Bidding Farewell to 2022 in Style – Part 1

For a railfan, there is no better way to end a year than with a train trip. And for a diesel fan, that trip must involve a ride by a diesel-hauled train; especially given that now Indian Railways is on a mad electrification spree and the whole network is set to be electrified in a few years’ time. I had not travelled by the Kalyan-Kasara-Igatpuri-Nashik Road-Manmad route for quite some time; therefore I decided to undertake a trip to NK by 12071 Mumbai Jalna Jan Shatabdi (since this train is diesel-hauled end-to-end) – the date chosen was Saturday 3rd December. As ever, please refer to the legend right at the bottom of the report; for all technical terms and station codes.

On the day of the journey, I had brunch at home and left at 11 25; taking an auto to Vikhroli station. I boarded a slow local headed to Dadar. At Vidyavihar; to my shock, I saw 18030 SHM-LTT Express hauled by SRC WAP4 22743; it was running close to 8 hours late!! This train never seems to run on time – on many occasions I’ve seen it late by at least 2-3 hours; moreover it’s not a superfast either!! :O Anyway, I then spotted KYN WCAM2s 21871 and 21866 coupled on a siding before Dadar. At DR, I observed 12321 HWH-CSMT Mail (Via JBP) on Platform 5 – the train was running more than half an hour before time!! Wonders never cease to happen in IR – you have a non-superfast running incredibly late and a superfast running before time!!!

There was an announcement that 12071 JS would stop twice on PF4; apparently because PF4 is not long enough for a 22-coach LHB rake like 12071/72. That is fine, but why not make the train arrive on PF5; which is long enough for 22-coach LHB rakes? 12109 Mumbai-Manmad Panchavati Exp; with which 12071/72 has an RSA; always stops on PF5. I don’t see why 12071 can’t be stopped on PF5 as well; instead of making it stop twice on PF4. Anyway, JS arrived more than 10 minutes late on PF4; led by KYN WDP4D 40156.

My coach D11 was packed; a boy was sitting on my seat 54 – which was a trackside window seat and that too facing the direction of the journey. He suggested that I take another seat in the front; which was not a Window seat. Already the train was crowded and here this guy was sitting in my reserved seat and asking me to sit elsewhere; as though losing a window seat was nothing! Thus I lost my temper and forcefully asked him to vacate my seat; which he thankfully did without much ado. Our WDP4D had a unique and melodious HT horn found mainly in EMD locos; while the LT horn was sharp and could be found in many ALCOs too. The HT horn could be heard very mildly; while the LT horn was loud and clear. There was a flat wheel at the rear of the coach.

12071 belongs to BSL division of CR; due to its RSA with 12109/10 Panchavati Exp, which is maintained at MMR – part of BSL division. Thus, the maintenance of 12071 was not up to the mark: my armrest was broken and the seat was pushed back; I was unable to bring it back to its original position!! IMHO the RSA itself doesn’t make sense – JS is a fully reserved train; while Panchavati has a few unreserved coaches. Anyway, we crossed a tanker train headed by a freshly painted blue NKJ WAG7 27676; before blasting through Vikhroli, LT horn blaring. By the way, there is a video compilation of the journey as a whole; for which I will be sharing the link at the end of the report; before the legend.

We pulled into PF5 of Thane at 13 05, 22 mins late; HT horn blaring. Quite a few people boarded here. On PF8 was 02102 MMR-CSMT Special behind KYN WCAM2 21862. We departed after a halt of 2 mins; with the LP blowing the LT horn. There was also a typical LHB jerk. After Kalva, we overtook vehicles on the highway. After the first tunnel (between Kalva and Mumbra), there was a TSR of 85 kmph. We ripped through Diva and crossed a crawling BOXN cum flatbed freight hauled by LGD WAG9 32926 on the far right. An ICF rake led by a WCAM2 crossed us just before Kopar. After thundering through Dombivli, we crossed a solitary WCAM3 near Thakurli; before slowing to a crawl.

