoyable on the whole; had to end in a chaotic way. This proves that even a simple Mumbai-Pune outing can have its share of surprises!! Finally, a big Thank You to all of those who have read both Part 1 and 2 patiently!!

LEGEND

Technical Terms

  • LT – Low Tone
  • HT – High Tone
  • EOG – End-On Generator (a diesel generator attached to both ends of the train [usually LHB] to power the coaches; nowadays quite a few trains have just 1 EOG though)
  • SER – South Eastern Railway
  • LHB – Linke-Hofmann-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features; used in many of the trains [including Udyan] nowadays)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • ICF – Integral Coach Factory, Perambur (Chennai) [used to manufacture most of the coaches in Indian Railways]
  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel locos)

Station Codes

  • SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City)
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • DD – Daund
  • GWL – Gwalior
  • BBS – Bhubaneswar
  • ED – Erode
  • RPM – Royapuram
  • KJM – Krishnarajapuram (KR Puram)
  • GZB – Ghaziabad
  • HYB – Hyderabad
  • BRC – Vadodara
  • SVJR – Shivajinagar
  • ERS – Ernakulam Junction
  • GIMB – Gandhidham
  • LNL – Lonavala
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • SRC – Santragachchi
  • HWH – Howrah

For those of you who’ve read till here; behold a small surprise:

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