Double Decker Diaries: Mumbai to Vadodara – Part 1

You all know that I have travelled by train more times than I can count; but I have never experienced 130 kmph action, unless you count my journey by the Chennai Rajdhani way back in 1993; when I was barely four years old! Of course, I don’t remember anything about that journey; except seeing a few derailed wagons πŸ˜› . Now that COVID19 is all but gone, a lot of opportunities for train travel have opened up once more. Also, the last time I had travelled to Gujarat was in early 2009; therefore I decided to make a trip to Vadodara, and the train chosen was 12931 MMCT-ADI Double Decker Express; since it does 130 kmph (from Virar to BRC) and leaves MMCT in the afternoon, unlike 12009 MMCT-GNC Shatabdi which leaves at a rather inconvenient time of 06 20 – getting up early in the weekend was not an option for me; even for the sake of a train trip! πŸ˜›

The date of the trip was Saturday 29th October; I had booked the tickets in September and at that time the famous Vande Bharat between MMCT and GNC had not yet introduced; the inaugural run took place only in October. As ever, for all technical terms and station codes (and there are going to be MANY of them in this report!!); refer to the legend right at the bottom. If you are interested in Double Decker trains in general; please go through this report of mine as well – and : this is the account of my journey by 22625 MAS-SBC Double Decker back in December 2017. Once again, let me warn you; this report is going to be PACKED with technical jargon, locomotive spottings and train crossings – but there will be a fair bit of natural scenery too; after all, the Mumbai-Vadodara route is full of rivers πŸ™‚ .

On the day of the journey, I left my home by 12 10 and took an auto to Vikhroli; from where I boarded a slow local to Dadar. 12071 Mumbai Jalna Jan Shatabdi crossed us with its usual EMD before Vidyavihar. At Dadar, I changed over from CR to WR and boarded a slow local to MMCT. Saw BRC WAP7 39131 just before MMCT. After I got down from the local, I spotted a trio of locos on a siding outside the terminus – BRC WAP7 39194, BRC WAP5 30186 and VTA WAP4 22941.

BRC WAP7 39194 and BRC WAP5 30186 on a siding outside Mumbai Central
Vatva WAP4 22941 as well; next to 30186

As I took the FOB from the local train station to the terminus, I observed that BRC WAP7 37562 had brought 12932 ADI-MMCT Double Decker to Platform 2 – this was to depart back to ADI as my train 12931.

BRC WAP7 37353 was moving away from PF1.

37562 was posing next to its shed mate (BRC WAP7 39017); which had brought 12934 Karnavati Express from ADI to PF3.

BRC WAP7 30526 had brought 82902 Tejas Express from ADI to PF5.

PF1 was now occupied by BRC WAP7 39193.

12931’s rear EOG was in Humsafar livery.

BRC WAP5 30079 stood on the far end of PF1.

Board of MMCT next to 12931

39194 (seen earlier outside MMCT) became the power for 12931 DD!!

My coach C3 was covered with ads πŸ˜› .

My seat (no. 6 – you can see it on the bottom right in the below picture) was a Window Seat on level ground. A set of stairs led to the Upper deck and another to the Lower deck. My seat was in the middle (mezzanine) deck and was situated next to the foot of the stairs.

My seat, apart from being a window seat, was also a single seat and the window was an emergency window πŸ™‚ . The only drawback was that it was facing Mumbai – the two seats facing me were in the direction of the journey and there was a table in between. We departed at 14 31, a minute late, with a big jerk. PF4 was occupied by 09023 MMCT-BL Special. The loco for 82901 Tejas Exp to ADI was BRC WAP7 30757. Spotted BRC WAP7 39192 on a siding to the left. We skipped Dadar at MPS. After Bandra, 19418 ADI-MMCT Exp crossed behind a WAP4. Observed BRC WAP7 37505 on a siding before Santacruz. WAP7s seem to dominate these days and we see less and less trains with WAP4s, not to mention diesels; which are slowly fading away due to the craze for electrification! 😦 Coming back to the journey, there were a lot of mild LHB jerks; especially while accelerating and decelerating.