A CR ICF rake headed by BSL WAP4 22514 crossed us just before we arrived on PF4 of KYN at 13 24, 17 mins late. A few families boarded and we left after a stop of 4 mins. There was an announcement that 12617 ERS-NZM Mangala Lakshadweep Exp would be delayed by 20-25 mins. I saw a board indicating a PSR of 25 kmph for PFs 5 and 6 after we took the line to Kasara. We crossed the dirty Waldhuni river before Shahad. After crossing a river that had a dam across it; we slowed down to a crawl. There was a road on the right. Before Ambivli; there was another curve, on which we banked to the right. I spotted a narrow road on the immediate right and a factory in the distant right. After passing through slums, we crossed an LHB rake; before zipping through Titvala – there was a TSR of 90 kmph. Then came another river.

There were rows of huts, followed by meadows full of tall dried grass and a few palm trees here and there. The LP had his/her hand on the HT horn button for a while; as we slowed down to a crawl. Passed through fields full of dried sugarcane, followed by the township of Shanth Nagar; built by RB Developer. Then there was an LC full of vehicles; followed by a board indicating a TSR of 30 kmph (this was the reason for our crawl) before we skipped Khadavli. Then there were lots of lambs and goats grazing in the fields; followed by lots of trees, before we crossed the Khadavli Nullah and the Bhatsa river. I dozed off for a while. When I woke up, we were nearing Kasara.

I observed KYN WAG7 triplet 27109, 27121 and 28556; as we pulled into PF1 of Kasara at 14 35. There was a massive jerk after 5 mins; as bankers were attached to our rear, for the climp up the Thull Ghats to IGP. We finally departed at 14 43; after a halt of 8 mins. There was another KYN WAG7 triplet on the right – 27320, 28560 and one more loco. Then came the Rotanda Bridge; which signalled the start of the Ghat section.

Our first glimpse of the Thull Ghats

KYN WAG7Ms 21945 and 21886 crossed; followed by a TSR of 35 kmph. In a tunnel, I saw a strange sight – a small and stationary flatbed rake hauled by a blue and white APU-fitted WDM/G3A and banked by an orange WDG3A ‘Shakti’ !! Then a KYN WAG7 triplet (27397, 27209 and 27277) crossed us; honking loudly. There was another TSR of 30 kmph, followed by a tunnel. There was a red flag kept somewhere on the Midline! :O This was followed by yet another TSR of 30 kmph. The view of the valley and the mountains was breathtaking, as always šŸ™‚ .

You can see the MID and UP lines in the distant right
The Ghats are breathtaking, despite the limited greenery
A largely dry stream runs across the valley and some buildings are strategically placed on top!!
An LHB rake hauled by a WAP7 crosses us on the other side of the valley

As we came to the end of the Thull Ghats, the MID and UP lines drew closer to us.

This meant that we were inching closer to IGP
One last look at the MID and UP lines

At the IGP Trip Shed, I observed KYN WAG7 27136. We pulled into PF2 of IGP at 15 07. On PF3 stood 02198 JBP-CBE special; hauled by Bhilai WAG9 33417 – the train was running more than 2 hours late!! But then, what do you expect from a special? šŸ˜› Meanwhile, at 15 13; our LP blew a short blast of the LT horn, followed by a pause; before blowing a long blast of the same horn. Then we started moving; only to come to a halt soon after. The LP then blew the LT horn twice, followed by three short blasts. This was followed by yet another round of LT honking; before we finally left once and for all at 15 16!! Wonder what was all that about? :O After moving for a minute, the LP gave a short blast of the LT horn once more!! Meanwhile, I noticed a 3-phase MEMU on PF4.

After the IGP yard, the highway crossed over us. We crossed a stream named ‘Waki Khapri’; before soon acclerating to MPS, LT horn blaring. Blasted through Ghoti, followed by a clear and beautiful waterbody; probably a river. There was some scenery with a lot of trees as well as cattle grazing. Then we overtook vehicles on the highway, the LP again making liberal use of the LT horn; which was a real treat to the ears šŸ™‚ . Sometimes the HT horn was used as well. There was a brief slowdown, as I saw lambs and goats grazing. Then came a sharp curve with a TSR of 85 kmph – the IGP-NK route was full of curves! From hereon the LP made more use of the HT horn instead!! After accelerating to MPS, we slowed down once more and a narrow road passed below us.

The soil of this region had a dark brown hue. We slowed down to a crawl due to a TSR of 30 kmph; there was some construction work going on – a new line was being built on the right. Then we crossed a river, which had a road bridge in the far right. As we picked up speed, the UP line came above us. There was an LC with a lot of vehicles before we ripped through Asvali. Passed through some typical countryside scenery involving maize and corn fields, followed by cow sheds (with cattle inside) and another TSR of 90 kmph. This was followed by more such scenery – in the form of buffaloes grazing, various fields with tractors and a clump of eucalyptus trees. Now the LP alternated between the LT and the HT horn, as we thundered through Lahavit; followed by yet another TSR of 90 kmph.

There were more cow sheds with cattle, followed by neat rows of plants; before the town of Devlali approached. We crossed a Plasser machine and I also saw gangmen busy at work. Then there was more scenery in the form of coconut groves, before we zipped through Devlali station; HT horn blaring. There were huge piles of sleepers stacked up neatly in the distant right. Once we passed the station, a huge crowd began to get ready in order to deboard the train at NK!! The LP blew the LT horn, before we slowed down as NK drew closer. After crossing an LC full of vehicles, we pulled into PF1 of NK at 15 58, 23 mins late. There was a mad rush to deboard as well as board!! Anyway, we had covered the last 51 km from IGP in 42 kmph – at an average of 72.86 kmph; the only time during the journey that I felt the train was doing justice to the tag of Jan Shatabdi!!

Thus, what was to be my first and only journey by a diesel-hauled train in 2022; had ended. It left me on the whole with mixed feelings. The ride by the JS, was, frankly speaking, ordinary till IGP; the moment the train left Mumbai division of CR and entered its own division i.e. BSL, however; it seemed to have transformed into a different beast altogether. Unfortunately, I had to get down at NK and hence missed out on the run between NK and MMR; as well as the run thereon from MMR-AWB-Jalna in non-electrified single line territory belonging to SCR. Also, the maintenance of the train left much to be desired; especially the condition of the my seat and the armrest. However, the ride quality was quite decent; except for the typical LHB jerks while starting from rest. Also, the Thull Ghats were breathtaking on the whole; in spite of the limited greenery. Here is the video compilation of the journey as a whole; as promised: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrjQQf6u_SE . Please KEEP ENGLISH SUBTITLES ON for a running description. I will cover the return journey to Mumbai in Part 2. Please stay tuned šŸ™‚

LEGEND

Technical Terms

  • IR – Indian Railways
  • LHB ā€“ Linke-Hoffman-Busch (a modern Swiss company which manufactures coaches with high speed capability and anti-climb safety features ā€“ seen in majority of the trains nowadays)
  • RSA – Rake Sharing Arrangement
  • HT – High Tone
  • LT – Low Tone
  • EMD ā€“ Electro-motive Diesel (and a modern class of diesel locos)
  • ALCO ā€“ American Locomotive Company (and a class of diesel engines of the 1960s)
  • CR – Central Railway
  • LP – Loco Pilot
  • ICF ā€“ Integral Coach Factory, Perambur (Chennai) [used to manufacture most of the coaches in Indian Railways]
  • PSR – Permanent Speed Restriction
  • TSR – Temporary Speed Restriction
  • LC – Level Crossing
  • APU ā€“ Auxiliary Power Unit (specifically for charging the loco batteries when it is idle)
  • MEMU ā€“ Mainline Electric Multiple Unit (like a local train; except that it runs on non-suburban routes, has vestibules and is narrower than a local)
  • MPS – Maximum Permissible Speed
  • SCR – South Central Railway

Station Codes

  • NK – Nashik Road
  • SHM – Shalimar
  • LTT – Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla Terminus)
  • SRC – Santragachchi
  • KYN – Kalyan
  • DR – Dadar (Central)
  • HWH – Howrah
  • CSMT – Mumbai CST
  • JBP – Jabalpur
  • BSL – Bhusaval
  • MMR – Manmad Junction
  • NKJ – New Katni Junction
  • LGD – Lallaguda
  • ERS – Ernakulam Junction
  • NZM – Hazrat Nizamuddin
  • IGP – Igatpuri
  • CBE – Coimbatore Junction
  • AWB – Aurangabad

For all those of you who’ve read patiently till here; here is a little surprise šŸ˜€

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