12926 ASR-MMCT Paschim Exp crossed at a great speed with a BRC WAP7 just before Kandivali. We stopped at BVI home signal with a big jerk that caused two water bottles to fall! :O Departed a minute later with another big jerk!! Pulled into PF6 of the station at 15 05, 13 mins late. An unknown special to BDTS departed from PF9 behind BL WAG9 31551. Meanwhile, a lot of people got in our train. We left after a halt of 4 mins; with yet another big jerk. I have experienced a lot of LHB jerks and they are particularly irritating when the train is hauled by a WAP7! 😦 By the way, you will have to wait till Part 2 for a video compilation of the journey as a whole; including all the high speed action post Virar, as well as some of the rivers. Meanwhile, the flush in the Indian toilet was not working 😦 . We then passed over the Vasai Creek, which, as always; was a sight for sore eyes πŸ™‚ .

There was some marshland surrounding the creek.

We overtook a Container freight led by a WAG9; which was waiting on the BSR-Diva line. Skipped BSR at MPS, overtaking 20931 KCVL-INDB Superfast; which was hauled by twin RTM WDM3As 16828 and 16815 (in a very pleasing Navy Blue and cream livery) – ALCOs, especially twins; are truly a sight for sore eyes – especially these days, with EMDs and electrics (especially the latter) taking over most of the routes!! The Capital Mall (by Lake Shore) came on the right before Nallasopara; where we crossed 22634 NZM-TVC superfast, pulled by a GOC WDM3A/WDG3A. The Global School Junior College then came on the right, followed by Radiant Hospital; before we skipped VR at MPS. Slowed down after crossing the beautiful Vaitarna river. We then crossed an LHB rake hauled by a WAP7. There were mountains in the distant right.

After passing a herd of buffaloes, we soon picked up speed; the WAP7 was toying with our puny load of 13 coaches. Blasted through Saphale at MPS and now the 130 kmph action had finally started – this was where the journey had truly begun!! 12472 SVDK-BDTS Swaraj Exp crossed us behind its customary WAP7. However, this burst of high speed was short-lived as we again slowed down and crawled through Kelve Road; crossing a WDG4D with a flatbed rake. There were two newly constructed lines on the right; poles were ready but the lines weren’t wired yet. We crossed an ICF rake led by a WAP4. Then we soon accelerated to MPS and ripped through Palghar, overtaking a freight hauled by Ajni WAG9 31376. Predictably, however; we again dropped the pace after Umroli and crossed a container rake led by SRE WAG12B 60011 – my first ever sighting of what is now the most powerful loco in IR!! πŸ™‚

We soon accelerated and skipped Boisar at a good speed; before crossing another flatbed rake pulled by a WAG9. Now there was some good scenery with forests on the right. Also, our LP seemed in a mood to put the earlier slowdowns behind him/her as we thundered through Vangaon at MPS. The scenery continued to give us company for a while; with coconut groves in the distant right and marshland on the immediate right; with ponds here and there. There was again a brief slowdown, as we crossed a river. However, the LP was once more quick to step on the gas and we hit MPS in almost no time; zipping through Dahanu Road – in the yard were JHS WAG7 27628, TKD WAG9 32194 and SRE WAG12B 60217; as well as quite a few WAG9s. We overtook a Concor freight hauled by twin blue WAG7s (leading – 27351 of NKJ and trailing – 27X06).

The scenery continued to grace us with its presence – coconut groves in the distant right, followed by plantains, palm trees and a stagnant pond. Then we blasted through Gholvad and crossed a BOXN rake led by twin WAG7s. This was followed by forests with small coniferous trees, coconut groves and meadows; before we ripped through Bordi Road. Then there were more cone trees, eucalyptus trees and coconut groves; with mountains in the distant right. 19016 Porbander Mumbai Saurashtra Exp (now terminating at Dadar) crossed us behind a WAP4, before we thundered through Umbargaon Road – now we had finally entered Gujarat πŸ˜‰ . The freight action continued, as we crossed a container freight pulled by a WAG9. Then we passed over another river before blasting through Sanjan. The scenery continued inexorably in the form of coconut groves, small forests and eucalyptus trees. A line branched off to our right.

We crossed a Concor freight hauled by a blue WAG7 before ripping through Bhilad. After the highway joined us on the right, we slowed down. The two new lines on the right – first seen after Kelve Road – continued to give us company; wiring was yet to be done, but I saw some cement-mixing lorries on these lines. It seems there is finally some progress on the DFC. After Karambele, there was an LC with a lot of vehicles. Then we crossed the beautiful Damanganga river. This was followed by Kalpataru and Veer Healthcare Ltd factories on the right. After some eucalyptus groves, we crossed an Ambuja Cement factory; before pulling into PF1 of Vapi at 16 39, 7 mins late. We had covered the last 140 km from BVI in just 1.5 hours; at an average speed of 93.33 kmph! πŸ™‚ On PF3 was 22929 DRD-BRC superfast. Some people got down here and quite a few boarded our train.

The station was not very crowded…
….and at the same time not empty either

We departed after a stop of 3 mins, overtaking 22929 in the process!! Its loco was BL WAP4E 22057 – converted from a WAP1. There was a road next to us; some buffaloes were grazing nearby. The freight action continued inexorably, as a BCNA rake crossed us behind twin WAG9s. This was followed by Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki showrooms and Hotel Woodlands. We overtook vehicles on the highway and crossed a partly dry Kolak river. Then there was a Toll Naka, followed by a Bharat Benz showroom. We crossed another LC with a lot of vehicles before blasting through Udvada; then we slowed down and passed through some forests on the right, as the industrial town of Vapi gave way to the scenic countryside. Passed over Gangaji river, followed by coconut groves; then we skipped Pardi at a good speed.

There was a TSR of 30 kmph on the UP line; as well as a board stating “TE Limit Starts”. Then we crossed the broad and beautiful Par river. 09160 BL-BDTS Passenger Special crossed us with a WAP4; before we slowed down once more and skipped Atul. A highway crossed over us, followed by an LC with a lot of vehicles. There were coconut groves in the distant right and buffaloes grazing on the immediate right. After another LC, we crossed a BNCA freight led by a WAG9. There was yet another LC with a lot of two-wheelers; before the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation Of India Ltd building loomed on the right. Then came a board stating “TE Limit Ends – 30T per Loco”. T here means weight in Tons. We had by now slowed to a crawl; since we were nearing BL. After passing the Traction Distribution Depot, Valsad on the right; we pulled into PF2 of the station at 17 07, 12 mins late.

This station was more crowded than Vapi.

Let’s stop here for now. Will complete the rest of the journey in Part 2; for which you”ll have to wait till the next weekend; because of course work calls!! Till then, here’s me saying an interim goodbye to you all!


Technical Terms

  • EMD – Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel locos)
  • CR – Central Railway
  • WR – Western Railway
  • FOB – Foot Overbridge
  • LHB – Linke-Hoffman-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features – seen in majority of the trains nowadays)
  • EOG – End-on-Generator (Generator attached at either end of the rake)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • ALCO – American Locomotive Company (and a class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
  • ICF – Integral Coach Factory, Perambur (Chennai) [used to manufacture most of the coaches in Indian Railways]
  • IR – Indian Railways
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • DFC – Dedicated Freight Corridor
  • LC – Level Crossing
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • TE – Tractive Effort

Station Codes

  • MMCT – Mumbai Central
  • ADI – Ahmedabad
  • BRC – Vadodara
  • GNC – Gandhinagar
  • MAS – Chennai Central
  • SBC – KSR Bengaluru (Bangalore City/Majestic)
  • VTA – Vatva
  • BL – Valsad
  • ASR – Amritsar
  • BDTS – Bandra Terminus
  • BVI – Borivali
  • KCVL – Kochuveli
  • INDB – Indore
  • RTM – Ratlam

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